24-Foot DIY Tandem Trimaran Sailing in Florida
There is a DIY tandem trimaran sailing in the gin clear waters of Florida. It’s another design / build creation from Frank Smoot, who you can always check out at www.diy-tris.com
I asked Frank if he could answer a few questions from me and he shares (quite generously) below. I decided to include the questions I asked Frank this time. It may help to broaden out the conversation a bit.
It’s always fun seeing what the DIY-Tri fellow is up to … but this is a real treat today. Let’s get right to it ….
(Quick note: all of the pics below are owned by Frank, and are used here with his permission. Most of them are from his new diy-tri webpage).
24-Foot DIY Tandem Trimaran Sailing in Florida
(A short interview with Frank Smoot)
Q: Why exactly did you design and build this 2-person model
A: Our very first sailing experiences (about 3 years ago) were in a pair of crudely attached kayaks, which created a marginally functional catamaran. The sail rig was way too small, the lee bow always wanted to submerge, and the helm balance was horrible. We eventually moved on to better cats, but were still always able to sail together in the “early days”.
Our first trimarans were made from those same kayaks. It was fun, and sailing independently was…novel. But we still wanted the ability to sail in the same boat, so I built out first “tandem” tri. It was 16’ long, and really wasn’t that great a boat. More of a “learning experience.” After it went to the landfill, we kinda forgot about a 2-person boat for a while.
By then, we each had our own small tris – 16 footers – which were a blast to sail. But my dear wife Laura took a notion that she might want to enter the Everglades Challenge. This would definitely require a larger, more seaworthy boat, which of course, would also be quicker because it was longer and would carry more sail.
So I started designing a 24-footer with twin rigs and tandem seating. It was intended to be a whole lot slicker boat than our first tandem tri, with a much slipperier hull and twin leeboards that could be remotely raised and lowered as a pair. The waterline length is just over 23 feet, and the waterline beam is just over 23 inches – a 12:1 ratio.
It also had more freeboard, a better rudder, and a lot more sail – a total of 170 sq ft. And with the addition of twin 1.5 sq ft skegs / fins on the amas, it now has a ton of lateral resistance, and goes upwind like a keelboat.
Q: Did you use some type of model or other inspiration to determine how long the boat would be … or how it would be rigged?
I can’t be sure, but the original inspiration may have come from the Adventure 24 tri. My boat was intended to be a “poor man’s” version of that boat. And I really wanted to try out a twin sail rig – which I’m told is called a “cat-ketch” – because you can get a lot of sail up without the complexity and bother of shrouds.
We were already big fans if freestanding rigs, so why not have a pair of them? And yes, I do generally build models of all the boats I build full-size. I built two different 1/4-scale models of this 24 footer. And they are almost 6’ long!
Q: How do you like the fore and aft rig system? Any advantages? Any drawbacks?
There are definite pros and cons to this kind of rig – most of which I was unaware of before sailing this boat. Initially, it just didn’t want to point. And if the main was at all close hauled, it was very obviously backwinding the mizzen.
But the reason this boat wouldn’t go upwind very well had much more to do with the fact that the big twin leeboards didn’t want to go down or stay down. Also, the original rudder (pilfered from one of my 16 foot boats) was much too small. Third, in shallow water, we had no way to create lateral resistance, so we tended to slide sideways with all that sail power.
Really, at this point, the boat was handling like a pig. I was pretty disappointed, but I sure wasn’t going to give up.
So I …
- devised a much better mechanism to raise and lower the leeboards
- made a brand new and much bigger rudder
- added the fins / skegs to the amas
- added vangs to both sails
What a difference!
Now the boat points beautifully, comes about quickly, and goes like a bandit. And it’s so smooth and quiet it’s almost eerie. And big waves (and powerboat wakes) which were a bit traumatic in our small boats don’t bother this big one a bit.
I also learned how to trim the sails to minimize the backwinding, and tacking (or gybing) is as simple is kicking the rudder over – no need to do anything with the sheets. I gotta say, we both love this boat!
If sailing gets any more painless than this, I probably don’t want to know about it!