Sunday, September 6, 2009

Romilly Pocket Cruiser

If I was to build another boat right now, the Romilly, a yawl from the hands of Irens and Burnett would definitely make my short list. A very pretty boat and a nice rig, too.
Her big cockpit makes her an ideal boat for camp cruising. There are a lot of inland waterways within a day’s travel that need exploring!

Phil Holden visited a previous post about Romilly and writes to me to explain that he has a web site dedicated to Romilly and Roxanne her larger sister, Romilly Sailboat. He hosts a forum for owners and builders to share ideas and would love input.

He tells me:
"I own a Romilly called Riant. I'm 6'2" and have slept in the cuddy cabin very comfortably. There's room for two adults but not much else. (The sitting headroom measured from the berth surface up to the cabin top is about three feet). There is also a cockpit tent, which extends the usable space."

"I fell in love with Romilly years ago when she was on the front of Classic Boats Magazine but I never thought I would be able to one day afford her."

"Most folks don't notice her on her berth but many sail over for a closer look when we have her out for the day. She really is a stunner."

It's the sails that make her a beauty everyone can recognize! That high peaked yard is simply beautiful.

Romilly's plans call for a strip-planked hull covered in 300gsm glass, but here is a cold molded version being built in Germany.

The plans also call for carbon spars, the main yard, the boom, the boomkin, the mizzen yard and the mizzenmast are shown in the photo.

Phil says:
"I would strongly recommend the carbon fibre mast and other spars. No one, even other boat owners will know and they make a massive difference to stability and sail handling. Please don't make the mistake of making wooden spars."

I found this a little intimidating, since I usually build the whole boat, but have never made a carbon mast. As this video shows, it’s not exactly rocket science, so I’ll have to give it a go. (Sorry, there is no "part two" that I could find).

Apparently the hard part is engineering the mast for stiffness, since there is a fine line between too bendy and too stiff.

Since Romilly uses unstayed masts, error on the side of stiffness seems a good idea. I see Phil’s point about stability, such a fine hull would be easily upset by a top-heavy mast and yard.

Beautiful, but not conceited and above all, nimble and fast. A high performance family daysailer or gunkholer with a lot of class.

Romilly is also available as a kit and a very good article on building one can be found in Luggers for Today.


Phil Holden said...

Hi Michael,

I should say that the carbon fibre spars statement I made is my opinion having sailed the boat. Others may differ in their opinions. I think that Ed Burnett does provide calculations for wooden spars but I still think that with such a high peak and narrow hull you have enough pendulum without adding more. You will have to ask Nigel Irens but my impression is that the carbon fibre spars was a fundamental element of his design for Roxane in the first place and this was continued into Romilly. If he had used wooden spars he would have used a different hull form etc. If like me you love that hull form then I honestly believe that you have to buy into the whole design concept.

Good Lukc


doryman said...

I can see the point of the lighter masts. Even a wooden boat purist would have to admit that in almost any case a lighter mast is a good thing. But particularly when the boat has a fine hull shape and minimal wetted surface, more sail area can be hazardous. (note that the Romilly main has three reef points!)
I'm all for the wedding of tradition and technology - there is no need to sacrifice performance for beauty, and the Romilly is proof.
Do you know if Irens' plans give specific engineering for making your own masts and spars?


Unknown said...

There is an interesting article in Practical Boat Owner no. 361 (Jan '97) on a Roxanne design converted to a heads/l rig w/ bowsprit, for the more traditionally inclined, perhaps. Great looking boat, anyway. I was able to access the article on line, but do not have a link available, sorry.

doryman said...


I guess it's time for me to confess. I'd like to see a gunter rig on Romilly. It might out-perform the lug rig as well as the rig you describe. And would beg for a small jib to seal the deal.
The lug rig is an eye catcher, but for the cruising I have in mind, a rig that would sail well to windward would suit me best. I do hate to start that darn motor if I don't absolutely have to!

Glenn said...


Try the rig as designed before you dismiss lugsails out of hand. I've sailed on the Wooden Boat Foundations longboats in Port Townsend, which are rigged as 3 mast dipping luggers; as well as James McMullens' balance lug rigged ROWAN, an Oughtred stretched JII. Nothing slow about either of the boats, to windward or otherwise. A jib imposes shrouds and backstays on the rig, increasing complexity out of proportion to performance in a small boat. FEATHER, my sloop-boat, has a jib, but it is small enough not to need stays.


doryman said...

I doubt there is a better rig for this boat, regardless. I love that high peaked yard!
I do have an internal conflict between aesthetics and performance. While the lug rig is very pretty, it will never point to windward as well as a Marconi and in the instances where I can't point high enough to make my course, I become frustrated. (not to mention exhausted from rowing). I guess there is always the petrol auxiliary, but I'm not impressed by motors.
Just a prejudice to overcome...

The lack of stays is indeed a bonus and absolutely essential to the good looks of the Romilly.