Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mistral's New Mains'l

It's been twenty years since the inception of the dory cruiser Mistral. She's been afloat for almost five years. Last weekend marked the completion of the design.

That's a long time. Thinking back at all the things that have happened in those years, both personally and over the world, it's a completely different place. There were times when this big dory was a burden, an unfinished hulk... Almost chainsawed it into scrap twice.

But more than anything, it's been good therapy.

For the last five years the sail rig has taken shape organically. Starting with a salvaged mast and used sails and ending recently with a new custom made mainsail. After weeks of hand sewing finish details, the sail was ready for a test on Sunday last. The crew showed up, the sun came out from behind the clouds and we went sailing.

There was no wind to speak of, but opportunities came and went for checking the set of the canvas and the drive of the ship. Snacks and champagne (Chuck brought his prize winning smoked salmon!) were passed around the cockpit. Therapy indeed!

My good friends Kim and John came out in their skiff and took photos. Kim is just learning to use her camera and she has an excellent eye. Thanks, Kim!

And thank you Chuck and Rick and Shay and Mary for excellent camaraderie, good food, hard work and helpful design improvement suggestions!

Mistral on the River from doryman on Vimeo.

I'd also like to thank all of you who have offered encouragement and interest in this project, since the beginning of this blog. The idea behind this journal was to document Mistral and her cousins and it has turned into so much more.

It's been a blast!


Ben said...

Glad you managed to keep your finger off the chainsaw trigger. Mistral looks great. Congratulations on the completion of a project.
I'd never thought of dories on this scale.

doryman said...

The shear mass of this dory is my claim to the title of doryman. She's five tons of blood, sweat and tears. You'll not likely see me building another boat of this size, by myself, ever again.
There are a few big dories out there, most notably Annie and Pete Hill's "Badger" by the Benford Design Group.

Laingdon Schmitt said...

CONGRATULATIONS! A great accomplishment, Michael, you must be riding pretty high.

doryman said...

The biggest thrill was the first launch, about five years ago. It was a huge gamble to put so much time, effort and money into an untested design. The validation of seeing the boat ride exactly on it's design waterline was one of the highlights of my life.
As for the sail rig, there's a lot of math and as much luck in the design so it's once again pretty thrilling to find the boat sails well enough. Dories have their limits under sail and Mistral is no exception, but I have a lot of confidence that she is a very seaworthy boat. And, she's taught me a lot.

Jimbo said...

Great looking boat and rig, Michael! I like the plumb set of the sheer strake and bulwark. That's a smart way to cap off the dory flare. I knew someone here in NY who built a large Benford dory ketch, and cruised her quite a bit on the east coast. Sumptuous digs.

Good luck with the continued commissioning!


doryman said...

Thank you, Jim!
I hadn't heard of the Benford designs until the day I launched my boat, when someone at the boatyard offered to loan me Annie Hill's book.
For many years I labored at this task in obscurity, with neighbors who came by to ask when I expected the next flood, or ignored the eye sore in my yard entirely. It was a huge relief to find documentation of similar designs and how well they worked.
The shear plank was an epiphany that allowed me to have standing headroom in a flat bottomed boat without having a cabin that looked like a doghouse. One of my mentors is Francis Herreshoff and I love the gorgeous low profile of his designs. I think of it as a raised deck. Another design feature I'm very happy with is the clam shell shape in the cabin sides which keeps the whole thing from looking too boxy.