CRAZY CUSTOM CRUISING BOATS: New Rides for Pete Goss and Barry Spanier


Feb. 17/2023:  Leave it to the most experienced performance sailors to come up with the most interesting boats when they get older and want to go cruising. Exhibit A in today’s brief is Oddity (see image up top), a custom plywood/epoxy 32-foot gaff-rigged barge of a thing masterminded by ex-round-the-world solo racer Pete Goss. A fascinating beast indeed.

Pete and his wife Tracey had previously purchased a Garcia Exploration 45 to cruise about in, but it got stranded in the U.S. when the Covid pandemic shut down the world. Pete and Tracey fled home to the U.K., managed to sell the boat in just six hours, and consequently rethought their cruising plans. They decided they wanted to wend their way through the canals of Europe, but also do a bit of bluewater work, perhaps in high latitudes, in a smaller tough nut of a boat easily managed by two.

Pete and his old-school designer/builder buddy Chris Rees sketched out a design on the back of the proverbial napkin, built a model hull that they tested in the proverbial kitchen sink, and came up with Oddity, a truly fascinating craft. She draws but 3 feet and relies on twin daggerboards to hold her to the wind, plus twin lifting rudders for steering. Her mast is mounted in a tabernacle and can be easily raised and lowered by hand. The gaff rig keeps the mast and all spars short enough to be stowed inboard on deck. Ballast is internal lead, that can be shifted about to adjust trim as needed. A heavy steel shoe on the bottom of the hull allows the boat to take the ground and get dragged about with impunity.

Oddity also has a crazy fun interior! Check out this excellent viddy where Pete takes us on a guided tour:

For more detail on the boat and more background on Pete’s eclectic career, you should peruse this article by Elaine Bunting in Yachting World. You can also study Pete’s blog on building and launching the boat.

Meanwhile, over on the Left Coast here in the USA, we find ex-windsurfing maven Barry Spanier has finally finished and launched Rosie G, his 42-foot custom scow-bow junk that I highlighted here on WaveTrain back in 2019, when she was first in build.

Rosie is named after a beloved dog that once belonged to Barry and his wife Samantha, and they have a whole Red Dog Yachts website devoted to the project of creating her. This features various videos, including this one documenting a recent test sail on the bay:

You should note in particular the unusual daggerboard-on-a-stick arrangement.

Though Rosie G is a fairly simple boat in concept, built to a design by Jim Antrim, she is considerably more sophisticated than Oddity in terms of construction and systems. The hull is a foam-cored composite, vacuum-infused with vinlyester resin over a male mold. The freestanding mast is carbon fiber, courtesy of GMT Composites. Ballast is a custom-cast external lead keel, courtesy of MarsKeel Technology. (The daggerboard, we should note, slots in aft of the keel.) Auxiliary power is delivered via a QT20 electric drive, courtesy of Electric Yachts.

But to my mind, the most interesting aspect of the whole project is the sail. I am very curious to see how Barry, who built an enormous reputation designing and building sails for windsurfers, will tune and perfect his new junk sail.

It is as sophisticated a junk sail as I’ve ever heard of, built with lightweight Hydranet cloth, carbon battens, and Spectra rigging. One of the virtues of regular junk sails, as I’ve discussed before, is that they are not conventionally aerodynamic and can be thrown together with whatever fabric and material come to hand. According to some, a junk sail’s characteristic scalloped shape is integral to its performance, even when sailing to windward.

Barry, however, at least so far, seems intent on using the junk-sail format to create a highly controllable aerodynamic foil—what he calls an “engineered sail structure.”

I look forward to finding out how well it really works.

(Oddity images courtesy of Yachting World and Lloyd Images; Rosie G images courtesy of Red Dog Yachts)

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