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Turning an Ericson 27 into a world cruising boat

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Hi! Do you have a small boat with big dreams? I did. I started with a tiller steering Ericson 27, and, frustrated by its inability to go straight without my help, I decided to make some innovations... Afterwards, I've sailed her up to Alaska (from Seattle), and then down the US and Mexico coasts, and then singlehanded her across the Pacific to Hawaii, and then back to Seattle. I kept a blog (here) of the trip, but have since landed and stopped updating that. The first thing that I thought was the boat had too much weather-helm. Weather helm (as I understood it) was caused by the sail plan being too far aft, having a stretched out mainsail, and heeling over. (With heeling over, the force pushing forward is not over the boat, so it is pulling from the side, turning the boat) There are a few things to do to correct this of course: Use less sail, get a new Main, or move the mast. I decided the only thing possible for me was to move the mast.Click image for larger version. 

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Instead of ACTUALLY moving the mast, however, I added a bowsprit with a sail out on it, and that would move the sail plan forward without a bunch of rigging changes. Another reason to do it was because I had built my own roller furling system and I didn't want to use it halfway furled up, so I thought I could add it in front and have the genoa all the way out, or all the way furled, and then use a smaller jib on the inside. So I came up with my It used to be a sloop,Attachment 12283 now is a cutter,Attachment 12281 so I built a Slutter rig.

I really like the rig, because as the wind builds up you can reduce sail without hardly any trouble, and I never worry about putting extra pressure on the roller furling, even in 50 kts, because it is all rolled up. In light air you have everything up, and then as the wind builds you roll up the furling system and then if needed go to the mast to reef the main. (I haven't gotten around to making the main reef from the cockpit yet).
Click image for larger version. 

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Another thing that I have added is a "down haul" which you can see in this picture, it connects to the halyard for the inner jib (it is always connected) and pulls the sail down (from the cockpit) when I want it doused.

The second major thing that I did was add a second rudder to the boat. The main rudder is too far forward, I thought, and is too balanced, so it steers easily but sometimes without my command. I want a boat that can go straight. Attachment 12282
I added a rudder off the transom, and then made it into a wind vane by adding a trim tab and a controlling vane (I built the whole thing myself for about 100 bucks)Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	12284 and (the most important thing) then put a piece of wood on the back of the cockpit that I could hook the tiller into, so the main rudder would be locked into position. I can lock it straight, or slightly canted, depending on the sailing configuration. By locking the main rudder I made my keel longer and further aft, which help to go straight.Click image for larger version. 

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Those two major things added some length to the boat, so now she is more like 34 ft, but since I very rarely went to a marina, that was just fine. I was able to put a lot of thing out on the back or up on the front, like a seat (both front and back) a spool of line, and a anchor roller on the front.
I also added a rack, which I made out of some pieces of aluminum I found. They hold up the solar panels, and also my surfboards (I took them down when I got back) and also were great places to add a plastic tube to be a fishing rod holder, and to mount my speakers so I can have nice tunes that blast all the way forward, but don't deafen the people sitting in the cockpit. Click image for larger version. 

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I made a dodger, which is a great thing in some places, but not that useful when going dead downwind in the trades or coming back. I bent the stainless by hand and then added fiberglass panels.
I also made a gimballed box to put my little butane burner on, and then filled it with food to weight it. It worked great, and was super easy to make.
All these additions were built by someone who is not a great craftsman, and in a hurry, out of the cheapest or free-est materials avaliable, many of which were found on the beaches or garbage cans nearby. The wind vane I built (LaFawnda) is probably the most fickle and complex thing, and good bicycle cable sleeves are the most important part for that, but she steered the whole way to Hawaii and back, except for about 6 hours.
Again, there is more at my blog from the trip; Life on Water.

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  1. Gary Holford's Avatar
    Amazing and ingenious