Pocketship v Bolger Micro

Welcome to PocketShip.net! This bulletin board is for builders of the Chesapeake Light Craft-John C. Harris "PocketShip" design, a 15-foot micro cruiser sailboat built from a kit or plans.

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Pocketship v Bolger Micro

Postby Traddles on Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:40 am


In my search for a trailerable pocket cruiser, I have narrowed my choices to Pocketship and Bolger's Micro. I am wondering if there are any members here who could offer some insight into the differences between the two. I am interested here in sailing ability, comfort under sail in a chop (I sail in the Great Lakes), windward ability, ease of rigging, launching and such. The differences in construction technique are obvious, so I am not too concerned about that. I have built 4 boats to date from clinker to stitch and glue. Neither boats would present much of a challenge in that respect. I would appreciate whatever insights you could share with me.

Kind Regards,
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Re: Pocketship v Bolger Micro

Postby JonLee on Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:40 am

I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work of the late Phil Bolger. But, in this case, given that I'm building a PocketShip, you can guess what my bias is....

I haven't had an opportunity to sail either, but do have enough experience with boats to have some opinions based on their designs.

From a hull form perspective, I think Pocketship v-bottom and (relatively) fine entry is a better fit for what you are looking for. She should ride through chop pretty easily. The Bogler's flat bottom will have more of a tendancy to pound in those conditions. I should note that that's a generaization, and that the Bolger design may behave differently. I'd imagine that those free-flooding compartments might help. At any rate, I'd still give PocketShip a slight edge in that catagory.

In terms of ease to launch/rig/set up, PocketShip has one mast, the Micro has two. 'nuff said.

Pocketship's gaff rig may not get as close to the wind as a marconi rigged boat, but I'd be willing to bet that she'll point a little higher than the Bolger's headsail-less yawl rig. Off the wind, PocketShip's should by all rights walk away from the Micro. On the other hand, Bolger's cat-yawl rig does offer some interesting sail-trimming possibilities. I've heard you can trim one out to self steer. The sailing geek in me digs stuff like that.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents, for what it's worth. I've heard good things about the Micro design, and given Bolger's reputation, they are probably true. But to my eye, PocketShip is a finer, more-capable, more ship-shape little vessel.
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Re: Pocketship v Bolger Micro

Postby John C. Harris on Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:13 am

It's no secret that Bolger is my biggest hero, so no brickbats from me. I built and for years owned an "Oldshoe," a slightly smaller version of Micro, and have sailed on Micros.

The Micro and Oldshoe designs aren't quite like anything else on the water, so the comparison isn't necessarily fair without throwing in some additional filters. The Micro exhibits lovely handling under sail, and yes, you can dial in self-steering with such ease that you find yourself steering with the mizzen sheet instead of the tiller. The hull is easily driven and capacious. The commodious, safe, and dry cockpit, with high seat backs, was consciously copied in PocketShip. Micro is faster to build than PocketShip, though not necessarily easier.

While PocketShip #1 was being built, I showed Bolger the drawings at his home in Gloucester. He approved of the design, and endorsed my reasoning for the hull shape, which is where we get into the essential differences. On my home waters, standard-issue conditions are light to moderate air with powerboat wakes. The wrong height and frequency powerboat wake would often bring the scow-hulled Oldshoe and Micro to a dead stop, and in light air it was hard to keep water flowing over the shallow keel fast enough to generate lift. When it came on to blow, the scow hull----really a sharpie hull with the namesake sharp bow cut off---made it difficult to get to windward in waves. The absence of a jib also limits the pointing. The upshot was that I often was late getting home because I couldn't weather a certain breakwater on the Chester River, and once very nearly lost my boat when the mainsheet went into the prop off a rocky lee shore in 25 knots of wind. I couldn't have sailed her off; only freeing the prop saved me.

PocketShip got a comparatively fine bow, for moving through choppy waves, and a jib to turbocharge upwind performance. PocketShip can be sailed off a lee shore into a hairy amount of wind, and it isn't easily stopped by powerboat wakes in light air. (This isn't to compare PocketShip to a racing dinghy, now. It's still emphatically a heavy cruising boat.)

PocketShip's rudder is 100% Bolger, and when he saw the boat on the water at Mystic the summer before he died, he perked right up and said some very flattering things.
John C. Harris
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Re: Pocketship v Bolger Micro

Postby Traddles on Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:11 am

I wanted to post a big thank you to both Jon Lee and John Harris. I appreciate your comments very much. They will be helpful in making a decision for my next build. Kind Regards, Traddles.
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