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The Clyde from the Source to the Sea
Chapter X. Yachting


The Firth of Clyde, from its landlocked character, and from the numerous fine lochs stretching away inland from its shores, offers special facilities for yachting. These facilities have been abundantly taken advantage of, and the tourist, as he sails down the river on a fine summer day, will see the whole bright and sparkling waters dotted over with the white sails of pleasure-boats, (from the square lug of the small rowing boat to the great “white wings” of the hundred-ton cutter or smart schooner), which, in the far distance, look like veritable sea-birds. Numerous rowing boats are also to be seen, and in holiday times they literally cover the water near the shores. This love of the sea is referred to by Froude in his Oceana, where he says: “After their own island, the sea is the natural home of the Englishman; the Norse blood is in us, and we rove over the waters, for business or pleasure, as eagerly as our ancestors. Four-fifths of the carrying trade of the world is done by the English. When we grow rich, our chief delight is a yacht.”

Yacht-building has long been carried on, notably at Fairlie, near Largs, where the name of Fyfe has become a household word. Many famous yachts have been turned out by this firm. Glasgow, however, has now done much to bring yacht-building to both structural and scientific perfection; and for successful efforts in this direction the name of Watson is known far and wide. Commencing successfully with the smaller sizes of five and ten tons, Mr. Watson, in the hundred-ton steel cutter

Vanduara, astonished some of the other big cutters that tried conclusions; and recently in the Thistle, although unsuccessful against the American centre-board Volunteer, excellent results were obtained against cutters of her own class and style of build.

In his large and exhaustive treatise on yachts, Air. Dixon Kemp says: “Open-boat sailing has long been very popular on the Clyde; and this is hardly to be wondered at, as the firth offers special opportunities for such a pastime—snug anchorages, fairly smooth water, little or no run of tide.” "And the facilities given by the railway and steamboat companies for readily getting from the city to the coast, induce most young men who are in the least degree nautieally inclined to keep a boat of some sort; and during the summer months, in the bright northern evenings, from every coast village may be seen a fleet of little vessels flitting along the shore in the smooth water, and lying over to the land wind, which in good weather rises as the sun sets.”

The racing boats are divided into three classes, the lengths being 17, 19, and 21 feet; the breadths varying from about 54 feet to 7 feet, and the depths from 3 feet to 4 feet. The lug-sail is principally used. It is of great size, spreading in a 19-feet boat to between 20 and 30 square yards, or say 1 h square yard to the foot of length. An old rule for an ordinary lug, for a 12 or 1G feet rowing boat, was 1 square yard per foot; but these bigger boats are specially ballasted or have metal keels; some also carry shot in bags, which can be shifted to windward, on the principle of sitting up to windward in the ordinary open lug-sail boat. A three-ton yacht carries about 75 to 80 square yards of lower sail on a water-line of 25 feet, or say fully 3 square yards per foot. A five-ton yacht carries about 3 square yards; a ten-tonner, about 4 yards; a twenty-tonner, 44 yards; a forty-tonner, 5 square yards; and for a hundred-tonner, about 6 square yards.

These areas are only for the mainsail, jib, and foresail, so that when the yachts are in racing trim the area is very much increased with topsails and other additions. Thus the racing sail areas of theVolunteer, Aluyjloiver, Thistle, and Galatea appear to have been respectively 1000 yards, 959 yards, 986 yards, and 833 yards. The length on the load water-line of the first three yachts was about 85 feet, whilst the Galatea was about 86 feet. This gives as much as about 114 yards per foot of waterline. The comparison of sail area with length on waterline is of more importance since the introduction of the new tonnage rule by the Yacht Racing Association, viz.: Length on load-line X area of sails in square feet, 6000

The making the sail area a factor in the rating appears to be a sensible movement, as it takes into account the power which drives the vessel, as the marine engineer does when he considers the indicated horse-power required to be placed in his vessel to get the required speed.

Not only has there been a great development in the sailing type of pleasure yachts, but there has been even a greater in that of steam yachts, which now range from the tiny launch of 20 feet or so to the great sea-going vessel of 600 tons. The improvements in boilers and engines, which have gone on for some time in the mercantile marine, have also been applied to pleasure vessels, and swiftness with economy of consumpt of fuel are now readily obtained. To many no doubt the sailing yacht will always be preferred with its pleasant and buoyant motion, but the steam-launch has a great advantage over the sailing yacht in the many calm days which in summer-time so often beset the yachtsman.

The various yachting clubs have done much to foster and keep alive the love of yachting; and the regattas which are held during summer stimulate improvements to carry off the prizes offered. The forms of yachts have undergone considerable change during late years, a general narrowing of beam having taken place, stability being obtained by increasing the depth; and, for the purpose of keeping the centre of gravity low, the lead in iron and steel yachts has been run into the bottom of the vessel, and in wooden yachts heavy lead keels are fastened on outside.

The tonnage rules for yacht measurement have no doubt had a great deal to do with these tendencies to narrowness, as the length and breadth were the principal factors in determining the tonnage. Now, however, from the new tonnage rule of sail area and length on load water-line, we may expect a change in the form, as designers will be left practically untrammelled as to the form which they may give the midship section of their boats. Thus the Thistle, which was built for a special purpose, viz. to attain great speed, with a great carrying power of canvas, has a much greater proportion of beam than the type of yacht so much run after during the past few years. These remarks apply of course more to racing yachts than to cruising yachts.

The “centre hoard,” of which we have heard so much during the recent contest between the Thistle and Volunteer, at New York, for the “America Cup,” appears to be a very effective arrangement for beating to windward, and, like a great many of our present-day appliances, seems to have been tried many years ago in this country, although not perhaps in the complete manner in which it has now been fitted. It is doubtless a development from the old-fashioned “lee-board,” which was fixed on the annnel, and hung: down at the side. The Americans have developed its application in both small sail-boats and large sloops, as they prefer to call their yachts. The centre board has never been a favourite on the Clyde, but in England there are a large number of small boats now fitted with this appliance. Various forms have been id ten to this arrangement. Sometimes it is of iron and pivoted at the forward end, so that when the after-part is lowered down, the appearance is that of a fin or half the tail of a fish. In some cases the board is made in pieces, fan-like, and can be pulled up to lie alongside the keel, and not up into a well in the boat as in the other cases.

Mr. Dixon Kemp, in Yacht and Boat Sailing, says: “ A belief sometimes exists that a centre board adds to the stability of a boat. So it does if made of iron or other metal, just the same as an iron or other metal keel would; but if the material be wood, not heavier than water, the tendency of the board would be to upset the boat, as the wood would strive to come to the surface, or, in other words, to float; thus the larger a wood board were made, and the deeper it were lowered, the more urgent would be its tendency to assist in upsetting a boat. A board, however, causes the process of heeling to be a little more slowly performed, as the board has to be moved through water, and the resistance to the board being so moved is of the same nature as the resistance of the water to any plane moved in it. Thus, when a boat is once permanently heeled, or has settled down on “ her bearings,” as it is termed, the board will be of no more use for stability, as its tendency will be to float or come to the surface. If the boat is struck by a squall which only lasts, say, four or five seconds, the board may possibly prevent an upset that otherwise would take place; but if the squall continues, and is of a strength to upset the boat without the board, the boat will be assuredly upset with the board, only it may take two or three seconds longer to do so.”


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