Lapstrake & Gaff rigged

Bill Buchholz tells us about his unique lapstrake Romilly with her rig converted to gaff with some very simple modifications.

Laying the deck, 3/8 teak over 1/8 ply. The benches are short so one may recline athwartships laying against the hull in the way of the centerboard trunk. This affords a lovely view to leeward out of the wind. Your head fits just under the side deck. They are a bit lower than as drawn so the coaming becomes a better backrest. The airtight boxes that Burnett specs for the benches are fairly brutal, both in comfort and aesthetics. I understand that he has to conform to an EU floatation standard, but at what cost? I’d rather sail a beautiful, comfortable boat that may fill and sink someday than have it the other way around. Anyway, the benches pop out in case of a sinking and will nearly support a person on the water.

Lapstrake construction - Romilly

You can tell that the hull is built with glued lapstrake plywood. I thought the design lent itself to lapstrake, and its so much more fun to build than strip. It is a bit noisy at anchor as the little waves splash the laps, and dirt collects on the upper plank edge on the inside but I feel the trade-offs are worth it.

Romilly ready for fitting out.

The boat is out the door. The small deck behind the benches has a hatch to access a lazzarette where we stow an anchor and a bucket. There is no outboard motor. We Have 9’ oars which move the boat nicely, and in any kind of zephyr she’ll maintain headway. The porthole in the cabin trunk is too far aft. Coamings and cabin are red oak, bulwarks/sheer strake and cap rail are teak.

Relaxing in the cockpit

Here you can see how lowering the bench hight and leaving the after part as designed makes for a very comfortable recline. I actually fell asleep in this position while ghosting along one afternoon.

Romilly mooring in Finland

This shot shows the gaff rig. I modified it after the first year for a couple of reasons. Where we sail, in Finland, one gets on and off the boat from the bow. It was very difficult with the boom and yard sweeping the foredeck. My wife got her leg pinned once as I was lowering away and she was fending off. No harm done, but a bit awkward. I simply added gaff jaws and a gooseneck to the boom and moved the sail, without any re-cutting, to the aft edge of the mast. There is a bit more weather helm now, so we don’t use the mizzen over ten knots, but aside from that it has been a great success. I think it looks better and may even sail better, but I didn’t sail the lug for long enough to really answer that question. At the time this photo was taken, I hadn’t learned how to furl the mizzen so it stayed put on the boomkin. Speaking of furling, does any one have trouble with the battens not laying straight when the sail is furled? Ours want to take a curve and it makes getting a good furl very difficult.

Look no engine
This one pretty much speaks for herself.

Comfortable perch

There’s not much of a place to plant the butt when a blow comes on, but I’ve found that a cushion lodges well between the coaming and the bulwark which softens the seat nicely. I haven’t discovered a good way to belay the sheet from up there. There is a cam cleat on the sole just behind the block on the centerboard trunk, which is a bit of a reach.

Romilly moored in a Baltic cove
Shoal draft certainly has its advantages!

Gaff rigged Romilly in light airs

Romilly caught in a gust

A nice view of the rig. She can be a bit tender at times, but the wind is very fluky here. Have a look at the tell-tale…
Some one asked about the mast rotating in the socket. I just screw two pan head screws through the mast tube into the mast from down in the forpeak.

Gaff rigged Romilly

Coming home around midnight.

I asked Bill to tell us a little more about his decision to use lapstrake construction and for more details about the gaff rig modifications. Here is the reply with some more photographs.

Regarding the lapstrake construction, I really felt that it would look good with this design. Romilly has some sort of workboat inspiration behind her and while I don’t know for sure, I suspect that a lot of the coastal fishing boats on both sides of the Channel were clinker. It’s also much less work with fewer materials, which means faster and cheaper. I like to build, but finishing is fun, too. I should have used 1/2” instead of 3/8”, but it hasn’t been a problem.

Romilly belaying pins

I don’t have any close-ups of the jaws, but they are made from a grown locust crook. The arrangement is typical for a high peaked gaff. Chafe was a problem initially because of the steep angle, but its solved now. The boom gooseneck is off the shelf bronze. I had to shorten the boom a bit at the forward end. The plan has been to add mast hoops, but the lacing works ok. You can see the peak and throat halyards coming down the same side of the mast through existing hardware on the fore deck. Notice the Davies logo on the belaying pin?

Romilly halyards led back to the cockpit

Do other Romillys have this belly, or fullness, in the sail at the second batten from the top?

Romilly gaff rig details

    1. Nigel Irens says:

      It’s so great to see different interpretations of the original basic concept….I love it, Bill !

    1. Steeve Keating says:

      Wow. What a beauty! May you enjoys years of great sailing experience in this boat.
      Please send images of interior. Did you leave the interior bright? Is there room to sit up below and read a book.


    1. bryan wentzel says:

      Bill, I love lapstrake, i certainly would build in similar fashion. can you estimate the number of sheets you used? i’m trying to put together a rough materials estimate for the hull. why would you have chosen 1/2” PLY over 3/8”, stiffness? has anyone considered a raised flush deck configuration to increase cabin space? thanks, bryan