#1 2018-09-25 18:48:45

Jason_Schmidt
Member
Registered: 2018-09-20
Posts: 2

1985 Frances 26 - New Owner with Questions

Hello.  I am the very happy new owner of a 1985 Frances 26 which I will be sailing on Lake Erie in western New York, USA next year.  I have a number of questions that I'm having difficulty answering and am hopeful that I can get your thoughts and input.

As an initial matter, here is a brief description of my boat in case its helpful in answering my questions. This Frances has the extended coachroof with three rectangular portlights on either side and one facing forward at the very front of the coachroof.  It has the bowsprit and two foresail setup, although the seller has sailed her for the last 18 years almost exclusively as a sloop with a large (140%, I believe) genoa. There are 4 sidestays on either side - the three typical ones I usually see on sailboats plus one which attaches about halfway between the top of the mast and the spreaders, and runs down aft of the spreaders to the most rearward turnbuckle.

Here are my questions:

1.  With the mainsail all the way up, the top of the mast is still a few feet higher, almost as if the mainsail were reefed even though its not. The mainsail is definitely raised all the way because the boom easily clears my head when I'm standing in the cockpit and I'm 5 feet 11 inches  (1.8 meters) tall.  I've looked closely at the mainsail and it sure seems to be original. Also, its hard to believe that my mainsail is small because the boat exhibits a lot of weather helm (see question 2 below).  However, I haven't found any pictures of other Frances 26's with this same characteristic.  Has anyone seen this before and/or does anyone have an explanation?  The mast also looks original, btw.

2.  We've sailed the Frances three times now and each time I was surprised by the amount of weather helm exhibited at the tiller.  I know this is hard to diagnose without actually sailing the boat, but we were sailing in approximately 12-17 knots of wind with full main and genoa up.  As I mentioned, this boat has a very large genoa so I would think that would reduce weather helm. I've read conflicting information about the Frances, with most literature and reviews describing the boat as very well balanced, but one or two persons described a heavy helm.  The helm on this Frances is definitely very heavy, almost uncomfortably so.  I know the easy way to cure this is to reef early but I always thought that full keel boats with attached outboard rudders such as this which run the entire length of the stern down to the bottom of the keel have less, not more, weather helm.  I'm wondering if anyone can comment on this. Do you experience this same weather helm?

3.  Finally, this is not Frances 26 specific, but its another issue with which I'm struggling:  the boat has installed in the bulkhead an old Standard Horizon Depth Sounder (model DS-1) which no longer works.  I'm surprised that I can't locate a replacement depth sounder which is round and would fit in the existing 4 inch diameter hole; I can't even locate a place that will diagnose and repair this unit.  From my research it seems that a lot of owners are now replacing their old depth sounders with new fish finder models which offer a lot more features and have bright, colorful screens, but which require either a square or rectangular cutout into the bulkhead or otherwise the installation of a pivoting arm. These are not attractive options for me and have to believe that some of you have encountered the same dilemma.  Any suggestions on this would be appreciated.

Thank you for any input you may have.

- Jason Schmidt

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#2 2018-09-28 21:32:23

Jonathan_Hopper
Member
Registered: 2004-03-23
Posts: 83

Re: 1985 Frances 26 - New Owner with Questions

Jason – Welcome to the forum.

Can you confirm whether your yacht was made by Victoria Yachts in the UK or Morris?    Whilst looking for information on your depth sounder I came across an advert in the January 1984 edition of Cruising World (p132) for a Morris 26 Frances – similar to the Victoria 26 offered in the UK.    If it is a Morris then exact size comparisons may not be relevant.

1/ Mainsail and Mast.   Indeed, that does sound odd.   As a matter of interest are there  makers’ names on the mast and sails?   Do you know the height of the mast eg from the top to the boom?    If so it would be interesting to check against the Victoria Frances dimensions.   An original sail from that era would be doing well -  perhaps it has been replaced at some point with one made for a different boat?

2/    Weather helm.     Francesca (my Frances26) does not have excessive weather helm whilst beating.   I normally carry the staysail whilst the wind is forward of the beam and breezy – it may or may not have any effect on the speed, but it certainly affects the balance.   When on a broad reach under excessive sail area the helm can be heavy, but a reduction in main will have no effect on the speed under these conditions.   Francesca’s yankee is smaller than 140% and has a foam luff for improved shape whilst reefing.    Perhaps replacement sails will help, particularly if these ones are odd sizes and ‘of an age’.

It would be well worth checking the mast rake as well.   The mast should be close to upright.   If you have a significant rake then this could be a major contributor to your problems.      There is a section in the technical manual (found in the members area on this website) on setting up the standing rigging – if you have a tension gauge then it is fairly easy to carry out.   If you check the rake first and if it is too much then you will need to adjust and then re-tension.   Let me know if you need further help on this.

3/ Don’t know this one specifically, but my instruments have been replaced by the standard size square ones.   Sometimes it means cutting a bigger holes, but if you have a 4 inch round hole already then you should be able to find something to fit – many instruments have a round middle and the square bit is surface mounted.   Have a look at something like the Garmin GMI 20 installation instructions and you should see what I mean.    If you intend to keep the boat for a while and want instruments that can talk to each other effectively then moving to NMEA2000/STng system is very impressive.   Otherwise there are plenty of stand alone or NMEA0183 gauges around.   If you want round specifically for aesthetics, Faria make a range of styles, though it looks as though they may only be depth may just be in their smaller size.   I cannot find any other around at the moment but will keep an eye out.

Jonathan

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#3 2018-10-02 00:12:58

Jason_Schmidt
Member
Registered: 2018-09-20
Posts: 2

Re: 1985 Frances 26 - New Owner with Questions

Jonathan, thank you for your reply. My Frances was manufactured by Victoria Yachts. The mast was made by Proctor Masts in Southampton.  The mainsail manufacturer is not immediately clear but I will have that information shortly when we pull the boat for the winter and I can finally inspect and measure it. I'm hoping that the mainsail measurements are available here online (?) so that I can compare to what I have and confirm whether or not the main was cut by a previous owner.  The main on my boat certainly appears original because it has a faded V26 logo and the seller says it's the same main that he has used in his 18 years of ownership. But so far the only identifying information I could find is a "Sail Care - Made and Serviced in the U S A" patch at the bottom of the sail. I'm assuming this company did not actually manufacture the main but instead cleaned and serviced it at one point. There is the possibility this company also cut the main but I'm hoping that's not the case. Could you point me to the correct mainsail measurements for my boat?

I did look at the Garmin instrument you identified but did not find anything to indicate that the rear of the instrument is made for a round cut out. I would love to have an instrument like this which measures much more than death but would hate to cut too much into the bulkhead because right now the cabin cosmetics are almost flawless... I will continue to look for gauges that accept a round hole.

Jason

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#4 2018-10-03 19:23:18

Jonathan_Hopper
Member
Registered: 2004-03-23
Posts: 83

Re: 1985 Frances 26 - New Owner with Questions

Jason –

Francesca’s main is 8.2m luff, 3.4m foot and 8.88. leech.   She is a Frances cutter, but I am afraid I cannot find any information on the Victoria 26 dimensions.   The only other cutter rigged Victoria 26 I know of is Shikara (though no doubt there are others) so it may be worth contacting the current owners.   It may well be that a UK sailmaker will also have the different original dimensions.   The Victoria 26 sloop has a taller rig, but possibly the cutter version is the same as the Frances 26.   

If you decide to replace the main with the correct size it would be worth having a sailmaker measure up exactly what you want.   One of two mains which came with Francesca (may or may not have been original) had a particularly low cut, and tacking with it is hazardous!   The original main is better, but does not work with my current sprayhood, and the replacement main is higher cut.

Depth sounder:

As far as I know the Garmin series of instruments, and the Raymarine have round hole sizes of about 90mm.    If you have a look here: https://www.marinesuperstore.com/marine … nt-display you can see different views of the display, and here:  https://rowlandsmarine.co.uk/content/gn … mplate.pdf  gives template for the hole.   The Raymarine and B&G offerings are equally as powerful, but all of these work best by putting in an NMEA2000 or STng backbone.   This is a much bigger job than just replacing the depth sounder display, but combined with other NMEA2000/STng instruments gives impressive results.   NASA make a basic stand alone echo sounder but I cannot work out whether it will fit in a round 4inch hole.   If it is of interest then it would be worth contacting them.    Otherwise asking a chandlery who stock different ranges might be your best bet.

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