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Thunderbird 26?

thunderbird 26 sailboat

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My wife has an eye on a Plywood Thunderbird 26, why, I don't know, but it looks super clean and comes with a tandem axle trailer that is worth the asking price of the boat. I know nothing about this boat except what little info I have found online. Stats suggest possibly a good boat to weather, which is all that matters on Eastern Lake Ontario. I assume insurance will be a pain, but aside from that. Good boat?  

thunderbird 26 sailboat

They raced them in SFO Bay and had quite a following. Don't know how active the fleet is now. It would seem that they'd need a good breeze to get going, but that they can handle it.  

Fun little boats. I crewed on a couple some years ago. They can take a lot of wind and are surprisingly stiff to weather - they kind of lock in on a heel angle. Lots of them here in Seattle - the fleet might have answers to your questions: Thunderbird Fleet 2 - Seattle  

thunderbird 26 sailboat

I raced on one years ago. It was a surprisingly quick boat, although quite uncomfortable to sail hard. The original T-birds were built out of plywood, but then people started building them out of fiberglass. I would be VERY careful about buying one of the old wood models. I would be concerned about the potential for rot anywhere and everywhere on the boat. Sent from my SM-G981W using Tapatalk  

thunderbird 26 sailboat

I raced on a plywood version in Savanah back in the late 1970's. I was quite impressed with the boat. The boat pointed well and was well mannered. While not as strong downwind as the masthead rigs of the day with their huge spinnakers, the boat was really impressive on a reach. I found the boat easy to sail and pretty forgiving compared the other boats that I was on back then. These boats had a larger sail area and a higher ballast ratio than most other boats of this era, which contributed to making them pretty good across a broad range of conditions. The fractional rig made sail handling much easier. They had an extremely modern keel and rudder design for that era and were quite maneuverable. When we think of a particular make and model of fiberglass boat, there is a tendency to expect a pretty consistent build-quality throughout a production run. But build quality on boats like the plywood Thunderbirds varied extremely widely. While many of the plywood Thunderbirds were professionally built, there were also knock down kit versions, and T-birds that were built from scratch solely off the plans as well. The boat that I raced was built with Bruynzeel mahogany plywood on cypress framing. She was home-built as an upscale, customized version of one of the kits. In Savannah around that same time, there was also a fir-plywood version that was home built off of the drawings Both of these boats had essentially the same simple but very workable interior layout, I was very interested in these two boats. At the time, I was designing a 26 foot MORC boat with plywood topsides and bottoms and with a cold molded radiused chine. I had already owned a wooden Folkboat and liked wood construction, I liked boats that size (eventually owning four different 25-26 footers), and had become attracted to fractional rigs after the Folkboat. I spent a lot of time studying the design and details of those two boats- crawling through them and making sketches and taking measurements. There had been a small one-design fleet of them in Brunswick, GA. or Charleston, SC that had disbursed by the time I was down there, and these two were built as part of that fleet probably within a year of each other. Even between these two boats, which were built as as one design class conforming, and which were built almost at the same time as each other, there were some mix of minor and pretty big differences. For example, there was a different number of longitudinal stringers between the two (the mahogany boat had fewer). One had the pop-top and the other didn't. One was resorcinol glued and ring nail fastened. The other used some other adhesive and was screwed. (I think he may have used Lifecaulk as an adhesive, but its a long time ago.) One had two portlights and the other had one big portlight. There were also minor differences in the deck plan. The kit boat had much lower coamings with a wider cap that you could comfortably sit on. The home-built boat simply had plank coamings with a metal cap that got painfully hot in the Georgia sun. The home-built had been hit at some point and the owner talked about how he replaced the damaged panel and stringer. It didn't sound too onerous or complicated. While I saw the repair, I don't recall how it was done, except that it involved WEST System epoxy and scarfing rather than adding permanent butt blocking. Other than to suggest that you need to carefully check the planking and framing inside and out, I would think that a Thunderbird would be a nice boat to own and one that should be pretty cheap to buy and maintain. Jeff  

The boat was unbeatable in our beer can fleet when the "old guy" was on the helm. When his (older) kids took it out, not so much. So, I suppose it can sail well if you have the skills and touch!  

The pictures look good at least. It would seem like a boat big enough to go places and tough enough to get you back as well. New cushions might make her "yours" and give her a more up-to-date appearance. Not for ramp launching, this one.  

paulk said: Not for ramp launching, this one. Click to expand...

Found this video on YouTube. The boat looks to be very well mannered surfing in some rough stuff.  

Arcb said: Found this video on YouTube. The boat looks to be very well mannered surfing in some rough stuff. Click to expand...

Assuming those are recent photos, that boat sure appears to be in nice shape. There are a few things that I wanted to mention. -An oddity of the T-birds is that they typically don't have stanchions and lifelines. -There are two rudder designs for the T-bird: The original and the later 'spade' rudder. The spade rudder is much preferred. The phot looks like an original. -Some T-birds still have wooden masts. I can't tell what that is from the photos. -The design had a provision for an outboard motor well. That was intended for a small, light, two stroke outboard. The boat I raced had a small outboard in a bracket. The other had a Seagull two-stroke in the well. They removed it, stowed it in the cabin, and had doors that closed the opening when they raced. Then again, watching that video, there aren't many 25 footers that will tolerate a person standing on the bow in seas like that! Jeff  

The ad mentions a motor well. Comes with a 9.9 2 stroke Johnson. I would replace the Johnson with my Torqeedo. The Johnson would cover about half the asking price I suspect. (The Torqeedo would cover all of it, selling the Bay Hen would buy me 2). Mast is aluminum. I will find out about the rudder. I think interior pics are recent, resolution and image quality suggest a fairly new cell phone, but the trailer pic shows a 4x4 chevy ASTRO mini van towing it, and lighting is a bit off, so I doubt it's recent.  

@boatpoker Any thoughts on this verbage under my home owners insurance? The boat is 25 feet 11 inches, horsepower is 1100 watts. under the liability section. (c) The ownership, maintenance or use of a boat or watercraft you own and which: • is described on the Coverage Summary page; • is not described on the Coverage Summary page, provided: - such boat or watercraft is not more than 8 metres (26?feet) in length; and - when equipped with one or more outboard, inboard or inboard-outboard motors, when such motor(s) do not exceed 38 kW (50 HP) in total per boat or watercraft; - - Demonstration Powered by HP Exstream 02/20/2019, Version 9.5.201 32-bit - - Page 39 of 46 RSWOCA100E-801364-20190701 2.0-4143 [20] • is newly acquired after the effective date of this policy, provided such boat or watercraft has the same characteristics as the boat(s) or watercraft(s) described on the Coverage Summary page. The coverage period is 30?consecutive days. This period begins on the date the boat or watercraft is acquired. It ends upon expiration of 30 consecutive days or termination of this insurance policy, whichever occurs first.  

thunderbird 26 sailboat

Arcb said: @boatpoker Any thoughts on this verbage under my home owners insurance? The boat is 25 feet 11 inches, horsepower is 1100 watts. under the liability section. (c) The ownership, maintenance or use of a boat or watercraft you own and which: • is described on the Coverage Summary page; • is not described on the Coverage Summary page, provided: - such boat or watercraft is not more than 8 metres (26?feet) in length; and - when equipped with one or more outboard, inboard or inboard-outboard motors, when such motor(s) do not exceed 38 kW (50 HP) in total per boat or watercraft; - - Demonstration Powered by HP Exstream 02/20/2019, Version 9.5.201 32-bit - - Page 39 of 46 RSWOCA100E-801364-20190701 2.0-4143 [20] • is newly acquired after the effective date of this policy, provided such boat or watercraft has the same characteristics as the boat(s) or watercraft(s) described on the Coverage Summary page. The coverage period is 30?consecutive days. This period begins on the date the boat or watercraft is acquired. It ends upon expiration of 30 consecutive days or termination of this insurance policy, whichever occurs first. Click to expand...

thunderbird 26 sailboat

The first two larger sailboats I sailed on were the King's Cruiser (I believe that was the name) and a T-bird. I was foredeck crew on the T-bird and we took first place 5 out of 7 seasons.The T-bird is an amazingly exciting boat to race, capable of taking on the very worst weather San Francisco Bay could throw at her. For the Bay, we did have 500# of extra weight because of the wind strength that was common there, since races were not cancelled for too much wind in those days. Delayed for fog, since one couldn't find the starting line anyway, in that pea soup. They were all plywood, w/no fiberglass, so they were very light. With their flat forefront areas due to the hard chine design, they plane easily down hill, enough so that their rudder can come out of the water (with a chute up), but thankfully you'll have your boom preventer and down haul very tight, which will act as a great oar to keep the boat from rounding up. I would recommend the T-bird as being so much fun, with such great sailing characteristics, for the price.  

Ya, I spoke to my agent and that's what it means. Boats under 26 ft are covered. And I spoke to another company that gave me a reasonable quote fir stand alone insurance, no survey required, just 10 "clear pictures from different angles". For some reason I thought a 45 year old wood boat would be hard to insure, but neither company seemed to care what it was made out of. But now my wife is saying let's hold off and get something bigger next spring 30-35 ft. That's fine by me.  

Arcb said: But now my wife is saying let's hold off and get something bigger next spring 30-35 ft. That's fine by me. Click to expand...

I owned one for a few years. It was the fiberglass hull. Absolutely loved that boat. There is a big fleet of them at Port Townsend. They are a bit awkward to handle under power with the engine stowed as it is but that’s a very minor complaint for a sailboat. Performance under sail was superb as others have indicated. I doubt you plan to leave it in the water and unattended over the winter, but if you do, check the bilge to see if it’s deep enough for a bilge pump. Mine was very shallow and inadequate for a common bilge pump. I used a shop vac on a timer to keep it dry but that wouldn’t have prevented a sinking obviously. Fortunately I got away without trouble but it made me nervous. I bought mine without a professional survey and had no trouble insuring it.  

thunderbird 26 sailboat

Had one about 30+ years ago. Glass over ply, wood mast. Paid $80 for it, abandoned at a Rochester NY marina, launched, sailed to Oswego and cut the mast and made tabernacle to raise and lower to travel the NYS canal. I could raise the rig in 15-30 minutes alone. Sailed it a few years before enlisting. Sold it for $300, the guy wanted to refit, he ended up chainsawing it and using the mast as a flagpole in his farm. It was a fun boat to Sail.  

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Aerorig on a Thunderbird 26?

Discussion in ' Boat Design ' started by misanthropicexplore , Jul 22, 2018 .

  • thunderbird 26

misanthropicexplore

misanthropicexplore Junior Member

How would a newly built Thunderbird 26 do with a purpose built Aerorig (equivalent) ? Would it be better to pay a designer to come up with a similar concept from scratch? (Better here meaning, safer for cruising without an engine).  

Rurudyne

Rurudyne Senior Member

Coolbeans that you have plans for the Thunderbird. I've read about the aerorig and like the idea too. As it's free standing I think the main concern outside of keeping the center of pressure located about the same (not rocket science) will be proper deck reinforcement and you might be well advised to seek out help for that, not because making the deck stronger is hard but because making it strong enough to do the job without being wildly overbuilt may be.  

Richard Woods

Richard Woods Woods Designs

I am probably the only one on this forum to have sailed both a Thunderbird and also several Aerorigged boats. if you are starting from scratch you would be much better off with a different hull design. The Aerorig has a number of disadvantages, including the fact that its a lot heavier and its difficult to get the rig balance right. As with all rotating masts fitting wind indicators, tricolour masthead lights etc is challenging. You also have to question why it was not a commercial success. Richard Woods of Woods Designs www.sailingcatamarans.com  

rob denney

rob denney Senior Member

misanthropicexplore said: ↑ How would a newly built Thunderbird 26 do with a purpose built Aerorig (equivalent) ? Would it be better to pay a designer to come up with a similar concept from scratch? (Better here meaning, safer for cruising without an engine). Click to expand...
I would suggest one reason for the lack of success that is relevant to a boat of the size in question and which would have a natural consequence as people move to larger boats. I'm sure I've seen this before somewhere even if I can't remember where or who from and I'm just repeating it. Boats of the size in question are often meant to be trailerable. The Balestron mast may not be as easy to take down and put up (a small Balestron with a pulpit style folding point should work given modern materials), being more involved than a mast for a junk rig would be. Since people's opinions are often shaped by their first love, so to speak, they want more of that. Or less of it I suppose depending on the circumstances of the breakup. Small commercial made or traditional rig boats are how many folks get into sailing and so that logically becomes their comfort zone.  
Well, thank you all for the advice so far. Yeah, I should have said Balestron. An Aerorig is a Balestron, but not all Balestrons are Aerorigs, sort of like SUVs and Jeeps. I wish I could say I had perfectly logical reason for all this, but it's all feelings. To me there is certain logical "rightness" in a balanced rig on an unstayed mast.. I'll probably put my first on a model, then the next on a PDR, and see how I feel about it. The 'Bird is just because well..there's just something lovely about that boat, in a simple, plain way. Something like farmer's daughter, I guess. The first one I make will be in November, and it's going to be cardboard 1:12, then a 1:6 in 1/8" ply and again, see how I feel about it. Richard, what did you think of the Thunderbird 26 in general, and why do suggest a different boat when starting from scratch? To me, an older, somewhat heavy, somewhat overbuilt design seemed like a good match for a somewhat heavier rig.  
Rurudyne said: ↑ I would suggest one reason for the lack of success that is relevant to a boat of the size in question and which would have a natural consequence as people move to larger boats. I'm sure I've seen this before somewhere even if I can't remember where or who from and I'm just repeating it. Boats of the size in question are often meant to be trailerable. The Balestron mast may not be as easy to take down and put up (a small Balestron with a pulpit style folding point should work given modern materials), being more involved than a mast for a junk rig would be. Since people's opinions are often shaped by their first love, so to speak, they want more of that. Or less of it I suppose depending on the circumstances of the breakup. Small commercial made or traditional rig boats are how many folks get into sailing and so that logically becomes their comfort zone. Click to expand...
My bad, the mast ... not the hull ... folds. That's what I meant to suggest. That said, most folding masts I've ever seen were stayed. Not sure how well an unstayed folding mast would work. Maybe, instread of the mast folding the whole footing could pivot around a single point at or just above the deck and clamp down tight at the base when straight up? Put some sort of giant waterproof boot around it like the on a car's stick shift maybe?  
The cockpit was horrible, very un comfortable, boat is quite tender until the big keel starts to work. Lots of room below though, but not sure about big sliding hatch and keeping it watertight in bad weather. I always assume developments improve products over time. You wouldn't buy a 1950's TV or car or washing machine. because newer ones are better. Same with boats The key for safe mast raising is keeping it in line, and that essentially mean stays or halyards led to the sides. And of course a deck stepped mast makes it all much, much simpler Richard Woods  
Rurudyne said: ↑ My bad, the mast ... not the hull ... folds. That's what I meant to suggest. That said, most folding masts I've ever seen were stayed. Not sure how well an unstayed folding mast would work. Maybe, instead of the mast folding the whole footing could pivot around a single point at or just above the deck and clamp down tight at the base when straight up? Put some sort of giant waterproof boot around it like the on a car's stick shift maybe? Click to expand...

CT249

CT249 Senior Member

Rurudyne said: ↑ Since people's opinions are often shaped by their first love, so to speak, they want more of that. Or less of it I suppose depending on the circumstances of the breakup. Small commercial made or traditional rig boats are how many folks get into sailing and so that logically becomes their comfort zone. Click to expand...
CT249 said: ↑ One thing that makes me wonder about a balestron rig on a T-Bird is that the very full entry means they need a lot of power to get upwind in light airs and a chop. I'm not an aero expert but in those conditions, big genoas seem to provide a lot of lift and are quite hard to stall if trimmed correctly. Whether a balestron rig can develop that sort of lift would be an interesting question. Click to expand...
Cutting headsail overlap from 150% to 105% in a cruiser/racer mono seems to reduce overall speed by about 1.5 to 2%. Obviously most of that loss is in light upwind conditions, since a short overlap is just as fast in a breeze and downwind most of the time under spinnaker. So the speed advantage of an overlap is very significant and, in such conditions, could well be greater than the speed advantage of a taller rig. There's been a lot of discussion over this since many people have moved to short overlaps to reduce ratings. When I have seen side by side comparisons of the same hull with overlapping and non overlapping rigs, the difference has been very significant in light air upwind conditions with chop. That's for a cruiser/racer like a Thunderbird with its very full bow; other boats would be different. Of course, a taller rig has heeling moment issues.  
I agree with CT249, there is lots of data both theory and practice to show masthead big genoas are better in light winds and/or a slop. In strong winds its reversed and of course offwind the big genoa has no benefit if you have a spi, and the smaller-mainsail rig is slower. Using a screecher on a multihull is not just to increase area nor for rating reasons RW  
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Basically, light winds and chop are a "low, continuous power under alternating light to medium load" problem. So are options in response would either be (1.) "increase the continuous power", (2.) "decrease the load", or (3.) Decrease the alternation, corresponding to: (1.) Overlapping genoa. (2.) Finer entry with less buoyancy. (3.) Heavier boat, holding more momentum in troughs. Right? There is a balanced sail rig I hadn't heard of called an Autares rig here, on page 22 http://www.nsrsail.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/SAIL_FinalReport_Engineering.pdf It looks like it could be rigged for overlap, if needed.  

glenn stewart

does anyone know about the bottom in a 1969 Thunderbird?

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  1. Thunderbird 26

    Thunderbird 26: Boat; Draft: 5 ft (1.5 m) Hull; Type: Monohull: Hull weight: 3,850 lb (1,750 kg) LOA: 25 ft 11 in (7.90 m) ... Sails; Total sail area: 308 sq ft (28.6 m 2) [edit on Wikidata] The Thunderbird class sailboat was designed in 1958 by Seattle Washington naval architect Ben Seaborn, in response to a request from the Douglas Fir ...

  2. THUNDERBIRD

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  3. Thunderbird 26

    The Thunderbird 26 sailboat was designed by Seattleite Ben Seaborne in 1958 as part of a competition by a Washington plywood company. The name "Thunderbird" honors it's Pacific Northwest origin. It has become a very popular racing boat on the Salish Sea. Port Townsend hosts the largest collection of these vessels; there are more ...

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  5. Thunderbird Celebrates 60 Years Of Devotion

    Thunderbird Celebrates 60 Years Of Devotion. The Thunderbird is a 26-foot hard-chine design. LOA: 25 feet, 11 inches LWL: 20 feet, 3 inches BEAM: 7 feet, 8 inches DISPLACEMENT: 3,850 pounds BALLAST: 1,534 pounds DRAFT: 5 feet SAIL AREA: 308 square feet (100 percent fore triangle), 163 square feet (genoa) CLASS ASSOCIATION: thunderbirdsailing.org.

  6. History of the Thunderbird Sailboat

    The first Thunderbird International Championship regatta was held in Seattle in 1966. The winner, Bob Johnson sailing #24 Takoa, claimed the magnificent newly carved perpetual trophy for the San Diego fleet. Two years later, Tony Redstone of Sydney Australia won the Internationals in San Diego sailing on a loaner boat.

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  8. First boat! Thunderbird 26 : r/sailing

    The Thunderbird was designed in the mid 50s for a design competition sponsored by the American Plywood Association. The winning design, by Ben Seaborne (great name for a boat designer) was chosen for its ease of build and affordability as a family cruiser and one design racer.

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  10. About

    About. The International Thunderbird Class Association is the governing body of the Thunderbird Sailboat. The purpose of the organization is to promote and develop the Thunderbird class under uniform rules. The organization maintains "The Black Book" which specifies measurements and required equipment in order to preserve the one-design ...

  11. Thunderbird 26?

    Arcb Discussion starter. 6139 posts · Joined 2016. #1 · Jul 22, 2023. My wife has an eye on a Plywood Thunderbird 26, why, I don't know, but it looks super clean and comes with a tandem axle trailer that is worth the asking price of the boat. I know nothing about this boat except what little info I have found online.

  12. Thunderbird 26 : r/sailing

    Thunderbird 26 . Hi all, just joined this reddit! Hoping I can learn a few things, and mostly hoping fo some advice, particularly with a boat I'm looking at buying : Thunderbird 26, year unknown. Even comes with a 'period' outboard, the good 'ol (old, old, old..!) Seagull outboard (which starts but struggles to keep going). ...

  13. Thunderbird Sailors and Owners

    A resource and discussion group for the Thunderbird Sailboat.

  14. International Thunderbird Class Association

    The current Board of Governors Who we are: The International Thunderbird Class Association is the governing body of the Thunderbird Sailboat. The purpose of the organization is to promote and Read More ... History. Posted on February 9, ... Team Raven from Port Townsend, sailing a loaner boat (Atomic Salsa), took three first place finishes on ...

  15. First boat: Thunderbird 26

    1. Sydney Australia. Jul 31, 2021. #2. Hi all from Sydney Australia. Just joined (be gentle!).. About to hand over $3500 for a Thunderbird 26 from 1978 in great condition & was wondering if anyone here had some advice for me... FYI I have wooden boat sailing in my blood (Great Grandfather hand built boats in Tasmania from Huon Pine) and for ...

  16. Aerorig on a Thunderbird 26?

    Maybe it would be better to say the rig works to 95% efficiency all the time. A conventional rig may work to 100% if you're an expert, but only 70% if you're not (ed: or if you are not prepared to trim the sails 100% of the time). A conventional rig needs extra downwind sails, ie spinnakers. The Aerorig doesn't.

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