Gozzard 36

Gozzard36250Nov2By Al Black

The H.T. Gozzard 36 bears no resemblance to the old-fashioned cutters, with their widow-maker bowsprits and running backstays. There are no running backstays in sight, and her bowsprit is a nice, wide platform that conveniently stows the anchor and provides a wonderful spot for dolphin watching.

She is a lady with a salty personality. Her clipper bow with trailboards and mahogany taffrail supported by turned spindles conjures images of the Spice Islands and palm trees. ‘In fact, our test boat, Mopion, was named after a small tropical island. And if you happened to see Virginian, the model on display at the 1996 Toronto International Boat Show, you should know that her chocolate and cream color scheme was chosen by her owner to match his home in the U.S. Virgin Islands when she is anchored nearby.

Her designer and builder, Ted Gozzard of North Castle Marine in Goderich, Ontario, sums up his design philosophy in one statement: “It is impossible to build a boat that pleases everyone.” Ted designs and builds boats to please a few. As it turns out, many more than a few have decided that the H.T. Gozzard 36 meets their sailing needs.

The cutter rig is interesting. It refuses to die. The H.T. Gozzard 36 is a true cutter, not one of the double_headsail sloops we often see around the Great Lakes. You can’t take a sloop and change it into a cutter just by adding a staysail. Traditionally, the basic change in the rig is mast placement. It is supposed to be stepped at least 40 per cent of the waterline aft. This puts the mast in the beamiest part of the boat so that a wide staying base is possible, the motion when working at the mast is reduced and the mainsail is smaller and more manageable.

The Larger foretriangle is filled with two small headsails rather than a single large jib. The staysail is usually clubfooted to make it self-tending. With the advent of aluminum masts and stainless steel standing rigging, I doubt that locating the mast farther aft to obtain a wider staying base is still relevant, although it’s consistent with the enduring aesthetics of the rig. There is no doubt that the smaller main is easier to handle and the true cutter makes it possible to carry a full main longer before it’s necessary to reef. (New jiffy reefing systems make taming a larger main simple and reliable.)

Shortening down a cutter is fairly easy. As the wind increases, roll up or douse the yankee (or topsail, as it is also known) and you have a snug inboard rig. If the wind increases further you could put a reef in then main. The next reduction might be a second reef in the main or a reef in the staysail. A double reef in the main and a reefed staysail should take you to the point where it stops being fun. After that just hope it’s not your watch!

It seems to me the key to an effective cutter rig is to end up with a staysail of large enough area that the boat will sail in moderate conditions. Most small cutters end up with a couple of hankie-size headsails, which are generally inefficient. At 36 feet, the Gozzard design seems to be able to carry a cutter rig that works. It won’t be as fast as a sloop and the twin headsails require close attention to trim in order to get the most out of the boat, but as Mr. Gozzard says, “You can’t please everyone.”

The day of our test sail produced a wind of about 12 to 15 knots apparent and a slight chop on Toronto’s Humber Bay. As we powered out through the Western Gap, the engine was smooth and quiet. The power comes from a four_cylinder 46-hp Westerbeke located under the cockpit sole and wrapped in a blanket of sound-proofing foam. At 2,800 rpm, Mopion, a pilothouse version, slipped along at seven knots and responded well, although the long keel increases her turning radius compared to fin keel designs.

We hoisted sail and reached along at between six and 6 1/2 knots in 15 knots apparent. The motion was soft and gentle and the long keel allowed her to track as if on rails. I was interested to see how well she would point, but unfortunately the yankee on the test boat was custommade for the owner, and was small and less powerful than the one in the standard sail package provided by North. Even so, like all cutters Mopion felt happier when sailed a little more off the wind than would be normal with a sloop.

The view over the cabin when seated at the wheel was excellent. The steering was light and responsive, with just enough weather helm cranked on to keep it from wandering. All controls are convenient to the helm, including switches for running lights, spreader lights and the cockpit floodlight.

One of the most pleasant areas on the boat is the large, comfortable cockpit. The taffrail and spindles add a sense of security and a large console/cockpit table/winch base provides a foothold when heeled. A special feature of the cockpit is the hinged boarding platform and swim ladder that folds down out of the transom. This allows you to get into the dinghy, mounted astern on davits, in style. A nice finishing detail: tucked into the transom gate formed by the folddown platform is a recess for storing a fuel can for the dinghy.

Sail controls are excellent. Rope halyards are led aft to winches and stoppers. The staysail traveler crosshaul lines and sheets lead aft to the cockpit. The large, high-cut yankee’s sheets lead to a turning block and then to a single winch mounted in the middle of the cockpit center console. Tacking the boat using the single winch worked well. The winch was conveniently placed for grinding, and casting off one sheet before loading the other was a simple manoeuver. The mainsail sheet is controlled by a second winch mounted on the same console. All winches are self-tailing. Deck gear is well-designed and of excellent quality, and includes custom bronze fairlead/cleat castings and bronze guards for the handsome butterfly skylights.

Movement along the side decks is easy until you reach the immediate shroud, which makes you step up on the cabin to get by. This shroud is designed to take the strain of the staysail and is led farther aft than the lower. As the main is eased when sailing free the shroud cuts into the sail and prevents the boom from squaring away from downwind trim. A quick-release fitting on this shroud would solve the problem. You would use the shroud when the wind piped up, but normally you would take it forward to the mast, out of the way. The only other solution to this intermediate stay is running backstays. They are really not as bad as their reputation, but just mention them around any boatyard if you want to start a heated discussion.

The foredeck has a self-bailing anchor locker. The propane installation has an electric solenoid control, but no pressure gauge. A good, husky rub rail surrounds the topsides. This is a real hull saver when cruising in strange waters and using unfamiliar docks. The ground tackle stows neatly, yet is ready to use quickly, which can be a lifesaver when operating in tidal waters or strong currents.

The deck trim can be mahogany or teak. If you choose mahogany, the varnishing is completed before the parts are fitted. This should prevent water from lifting the varnish off where the bedding does not seal. A teak cockpit sole is standard.

The companionway has a low sill instead of a bridge deck, which makes access easy. The lack of a bridge deck would require the diligent use of companionway boards when offshore.

This interior is a joy–light, well ventilated and homey. I am always suspicious of trick furniture. We have all seen the gadgets that flip up, fold down, spring out and presto, make an anchor locker into a private cabin. The H.T. Gozzard 36 has lifting bulkheads, movable berths and sliding doors and they work! They are well thought out, well-designed and well built.

The only part I would be uncomfortable with is the fold-up (or is it fold-down?) chart table. At sea the quarter-berth would be the prime sea berth. Having this chart table folding or unfolding at the head of the sea berth might not be convenient. While trying to imagine the boat in a seaway, I noticed that the interior has lots of handholds and movement for and aft down below should be safe. A safety bar on the stove is an option the cook should insist on before donning an apron.

A unique feature is the two single berths in the forward stateroom that pivot together to form a double. A sliding bulkhead insert and a double©hinged door close off the forward main saloon into a private stateroom. This will make an attractive cabin when in harbour. The head area, located on the port side aft, has a shower and happily the bulkheads are Formica so that water will not damage them. I still wonder about splashing soap and water on nice teak bulkheads, but many builders don’t seem to notice.

A large wet locker and huge hanging lockers along with good galley stowage will make cruising less of a hassle. Another nice feature on a cruising boat is a deep bilge. This will prevent bilge water from running up into lockers when heeled. Yes, Fred, there will be water in the bilge. A resident gremlin will see to that. I think it’s the same gremlin that enables wire halyards to reach out and pull the hair from the back of your neck!

Opening ports and hatches, along with self-stowing screens, make life aboard more comfortable. Other pleasing features below are caned locker doors, pressure water, double sinks and a first-rate electric panel, complete with circuit breakers, ammeters and voltmeters. Water and fuel capacities are respectable for cruising and the 17,000 pound displacement will allow the 36 to carry the necessary stores. Hull and deck use balsa core for strength, lightness and insulation qualities, resulting in a cool, quiet, dry boat belowdecks. Construction details are first-rate and the joinerwork below is extremely well-done, with mahogany veneers sealed with a satin varnish.

The builder offers a range of custom combinations, including the pilothouse model and various interior options. The list of standard equipment is impressive and includes solar-powered vents, pressure hot water, cockpit table, cockpit shower and self-tailing winches.

This boat will develop a following of sailors who undoubtedly will be more interested in crossing oceans than crossing starting lines. Its designer and builder understands this, and if you are one of those sailors who would rather pass lighthouses than LORC marks, this boat should be on your short list. The base price is $129,000. Packard Motors sold luxury cars in the past. Its motto was “Ask the man who owns one.” Try it.

Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s May 1986 issue.


LOD – 42 ft

LOS – 36 ft

LWL – 29 ft

Beam – 12 ft

Draft – 4 ft 6 in.

Displacement – 15,000 lbs

Ballast – 6,000 lbs

Sail Area – 610 sq. ft.


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