View Full Version : Penn Yan CarTop sail addition

07-08-2015, 10:26 AM
I have this boat. A Penn Yan CarTop.

I would like to add a sail. What do you all think? Worth attempting?

I have never built a boat. I have basic carpentry skills and tools.


07-08-2015, 11:06 AM
Penn Yan sold a sailing package for the CarTop. From their 1944 catalog:


07-08-2015, 11:15 AM
I have many dreams of building one of Iain Oughtred's boats. An AT or NY.. but feel it would be good idea to learn to sail first! :\ Adding a sail package to my little CarTop would serve the purpose and give me a small project to get my feet wet, as it were, with boat building.

07-10-2015, 04:02 PM
I have decided to go ahead with this. The fact that the company sold a sail package gives me confidence it can be done and will sail reasonably well. I will use the description and illustrations from their '44 catalog (linked above) as a general guide and track my progress in this thread. First I will need to learn something about at least that part of boat building that involves mast, rudder, dagger board (correct term?). To that end, I've picked up the following books:

Wooden Boats to Build & Use (Maritime)
Gardner, John

Building Small Boats
Rossel, Greg

If anyone reading this has advice on other good reference material specifically about the above, please post it here.


07-10-2015, 04:07 PM
that should work fine. With leeboards there is sort of "no harm done" to the boat, and there are no issues about how to create the structure and strength required for a centerboard. -- This looks like basically a canoe sailing rig.

Todd Bradshaw
07-10-2015, 09:28 PM
The basic plan is pretty simple, though there are a few changes that would make it easier to build if desired, and probably work just as well or better . The sail could be laced to a round mast, avoiding having to build a mast with a sail track groove, and/or one that rotates. It's unlikely that any performance difference would be noticed and it's a lot simpler to build. It's also worth doing something other than their hook bolts for attaching the mast thwart and leeboard bracket. Metal hook bolts are really hard on wooden gunwales. The easiest scenario is two wooden bars, one on top of the gunwale and one under it, connected by bolts. When you snug up the bolts, the bars sandwich the gunwale without tearing it up. If you do decide to fabricate some hook bolts, you want to also fabricate some sort of metal fitting or plate attached to the gunwale to protect the wood.

The sail has a batten on the foot, which is totally not needed. It's there to prevent flapping, but if the foot is cut properly, it will not flap in the first place. It would also be pretty easy to fit the forward end of the boom with wooden jaws and a simple downhaul line and cleat, instead of needing to find or fabricate a metal gooseneck. The sail itself is pretty simple and could be replicated with modern Dacron to still look like the originals.

07-10-2015, 11:31 PM
Thank you for the advice on modifications. A round mast sans groove sounds good to me. I do not plan on sourcing or fabricating the original metal bits so also like the idea of gunwale clamps to attach the leeboards. The mast thwart can be permanently attached, unless there is some advantage to it being moveable. I found the thread below with pictures of wood boom jaws similar to what you recommend.



07-12-2015, 09:20 PM
I've reviewed the sections on thwarts and spars in Rossel's book (still waiting for Gardner's book to arrive) and put together the following rough dimensions and materials list. Other than the length of the mast, no measurements were given on the catalog page so what I have here is based off measurements from my boat and good old fashioned guestimating.


Mast thwart: 39x4x1 inches
Mast foot: ?
Mast: 11 1/2 feet
Boom: 9 feet
Sail: 42.5 square feet
Top Leeboard bracket: 54x4x1 inches
Bottom Leeboard bracket: 48x4x1 inches
Leeboards: 48x12x1 inches
Rudder: 42x12x1 inches
Tiller: 42 inches


Four 1x6x12s

Four 1x4x10s

Douglas Fir
Two 1x4x8s



07-12-2015, 10:50 PM
Unsure of what species wood to pick up for the leeboards and rudder. I've seen white oak, mahogany, and marine douglas fir (I assume this is plywood) recommended.

07-12-2015, 10:57 PM
Plywood won't split