View Full Version : Sail Plan for Haven 12 1/2 Footer
02-01-2002, 12:55 PM
I seek advise/opinions related to the selection of Gaff vs. Marconi sail plans for a Haven 12-1/2 Footer I am currently constructing. I am not comitted to either plan and would appreciate advise from persons with experience with these sail plans on Havens or other small boats.
Please pardon me if this is old hat, just tell me where to go.
02-01-2002, 04:51 PM
Dan, sorry I can't help you with the sail plan but I'd like to know where you got the plans for the Haven. Are they the Joel White or the Herreshoff plans?
02-01-2002, 06:33 PM
The Haven is Joel White's design (centerboard), based on the Herreshoff "12 1/2" (keel), a design owned by the Cape Cod Shipbuilding Company.
Dan, my Haven is gaff rigged. The shorter mast is easy to handle and rig up by one person and easy to stow over length of boat/trailer. Those are points I appreciate. Of course you have an extra "moving part" with the gaff spar along with it's bridle and halyard. These require coordinated handling along with the main halyard when hoisting sail but it gets to be habit after a time or two. Otherwise, I find it easy to sail and forgiving as far as how you sheet it under different points of sail, in other words, I don't find myself constantly trimming it to maintain power. I've sailed it in stiff winds to its hull speed. It moves along fine in light wind as well. I also like the traditional look of it. It's a beautiful rig under sail. It catches peoples eye. Other notes: I keep all the mast shrouds and halyards rigged to the mast and use a velcro strap to hold them neatly organized to the mast just above the mast band level. If you don't do this, the small weight of the rigging on the long moment arm of the mast will feel like a hundred pounds when lifting the mast and make it very unwieldy (the first lesson you learn when lifting the mast into place first time). I have sail track along boom and gaff spar with hoops and bronze hoop connectors at the luff to hoops (just slide and rotate to connect). This all adds up to a fast bending on of sails. When going out, I usually motor out a channel and hoist sail on the bay. I flake and tie the mainsail with gaff spar to the boom using the gaff bridle/halyards to hold it up at it's normal boom position and pull it over to the rail with a thin shock cord. That gets it out of the way and allows the tiller to have it's full range without any boom crutch in place. I think I'll see about rigging a light topping lift to hold the boom while hoisting and lowering sail (handy no matter the type of rig). Because of the presence of the motor bracket (Bristol Bronze) at the transon/travelor area, I cinch in the mainsheet connection inwards a bit from boom end towards the mast with a line to avoid hanging the motor with the sheet on jibes and tacks. So far this has worked out very well. Center Harbor Sails was my sailmaker. The sails fit very nicely and smooth under sail. Hope this provide some food for thoughtin your choice.
02-04-2002, 06:47 AM
Thanks for the input.
HenryJ: I bought the plans for the Haven from WoodBoat. The plans include drawings of both the Marconi and Gaff sail plans. A "how to" book is also available from WoodenBoat. There is also a helpful website www.havenbuilders.com. (http://www.havenbuilders.com.)
DonM: Most of what you said went right over my head (I am becoming a boat builder, but I am not yet a sailor). I am starting to learn though. Sounds as though you like your gaff (I have seen your pictures and she looks good). I have printed your comments for future use!
I have read that a Marconi rig is faster than the Gaff. I have also heard opinions that the Marconi is easier to sail (less to fiddle with) but also less satisfying to sail (not enough to fiddle with). Anybody out there care to comment. Is it reasonable to think that a faster rig would make more efficient use of light air?
02-04-2002, 02:15 PM
This is second hand but it makes sense: I've heard that the Marconi points much better but the Gaff is faster down wind. In races the two compete evenly.
02-05-2002, 08:27 AM
Read a series of articles on different rigs in some old WB's i picked up at a yard sale last summer. The marconi rig is certainly more efficient to windward. There are also lots of 'go fast' stuff you can add to it. Boom vang, downhaul or cunningham, outhaul, leech cord are all sail trim extras that most small racing boats have. With alot of these extras it is difficult to learn how to trim them unless you are sailing against an identical boat. That's the great part about class racing. When your sailing along, neck and neck with an identical boat and start messing with sail trim, you get instant feedback in terms of falling behind or passing. Outside of the identical boat racing scenario it is harder to learn how to trim up your boat. What are you going to compare against? Wind and water conditions are never the same twice.
Gaff rigs developed primarily because of how easy it is to stow and rig the spars. Mast, gaff and boom are all usually shorter than the hull. Henry mentioned this in his response. A sail of the same area in a marconi rig will mean a much longer mast to handle. It will also mean greater weight aloft and a higher center of effort. This translates into a greater heeling force (can you say capsize). A gaff rig is definately more comfortable to sail in heavy wind. Gaff rigs also have an advantage when they are reefed. Reefing a marconi sail is more difficult and leaves the weight of the top of the mast up there were it is doing the most harm.
1900's small boat racing used gaff rigs, actually gunter rigs, exclusively. Marconi wasn't invented yet. A gunter rig is very similar to a gaff rig. They are not the same but I can't explain the difference. The main difference is that the angle between the gaff and mast on a gunter is much smaller. In extreme cases the gunter rig gaff looks like it is going straigh up the mast. I think the WB article said the angle for a gunter rig was 30 degrees or less.
It seems like a gaff rig with a small angle still gets some of the windward advantage of the marconi while maintaining alot of the advantages of the gaff.
02-05-2002, 09:25 AM
Just saw the post with the picture of your boat. Wow! This is your first boat building project? Fantastic job. If you pick up sailing half as fast as you picked up building, you'll be sailing circles around us in no time.
02-05-2002, 10:59 AM
Thanks Tim B for all the info on the comparison between gaff and marconi. I remain undecided, but have concluded that additional research is warranted.
Yep, this is my first boat. I must admit though, this photograph flatters my work. I have not quite gotten the hang of run free painting.
02-05-2002, 11:09 AM
Dan, go gaff. They look ever so much nicer, and the gaff makes for a nice place to fly a flag.
02-05-2002, 11:34 AM
I agree with Tim on everything except weight aloft. It seems to me that the weight of the gaff more than off sets the added weight from a taller mast on the marconi. I believe the center of effort on the marconi would therefore be lower.
I think the center of weight might be lower in the marconi rig, but the center of effort lower in the gaff. One factor there is the tendency of the peak to spill the wind when overpowered, where the high peak of the marconi keeps full pressure on with full mast leverage when laid over. I think the lower center of effort and the gaff rig would work best as well as look best.
02-05-2002, 12:39 PM
I'll admit to being biased, having picked my design BECAUSE of its gaff rig. (I prefer the sailing characteritics of gaff over marconi, there's all KINDS of "things" you can do to tweek a gaff without all those "gadgets" marconi sailors affect...) But you might want also to consider that the Herreshoff boats were originally designed with a gaff rig in mind. The marconi exerts much higher forces on the hull fabric in order to maintain suffecient tension on the stays and shrouds for that "improved" upwind performance. I've always wondered what, if any, modifications were made to the original H 12 1/2s that were re-designed/converted to marconi to account for this? Do Joel White's boats have any changes designed into the mast step, partners or chainplates for the two different rigs? At any rate, I've seen 'em rigged both ways. Lovely either way. Which one makes your heart flutter more? http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/wink.gif
[This message has been edited by Art Read (edited 02-05-2002).]
02-08-2002, 10:42 AM
There does not seem to be any indication in the how to book or the plans of changes to the construction of the boat for either sail plan. If I recall correctly, the plans provide sketchy information about the spars and most of that is focused on the gaff rig.
I agree that either sail plan is handsom. I probably favor the gaff slightly in terms of looks. The marconi is given consideration mostly due to rumors that it is faster and the possibility that it may make better use light air. And, having contrarian tendencies, the marconi is appealing because everybody seems to be building their Havens to the gaff sail plan.
Come to think of it, perhaps there in lies a noteworthy truth.
02-08-2002, 03:50 PM
Do you know what kind of conditions you will be sailing in (generally)? If you will be sailing in choppy water with light winds, you may do better with the marconi rig. In very light winds the gaff will have a tendency to swing around when the boat rocks due to wake generated by other boats, etc., and slow you down a bit due to wind being dumped off the sail. But that's a minor difference, and I think what you like to look at should dictate your choice. Good luck.
02-08-2002, 05:20 PM
Originally posted by Dan Nielsen:
...having contrarian tendencies, the marconi is appealing because everybody seems to be building their Havens to the gaff sail plan.
Sort of funny to think of the marconi as contrarian at the dawn of the 21st Century! http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/smile.gif
02-09-2002, 02:21 AM
When I was a kid on the Cape, the only gaff rigs to be found sailing out of P-town were my Dad's, the two, local schooners doing party trips and another sweet, old daysailor with a lapstrake hull reputed to be the oldest boat in town. Now, only one of the old schooners is still sailing there, the lapstrake boat has gone to hell after somebody from "away" bought her, (or so it's rumoured...) and my Dad's boat has been in various stages of restoration ever since my Dad gave her back to by the same old guy who originaly built her almost seventy years ago. Still, the last time I was there, I must have counted over a dozen gaffs rigs out there sailing... And most built of wood. Ain't it GREAT?
02-09-2002, 08:59 AM
I learned sailing on a 12 1/2 that was gaff rigged, but for me it was easier as I'd been on or near the water all my life and I was surrounded by sailors.
I do not recommend learning how to sail with a gaff rig. Sail handling is easier by a factor of two. When the sail comes down in a heap, there won't be this extra spar flogging anyone that is nearby.
The 12 1/2 is rightfully famous as it is one of the most forgiving of sailboats for novices.
Once you're secure in your sailing abilities and you know you're not going to drown yourself or anyone else, you can build a new rig to the classic design.
If you insist on the gaff, spend a week or two in a sailing course with gaff rigged boats. WB School isn't a bad place to start, either.
07-04-2006, 08:57 PM
I wouldn't worry about the weight of a gaff being a problem. I just
finished a boat similar to the Herreshoff Fish, and made the gaff out of Sitka spruce, holllow, birdsmouth construction. It is very light, yet
plenty stiff. With the lower sail plan, compared to a Marconi, the gaff
set up keeps the heeling moment down. The mast on my boat (also hollow) is 25 feet long, and I could take 18" off it and still have the peak halyard set properly on the gaff. It this were a Marconi rig, it would have to be a 30' spar, with an additional pair of shrouds.
As for windward ability, yes, the Marconi rig would be better, but on a hull form like the 12 1/2 this becomes pretty unimportant. This is not a boat you build to get to the windward mark first. Whether a 12 1/2 has a gaff rig or a Marconi it is going to get around the course in pretty much the same time. Disadvantage of a gaffer? Yes, they tend to have long booms which can trip in a wave on downwind legs --so take care in rolling seas, and hike up the topping lift if you have to. topping lift
07-11-2006, 07:59 AM
Hello all, I have used both the gaff on the 12 1/2,and the marconi rig on the fish class. In a heavy blow, when you want to take down the main, it comes down must faster with the gaff, also in like airs it would jibe at a passing powerboat wake quickly than a marconi rig. I have a 12 1/2 almost finished, next week pour the keel, I still have not made up my mind, about one or the other, like them both. Thanks Tom Mac
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