View Full Version : making whisker pole

06-11-2005, 12:00 PM
I need to make a whisker pole for my 24' boat. I was thinking of just using a piece of dowelling with a spring loaded hook on each end, and an eye screwed into the mast. I'm not to sure how much stress will be placed on this fitting on the mast and how big it should be. I have a hollow spruce mast. Has anyone done this? What other methods have people used? I don't have any space to set up some sort of large lathe.

06-11-2005, 12:08 PM
If bamboo is available in BC then that is a good choice for seeing if a whisker pole will do what you want. Use a closet rod(doug fir)as a sprit on my sailing rig for a 15 foot canoe.
Ross in Bel Air

Ray Weber
06-11-2005, 12:34 PM
A Birds Mouth Pole would be nice, Fittings for the ends are avalible at most Marine supply stores. I have a Wisker pole made of doweling, varnished every once in a while, has been on the boat for 20 years. For the mast fitting I use an existing cleat on the mast and a loop of small line through a hole in the end of the pole. Simple.

Tom Lathrop
06-11-2005, 03:26 PM
Whisker poles can be made from wood and many have. Your plan is prone to disaster though. An eye screwed into the mast on a 24 foot boat is not nearly adequate and could lead to damage or injury. The compressive force of a genoa on a whisker pose on a 24 foot boat can be very large, especially when the wind is forward of the aft quarter.

Closet rods and the like will not be adequate except in very light air. Standard end fittings are very expensive but well proven.

John B
06-11-2005, 04:28 PM
Jaws for the mast end.nice distributed load as opposed to the sheer stress on a screwed in fitting.

edit. that western red cedar , gorilla glued pole is still doing OK 5? years later. Crew still try to throw it into the main when they first pick it up( lighter than they expect ) ;)

[ 06-11-2005, 05:34 PM: Message edited by: John B ]

Bob Smalser
06-11-2005, 04:43 PM
Head over to Ebay Motors Boat Parts, so a search for "spinnaker pole" and "whisker pole", and you'll find a dozen of them you can scavange the hardware from to make the specific pole you need.

I make them birdsmouth style just like any spar.

Bill Perkins
06-11-2005, 09:52 PM
chergui ;Here's a pic of the spinnaker pole chart from a well respected text ( Skene's Elements of Yacht Design ) ,which could be a starting point for you .A round section isn't considered because it offers no payback in these struts ,though you'd probably round the end to accept a stock fitting. I concede that a spinnaker pole is not exactly the same as a whisker pole , but this is what I've got .

[ 06-12-2005, 01:06 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

06-12-2005, 01:14 PM
Ok, a proper wooden one it will be then. John, what holds up your whisker pole to the mast? My mast is flat on the sides and rounded fore/aft. I'm not sure if there would be enough curved surface for the jaws to work. Your mast looks like it is round. Are the jaws laminated or fastened?

The pole needs to be about 10 1/2 feet long. From the diagram posted, about 2" in diameter would be plenty.

So why is dowelling weak if it is made out of fir or cedar, wouldn't it be the same as making a spar the way we are describing and attached properly to the mast, or was the objection just the way I planned on fastening it?

Any source of info on the birdsmouth style? I read an article in WB #120 ("Making Spars In Vermont") where this guy builds hollow 8 stave masts. I have trouble imagining such a small whisker pole being hollow though. He has these custom shapers though to get the curve on the outside of each stave. In Rossel's book, Building Small Boats, he shows how to first make a 4 sided spar, then uses a sparmaker's guage to divide each side into 3 parts (7:10:7 ratio), and then planes it down to the lines marked with the guage making it 8 sided, then planes more until round, then sand. I wonder if that wouldn't be more suitable for a small pole?

Bill Perkins
06-12-2005, 02:26 PM
If you choose to go Round the author recommends a diameter 16% greater than the width of the square section taken from the chart .You can see how the corners of the square would protrude outside a circle inscribed on the crossection ,making the square pole a bit stiffer compression member than a round one with a diameter=W .

[ 06-12-2005, 03:36 PM: Message edited by: Bill Perkins ]

Wild Wassa
06-12-2005, 10:15 PM
The hollow wooden wisker poles that I notice are all sheathed in fibre glass cloth.

There is one advantage, when they break, they don't come back at you like a spear.


Dick Wynne
06-14-2005, 06:55 AM
Originally posted by chergui:
...and an eye screwed into the mast...If your main's gaff or gunter the lacing (or hoops) will catch on the eye and be a nuisance (tried that!) I now have a short (6" or so) brass track embedded flush in front face of mast and a slider on the pole which just drops into it. A way could be contrived to adjust the slider position up the track.

[ 06-14-2005, 07:55 AM: Message edited by: Dick Wynne ]