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Thread: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

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    Default Chinese Junks, Unstayed Masts in Tabernacles

    In "Voyaging On A Small Income" Annie Hill writes:
    "Chinese junks used to have their unstayed masts set in tabernacles and the mast was counter balanced with a heavy weight - just like a Broads cruiser. In Taiphun (typhoon) they would lower their masts and lie ahull until the blow was over. I can't imagine how they got them up again, but facts is facts and Weston Martyr mentions seeing it done in the Southseaman.
    ...
    I love the idea of counter-balanced mast, but unfortunately they need to go through the deck (in order to have the pivot point high enough upon the mast and low enough down to work the sails), which weakens the boat's structure and somewhat interferes with the accommodation. "

    Any construction drawings of unstayed masts set in tabernacles out there?
    Where exactly is the pivot point, in the deck hole?
    Any ideas how the counter balance works in this case?
    Where to have a look on lowing and then getting masts up again?

    Thanks!
    Last edited by dokondr; 06-22-2010 at 08:10 AM.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    No pix handy but the units I've seen put the tabernacle overhanging the after end of a hatch, thus taking advantage of the opening for the swing of the mast below the tabernacle. It's a lot as these step to the keel - like six feet or more on a boat with an actual accomodation below. The tabernacle itself is raised such that when the mast is down it's conveniently stowed, laying above deck structures and giving enough room that you can duck under to get from one side to the other. A bit high for vaulting over.

    I don't recall any masts that were actually counterweighted, though that's not a bad notion, but the ones I remember were singularly beefy below the pivot point.

    On smaller boats, the mast below the tabernacle passes through a slot made from a removable plank, rather than a whole hatch. The fore and aft beams on either side of the slot have some mass.

    If you have a thirty foot above the tabernacle mast - maybe 40 feet below the tabernacle pivot to the keel step - that's tapered and especially if hollow above the pivot, then you have a structure pretty easy to sway up.

    G'luck

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Phil Bolger has designed a lot of these. He favors them on the cruising sharpie designs in particular. Here's a link to one sketched by Jim Michalak. The easiest way to manage it is to go with a cat-ketch or similar rig that puts the main mast well forward in a well. Then the foot can swing up out of the well without interfering with cabin space. That same well is a good place to keep your anchor, etc., and provides a secure place to work up forward. Michalak shows a lanyard to haul own the foot, but a counterweight would make life easier as long as the boat can take the extra weight in the bow. To lock it in place, Bolger sometimes shows a board hinged up in the bow that drops down against the heel of the mast.


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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    ...Here's a link to one sketched by Jim Michalak.
    Clear drawing, thanks!
    What is the link to Jim Michalak site?

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    In case pivot point is right below the deck, when mast is lowered it can't lay flat on deck, it still has some angle to the deck, correct?

    To low and then to get up the mast, how many men may be required for a 39 footer?

    When getting down, if mast gets occasionally dropped, it may demolish the deck with its both ends, right?

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Interesting note: a form of tabernacle mast has been used on the traditional double-outrigger sailing canoes of Indonesia. Instead of a tabernacle, they use a stub mast. The foot/tack of the yardarm runs in a channel. For going downwind, they let the wind push the sail nearly upright, bringing sail COE forward. For reaching and beating, they tilt the sail (a Pacific crabclaw aka Oceanic lateen, with yard and boom) backward a bit (control line on bottom/tack of yard to the foot of stub mast). For beaching and fishing (these are day-fishing boats), they tilt the mast back to the horizontal and rest it in a crutch (where they also hang things they want to keep dry). The stub mast is a little higher than a typical tabernacle, so they have good room with the mast lowered. Very interesting. Drawings and photos in Horridge's excellent "Outrigger Canoes of Bali and Madura, Indonesia."

    I've seen a big tabernacle mast on a sailing barge (gundalow) at Portsmouth, NH, at the museum. They used these to sail hay, cord wood, etc., up and down the river (soem coastal work too I think), lowering the mast for bridges. They had a huge weight on the end of the mast as well as the control chains. -- Wade
    Last edited by wtarzia; 06-22-2010 at 09:31 AM. Reason: stunning improvements!

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    I've seen them in the Netherlands.
    The mast was stepped on the keel, and the tabernacle acted as mast partners along with those in the deck or the coachroof. The forward transverse partner was a large beam and wedge dropped in front of the foot of the mast.
    The hinge was an athwartships bolt through the tabernacle and mast a foot or two above the deck. When lowered the mast was caught in a gallows across the cockpit. The foot of the mast swung upward through a wide slot in the foredeck, which was normally covered by a board. The foot of the mast carried a large lead weight which made lowering and raising a one person, one hand, job, using the forestay.

    The crew of two could 'shoot' a bridge without stopping. The mains'l, and then the mast, would be lowered in the last few yards; the boat would carry it's way under the bridge, and then the mast and sailed would be raised again.

    Similar things happen on the Norfolk Broads. The skill of the crew is inversely proportional to the chaos which ensues.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    For a small boat with a tabernacle, there are pics here of a Core Sound 20 with an interesting modification for his unstayed, but keel stepped masts.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/bobcarls...dLakeMessabout

    Here's a pic. Slide the mast up till it just clears the deck, then rotate . . . .


    And, as Woxbox says, Phil Bolger did indeed design a lot of counterweighted masts, including those for his own liveaboard, Resolution, which had masts he could raise or lower with one hand. Check out his Ataraxia, Martha Jane, Long Micro and Swedish Cruiser for other examples.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by potterer View Post
    ...
    The foot of the mast swung upward through a wide slot in the foredeck, which was normally covered by a board. The foot of the mast carried a large lead weight which made lowering and raising a one person, one hand, job, using the forestay.
    ...
    When mast is swung upward, does the foot of the mast emerge on the deck together with a lead weight or it stays below the deck? How wide is the slot?

    I wonder how to make wedges and deck slot water-tight in this case ...

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Iain Oughtred's drawings for Haiku include the option of an unstayed mast in a tabernacle.


    I'm thinking of having a removable king plank to cover the slot in the foredeck.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Here is the arrangement on a Norfolk Wherry


    The halyard winch can swing sideways out of the way.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    When mast is swung upward, does the foot of the mast emerge on the deck together with a lead weight or it stays below the deck? How wide is the slot?
    On the one I sailed (as a passenger) as the mast swung down the foot of the mast emerged above the foredeck slot with it's lead weight still attached.
    Hence 'counterbalanced'.
    Under sail, the counterbalance lead weight seemed to be (part of) the ballast.
    The slot was a little wider than the mast foot plus weight.

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    I wonder how to make wedges and deck slot water-tight in this case ...
    I didn't look too closely (and/or I don't remember well) but I think that a transverse beam was dropped down in front of the mast foot, and a wedge was dropped between the mast foot and the beam. This stopped the mast foot from swinging forward and up under sail.
    I don't know how the slot cover was made water-tight, but I seem to recall that it didn't matter (?) It was rather like DavidF's kingplank.

    Nick's photo of a Norfolk Wherry shows a hatch cover in place of the kingplank/slot cover. As he says, the windlass swings aside to allow the mast foot to swing up.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    Here is the arrangement on a Norfolk Wherry


    The halyard winch can swing sideways out of the way.
    The mast on the wherry will probably be about fourteen inches square in the tabernacle and the counterweight will be well over a ton.Would this amount of weight cause a problem with the boat originally referred to?Here is another Broads boat with the mast down and the counterweight visible,in this case lead and I am aware that the mast has rigging.Were I to engage in mast lowering at sea,I would want to be sure that there was a very solid gallows for the mast and that the forehatch could be very securely retained at all times.
    http://s578.photobucket.com/albums/s...9.jpg&newest=1


    Last edited by John Meachen; 06-22-2010 at 03:40 PM. Reason: missing image

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by potterer View Post
    On the one I sailed (as a passenger) as the mast swung down the foot of the mast emerged above the foredeck slot with it's lead weight still attached.
    Hence 'counterbalanced'.
    Under sail, the counterbalance lead weight seemed to be (part of) the ballast.
    The slot was a little wider than the mast foot plus weight.
    Yes, I should have said 'when mast swings down'.
    Slot should be quite wide to accommodate for the lead weight, isn't it? Will the big slot weaken boat construction?

    Quote Originally Posted by potterer View Post
    I didn't look too closely (and/or I don't remember well) but I think that a transverse beam was dropped down in front of the mast foot, and a wedge was dropped between the mast foot and the beam. This stopped the mast foot from swinging forward and up under sail.
    I don't know how the slot cover was made water-tight, but I seem to recall that it didn't matter (?) It was rather like DavidF's kingplank.

    Nick's photo of a Norfolk Wherry shows a hatch cover in place of the kingplank/slot cover. As he says, the windlass swings aside to allow the mast foot to swing up.
    Why being water-tight doesn't matter?
    For the boat on Nick's photo I would assume a mast long and heavy for one to set up. What windlass on the photo can be used for? Can it be used to facilitate mast setting / lowering ?

    With all the advantages this type of mast provides (passing bridges and squalls with ease) why masts in tabernacles are not widely used these days?
    Last edited by dokondr; 06-22-2010 at 04:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    Slot should be quite wide to accommodate for the lead weight, isn't it? Will the big slot weaken boat construction?
    The lead weight will not be much wider than the heel of the mast, so the hatch will not be either. The mast beam behind the tabernacle is massive, the hatch carlings and the beam forming the slot head-ledge provide all the support needed for the fore deck beams.


    For the boat on Nick's photo I would assume a mast long and heavy for one to set up.
    No they were balanced so that one man could do it.
    What windlass on the photo can be used for? Can it be used to facilitate mast setting / lowering ?
    The windlass is for the halyard. The mast was tossed up by the skipper, his wife would have hauled in on the forestay fall until hubby came forward to help harden it up.
    With all the advantages this type of mast provides (passing bridges and squalls with ease) why masts in tabernacles are not widely used these days?
    The mast was a big tree, standing without shrouds. You can fit a tabernacle on a modern yacht, but it can be awkward to set up the shrouds so few people do it.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    ...
    The mast was a big tree, standing without shrouds. You can fit a tabernacle on a modern yacht, but it can be awkward to set up the shrouds so few people do it.
    Why to have shrouds with unstayed mast at all? The whole beauty of it - low-tech rig (such as junk rig) and no shrouds!
    Need to do some work with mast - just low it.
    Am I terribly missing something?

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    Why to have shrouds with unstayed mast at all? The whole beauty of it - low-tech rig (such as junk rig) and no shrouds!
    Need to do some work with mast - just low it.
    Am I terribly missing something?
    I have little knowledge of a junk rig, apart from knowing that river junks were significantly different from sea going junks.
    I am familiar with British craft. The wherry is a river boat, they very occasionally went outside from Yarmouth to Lowestoft, they would then rig shrouds to prevent the mast jumping out of the tabernacle in a seaway. The other craft that lowered their masts were all of the different classes of herring drifters, dipping lug rigged. They used the main halyard and a burton to support their masts in place of shrouds.
    I think that most sea going craft would need shrouds to support the mast when rolling. Otherwise there is a risk of the roll whipping the mast out of the boat.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    ... they would then rig shrouds to prevent the mast jumping out of the tabernacle in a seaway. The other craft that lowered their masts were all of the different classes of herring drifters, dipping lug rigged. They used the main halyard and a burton to support their masts in place of shrouds.
    I think that most sea going craft would need shrouds to support the mast when rolling. Otherwise there is a risk of the roll whipping the mast out of the boat.
    I see ... I thought that pivot axis going throw the mast into tabernacles together with wedges would keep mast safely in place.
    there's not a moment to lose! sail on

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    I see ... I thought that pivot axis going throw the mast into tabernacles together with wedges would keep mast safely in place.
    The pivot pin on the wherry sat on the tabernacle knees, not through them.
    However the mast is secured at the deck, rolling acceleration at the top of a mast will exert an appreciable force, causing the mast to bend. So there is a trade off between weight aloft and strength, as well as weight to be raised or lowered under control.
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    The Norwalk Island Sharpies have the option of unstayed masts in tabernacles, but usually carbon or ally.

    On Junks, we have several models bought in China in the 1930s. The big war junk (assuming accurate) has keel stepped masts with a full set of shrouds. It would have been 100 or so feet long.
    The smaller river types had unstayed masts with fixed parteners and tall lug rigs to catch the wind above the banks. The models would represent boats of the 1800s as they were old when bought.
    A

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    And now I recall the tilting mast set-ups in some whaleboats at the Mystic Seaport museum: mast stepped in keel but the parter is on a hinge, and the mast normally rides tilted back in the boat for rowing. Nice way to keep things secure yet handy. -- Wade

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    Why being water-tight doesn't matter?
    The Dutch canals are inland waterways: no waves!

    The IJsselmeer can get choppy, but you almost never get green water over the bows.

    For all the reasons Nick gives, I would hesitate before taking an unstayed mast, with a tabernacle, to sea.

    Oops, sorry: sails have feet; masts have heels; boats have bottoms and knees: knee-jerk reaction; p'r'aps I've lost my sea-legs.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by dokondr View Post
    Clear drawing, thanks!
    What is the link to Jim Michalak site?
    http://www.jimsboats.com/


    down at the bottom of the page is a list of articles.

    here's one on tabernacles

    http://marina.fortunecity.com/breakw...%20TABERNACLES

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    I tried the link but couldn't connect. Anyone have more photos or info on this tabernacle setup?

    Thanks,
    Gene

    Quote Originally Posted by DGentry View Post
    For a small boat with a tabernacle, there are pics here of a Core Sound 20 with an interesting modification for his unstayed, but keel stepped masts.

    http://picasaweb.google.com/bobcarls...dLakeMessabout

    Here's a pic. Slide the mast up till it just clears the deck, then rotate . . . .


    And, as Woxbox says, Phil Bolger did indeed design a lot of counterweighted masts, including those for his own liveaboard, Resolution, which had masts he could raise or lower with one hand. Check out his Ataraxia, Martha Jane, Long Micro and Swedish Cruiser for other examples.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles


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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Not trying to be persnickety, the boat pictured above is the Gundalow "Fanny M." and is a lateen rig.
    It is show fully hoisted, with a counterweight and tackle to "dip" the spar when going under a bridge.
    http://www.gundalow.org/about-us/what-is-a-gundalow/

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    HolyHannah!
    When I see such things it makes me think, people have done absolutely everything possible with a sail. The reefing! The counterweight! The low freeboard!

    And I suppose many of these things failed. And many succeeded. It seems we have a low tolerance for failure these days. Everything MUST succeed. And so we have a much narrower range of human expression.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    According to Alan Moore, author of the "Last Days of Mast and Sail" the mast and sail of a Norfolk Wherry was very quickly lowered and raised. When approaching a bridge the crew, these were two person craft, went forward, eased off the fore stay, and pulled the mast down over the hatches. The Wherry was carried through the bridge by its momentum. When clear of the bridge the crew gave the mast pat, to use Knight's words. The mast stood up and the crew made the fore stay taunt and then the sail was sheeted in.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    I'm thinking of putting a tabernacle mounted free standing mast on my ts16.
    This will be for the JR conversion.
    I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned


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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    The only big downside on some designs is the distance the mast projects behind the boat when dropped. This is why most tabernacle rigs are lugs, gaffers, etc.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by potterer View Post
    ..... I would hesitate before taking an unstayed mast, with a tabernacle, to sea......
    I've a good friend with a 38' Bolger-designed boat based in North Kent who not only goes to sea all the time without any stays on his tabernacle-mounted mast, but even races at sea in it. I never saw it rigged, so I can't help with the details, but I watched it being fitted out in a barn near here. I spoke with him recently and he said that the boat behaves itself perfectly and he wouldn't change a thing....which suggests he has managed not to lose his mast overboard.

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    The Wherry Albion, at Ludham Bridge.. from about 3 minutes in..

    https://youtu.be/Edyse9B89dQ

    Oh when they were fully loaded and trading the side decks would be awash with water, the two crew would live in the space either side of the mast hatch..

    Nicks Photo was taken at Horning Staithe , I believe during regatta week, just before the afternoon White boat race, some of my friends are in the back ground... Likely to be a Thursday as Albion is decorated with flags, for the traditional Thursday "Village regatta" day. with events on the staithe alongside.

    The White Boat (officially the Yare and Bure one design) also has a tabernacle mast, which swings up through the deck, for shooting the bridges..
    Last edited by The Q; 09-27-2021 at 08:40 AM.
    Just an amateur bodging away..

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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    The only big downside on some designs is the distance the mast projects behind the boat when dropped. This is why most tabernacle rigs are lugs, gaffers, etc.
    Good point, mine will be 6.5m on a 5m boat. Maybe a 1m overhang.
    Now if i have this right the recommended bury on the tabernacle is 10 percent of the mast length. So I'm looking at an above deck height of 650mm, and I'm happy with that.
    I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned


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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by The Q View Post
    The Wherry Albion, at Ludham Bridge.. from about 3 minutes in..

    https://youtu.be/Edyse9B89dQ

    Oh when they were fully loaded and trading the side decks would be awash with water, the two crew would live in the space either side of the mast hatch..

    Nicks Photo was taken at Horning Staithe , I believe during regatta week, just before the afternoon White boat race, some of my friends are in the back ground... Likely to be a Thursday as Albion is decorated with flags, for the traditional Thursday "Village regatta" day. with events on the staithe alongside.

    The White Boat (officially the Yare and Bure one design) also has a tabernacle mast, which swings up through the deck, for shooting the bridges..
    I've watched that before, mine won't pivot through the deck.
    I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned


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    Default Re: Unstayed masts set in tabernacles

    Quote Originally Posted by Woxbox View Post
    Phil Bolger has designed a lot of these. He favors them on the cruising sharpie designs in particular. Here's a link to one sketched by Jim Michalak. The easiest way to manage it is to go with a cat-ketch or similar rig that puts the main mast well forward in a well. Then the foot can swing up out of the well without interfering with cabin space. That same well is a good place to keep your anchor, etc., and provides a secure place to work up forward. Michalak shows a lanyard to haul own the foot, but a counterweight would make life easier as long as the boat can take the extra weight in the bow. To lock it in place, Bolger sometimes shows a board hinged up in the bow that drops down against the heel of the mast.

    What's interesting it's that's exactly how it was put on my FatCat2. http://www.jimsboats.com/15jul14.htm
    James D. Maxwell
    Missoula, MT
    Sailing Inland Seas
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