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Thread: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

  1. #1
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    Default Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    I acquired a little sailing dinghy to use as a tender for my larger sailboat when cruising, and as a fun little day sailor for the local lake on hot summer days. The previous owner had never sailed it and I when I picked it up last Thursday the entire rig was completely disassembled. I mean, completely. There was nothing attached to anything. Bare spars, and a bag of small blocks and padeyes and such. I spread it all out on the lawn and got it together enough to sail it on the lake on Friday and Sunday, as it was the hottest weekend I've seen so far this summer, it almost hit 70*! Lol. Yes, we've been having a miserably cool summer. At any rate, I'm sure I've got a few things wrong. The main sheet is certainly not right, and I've never sailed a gaff rig so I'm guessing I've got the gaff halyard hopelessly botched at the top of the mast. The gaff has three holes that look to be sized to pass the halyard through, equally spaced along the length of the gaff. I'm hoping someone can link to something that would give me an idea of how a little tiny gaffer would normally be rigged. I apologize in advance as the boat is frozen snot, but I thought you guys would be the best resource for gaff information. The spars are wood though! Thanks in advance.

    Here's a pic of the boat in question on the lake yesterday...


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Here's another pic that shows the rig a bit better, although there was water on the lens. (One of those little waterproof point and shoot fellas.) I've got the gaff halyard, which terminates in a ring, going through two of the aforementioned holes and is then fed back through it's own ring before it goes to the block at the top of the mast there.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    If I understand what you say correctly you're using the halyard to make the gaff span? The span is the little bridle attached to the gaff. If thats so , I think you're missing a bit of line that makes makes that( the span) . The ring on the end of the halyard just travels on that.I imagine.
    When you set the sail , just pull the halyard on till creases come in from the peak of the gaff down to the tack. That'll put a bit of shape in the sail.

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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Ah, yes, I'm using the halyard to make the span. What you say makes sense, as the halyard is a bit short the way I have it rigged. That helps, and gives me a starting point. Thank you.

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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Agree with John. The gaff bridle is a separate short line that spans the outboard third (or thereabouts) of the gaff. The halyard connects to this bridle with a ring or thimble, allowing the halyard to slide along the bridle as the gaff is peaked up. In your second photo, the throat halyard needs to be tightened to stretch the sail along the mast, and the peak halyard needs also to be snugged up to raise the head of the gaff.

    If you can't get sufficient purchase to raise the head of the gaff properly you may have to go with a two-part tackle.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Excellent info, thank you. So, in that photo, I've got the "bridle" threaded through the first two holes in the gaff. The last hole I've used to attach the sail. I will change to a short line for the bridle as per your advice. Do you think I am using the proper two holes, or should I be pulling from farther out on the gaff?

    I believe I can get adequate purchase with the existing tackle. It's a very small boat, 8', and the rig is very light. I'm trying to use the existing rigging and assemble it as designed, and the halyard is not long enough for double purchase rigging there. I've searched, but I can find no info on this particular builder or model. So far, you both have given me fabulous insight.

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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    I think you might get better lift on the gaff if you use the outboard hole for the bridle, while keeping the inboard connection in the same place. Best to experiment with the boat on the trailer until you get the proper balance. A gaff sail is truly a joy when it's set up properly because it affords tremendous control over the sail shape. Flat to baggy any everything in between.

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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    You'll want to raise the sail with the gaff horizontal and tighten the luff (throat halyard) first and belay it. Then you raise the gaff up with the peak halyard, stretching the sail taut. Experimenting with where the bridle hits the gaff should help you figure out what's right. My Bobcat does not use a bridle (span); the peak halyard attaches about 2/3s of the way out to the end of the gaff.

    As for the main sheet, I can only tell you how my main sheet is rigged. One end is made fast to near the end of the boom. The sheet then goes through a block on the traveler and then up to a block on the boom. It runs from that block along the boom to another block and then down to a swivel block on the aft end of the centerboard case. The block on the traveler is a double block one on top of the other, but set at 90 degrees. The traveler line goes through the bottom block, the main sheet through the upper block.

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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Wow, that is incredibly helpful. Both how to raise and tension the sail and the main sheet info. I am guessing that my main sheet rigging is supposed to be somewhat like yours, minus the traveler. I have a bridle, which I have been rigging on the transom. There are padeyes for blocks on the boom at both the boom end and above the cb trunk. I was not sure how to rig it so just had it rigged at the boom end, but what you say makes sense with the existing parts I have, namely a couple of spare blocks and padeyes. Thank you for that, I'm excited for daylight so I can correct this stuff.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    I think you might get better lift on the gaff if you use the outboard hole for the bridle, while keeping the inboard connection in the same place. Best to experiment with the boat on the trailer until you get the proper balance. A gaff sail is truly a joy when it's set up properly because it affords tremendous control over the sail shape. Flat to baggy any everything in between.
    Great,thank you, I'll try that. I am quickly learning about the joys of the gaff sail, I had a few downwind runs that had me laughing. I made a spinnaker out of that thing!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    Sorry if I confused you: my traveler is a rope bridle.

    You may have a topping lift as well. It's a line that supports the boom while you raise and lower the sail. Mine is rigged like this: one end is made fast at the end of the boom and then goes through a block (dumb sheave in my case, which is just a rounded hole through the mast) near the masthead. The line goes from the masthead down to a block on the deck and back to a cleat. You tighten the topping lift before you set sail to support the boom. Once the sail is set, you slack it off. When you're ready to dowse the sail, you tighten up the topping lift so you can let the sail come down, but not have the boom collapse in the boat.

    NW Washington? Whatcom County?

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    I don't think it has any more rigging at the masthead, so I'm thinking no topping lift. Although I am doing my speculation solely from inspecting the boat/spars for signs of old mount points, wear, etc, and trying to match them with the bag of parts, so I could very well be wrong.

    Clallam. That's Lake Crescent there, just a couple miles away for me.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    If you don't have a topping-lift, I would seriously consider fitting one.
    It helps lift the boom when setting sail, and so reduces the effort to raise the sail: it keeps the boom out the way when striking sail ( as mentioned by Bobcat): if a double-line is used ( on each side of the boom, but more inboard than the very end), it controls the gaff when setting, striking and furling the sail: it is necessary in order to "scandalize" the sail, a method of temporarily de-powering a gaff-rig by raising the boom and dropping the peak-halyard, very useful.
    All-in-all a very useful bit of rig on a gaffer, and very easy to sort yourself.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Gaff rigged sailing dinghy rigging help

    I agree with some of the above; JohnB et al. The temporary "bridle" actually looks in about the right place to me.
    Yep, tighten the luff - it looks a bit slack in the pic - then peak up until the sail creases from peak to tack. It's easier to slacken the peak later if it's too tight than trying to get it tighter when you're sailing.
    Yep again for the bridle for the sheet; the more vertical you can get the downward pull on the boom the better the sail will set.
    A 2 1/2 meter boat doesn't need two part halyard tackles. Even a child has enough muscle to get the required tension.
    Yes, a topping lift is a handy piece of gear, but again, this is a 2 1/2 metre boat, and it would be just an unnecessary complication there.
    "The truth shall make ye fret" - Terry Pratchett

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