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Thread: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

  1. #1
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    Default Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    I am nearing completion of a modified Catspaw dinghy (12' 10" X 4' 7"). I am making her a little wider and heavier (made the keel 5 1/2" at widest with stem to stern rabbet) due to the high winds we have in Newfoundland.

    I would also like to be able to reef the sail to allow for more days on the water (not in it).

    I would appreciate any thoughts on using a SKERRY or ELFYN lug main sail kit from SAILRITE instead of the sprit rig in the builder's plan. The sail areas are close.

    Planking is complete, but still have the option of moving the mast step and/or changing rake.

    I am working away (at sea) now - but will post pictures of the new build once I arrive on land next week. (we all like the pictures)


    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    I'd recommend choosing a sail plan from the many Oughtred designs. You'll want to buy the Oughtred plans for the rig (they'll be for the whole boat, but you'll just use the rig, and maybe the foils). The plans will include spar length and scantlings. It's just easier to have all the correct info so you can do it right the first time. Sailrite has pretty much all the Oughtred sails ready to go. It's not that much extra to have Sailrite sew you the sail, too, if that's not your bag.

    Now is a good time to choose a rig. You'll want to look at the plans and sketch the rig, foils, centerboard trunk into your boat, before getting too far along in the construction.

    I don't know which rig you should choose. I can say that a small boat with a lug can carry more sail than a small boat with a sprit. The lug is so easy to reef that you can always just shorten sail when necessary. It's sort of like having a working jib, then a genoa. (You can ghost in lighter wind with a lug, mostly because you can carry a larger sail.) It could be that you're looking at sails that are too small.
    Last edited by Yeadon; 08-07-2017 at 04:18 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    I would say that taking in one reef in a sprit main is no more difficult than a lug sail, and I kind of doubt you'd want more than one reef on a 12 foot boat. The sprit rig also has the advantage that if you take out the sprit and tie down the peak, you more or less half the sail area albeit the sail isn't as effective, we call that "sailing by triangle".

    /Mats
    My blog about my time as a boat building student and as a rigger apprentice http://kaptenmohsart.blogspot.se/ in Swedish only, but there are many pictures :-)

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
    I'd recommend choosing a sail plan from the many Oughtred designs. You'll want to buy the Oughtred plans for the rig (they'll be for the whole boat, but you'll just use the rig, and maybe the foils). The plans will include spar length and scantlings. It's just easier to have all the correct info so you can do it right the first time. Sailrite has pretty much all the Oughtred sails ready to go. It's not that much extra to have Sailrite sew you the sail, too, if that's not your bag.

    Now is a good time to choose a rig. You'll want to look at the plans and sketch the rig, foils, centerboard trunk into your boat, before getting too far along in the construction.

    I don't know which rig you should choose. I can say that a small boat with a lug can carry more sail than a small boat with a sprit. The lug is so easy to reef that you can always just shorten sail when necessary. It's sort of like having a working jib, then a genoa. (You can ghost in lighter wind with a lug, mostly because you can carry a larger sail.) It could be that you're looking at sails that are too small.
    Isn't the ELFYN an Oughtred design? Their site has it listed in the catalogue.
    I am ok with a smaller sail. I can't empathize enough our predominately strong winds and let's face it, this isn't a racer.

    I should have read more prior to my initial post. The fact is I know very little about sailing and am afraid of ruining the Catspaw by changing the sail or mast rake or mast step placement before input from those who know. I am hoping for input form those who have personal experience in either successfully changing the setup or reassurance that quick spritsail reefing is easy and will cover my worries.


    Thank-you for the information
    Last edited by Newfoundlander; 08-08-2017 at 11:01 AM. Reason: looked too ingrateful and knowledgeable on my part

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    Quote Originally Posted by mohsart View Post
    I would say that taking in one reef in a sprit main is no more difficult than a lug sail, and I kind of doubt you'd want more than one reef on a 12 foot boat. The sprit rig also has the advantage that if you take out the sprit and tie down the peak, you more or less half the sail area albeit the sail isn't as effective, we call that "sailing by triangle".

    /Mats
    In my personal experience with the sprit rig, I'd say that for a singlehander, taking in one reef on a sprit rig is much much more difficult than doing so on a properly organized balance lug. It's just a fistfight and a half. It might be profoundly easier if you have two people in the boat and both know what they are doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Newfoundlander View Post
    Isn't the ELFYN an Oughtred design? Their site has it listed in the catalogue.
    I am ok with a smaller sail. I can't empathize enough our predominately strong winds and let's face it, this isn't a racer.

    I should have read more prior to my initial post. The fact is I know very little about sailing and am afraid of ruining the Catspaw by changing the sail or mast rake or mast step placement before input from those who know. I am hoping for input form those who have personal experience in either successfully changing the setup or reassurance that quick spritsail reefing is easy and will cover my worries.


    Thank-you for the information
    Two thoughts.
    1) Changing your rig type is do-able. I've worked it out twice now on different boats. Both were generally successful efforts. You may want to employ the assistance of a small boat designer to help you work out the details.

    2) I've cruised a spritsail enough to know that it's easy to shake a reef out of a spritsail but a pain to put a reef into a spritsail. A spritsail could be a good choice for someone without much sailing experience. Once you get the hang of how hard to tension the snotter, it's a very simple sail. And if you can manage to work singlehanded through the reefing drill with general competence (3-5 minutes) you'll probably have turned into a pretty decent sailor by then. In comparison, you can reef a lug in about 90 seconds (especially if you have a bit of fear in your belly).
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeadon View Post
    In my personal experience with the sprit rig, I'd say that for a singlehander, taking in one reef on a sprit rig is much much more difficult than doing so on a properly organized balance lug. It's just a fistfight and a half. It might be profoundly easier if you have two people in the boat and both know what they are doing.
    Perhaps a bit too much off topic, but I'd like to know what you think is hard reefing a sprit sail.
    What I do is
    1. pull down the snotter to a bit below correct height for the reefed sail.
    2. lower the sail to where it should be when reefed.
    3. untie the line tied or spliced to the tack and take it through the reef tack and pull it tight
    4. push up the snotter into position.
    5. move the sheet to the reef clew.
    6. tie up the sail with the reef nettles.
    Without more than a couple of days of sprit sail experience, it took me perhaps one minute to do, now I'll probably do it in 30 seconds. With help I can do it without even changing the course of the boat; alone, even when the tiller is tied for a particular course, the boats course would wander slightly.
    (This is for boats no longer than 20'.)

    /Mats
    My blog about my time as a boat building student and as a rigger apprentice http://kaptenmohsart.blogspot.se/ in Swedish only, but there are many pictures :-)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Elfin/Skerry lugsail for Catspaw?

    Yeadon and Mats,

    Thank-you both for sharing your knowledge.

    I have just ordered the spritsail kit from Sailrite. (they do not offer the option to put the sail together anymore as I have read in older posts) I will learn to sail with the intended rig and scandalize as required. (Sailrite kit does not include a reef) Now, if I can only talk my wife into putting the sail together.

    Dave

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