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Thread: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

  1. #1
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    Default Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Hello, I am so frustrated, I am new to gaff rigs and I am trying to bend the mainsail on. I am aware of the various methods, ribands as well as lacing and I very much want to lace it on. I have what are considered great books that should theoretically square me away. I have "Hand, Reef, and Steer" I have "The Complete Riggers Apprentice" among others.
    All show the pattern of marlin hitches- that part is no problem, but none of them show how to start it. What knot is used through the hole at the end of the gaff? What about the two holes right before the gaff jaws?
    can someone shed some light on this for me? There seems to be a good reason for the proper way of doing things and I want to learn it. Any photos would be a huge help.
    My boat is a Blue Moon yawl and while I (as well as my sailing friends) are well versed in modern Bermuda rigs I have no knowledge-yet on traditional sailing rigs but want to learn badly.
    Thanks in advance to any who can help

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    One school of thought on the subject is to avoid any sort of continuous lacing, hitching, etc. and go with individual robands (ties) at every grommet. The reason is that they are immune to group failure if anything goes wrong, chafes through, comes undone, etc. Reason #2 is that you can prevent the sail's shape changing away from what it was designed to be. The migration of slack in the lacing lines and the subsequent shifts in the distances between the edges of the sail and the spar can change the sail's draft amount and its location, and generally not in a desirable way. Individual ties don't allow this.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    My only experience is with smaller boats, but I really like the flexibility of robands -- and they allow you to easily remove and re-attach the sail quite quickly when compared to most sail-lacing systems.
    "The enemies of reason have a certain blind look."
    Doctor Jacquin to Lieutenant D'Hubert, in Ridley Scott's first major film _The Duellists_.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    here's a cool diagram showing some old-fashioned ways.. not sure what book it's out of.
    basically looks like a lashing will do, they call it 'head earring'


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Looks like those are from zu Mondfeld's book? Fun book!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Ah!! Thank you so much for that illustration! That is precisely what I was looking for!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    I like a proper running lace on all edges that contact a spar - luff, head, and foot - because lacings in combination with outhauls and halyards allow excellent control.

    Marmalade's 620 square foot sail did not have problems with this system.

    The lace starts through a grommet and around the spar, secured with a tautline hitch. Then it goes around the mast to the next grommet and back around the mast on the same side to the third grommet, and on as in the illustration "better" below. ("Good but can jam" is alltogether worthless.)



    There are many systems for lacing a sail to a spar - half hitches, marling hitches, spirals, et cetera - but this lacing used on the luff allows the sail to be raised and lowered without jamming, and on a gaff or boom this allows for easing when the sail is down and fine adjustment depending on wind or point of sailing.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Keep it simple. Try to avoid big boat gear like parrell beads, gaff span shackle,wood hoops

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Jimmy, your question seems to be about how to lash the sail to the gaff at the throat and peak.

    I use a separate lashing line at each corner. I begin the lashing with a Buntline Hitch to the grommet in the sail, then I make multiple passes through the hole in the spar and the grommet, adjusting tension on the sail as I go, then finish it with a couple Half Hitches around the lashing. If there's a bit of extra line left, I cover the lashing with Cow Hitches to neaten it up. It looks neat enough and it's easy to undo if it needs adjustment.

    All this is in the Ashley Book of Knots. No rocket science.
    Last edited by Rob Hazard; 05-14-2019 at 08:14 AM. Reason: clarity

  10. #10

    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    The Thomas Gilmer "Blue Moon"? Photos please JimmyOnions!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    I don't usually lace my sails to the spars, but use robands or rather soft shackles.
    But I've seen spiral lacing recommended (I think in Hand, Reef and Steer) for the reason that an uneven lacing will sort itself out by itself and the load will become evenly distributed along the whole edge of the sail.
    As to how I do with the peak and throat on a gaff, I have a thin line spliced to the cringle, that I basically use in the same as Rob Hazard does. Some trial and error to find the exact point for the throat and fasten that line, then tension the head by tightening the peak line. Finally secure the head to the gaff by lacing or another method.

    /Mats

    Elected Swedish Yourneyman of the Year 2019

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Fasten the peak of the sail to the end of the gaff with a piece of line. Tighten the head of the sail with a temp line around the mast( to get it tight).Put a permanant line at the throat , release the temp tensioner.
    Use individual lines ( ribbands) on the hoist, minimize them , do not use 10 if 7 will work.
    Do the same with the foot as the head.
    Use a two second shot of silicone spray on the robbands.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Silicone spray -- absolutely not. Silicone is a lubricant that is largely inert to solvents, so once it contaminates a surface it is extremely difficult to remove. And that's not the worst part. Being a lubricant, it's the enemy of adhesion. Paints, varnishes, adhesives, sealants. Nothing wants to stick to it, and that might cause you a big headache further down the road.

    I would also comment that head and foot tension adjustments are done at the peak and the clew, not at the throat or the tack. The reason the throat and the tack are secured in fixed positions is that sail edges that are attached to spars need to be kept straight (or gently curved if spar bend is expected) if the sail is to set properly without causing wrinkles or hard spots in the corners of the sail.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    You're correct Rob, that was my question. Thank you for that info! I just ordered the Ashley book just now. I appreciate the info and will try your method! I am hoping to take her out this weekend!

  15. #15

    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Might be too late for you now but, as of fairly recently, the Ashley Book of Knots can be downloaded for free.

    I also recommend the Animated Knots website, also available as Apps:

    https://www.animatedknots.com/
    Last edited by Anders Bjorklund; 05-14-2019 at 06:35 PM.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    34EB2E2C-3813-4E15-BCD3-52F2D471FFEA.jpgSure Anders, here are some before and after pics. I just acquired her last February, she is the very Blue Moon that John Almberg owned in his book "An Unlikely Voyage" I bought her from the gentleman who bought her from him. She has needed a little TLC but not much. Aside from two small Dutchman repairs on the transom she just needed some good sanding and a little fairing and some paint.

  17. #17
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  18. #18
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff


  19. #19
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  20. #20

    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Wonderful Jimmy -- I've admired Blue Moon's looks for a long long time. Please do keep us posted!

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Quote Originally Posted by Anders Bjorklund View Post
    Silicone spray -- absolutely not. Silicone is a lubricant that is largely inert to solvents, so once it contaminates a surface it is extremely difficult to remove. And that's not the worst part. Being a lubricant, it's the enemy of adhesion. Paints, varnishes, adhesives, sealants. Nothing wants to stick to it, and that might cause you a big headache further down the road.

    I would also comment that head and foot tension adjustments are done at the peak and the clew, not at the throat or the tack. The reason the throat and the tack are secured in fixed positions is that sail edges that are attached to spars need to be kept straight (or gently curved if spar bend is expected) if the sail is to set properly without causing wrinkles or hard spots in the corners of the sail.
    on your boat , not on mine

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Quote Originally Posted by JimmyOnions View Post
    Good God! Let's hope that's not Bondo on that hull!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    Looks like “407” fillers , good stuff if epoxy.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Please help lacing mainsail to gaff

    No, no, not bondo! It's "Awl-fair" fairing compound, a marine product designed for above and below the water line (and expensive as all get out! )
    its an epoxy based product. I sanded most of it off really, it was just for some small dents, and gauges she had acquired. The history of this boat is cool, she had been sailed from North Carolina to Venezuela! Then to the Bahamas, then to Florida and from the west coast of Florida to New York- she had earned a few battle scars.
    I wanted to get her looking as good as possible. She's solid as stank and the bilge is bone dry:-)
    Last edited by JimmyOnions; 05-16-2019 at 08:59 PM. Reason: Spelling and grammar

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