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Thread: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

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    Default Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    I'm quite new to sailing, and I'm fascinated with the different rigs commonly used on wooden dinghies outside of racing.

    One thing I'm currently wondering about, would having a standing lug on a 14' LOA ( 4' 4" beam) make it quite a bit more tippy than using a sprit sail on it? Would having a yard up there make that much difference?

    How about using a short gaff on an unstayed mast? Would that be similar to the standing lug?

    The boat I'm currently considering building is the 14' Sail and Row Skiff by Gardner, from his book Classic Small Craft. My experienced friend that will be helping me with the build loves sprit sails. While I've been curious about standing lugs and gaff rigs.

    Gardner has this skiff drawn with a type of gunter rig ( leg of mutton sail? ), with one reef point in the sail. It's 62 sq. ft. in size. I'd like to have a 70 to 80 sq. ft. sail with 2 reef points, at the least. I'll be out in some light airs, and I'd like to do some dinghy cruising, and I "think" that I will also try to go sometimes with slightly higher winds on the lakes within Texas and neighboring states.

    As I look at Gardner's drawings, I think I could be convinced to go with his low-tech gunter that he drew. He does say that he thinks the boat could take a larger sail. A similar boat, Culler's Good Little Skiff that is 2" shorter, and with what might be a more narrow bottom, is rigged with 70 sq. ft. sprit sail.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    would having a standing lug on a 14' LOA ( 4' 4" beam) make it quite a bit more tippy than using a sprit sail on it? Would having a yard up there make that much difference?
    I doubt it. Tippiness is likely to be far more a function of how much sail area you have up there than the weight of a yard or sprit. A yard for a standing lug in that size range is maybe 8'-9' long max. It will be a bit bigger around than a closet pole but taper substantially toward the ends. It won't be particularly heavy, and you can't totally dismiss the weight aloft of a sprit, so it will also be putting some weight up there. We have been over my views of the "value" of multiple sets of reef points on dinghies before on the forum. In general, I think they're a waste of money for most recreational sailors. After the initial use of that second reef most recreational sailors decide that there are probably more enjoyable things to do on those days than go sailing, but it's your money.

    In general, I think you will find most gaffers in that size range to be unnecessarily complex for the job and offering no real advantages.

    Fairly typical dimensions for that sort of standing lug. 95% of those dimensions would yield 74 sq. ft.

    Screenshot 2022-08-29 003257.jpg
    Last edited by Todd Bradshaw; 08-29-2022 at 01:05 AM.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    If you're worried about weight, you could make a hollow bird's mouth mast. Either way, Bob's your uncle.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Thanks for that thorough reply Mr. Bradshaw, and the sail plan example. My buddy loaned me your book on canoe rigs as a general manual to show me more sailing terms. It's a terrific book!

    It's good to know that the weight of the yard won't factor in enough to make the choice based on weight aloft.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Lee D View Post
    I'm quite new to sailing, and I'm fascinated with the different rigs commonly used on wooden dinghies outside of racing.

    One thing I'm currently wondering about, would having a standing lug on a 14' LOA ( 4' 4" beam) make it quite a bit more tippy than using a sprit sail on it? Would having a yard up there make that much difference?

    How about using a short gaff on an unstayed mast? Would that be similar to the standing lug?

    The boat I'm currently considering building is the 14' Sail and Row Skiff by Gardner, from his book Classic Small Craft. My experienced friend that will be helping me with the build loves sprit sails. While I've been curious about standing lugs and gaff rigs.

    Gardner has this skiff drawn with a type of gunter rig ( leg of mutton sail? ), with one reef point in the sail. It's 62 sq. ft. in size. I'd like to have a 70 to 80 sq. ft. sail with 2 reef points, at the least.
    ...
    Lee D, your ponderment made me look back at some of my personal observations over the last few years

    i've been following several individuals and groups that are well seasoned in the act of cruising in 14 footers w/ simple rigs

    the weight difference aloft you are concerned with has not made a difference in the choice of boats n rigs

    for the PDR's n the MayFly 14's n MayFly 16's and Af-3's i've followed along side of and gone back thru the designed sail plans for typically have a 1.5" square yard as a minimum

    some of the PDR's do get away w/ a 1.25" dia closet pole for their yards butt they are flying less than your targeted 75sqft sail

    the AF-3 flies about 90Ī sqft w/ a 1.5" yard

    the MayFly 14 specs out w/ a 4'3" beam and flies a 75 sqft balanced lug w/ a 1.5" yard though some hardcore heavy weather sailers have made their yards even heavier

    the design specs 2 rows of reef points and there is a special expedition sail now being made for them w/ 3 rows

    i've watched these little boats in some pretty sporty conditions managing quite well

    having sailed and raced many sizes of sailboats w/ several different types of rigs i am a real believer in the KISS method of rigs

    free standing mast w/ one rope to raise one sail which is controlled w/ one rope

    rigged and off the beach in a minimum amount of time promotes more frequent adventures

    remember that yard if made of wood will tend to float during capsize

    Lee D, me tinks you worry too much

    sw
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    steve

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    This was the sort of boat that my grandfather used. Narrow enough to need the oarlock pads to be on the outside, very easily driven and handy.
    358-Haughty-Belle3.jpg
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Peerie Maa View Post
    This was the sort of boat that my grandfather used. Narrow enough to need the oarlock pads to be on the outside, very easily driven and handy.
    358-Haughty-Belle3.jpg
    Now, THAT is lovely!

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    My experience matches Todd's advice. The sail area makes a big difference, but not the presence or absence of a yard. And I'll add that for a given sail area, there's more stability to be had by using a square rather than jib-headed sail in order to keep the center of effort lower. Again, the weight of any wood up high to give the lug or sprit sail its shape is negligible.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Todd's observation about a second reef being academic for most recreational dinghy sailors is valid.
    Some guys like lifted pickups with big tires. I like reef points, both my sail & oar style boats have two sets. No, I've never used the second set and don't think I want to.
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    No, I've never used the second set and don't think I want to.
    The older I get, the more I reef. And to my continued surprise, little speed is lost and lots of comfort gained.
    -Dave

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    I use my second set of reef points regularly. Dave is right about performance and comfort with deeper reefs as a day breezes up. I would also encourage practising reefing drills on open water. Well sorted rigs and familiar routines make for safer sailing across a broader range of conditions.
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    My first build was a John Gardner 14í Sail And Row Skiff. Itís a fun boat. I passed it on to a friend with a young family and itís still in use.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenBauer View Post
    My first build was a John Gardner 14’ Sail And Row Skiff. It’s a fun boat. I passed it on to a friend with a young family and it’s still in use.
    StevenBauer, thanks for posting those pics! I've wondered how the flared sides would look. Gardner said it has a narrower bottom and ample flare to improve its rowing abilities. Did you build the gunter rig that was drawn too?

    Quote Originally Posted by swoody126 View Post
    Lee D, me tinks you worry too much

    sw
    swoody, I have been known to worry a bit. I'm sure the most important thing here is that I get on the water and keep learning.

    When you talk about lots of friends and an expedition, are you talking about the Texas 200? I see you're from DFW.

    Everyone else, thanks for the further input. I'm sure that I'd rarely start sailing where the 2nd reef was needed, but I might spend some long days on a couple of the bigger hill country lakes. Maybe 1 reef and hiking up on the gunwale would be all that is needed to get back to the boat ramp.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Those pictures are a trip, Steven.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    A little basic arithmetic can save a bit of worrying
    by example a 10 lb weight 10 feet high is 100 ft lbs.
    A 200 pound weight (a man) moved over from a centerline 6" is also 100 foot lbs and will offset the weight aloft.
    Skiffs, whether sailing or rowing is all about where the weight of the people are.
    How heavy the wind is? Well that's more complicated

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl
    How heavy the wind is? Well that's more complicated
    Jim Michalak has an easy way to remember that one. With the wind blowing 14 knots, one square foot of sail catches one pound of force. For different speeds, scale the force as the square of the wind speed, so 28 knots gives 4 pounds and 7 knots gives 1/4 pound..
    Dreaming of sailing in Iowa, building a Carnell Nutmeg.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by NeilMB View Post
    Jim Michalak has an easy way to remember that one. With the wind blowing 14 knots, one square foot of sail catches one pound of force. For different speeds, scale the force as the square of the wind speed, so 28 knots gives 4 pounds and 7 knots gives 1/4 pound..
    does he include a scale for temperature?

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    The weight aloft is pretty much the same as others have noted, in this size range. Boats the size of John Hartman's (above) the weight makes more difference but yours is quite small. More important may be easy of putting up the mast and rig.

    I like sprit rigs for the ease of keeping the whole rig together using a brail line, just dropping it in the boat, releasing the brail and going, but reefing is more complex. The sail stays laced to the mast and travels along with the sprit and boom ( if you have one) in a big long bundle. I have long slippery bags to carry these when trailering.

    The lug rig is easy to reef, but you have two pieces, the mast and the yard/sail. Again I use a long bag to carry yard and sail. The yard needs to be controlled when setting and dousing so it doesn't hit you in the head.

    I don't have John's drawing with the rig to hand, but I'd look at what happens when it is down. If the sail stays laced to the mast and the spars can fold up against the mast it works for trailering, but if you have to attach boom and gunter yard as well as lace on the sail, it's more work than I'd like.

    BTW on a couple of my row /sail boats I have a toe strap down the center, not so much for hard core hiking but to help me pull myself in when sitting on the rail and the wind puff drops.
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    The raison d'etre of sprit and lug rigs is their simplicity.
    Adding features detracts from that.
    My new balanced lug rig has lazy jacks. I haven't had it out since the last tuneup-change, but I think it'll be worth it.
    Last edited by Autonomous; 08-31-2022 at 05:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by amish rob View Post
    Those pictures are a trip, Steven.
    I know! All four of those kids have graduated from college now. One is a homeowner. My daughters and my niece and nephew.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Lee, I did build the gunter rig but modified it a little. The plan show the gunter spar sliding up and down the mast. But it didn’t pivot down. So when you lower the sail most of it is still raised. I mounted the bottom end of the gunter to a sail track and upper connection is just the halyard going through a sheave at the top of the mast and tied to the gunter.

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    I am one of those who prefer a sprit rig on boats this size. Number one reason is simplicity. A spritsail does not require halyards, bleaters, downhauls, outhauls etc etc etc. A snotter, a sheet, and a brail if you want to get fancy. The mast for a 4 cornered spritsail can have much more taper than a lug or gaff mast because it does not need to support halyard load and yard aloft; a gaff especially puts load on the mast up high so it needs a stouter stick. It is not just weight aloft, weight savings can be made on the rig as a whole which makes it easier, safer, and quicker to set up. Reefing underway with a sprit is not practical, and for this reason I would not consider it ideal for an expedition boat. But for a 2 hour sail after work in mild conditions it can't be beat in my opinion. It is literally drop in and go.
    I believe another advantage is sail area to spar length. Someone may prove me wrong, but I believe it is easier to design a sprit sail of say 127 sq ft on sticks under 15' than either a standing, balanced lug or gaff sail. Picture is two sprit rigs, both 127 sq ft on spars that fit inside these 15' Westport Sharpies.20210507_132526 (1).jpg

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisring View Post
    I am one of those who prefer a sprit rig on boats this size. Number one reason is simplicity. A spritsail does not require halyards, bleaters, downhauls, outhauls etc etc etc. A snotter, a sheet, and a brail if you want to get fancy.
    I started my small boat sailing with sprit rigs, and quite enjoyed it. I think they're probably the best-looking rig, though obviously that's hugely subjective.

    It's interesting to hear you arguing that a sprit rig is simpler than a lugsail--I've reached the opposite conclusion myself. Yes, you need a downhaul and a halyard for a lug rig, but you don't need to monkey around with a snotter, and there's no hassle with the tip of the sprit trying to fall out of the peak grommet...

    But it's likely my need for reefing on long trips, where you might have to make miles in boisterous conditions, that has biased me toward lug rigs these days. Either one is better than watching TV...

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    I started my small boat sailing with sprit rigs, and quite enjoyed it. I think they're probably the best-looking rig, though obviously that's hugely subjective.

    It's interesting to hear you arguing that a sprit rig is simpler than a lugsail--I've reached the opposite conclusion myself. Yes, you need a downhaul and a halyard for a lug rig, but you don't need to monkey around with a snotter, and there's no hassle with the tip of the sprit trying to fall out of the peak grommet...

    But it's likely my need for reefing on long trips, where you might have to make miles in boisterous conditions, that has biased me toward lug rigs these days. Either one is better than watching TV...

    Tom
    Simplicity of sprit rig depends on set up. If you have a peak pennant or your grommet at the peak is tight enough so that the peak can come loose with out active intervention, and you have a brail line, all you need to do is pull the brail line, wrap the slack around the bundle, tie it off, sheet can also get wrapped around the bundle, and lift the whole thing out of the boat, never having to slack the snotter or indeed have an old fashioned snotter, just an eye on a grommet the can get slid on the mast. Rig over your shoulder and go ashore.

    On old sprit masts, say on dory rigs, i've never seen cleats or any kind of adjustable snotter. Just a long loop of line cowhitched to the mast and slid up or down. We get a little fancy.
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Fuller View Post
    Simplicity of sprit rig depends on set up. If you have a peak pennant or your grommet at the peak is tight enough so that the peak can come loose with out active intervention, and you have a brail line, all you need to do is pull the brail line, wrap the slack around the bundle, tie it off, sheet can also get wrapped around the bundle, and lift the whole thing out of the boat, never having to slack the snotter or indeed have an old fashioned snotter, just an eye on a grommet the can get slid on the mast. Rig over your shoulder and go ashore.
    Yep, I've heard that line of thinking before. I'm not sure how it's much/any easier than what a lug rig offers: drop the yard and sail, roll it up, and it's also "rig over your shoulder and go ashore." Horse apiece, it seems to me--but reefing is much less complicated for a lug. That's the real issue for me, and I'm not aware of any solutions for sprit rigs that aren't significantly more complicated (to set up, and perhaps also in use).

    If you don't plan to reef, I suppose the sprit rig has the edge. But both rigs are plenty simple and fast to rig/de-rig. And both can have that simplicity eroded by various bits of fanciness and extra controls, as you say. I prefer to be pretty un-fancy about it: sheet and downhaul, that's it. Not even a boom!

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    I have a turkshead bulge around my sprit about 6" below the tip- varnished in place so it won't slip. The boltrope has a loop at the peak which goes around the sprit and rests upon the turkshead. A constrictor knot in light line keeps the peak from slipping off. A decorative pennant flies from the projecting sprit. Very rarely is this disturbed. Picture is of my Pete Culler style snotter. An Ipe thimble gives some purchase and there is an Ipe jam cleat screwed to the mast. A simple hitch can easily take the place of the jam cleat, but I find the cleat handy when I use the snotter to secure my furl.20191126_172405 (1).jpg My lace line is the same stuff as the snotter so it is not as complicated as it may look. Here is a drawing I made of the system for someone else.20191002_083758.jpg

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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Hi Chris, I wondered if you were Lee's inspiration. If so he's lucky to have you. Chris has proved the notion that a well setup sprit rig can get on the water very fast. He's always faster than the experienced lug sailors. Some not by much, but certainly faster. His setup is a great study on simplicity, classic technology, and craftsmanship. He has also been sailing his skiff for awhile now and has the whole thing down to a well oiled machine.

    What I can also say is that, while his skiff is very fast and maneuverable. The well tuned boomed balanced lugs in our group go to wind better than his sprit ketch. As has been said, for casually cruising around the local lake it's not a concern. Were I have seen it be an issue is down at the coast. When needing to make good time and or distance is needed, pointing can help tremendously. I have seen this play out, not with Chris's skiff but others. And has been noted in this thread I believe a lug is easier too reef. Horses and courses. But something to consider.




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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Yep, I've heard that line of thinking before. I'm not sure how it's much/any easier than what a lug rig offers: drop the yard and sail, roll it up, and it's also "rig over your shoulder and go ashore." Horse apiece, it seems to me--but reefing is much less complicated for a lug. That's the real issue for me, and I'm not aware of any solutions for sprit rigs that aren't significantly more complicated (to set up, and perhaps also in use).

    If you don't plan to reef, I suppose the sprit rig has the edge. But both rigs are plenty simple and fast to rig/de-rig. And both can have that simplicity eroded by various bits of fanciness and extra controls, as you say. I prefer to be pretty un-fancy about it: sheet and downhaul, that's it. Not even a boom!

    Tom
    With my sprit rig's it's brail it up and pick it up, the mast comes with the bundle and it all goes into the same big slippery bag. With my lug, the yard and sail are one bundle and the mast is separate, stows separately.

    For those interested in some history, the sprit rig was common on the mast removing working boats on this side of the pond. It dates back to at least the 16th century in northern Europe. The lug rig seems to have been developed late 18th century and became the common rig on naval and fishing boats in the 19th, to be rediscovered, if you will, in the late 20th century for small pleasure craft when rig removal was needed. Lug rigs were rare to non existent in American working watercraft other then naval boats. As I recall it was only around New Orleans. Just like the lateen only found in the San Francisco area.
    Ben Fuller
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Fuller View Post
    With my sprit rig's it's brail it up and pick it up, the mast comes with the bundle and it all goes into the same big slippery bag. With my lug, the yard and sail are one bundle and the mast is separate, stows separately.

    For those interested in some history, the sprit rig was common on the mast removing working boats on this side of the pond. It dates back to at least the 16th century in northern Europe. The lug rig seems to have been developed late 18th century and became the common rig on naval and fishing boats in the 19th, to be rediscovered, if you will, in the late 20th century for small pleasure craft when rig removal was needed. Lug rigs were rare to non existent in American working watercraft other then naval boats. As I recall it was only around New Orleans. Just like the lateen only found in the San Francisco area.
    I have tried both a standing lug and a balanced lug on my sharpie. Both sailed fine- good balance etc. But for reasons you make above, they do not look right on a New England sharpie skiff. I associate the lug sail with Swallows and Amazons and such where it looks fine. These are mock up sails I made a couple years ago from polytarp.
    I did not like the balanced lug because of the boom. Especially with a passenger. As you can see in the photos, I would need a longer mast for20190820_100651.jpg either sail to set and look right. The mast is cut to fit inside the boat and that is something I will not compromise on because the boat lives on a trailer with a minimal tongue length, storage space is critical, I travel with a cover.
    I liked the standing lug better; the sprit boom made it easier to live with, but again, it would need a longer mast to look right and set properly.20190909_091939.jpg
    As you can see, both lugsails required I step the mast in my after step (located specifically for the lug rig) to maintain balance because of the area before the mast. This impedes the headroom for a passenger on the for'd thwart compared to the spritsails which are stepped about 18" further forward- cat style. On both my sprit rigs I have sacrificed area by cutting the foot at a steep angle for visibility and headroom. Matt Young (responded above) can attest to my style of sailing; I often maneuver in tight quarters and visibility is important.
    The above experiments are why I made the statement that potential spar length to sail area ratio is better with a sprit- if I am correct about that, it stands to reason there is an increase in bulkiness of the lug rig and weight in general.
    Matt- you should come out one day when Joe B is on the water with the sister boat to mine- it is the one with the single 127' sprit- same area as my ketch rig. It sails like a witch. It walks away from my ketch when we go to windward- pointed several degrees higher, but it is a bear of a sail. I have one also I used about 10 years so we would be a good match, but I returned to the ketch because I can reduce sail by dousing the mizzen, and the smaller sails are more manageable. They are also of light soft cloth (another compromise) and pretty stretched out. Also the ketch is much more fun maneuvering, and that little mizzen will walk her right off a lee shore ramp before I ship the rudder so I don't even get my feet wet.
    Last edited by chrisring; 09-05-2022 at 07:28 PM.

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2022
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisring View Post
    I have tried both a standing lug and a balanced lug on my sharpie.
    Chris, it's nice to see you joined the discussion! I hadn't logged on in a couple of weeks.

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
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    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    As mentioned in above posts, a standing lug can be set up boomless, or with a sprit boom; the boomless will want attention to sheeting angles to deploy well. Either will be easy to set, strike, or reef. In the above post, the standing lug is set so that the tack is behind the mast and the throat well ahead. The cut of the sail can allow a different set, with a look some might find more elegant.

    6AB86F01-2001-4420-8658-4BE49E871AFB.jpg
    544AF630-80C3-4EB5-BB98-4D433A8031FD.jpg

    1F3AEA65-A9BA-40B7-A5BF-1FE7E4EB2B9E.jpg
    My sprit boom snotter is arranged just as Chris Ring diagrammed in his post above, and works a treat. A mast traveller makes getting the sail bundle set or struck for stowing quick and easy.

  32. #32
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Walney, near Cumbria UK
    Posts
    59,336

    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    Most working boats tacked the sail in front of the mast



    There must have been a good reason for that./
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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  33. #33
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    203

    Default Re: Yards and weight aloft on sail & row skiffs

    As far as simplicity, dropping and stowing the boomed lug rig on the Clint Chase Caravelle our volunteer shop built with veterans couldn't be easier. Let the halyard go and the lug sprit with sail comes down into the boat. Uncleat the downhaul. Pick up the mast (or, if you've made the mast gate, open the gate and lay the mast back). Lay the mast on the decks. Done. The whole thing is that fast, and it fits in the boat. Wrap a line or two around the package if you're trailering, I suppose. It's just as easy to put it up. I imagine a sprit rig is about the same, provided your brailing line doesn't snag, but I don't know. Anyway, the lug is as easy as I can imagine.

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