Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sails Ho!

As he promised, Brad Linthicum and team finished up Lagniappe's two sails, and I picked them up last Wednesday evening. Thursday was spent installing the mainsail. The fit was absolutely perfect, which means that both Brad and I followed Iain Oughtred's drawings correctly. His workmanship was absolutely first rate and I am very pleased with the result. Little things like a perfect fit the first time still amaze me. There are so many opportunities to introduce error, and I am painfully aware of my own limitations as a boat builder. I guess my first reaction is to expect that something will be wrong, which makes it all the more joyful when everything goes right. My mantra is usually, "Keep your expectations low, and you will rarely be disappointed." I am definitely not disappointed in the sails.

Brad Linthicum takes my check, gives me my sails, and shakes my hand.  Assistant Mary Anne looks on.
I opted for a traditional installation, given the traditional lines of Grey Seal. The mainsail is lashed to the gaff. That was easily done on the shop floor by bring the gaff inside. The weather outside was rough -- 93 degrees and dog breath humidity -- so working in the air conditioned shop as much as possible was a definite plus.

I used steam bent mast hoops to connect the mainsail to the mast. Tying the hoops to the grommets had to be done outside, of course. Dave Dormond, who is a first rate young wooden boat builder and is in charge of education programs at the Independence Seaport Museum's Workshop on the Water, gave me valuable advice and assistance with this. 

 The installation was trouble free. The peak and throat halyards worked fine, everything held together, and we were able to raise the mainsail for the first time.  When raising it, we noted a tendency for the mast hoops to rub on the forward side of the mast, making raising the sail a little more difficult. I resolved this problem by installing a light line along the forward edge, tied at the top to the gaff jaws and knotted to each mast hoop, holding the hoops horizontally rather than allowing them to droop. Effective solution, 15 minutes of effort.

The mainsail raised for the first time.
I still need to install an outhaul on the boom, which should be a simple proposition.  I also need to decide how to route the jib sheets back to the cockpit, but that is a job for another day.

View of mast hoops.  They don't droop anymore.


  1. Congrats Charles, I wanna put the jib up and go sailing. Surprisingly tall main.
    Aussie Andy

    1. AA,
      I'm with you. I am still debating where to run the jib sheets, and whether or not to use tracks for them. I made the mistake of discussing it with about 4 guys in the boatshop, and got 6 equally valid bits of advice. Waiting for the sailmaker to have a look, and I'll likely do what he says.

      The gunter rig is a pretty clever design. You do get a tall sail, about 26 feet, with only 21 feet of mast. Everyone seems to like the look of it too. Went for a first sail last Thursday -- mainsail only. Not much breeze, but that was probably for the best. Everything held together, and I was able to decide where to put cleats for the main sheet, etc.

    2. Charles, I am considering building one of these boats. Would it be possible to set up a phone call. My partner and I have a number of questions including space requirements, overall cost of the project etc. Thanks Jonahan

  2. It just gets more delectable with each further step toward completion. Can't wait to see the photos where you're finally sailing with main and jib filled with wind.

    I debated tracks for the jib sheets on my 19' Devlin Winter Wren. Finally I simply installed fixed pad eyes for the blocks at the point where eye and instinct suggested. Observations during the first season of sailing told me they were about 2" too far back. The following winter I moved them, filled the mounting holes, and touched up the deck paint. Works fine now.

    I may not have the optimal jib shape for all conditions, but I also have one less reason to venture out on my 6" wide side decks while underway. Seems like a reasonable tradeoff.

    1. Larry,
      Thanks for reminding me that nothing you attach to a wooden boat need be permanent. I think I'll take your approach with the jib sheets, give it my best guess, and fix it later if need be.

      Photos under sail will not be long in coming. The filled with wind part is not entirely under my control, but I'll do my best.