Desperate to sail

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by laukejas, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 754
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member


    Long story short: I am now stationed in a homestead by the lake (the site where I launched my catamaran last year). Since I don't have any boat to sail right now (short on money, was short on time whole year), I thought I would just take a break.

    So I just spent past hour or two cleaning a small fishing boat with oars that is issued as a part of that homestead. Boat is a bit heavy for it's size, made out of plastic and wood. Hull isn't very efficient, but very stable due to being wide and flat-bottomed.

    And then a wild idea sprung in my mind. What if I rig it with my leftover Tyvek gaff sail? I checked all the important pieces of that boat - it has strong seats (mast could be tied to it), a piece of reinforced timber (rails) along the side, very useful for tying down rigging. It even has two clamps.

    So, my plan is to find long pieces of wood for mast (maybe some tree will do), and rig a boomless spritsail out of aforesaid gaff sail. Tie the mast to the front of the middle seat, run down two shrounds from the top, halyard to the front (triangle system, shrouds angled backwards a bit), tie the sail to the mast, angle the sprit, and run down the mainsheet to the side rails. I didn't make CLR/CE calculations, but eyeballing it, I think it should be somewhere in manageble level.

    For rudder, I think an oar should do - I can make a holder for it with ropes too. Problem is, I really shouldn't tamper with it, since it's on loan, but with this system I won't need to drill or cut anything, or use any hardware - just a lot, lot of rope (which I have).

    I think spritsail would be simpler and better than gaff, because since I don't have a normal, smooth mast, I won't be able to raise that sail, also, no blocks for halyards - but the spritsail can be tied to the mast with a single line. I took this idea from historical Lithuanian vessel Kurėnas, on which I sailed few years back:


    My gaff sail looks a bit different, but basically this is the rigging I think of making. Can't think of anything simpler.

    The only problem I'm yet to solve is drift - this flat-bottomed boat will surely drift a lot, and without any board, I probably won't make it to windward. Do you know any "quick and dirty" method of making a leeboard (since I can't make a centerboard) out of common materials? Or use some household item? My imagination runs shallow here.

    So yeah, that's basically it. I will stay by that lake for a month, I have a sail, I have rope, I have very nice wind, I have that fishing boat, and a lot of time. I'm just not sure if this idea is total nonsense with no chance of success whatsoever, or if I have a chance to make leastwise slow, sluggish, but lake-worthy sailboat. Just for fun, for practise, because I really want to sail, and it pains me to see all that wind blow for waste.

    I'm attaching a few photos of that sailboat, (sorry for poor quallity, thet were taken with phone), and a plan of my gaff sail from previous project, since I can't take a picture of it right now. It is about 8m^2, foot is 3m, luff is 3.4m. 5m mast and 4.3m sprit should be enough, I guess.

    Please tell me if I should quickly dismiss this idea before I ruin my reputation speaking it out loud, or if I should try it. Is there any chance this kind of rigging will sail? With the plan as it is of now, I won't have to spend a cent on this, so I've got nothing to lose... Except for self-esteem if I fail miserably. I think I should call this boat "Desperate rigging".

    Thank you for your attention, I would welcome any kind of comments.

    Attached Files:

  2. wayne nicol
    Joined: Dec 2009
    Posts: 158
    Likes: 11, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 34
    Location: Queen Charlotte islands, B.C.

    wayne nicol Senior Member

    this is only my opinion, but if i was gonna do it, i would build a mast step, and make a mast bracket that is attached to the fore of the thwart /seat- skip the rigging, and you could run your sprit and even a small headsail.
    build some sling over the side lee boards- with attached lines- of course, and set up a sculling notch in the transom for the rudder/oar- good way to move along too, when there is no wind- that could be as simple as a bolt on oarlock attachment on the transom.

    i believe the mast on a sprit needs to be pretty solid up two thirds then have flex in the top third- you need to ask an expert on this- just reading experience for me- so that when you tighten up the sprit you can induce a bend in the mast, that would actually put your jib"shroud" under tension- so that the jib shapes properly- or the leading edge will roll over.- i think the sprit is the only free standing rig that you can run a headsail with!!???!!
    mast and sprit could be some lumberyard 4x4 spruce cut and hand planed down-
    but a couple of small trees would be even "cooler", and shape the top section of the mast to suit!!- if you want too!

    but your idea sounds totally do-able- and will eliminate too much bolting/ fabricating and fussing.

    many a time i have been canoeing across a lake we have here, and built a makeshift sprit with two small trees, and a picnic blanket to get home when we had a good wind, one paddle for a rudder, and the bigger paddle- with small kid attached for a lee board- just shift the "kid/leeboard " attachment around until the "helm" lightens up.

    hull, anything will sail- even a macgregor if you ask these forumites- ahh did you hear that popping sound as i opened a fresh can of the proverbial...
  3. messabout
    Joined: Jan 2006
    Posts: 3,218
    Likes: 369, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1279
    Location: Lakeland Fl USA

    messabout Senior Member

    Laukejas: Man you just want to go sailing. As an inveterate sailor I respect that urge. What you have described will not be very efficient but it will certainly get you on the water, and best of luck....... I say go for it.
  4. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
    Posts: 5,853
    Likes: 392, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2489
    Location: Control Group

    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    ..... and have fun with it. :)
  5. troy2000
    Joined: Nov 2009
    Posts: 1,743
    Likes: 170, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 2078
    Location: California

    troy2000 Senior Member

    It should be fairly easy to make a clamp-on leeboard (or pair of them) for something that small. Look at a wooden Jorgensen clamp to get the general idea.... but of course you don't need to get that fancy. The good thing about having the leeboards clamp individually, instead of having both on one assembly across the boat, is that it's a lot easier to move them until you've found the sweet spot for them. And if you can keep the boat fairly flat in the water instead of heeling, one should be plenty for your purposes anyway....

    The pivot point for the leeboard would also be the center connection. Go high enough to get some leverage for the spreader screw that will tighten the jaws. It shouldn't be that hard to add a shaped or pivoting pad to the end of the inside jaw, if necessary to clear the gunwale.

    There's a nice picture of a Jorgensen at this site, although it's upside down for your purposes. I should probably just let you look at it and think for yourself, instead of confusing you with all this verbiage...:p
  6. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 754
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Thank you all for answers and support. I really thought this idea will be dismissed outright as impossible. Glad to see there is a chance.

    Troy2000, that's a great way to fix the leeboard. If you're sure that one is enough, it will make things much easier. By the 3.5% rule, I calculated that my leeboard needs to be at least 0.28m^2. That could be 40x70cm, or 30x93cm leeboard. Question is - how do I make the leeboard itself? I don't have any plywood here, just scraps of wood. Thought of using an oar for leeboard, but it's way too small for this sail. Any ideas? Maybe a plank or two could be used, after rounding down the corners?

    Also, I'm not sure what kind of tree I should look for a mast (I have no access to any hardware store or lumberyard here, and nowhere close). Since the mast needs to be 4.5m (I recalculated, it should be enough), and it will be supported only by halyards, since I don't see any way of making two point connection with the hull (step and pentersen (sorry, not sure it's the correct term)), so I'll just tie it down to the seat tightly, with very wide knot (I know a few for this job), and run down two shrouds and a halyard. So, apart from shrounds and halyard, it is 1-point connection. I don't count resting the mast base on the hull, since it will slide around, with no way of fixing it in place. With this in mind, what diameter am I looking for? When I used this sail with jib (3m^2) on my last catamaran, I used 10cm diameter semi-dried spruce. I think it was an overkill, since it didn't show any signs of bending or breaking, and weighted so much, that I had difficulty carrying it myself, but I was afraid to undershoot rather than overshoot, since my first ship went dismasted. So, since I won't be using jib here, maybe 6-7cm will be enough, considering I'll just cut down a tree and use it outright (I'm not even sure if debarking is worth the effort), and I don't have time to dry it. And for the sprit, I don't know, 4cm maybe? Please comment on this, what kind of diameter I'm looking for 8m^2 sail, shrouded, fresh-cut spruce?
  7. rwatson
    Joined: Aug 2007
    Posts: 5,880
    Likes: 312, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1749
    Location: Tasmania,Australia

    rwatson Senior Member

    Wow, you really are going very primitive, cutting you own trees.

    For the mast, I'd recommend de-barking, and after its dried a bit, oil the mast with some light oil ( machine oil if you cant get wood products ).

    For the lee boards, a number of planks will do the trick.

    It doesn't have to be as exotic as the one below

    Google leeboards for more ideas

    Attached Files:

  8. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
    Posts: 5,853
    Likes: 392, Points: 93, Legacy Rep: 2489
    Location: Control Group

    hoytedow Carbon Based Life Form

    You picked a good photo. It looks very sturdy.
  9. Angélique
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 3,003
    Likes: 332, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1632
    Location: Belgium ⇄ The Netherlands

    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    For leeboards form and position is important and there is a difference between deep and shallow water boards. Common (strong enough !) planks are OK.

    I've posted some info in post #138 in another thread.

    Good luck !
  10. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 754
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Well, yeah... Lack of options. I don't have any dried lumber, epoxy, or tools to make hollow mast. I only have what nature offers and some basic tools (hand saw, hand plane, screwdriver, hammer, axe, and pliers) in my disposal...

    I've already set my eye on a fine pine nearby, and I'm gonna cut it. It is about 8cm in diameter at base, and, of course, getting narrow to the top. It is long enough to make both mast and sprit.

    After I cut and peel the bark, is there anything I can make to quicken the drying process? I know that usually tree is first cut to let resin out, then cut, debarked, and put in solar kiln for year or two... However, I want to get on water as soon as possible, so I may have a day or two at most. I realize that no serious of drying can be made in two days, but can you give any tips? From last mast drying I learned that I should somehow tighten the ends of the mast, since they dry up faster and fracture, and then those fractures start running across the mast. Should I put it in shade, or out on the sun? I heard that drying in the sun may result in unwanted bending and twisting.

    If this endeavour is successful, I might use this mast and sprit next year, so I'll be able to leave them to dry further after using this month.

    rwatson, thanks for the leeboard idea, it looks very nice, however, I don't have tools and metal strips (or any similar method of joining planks, for that matter). What about single wide plank? I found a store nearby to buy a few are 15cm wide, so, if I make two leeboards with 90cm in the water, I can get enough area for 3.5% rule. They sell then at 2.5cm thickness. I would round down the corners and smooth them with sand paper. Would that work?

    If yes, can you think of any homemade method to make them more water-resistant? I will take them off and dry after every sailing, but I'm still afraid that they might start to rot, and won't last this whole month before breaking. Don't have any waterproof yacht paint, varnish or antifouling here... Any "traditional" substances that I can use, maybe?

    I really appreciate you all helping me out :)
  11. Angélique
    Joined: Feb 2009
    Posts: 3,003
    Likes: 332, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 1632
    Location: Belgium ⇄ The Netherlands

    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    Any board will work. Only thing is the better it is suited to the application the higher the efficiency and drift limitation will be. So make the best of it from what you can get in available materials and tools.

    Good luck !
  12. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 2,329
    Likes: 129, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1603
    Location: Iowa

    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    Take two pieces of 1/2" ply and glue them together with waterproof glue. 9-10" x 4' long is sufficient for your needs. Mount it to a thick rod that goes across the boat width into a socket so it can pivot. Wrap a rope around it so you can pull it and the blade will swivel down, another rope to swivel it up. Along the side of the boat where the board will be down put a piece of wood so the blade swings down into a slot to support it either way. Bob's your uncle.
  13. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
    Posts: 2,138
    Likes: 261, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 611
    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Hi Laukejas.

    From looking at the picture, the boat looks like it is an oubaord powered skiff, meant to plane.

    One way to tell if that's so is to see its underwater lines.

    If the transom is intended to end the boat underwater, it is meant to be a planing powerboat.

    If the transom ends the boat above the water, the boat is a no planing.

    The reason I bring this up is, if the boat is designed to plane, the transom will likely end the boat underwater once the boat is converted to a sailboat.

    This will cause some drag which will effect the balance of the boat. The rig might have to be moved aft, in relation to the leeboard to compensate.

    I would be tempted to cut a mast hole in the main thwart, then devise some sort of mast step. The mast will probably have to be between 64 and 76 mm in diameter to be strong enough to take the sailing loads. The butt of the mast could taper to a smaller diameter for the step.

    This set up would need no stays or shrouds of any kind, but the step needs to be well secured to the bottom of the boat.

    Next you need a rudder.

    The rudder can be made out of a piece of plywood or several vertical planks planks held together with either straps or smaller pieces of wood. The big problem here is attaching it to the transom in such a way that it can swing side to side only, but is easy to remove, when beaching the boat.

    You could use a steering oar which would need just an oarlock mounted on top of the transom. It's not very efficient, but it works.

    Other than that, you need to come up with some kind of rudder hinge, which could be the traditional gudgeons and pintles (for quick removal) or even regular door hinges, if the rudder has a swing up blade.

    The leeboard would be the easiest thing to make. It too could be nothing but a piece of plywood, at least 13 mm thick, or a series of vertical boards held together with straps or thinner boards arranged horizontally.

    At its top, it could have a flange board which can sit on top of the boat's gunwales. This flange could have an eye or hole in its center length, which a strong line could attach to. The other end of this line could attach to an eye in the center of the boat (probably screwed into one of the floor boards), aligned so the line is roughly 90 deg from the center line of the boat. This line would be just long enough for the lee board flange to fit snugly over the gunwale and the lee board itself to hang vertically against the side of the boat.

    You could make two such boards, or just one. If you make just one, you will have to flip it horizontally and hang it over the new lee side, every time you change tacks.

    The sail can be quite crude.

    You could take a rectangular polytarp and mount a yard on the top edge and a boom on the lower edge, using the eye holes already provided.

    Your halyard line could attach to the yard about 40% of its length back from its front end.

    The tether line could attach to the boom about 20% of length back from its front end.

    Now you will have a workable sail.

    All you need now is a sheet line, a halyard pulley, and a cleat of some kind and you will have a sailboat.
  14. Petros
    Joined: Oct 2007
    Posts: 2,936
    Likes: 148, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1593
    Location: Arlington, WA-USA

    Petros Senior Member

    You can make a two suitable lee boards, one for each side of the hull, out of some old oars if you have some to cut up. Otherwise a plank shaped like a foil will work just fine. You have a plane to sharpen the trailing edge and round the leading edge of your lee boards. You can mount two to a plank, one on each end, and lay it across the beam of the boat just aft of the mast and lash it to the boat. That way you do not have to alter the boat hull, all of the loads on the lee boards will go through the the cross beam (just make sure they are attached to take large lever loads, you can work that out with dowels, blocks and lashings if need be). The cross beam to attach the lee boards to should be about 300 or 400 mm square, if you are clever with how you lash it to the hull you can work out a way to swing the lee board up and back by rolling the beam forward.

    forget the sprit rig, go with a simple loose footed lug rig. It only takes a small yard arm at the top, that is hoisted there with a halyard, the clue attaches to the prow of the boat, the aft end is where you attache the main sheet. only one moving part, the pulley at the top of the mast (I have used a single link from a heavy chain as a pulley-works good for small light sails). the picture below shows the idea, yours does not need to be that large, and it does not need a boom, can be rigged boom less. you can use a plastic tarp for a sail, or the house wrap material also works well.


    than you need a rudder, a simple plank, also with a rounded leading edge, and sharp trailing edge. Drill a row of holes on the leading edge of the rudder and lace a string through it to a matching length of wood with a row of holes that you attache to the transom (screwing it in place would be easiest, but it too can be clamped or lashed to the back of the boat). The lacing will act like a hinge, and it can be removed by unlacing it. Simple, light no moving parts but the lacing cord, and no metal parts.

    kind of like in this picture, of a Wharram catamarn:


  15. laukejas
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 754
    Likes: 17, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 128
    Location: Lithuania

    laukejas Senior Member

    Um... I really appreciate the advice, but as I said, I have none of these resources - no plywood, no hardware, and no ability to cut anything in the boat (as I said in my first post, it is on loan, so I can't leave any permanent marks). But thank you for planing hull considerations. I haven't thought of that.

    Dirteater, judging from the photo, you had pulleys, mast clamps, carabines, rudder hinges, plywood (rudder), paint, clamps, etc. I have a tree which I may cut down, few planks, sail, basic woodworking tools (not even one electrical), and rope. I can't see how these are "similar resources" :) If I had such resources as you did, I wouldn't be asking here for help...

    Anyway, right now the only problem still unsolved is the leeboard - I think I can make everything else with what I have. Problem with the leeboard is that I'll buy two 130x15x2.5cm planks, and try to attach them to the hull - I have no glue or anything to make a single leeboard by joining these planks together. I don't even have a drill to make two holes for clamp like troy2000 suggested. So I'll go with ropes - I have an idea how to fix these leeboards.

    So, just these few questions remaining, if you could answer any of these, it would be very helpful:

    1) Is there anything I can do to quicken drying process for mast and sprit which I'm about to cut down from a pine? How to prevent fractures and bending?
    2) Is there any basic substance I could use to water-proof the leeboards? I don't have paint or varnish. What about oil? I remember from documentary that Thor Heyerdahl soaked balsa trees in oil for his vessel Kon Tiki to prevent water from entering and rotting the wood. Also, I'm reading that pitch was once used for waterproofing ships, although I don't know how to make it. Is there anything similar that I could use?
Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.