Gaff rig question.

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by waynemarlow, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. waynemarlow
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    waynemarlow Senior Member

    Sorry not really multihull related but I know there's a couple of knowledgible posters here on Gaff rigs.

    There's been a bit of a virtual bar room banter about this picture.

    Question, what is the red sail to windward at 90 degrees, purpose, its far too small for a topsail even when unfurled ?

    On the Thames barges you also see it
    bajansailor likes this.
  2. Blueknarr
    Joined: Aug 2017
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    Blueknarr Senior Member

    It is a balancing sail.
    It is trying to prevent the boat from rounding up with the mainsail sticking out the other side.
  3. waynemarlow
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    waynemarlow Senior Member

    OK, thats what I thought, any ideas of whats its called or any papers on its function anywhere, I need to win a virtual pint and are going to need something to verify its function.

    Thanks though.
  4. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    I think that the wee red sail could effectively be the storm jib for the gaffer - storm jibs are often a bright colour, to help them 'stand out' to other vessels in bad conditions.

    Although if it was being used in anger as a storm jib in heavy weather, it would be better to set it on the inner forestay, rather than out on the end of the bowsprit.
  5. Will Gilmore
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    Will Gilmore Senior Member

    It looks like more of a whisker pole for running downwind with a sort of asymmetrical staysail. There was probably some strange nautical British jargon to go along with it, something like a Bellywhaler or Jibblemoloc.

    Top 25 Classic Boat types - Classic Boat Magazine
    "THAMES SAILING BARGE – photo Den Phillips
    An East Coast icon, and ingenious – the sprit doubled as a derrick, the flat bottom enabled them to take the ground. There are more than 20 still around and their races are a sight to behold. This is Edme, still engineless."
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  6. Tiny Turnip
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    Tiny Turnip Senior Member

    In your first photo, Wayne, the 'water bob stay' on the 'whisker pole' would make a tack or a gybe an awful faff, surely?

  7. Richard Woods
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    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    The top photo looks like a Falmouth working boat dredging for oysters, back in the pre Brexit days when it was possible to make money and sell their catch. So they have scandalised the mainsail and use the red jib to balance it as they drift along. You are not allowed to motor when fishing for oysters (same in the Chesapeake I believe). In summer they race the boats with a bigger rig. Working cargo boats like Thames barges , wherries, Humber keels etc would carry all sorts of cargo. The sprit was used as a derrick for unloading. The boomless mainsail could be brailed up to allow for bulky deck cargo (usually horse s**t from London to the farms on the east coast) and so various headsails were used to balance the boat

    So nothing really to do with sail efficiency or performance

    Richard Woods
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