Spray Rig Modifications

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Jim Bates, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. Jim Bates
    Joined: Nov 2018
    Posts: 6
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    Location: Slidell, La

    Jim Bates Junior Member

    I have a steel Spray 38 built to Bruce Roberts plans. The builder was a welder by profession who did a great job on the steel fabrication, and put a gaff cutter rig on it. I am interested in increasing the size of the mainsail by modifying it to a fan shaped top, similar to what a member with a username of Bataan, put on his junk-rigged Spray inspired boat , the Bertie. Bataan was, up until 3 years ago, quite active on this forum.
    I have extensive racing experience, including an OSTAR, and an well aware of this boats speed limitations. Other then replacing the fixed three blade prop with a feathering prop and increasing the sail area to get the sail area/displacement ratio to about 17-18, the only other mod is to put on a 20 foot mizzen mast (marconi rigged), which will also serve the purpose to vang the gaff, hoist a mizzen staysail, and carry a radar. If I still need more sail area, then I will raise the mast higher if I must. The boat is quite stiff and can support it.
    This is the first experience I have had with a gaff rig, and like it, other then the forest of external halyards. The gaff is attached at the throat to a substantial Aluminum ring with a UHMW liner , (to reduce friction and chaff. I propose to put full battens every 4 feet from the boom, to a point even with the throat, each riding on a mast hoop, and then two battens between the throat and the gaff, to support the fan-topped main sail. It would be helpful to me to talk to Bataan and look at the rigging on Bertie if I could locate him.
    He might even talk me into going whole hog to a junk rig, although that could become too expensive if I had to engineer moving the mast. I would appreciate any constructive comments and ideas, and have read just about all the Spray related threads in this forum. I will probably take this boat in the 2020 Single-Handed Transpac if I can find the time to do it, and can get the rigging compatible with single-handing.
    Thank you,
    Jim Bates
     
  2. prv
    Joined: Feb 2012
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    Location: Southampton, UK

    prv New Member

    I too have long admired Bertie's junk rig, but I'm a bit baffled by your plans. You seem to be trying to add some tacked-on "junkie bits" to the existing gaff rig and it's not at all clear why. If you want to re-rig as a junk then great, but what's the point of nailing big battens onto the existing gaff mainsail?

    Do you currently have a topsail? If not, that's the obvious place to start with adding sail area - unless the existing sail is so high-peaked that the sliver of space between gaff and mast isn't worth filling (this was the case with my own previous small gaffer). If you need more height, consider adding a topmast rather than replacing the entire existing mast.

    Basically, look at the designs of traditional gaffers for ideas - those guys had a few centuries to figure out what works.

    I'd recommend Tom Cunliffe's "Hand, Reef and Steer" for some good practical advice on rigging and sailing gaff-rigged boats. It doesn't specifically cover design of new rigs, but will give you some ideas on traditional systems to draw from.

    Pete
     
  3. Jim Bates
    Joined: Nov 2018
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    Location: Slidell, La

    Jim Bates Junior Member

    Pete,
    Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions. My need is for a substantially increased sail area to increase my sail area/ displacement ratio from about 12 to about a minimum of 18, which still qualifies as a very moderate. The boat is very stiff and can easily stand up to increased sail area. So, when I saw the picture of the Bataan/Bertie rig, the massively increased amount of sail at the top of the mainsail struck me as a good place to start. How to rig it was the issue, thus the post on this forum.
    I have no sailing experience with junk rigs, or gaff rigs, or their rigging. My concern is that a complete conversion to junk rig on this boat, would result in less overall boat speed, and thus a waste of a good bit of money, which I can ill afford. For research, I have obtained all the books I can find on the subject, including the Cunliffe book. I considered a topsail first, and it may well end up being the only practical solution. But it appears to me that it adds even more standing running rigging and complexity. My idea was an effort to add that area at the top of the main with the existing rigging with few hardware changes. It would probably require that a strong sailtrack for the main be added to the mast too. The battens were necessary to support the large roach on the fan.
    I have read Brion Toss’s explanation of rigging and setting a topmast. It requires a good crew. I will be single-handing . and that would appear to be too complex a procedure to undertake.
    In the end, it may be that I will have to make the whole rig taller, but I want to consider all my alternatives first.
    I do appreciate your response. It forces my to re-examine my thought process.
    Jim
     
  4. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Have you considered a sliding gunter sail?
     
  5. M&M Ovenden
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Ottawa

    M&M Ovenden Senior Member

    Considering the BR Sprays aren't the most high pointing boats what about adding a yard arm for more (and balanced) sail area off the wind ?
    Changing rig sounds expensive.
    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  6. Jim Bates
    Joined: Nov 2018
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    Location: Slidell, La

    Jim Bates Junior Member

    Gonzo,
    No, I had not, having never had any exposure to them. But I have now as a result of your suggestion. I could not find any examples of such a rig on a larger and heavier boat then about 25 feet, so I dont know if such a rig could handle the load. My reaction is that I would not gain any sail area because it is still a triangular sail and I could not make up the loss of the square footage in the gaff main. However, your suggestion, together with Pete’s, made me recall a topsail on a yard that extended several feet above the mast. I dont think it woud match the square footage in Bertie’s main at the top, but it would be more then a topsail that only extended to the top of the mast. And it doest cost hat much for me to try it.
    Still, if I could find Bataan, I would do my best to persuade him to demonstrate the virtues of Bertie’s rig to me. Everything I have read about the virtues of single-handedly reefing a junk rig is seductive, in addition to that beautiful fan at the top of his mainsail.
    Thank you for your suggestion.
    Jim
     
  7. Jim Bates
    Joined: Nov 2018
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    Location: Slidell, La

    Jim Bates Junior Member

    Mark,
    I had already decided to try a squaresail. I had toyed with the idea previously, but not seriously, when I found an article discussing it as still a viable option, in an old issue of “Ocean Navigator” magazine. The article was a little thin on details, as magazines tend to be, but referenced a once well-known British yachtsman named Claud Worth, who wrote profusely about yachting, starting in an era in the second half of the 1800’s, before electricity, electronic navigation, and engines in yachts. I found two books he had written in which he elaborated on the wonderful squaresail. The books are “yacht cruising” fourth edition in 1948, and “Yacht Navigation and Voyaging” third edition 1935. He wrote extensively re gaff rigs, the rigging technicalities, and yacht design and construction. Even proper sail design. Also Such details as the proper length of the yard ( twice the width of max beam. Add a watersail to go faster). Interesting to me, he commented on how some yachtsmen thought that the advent of yacht engines portended the death of seamanship.
    I know that my BR Spray will never point like my J-35 which I sailed twice across the Atlantic. My spray will probably go to windward right now as good as it ever will. But it can go faster, on and off the wind, at a lower wind velocity with more horsepower, which in this case means sail area. The sail area/displacement ratio, at 11.9 esablishes that fact. Interestingly enough, the top four yachts in the Golden Globe Race right now, are a well-built English production yacht known as a Rustler 36. They have survived VERY high sustained wind speeds in the 50-60 plus range, and waves on the 30-40 foot range. One of them pitchpoled a couple of weeks ago. The Rustler 36 has a sail area/disp. ratio of 12-13. If I were to sail there, my sail area would be adequate. But I sail in Lake Pontchartrain, where racing in the daytime is rarely done in July/August, when we endure sustained periods of light and flukey.
    Thanks gor your suggestion. Your boat is gorgeous by the way.
    Jim
     
  8. M&M Ovenden
    Joined: Jan 2006
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    Location: Ottawa

    M&M Ovenden Senior Member

    Hi Jim,

    Had to mention the square sail as it seems like our sailmaker brings it up about every other visit to the loft.... It's just not in our game plan as we are trying to remain a bit more faithful to the vessel type. Sounds like you are having a hard time letting go of your race boat :)... The heavier displacement does come at a cost, but it's got some pretty nice benefits also. I'm ok with being a bit slow, but being more comfortable is a big plus. Thanks for the comment about our boat, looking forward to moving aboard.

    Cheers,
    Mark
     
  9. sharpii2
    Joined: May 2004
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    Location: Michigan, USA

    sharpii2 Senior Member

    Have you considered increasing the length of your gaff and perhaps adding a gaff mizzen instead of a Marconi one? The fan-like topsail seems like a good idea, but I don't think it would be a good ship-mate with the running rigging of the gaff. There could be a lot of chafe. Why not add a roach and battens to the main, as well as lengthen it's gaff?
     
  10. tlouth7
    Joined: Jun 2013
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    Location: Cambridge, UK

    tlouth7 Junior Member

    Without seeing your exact arrangement it is hard to give good advice.

    If you want to add roach to the mainsail then the most value comes from a batten near the top of the leach. If you want then this batten could be full length and rigid, running from the gaff throat. Not the same sail type but have a look at how much each batten adds in this image:
    [​IMG]

    Alternatively a topsail gives you much more additional area for far less modification of the rig. Crucially it gives more luff length which will be useful with the wind in front of the beam. Your options are:
    - Jib headed to the top of the current mast. Easiest but may be quite small.
    - Jib headed to a lightweight fixed topmast. Easy to hoist, adds weight aloft.
    - Yard topsail (includes a spar along some or all of the luff, projecting the head above the mast). Harder sail to make but could be a later add on using the same hardware as a jib headed sail.
    - Club topsail (includes spar along the foot to project the clew). Probably unnecessary unless your gaff is very short.

    Any of these only adds 1 halyard, 1 outhaul & 1 downhaul (can be a fixed length line to the tack of the sail). Easy to hoist if you get the luff tight before putting any tension on the outhaul.
     

  11. fishwics
    Joined: Mar 2004
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    Location: UK

    fishwics Quiet member

    For notes (& drawings) on adding square rig, read Conor O'Brien's "On going to sea in yachts" (Lodestar books republication, probably easier to find than Claude Worth)
     
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