what is wrong with a gaff rigged small boat?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by bean surchwell, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. bean surchwell
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    bean surchwell Junior Member

    Pygmay's w.g.w. Gardener suggested sprit or marconi.

    Why have i not seen a gaff rig on one?
    The sprit sail doesnt reef easily.

    The marconi is too modern looking. and has extra leverage up high that a small boat could do with out.

    I am partial to a gaff rigg. What am i missing?
     
  2. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    Modern Gaff

    Many modern mainsails have more in common with a gaff than with a marconi.
    Square top mains many times have the head of the sail supported by a diagonal batten-which could be said to be sort of a gaff. The F3 model below
    and the 16' Tantra(EXP-1) have modern versions of a gaff where both the peak and throat are adjustable -and the peak is further adjusted like an upper outhaul. Contrary what many were taught in the old days the rectangular planform has more going for it than the old style marconi rigs.


    click on the image:
     

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  3. messabout
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    messabout Senior Member

    There are many gaff rigged small boats. A popular one that comes to mind is the Melonseed in any of its length iterations. Small ones are 13 feet, some are as much as 20 feet. Gaff rigs are powerful if properly done. The disadvantage is the weight of the gaff aloft and also two halyards to mess with. The outer end of the gaff falls off to leeward in many cases but that can be mostly adjusted out with tight peak halyards and boom vangs below. Lug rigs are simpler. Depending on how small your small boat is, or the intended use of the boat, there may be better choices of sailplan.
     
  4. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Now you mention it they do seem to have been very rare on the ground back in the day. Glancing at my 30s books it does appear to me that there's a cutoff size below which they just don't seem to be used. The performance boats seemed to use sliding gunter rigs or bermudan, and the less performance oriented lug sails and the like... No idea why, but it seems to be a very long seated design choice.
     
  5. peterAustralia
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    peterAustralia Senior Member

    from memory the mirror dingy is gaff rigged. I sailed in one a few times and it is a quite pleasant boat. Perhaps the downside is the number of lines and percieved complexity.

    Small boats historically had lugsails or sprit sails becasue the individual spar lenghts were short enough, so that when the boat was being rowed, these spars could be stowed in the bottom of the boat.

    Above a certain size, the idea of taking the mast down and rowing ceases to become practicle.

    This is my guess why the gaff was not used as much in smaller boats, the sprit and lugsails having small spars that can be stored in the bottom of the boat, not because they are better sails than the gaff sail. This is my undersanding anyway, .... seems to make logical sense... ?
     
  6. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Its a sliding gunter. One practical difference is that there is no throat halyard, so one string less.
     
  7. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    Not any more. The Mirror dropped the sliding gunter rig more than five years ago and is now a marconi rig. Class rules now specify a aluminum mast.

    I loved the old, homebuild Mirror with it's 2x2 spars and sliding gunter rig.

    --
    CutOnce
     
  8. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Vangs on a gaffer lead from the gaff to the weather rail to control twist, on a schooner the foresail gaff vang can lead to the mainmast. Vangs moved to the boom after gaffs were removed.

    I agree, I love the look of a gaff rig. Using modern material you could have a short free-standing mast and a light, tapered gaff to come up with a very nice rig indeed. Add a top mast and a topsail for light air days and you have a very flexible sail plan.

    R
     
  9. Perm Stress
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    Perm Stress Senior Member

    Below certain size gaff with two hallyards and relatively high pressure of gaff against the mast is not so practical. If only because of forces required to hoist or lower the gaff, or tension in peak hallyard, which if made not from modern low-stretch rope, need constant attention.

    Regarding "The sprit sail doesnt reef easily." it is simply not true.
    Optimist rig do not reef at all, that's right.
    However, all that is necessary to make sprit rig reefable is to make separate rigging for sprit and use an independent outhaul for the peak of sail. Then the sail could be reefed conventional way from below, by tying some portion of sail in bundle. It is done for centuries in traditional working sailboats, like Thames barges, Kurronian lagoon fishing boats (I happen to personally know the master of replica, owned by Lithuanian Maritime Museum), etc. ...
     
  10. alan white
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    alan white Senior Member

    A gaff can be miniaturized down to very small. However, mast hoops take a bit of work to detach from the sail or the mast, depending on how the rig is set up. Maybe that's why other rigs are used on small boats that are broken down for trailering each sail.
    Otherwise, gaffers (such as Beetle Cats) work well scaled down.
     
  11. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    Modern gaff design

    Paul Beiker and Russell Brown did a modern take on a gaff rig - it was in Woodenboat and called the PT15 (Port Townsend 15). It used a modern carbon fiber mast & gaff that was controllably fixed into place - allowing controlled gaff placement in concert with controlled mast rotation. Pretty innovative - and it did reef well - avoiding the problem of matching luff curve to expected bend in a normal marconi rig.

    They also did a comparable "standard" marconi rig for the boat, so they could trial them together.

    The real problem with smaller gaffers is that the sailor has to be mentally secure enough to handle being 5 or more degrees off the windward progress of the other folks heading in the same upwind direction. If you don't get mad when someone who was beside you is now drinking beer, while you are still thrashing to windward, go for it.

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    CutOnce
     
  12. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Reefing...
     

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  13. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Or if you really wanted to be modern have a zip fastener...

    Wouldn't you just use a lacing on a very small boat?

    Now I think of it there's at least one small racing class that even now still uses a gaff rig...

    [​IMG]
     
  14. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Naw... I hate zipper reefs. It was a fashion twenty years ago... Spent hours trying to repair the zippers...Bah... Humbug.. on any zippers any where on any boat.
     

  15. Doug Lord
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    Doug Lord Flight Ready

    I grew up sailing and racing the Fish Class "the" class for the Gulf Yachting Association right up until they got Scotts. A ponderous boat but a great experience-and loads of fun in a blow. It seems to be that the planform(if it was taller and narrower) of the gaff boats is and was superior to the marconi rig/bermudan rig-but the implementation in the old days was kinda slow.
     
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