Be there or be square

The reason for so many of these posts is that I’m in the nitty-gritty of ordering materials, building, trying to make the right decisions which are now irreversible once made.

What became apparent is that I cannot ignore rig as an afterthought, after the hull is finished, as the mast steps and beams need reinforcing, which are integral through things called ‘partners’. What has also become clear is that with these hulls the way they are, the triple junk rig [a fine rig] is unfeasible.

Problem is this, having done much catamaran sailing and mono [but never trimaran] – cruising monos have most of the sail area up front – see ketches and yawls, but cats must have them back further, with the mast halfway, even behind halfway. It’s quite critical.

As mine is not a cat as such but more a very thin mono plus outrigger, it suffers from a combination of mono nose-up but also pontoon nose-diving. Ideally, it needs a large sail halfway which extends forward and aft at the foot, spreading the load while not having a mast stepped forward.

The only way I could see of doing it was to have a smaller trimming mizzen at the back which takes care of itself and then a mainmast slightly forward of middle, not too tall and allowing spread.

More my size:

Trouble with that is that there is no amateur cloth, e.g. poly, which will not rip with large areas. However, there is canvas duck, which is why it was fine as sailcloth until modern times and not all that expensive. It is also this sail which needs drive, the mizzen not so much. The old luggers did this, modern boats do it with a genoa.

And reluctantly, that’s going to require a winch. Damn it, I was hoping to avoid a winch. I still think I can make a single-speed myself, using Ivan’s suggestion of lignum vitae and the design I’ve already made some time back, with his idea of ratchetting.  As there is only one winch needed for the lee sheet, then it can be a winter project once the hull is done.

My size again:

The downside is reefing – really hate reefing sails from below and had an idea of the horizontal yard rolling over to reef, with the halyard a claw which goes over that.  There is another way and that’s to have a smaller, ‘son of mainsail’ sitting above the deck in a cradle, about half the area.  Once the big sail is half reefed, it comes down and the son of main goes up.

I’ve seen criticism of the windward ability of the large square but as the clips show, these sails can go quite close [they say 60 degrees to the wind].  Methinks they’re restricted because of the fore and aft stays – the yard hits these early.  Solution is to have the mast a bit taller, using a spreader arrangement. If I could get 50 degrees to the wind, with leeboard, that would be OK for a cruiser.

The difficulty in going about can be circumvented by raising the storm jib and backwinding it, then dropping it again.

The way the yard is raised uses a capstan [plus one is needed for the anchor anyway].  I’d say the sheet winch, the mast capstan and anchor capstan can be made around the same time, as part of the same job lot.

The reason which persists in my mind for this positioning of the masts is that the crossbeams are already in that place, making it a strong point on the boat.

One thing I’ve noticed is that all square sails of any seriousness have the drop lines, what would be called lazy jacks today – these are to instantly spill wind on top of releasing the sheet.  These boats are plying their trade today, they’re not just replicas in Scandinavia and I like the uncluttered deck space.

The other point is that the clips and pics here, with two exceptions, are for a massive boat – mine is scaled down to the point that the yard can be a length of 4×2 of 17 feet or so.  I notice that every one of these sails is properly rectangular, with long yard, not trapezoid with shorter yard. I need to note that and think about why.

Clearly it’s for directly downwind, with the loosefooted main but maybe it’s also for better overall spread, for reefing and stowage.


Coming back to that last picture above, you can see how a mizzen mounted just aft of the square sail [itself further forward than in the pic] by a foot or two, a relatively self-tending sail, would leave the main as the one getting most of the attention.  Better is the two [younger] crew taking care of the main while I run the wheel and mizzen.  Or something like that.

3 comments for “Be there or be square

  1. October 21, 2017 at 16:11

    Just did the last tweaking by inches and sat back and looked – mighty fine hull now with high prow and stern, think the rig would suit her. Can’t wait to get her finished.

  2. October 22, 2017 at 04:48

    The Viking boat looks just magnificent. Sooner them than me though.

    • October 22, 2017 at 06:54

      Agreed. In my version, there are three cabins and a salon of decent enough size for privacy and protection from the elements, with 6’3″ headroom. Combine that with the sailing qualities of the longships and methinks one is onto a winner.

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