Mein Boot – the struggle against reality

Mr. Hilter [sic] may have had his Kampf but I have Mein Boot and though the first version was 2/3 built at the point it needed to cease, I’m the first to admit that things have got in the way, coming from directions no one could have planned, plus things like the British weather surprised after all these years, which should have been better planned for.

And yet, it seems to me that if we go negative on this – doom and gloom – oh he’ll never finish it … then I’ll never finish it.

My next move is to phone for the next lot of plywood and that then starts the epoxying and glassing.  Fine but tomorrow, the NHS will tell me what further exploratory needs doing on the heart.

So that phone over there is the key. Order the wood and then they take me into hospital next week or what?  My feeling is go ahead.

No sailing posts then?  There will be sailing posts because it’s interesting to some, it annoys others, plus it helps me, a visual person, a simple soul, to lay things out, step back and look. I’ve made many a decision based on what I could see and concentrate on at the time, saying nah to other ideas.

Back to the square sail

There are sound reasons for using the square sail of the Viking type on my particular boat – not all boats, mind – but there are caveats.

The first question is the stiffness of cloth – on the large boats they go light silk because of the huge area, not unlike square, billowing spinnakers.

On mine, especially with the 22 foot beam and small sails, I can afford to use heavy cloth, 18oz canvas to be exact, tan, which just happens to be available, fancy that.

The longterm plan is perhaps to go professional sailmaker unless these two sails really do hold up.  Can’t see why they would blow out as long as the canvas is treated and dried out. Again, let’s see – methinks they would be manageable  as long as I always take two crew and I do have that crew.

The Viking boats had fore and aft lines from the masthead, which seems best to me, meaning you can run sidestays a shorter distance out and back from the mast, multiple sidestays, why not, which means the sail can be set more fore and aft and therefore point into the wind better.

I do not plan much of this pointing into the wind business, mind, coastal day sailing is not my thing unless it’s out to a destination on one reach, anchor, and return on another reach – my days of beating [quiet at the back there] are over. No, I’m not naive, I do remember what we encounter – it always seems to be into a headwind – but if one sails only voyages, even short ones, then that allows the sailor to pick the wind direction to go on, plus the sailor’s friend – the weather forecast.

However, one does actually have to go upwind at times, so one must be prepared and able to at least do that, not wishing to motor except in harbour.

And that brings us to the camber of the sail – modern sails which go upwind all have maximum camber 30-40% back from the luff near the foot, then flatten out towards the trailing edge and the whole sail progressively flattens as it goes upwards towards the top.

That is exactly what this square lends itself to and why the cloth must be stiff to hold shape.  Weight of the rig?  I blow a raspberry etc. – I want weight on this cat, it’s way too light just now, even with the masts.

If you look at the modern viking sails, they run lines horizontally from the luff to somewhere, e.g. the prow, to stop the luff curling and that is because of the light cloth and boltrope.

The three edges of the sail are bordered, not by a boltrope but by one inch, green seatbelt webbing with the sail edge wrapped over and under [hemmed], then glued down and rivetted at the seam. Rivet gun – yes. Look again at the pic above and that curl is due to cloth and boltrope.


I’d vastly prefer to run multiple sails on their own yards – affordable and easy to store on a cat [not possible on a mono, that would require reefing points] but there will still need to be some short horizontal battens put in on leading and trailing edges, to reduce curl.  They furl with the sail up to the yard, the yard is then lowered and detached, new yard attached.  [Two crew, remember.]

These short battens – first strips of sailcloth are glued on at the required points on both sides of the sail, seatbelt webbing is laid over that, a 12 inch batten is laid either side and riveted through to the other.  And so on up the sail at what would have been reefing points.

These battens also serve as trailing edge points for lines attached to the sheet, not unlike the junk sail. For laymen, that means that narrow lines run from these battens to the rope itself which hauls the trailing corner of the sail in.  It’s a way to haul the lower third of the sail flatter and reduce camber in the trailing third. When the trailing becomes the leading edge on the other tack, then these are eased off.

If your sail aspect ratio is right – squarer for lighter winds, lower aspect for stronger, if all these things are done, the two squares method does seem fairly good.


The old ships used brails hanging down from the yards for furling and it’s a good instant method if you can’t get the yard down quickly. They also kill flow and that maybe what you wish to do.

On mine, the two yards come down quickly – safely too as they wish to blow away from the mast and rigging, so they go to deck better. Crew stand behind the yard, near the centre.

But these brails do intrigue. if used for the double purpose of killing flow and therefore tippy-overness, something also achieved by releasing the sheet, they might be a good way to get the sail reefed [or furled] quickly, then the yard lowered to deck not blowing all over the place.

I’ve seen fair criticisms of Polynesian rigs and Chinese – crab claws and junks – but have noted that lugsails don’t get this criticism, they do work well.  but so does the square, in quite rough conditions – hmmmm, seems worth doing for some time, I can put a regular rig on after that if necessary.

3 comments for “Mein Boot – the struggle against reality

  1. April 26, 2019 at 06:14

    It keeps you off street corners. What mischief would you get up to if you were not working quietly and thoughtfully on your boat? The older ladies for five miles around would have to go around in pairs or more and keep their doors locked even during the day 🙂

  2. Lord T
    April 26, 2019 at 11:38

    It’s a no brainer. Wait a whole week and see what is said. A week ain’t going to make that much difference at this stage. The issue of course will be they will want to send you for tests and they will take ages in our wonderful NHS.

    Of course you could spend the week disassembling what you don’t need and clearing space for revision 2,612. It’ll come in handy next week when you move to 2,613.

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