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Old 02-29-2012, 03:49 PM   #41
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Oh yes, I agree, a racing schooner is way different from our schooner which was modeled after the late 1800's coastal cargo schooners along the western US coast. The original owner had, from what I was told, the boat built as a retirement get away for him and his buddies to drink, play cards and occasionally sail/motor to Catalina to gamble. I am not a racer, but for a bit, I skippered Teragram a 65' Alden Bermudan main staysail schooner in the charter biz in Hawaii and the difference was significant. Sadly, the next owner ran it on the rocks in Kona and that was that. Mr Alden did not design many unattractive or slow boats.
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Old 02-29-2012, 05:25 PM   #42
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Was you're schooner always with a main staysail but yet gaff mainsail? I just haven't ever seen that combination in person or print.
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Old 03-01-2012, 03:13 PM   #43
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Earliest picture of the rig that I have seen is from the 1926 Transpac with a gaff main, main staysail, fore staysail, jib and what looks like the fisherman hanked on the "stay" running up the aft side of the fore mast.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:41 PM   #44
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Default cunliffe and leather books

i'd bought and read both books - one by cunliffe, and the other by john leather; does anyone know of any other books which attempt to explain the construction of the rigging for gaff rigged boats? thank you
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:00 AM   #45
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Default conversion to gaff

i've been thinking about converting my cutter to a gaffer. good place to start? thanks in advance.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:30 AM   #46
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The gaff rig was invented and primarily used on smaller coastal cargo vessels. It had three basic improvements on it's square rigged forerunners, the first being that they could go to windward (they could sail into and out of most ports, whereas the square riggers had to be towed) much better than a square rigged ships and were much better suited to coastal routes, being smaller and more maneuverable. They had shorter single masts (no multiple topmasts) and sails which could be handled by many fewer crew mostly from on deck, thus saving the owners considerable money in wages. The other and most interesting reason for the multiple masts (seven I believe was the most) with equal length spars (the gaffs and booms) was for unloading cargo using what is known as the union purchase; one spar over the cargo hold and the other over the dock, which greatly simplified cargo handling.
With two halyards per boom sail, two topping lifts and, if you want to be truly traditional, no winches, all sail handling requires many purchases (blocks) on the sheets and halyards, which meant massive amounts of line aboard. On the schooner Wanderer, the main throat halyard alone was over 500 feet long! If you check out a properly rigged gaffer, you will notice hooks on the deck that the halyards must go around before they are secured to the belaying pins as the pin rails are not strong enough to take the load alone.
You will need a round mast for the farrel bands as well as copper or brass chafing to protect the mast (if wood) at each position of the gaff (fully up and each reef position) and things like lazyjacks on each boom and baggy wrinkles on the after lower and upper shrouds to protect the sails when off the wind.
It's a huge conversion project and many of the fittings like the gooseneck for the booms, topping lift fittings, and travelers will have to be specially manufactured as there are probably none produced today.
If you've the pocketbook to finance this conversion, I have found the gaff rig to be a wonderful rig to sail, but you will need some crew to sail with you; they are a terrific amount of work to sail short handed. The first time you get in a really strong squall, you will find one of the unique joys of the gaff rig; scandalizing!
PM me if you need specific info and ideas.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:48 AM   #47
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Hi Capta, Thanks for your answer. Why do you believe "they are a terrific amount of work to sail short handed" ? We sail a schooner (gaff fore and Bermuda main) and find the gaff fore to be a cakewalk to put up, take down, and deal with on all points of sail. Agree that there's an awful lot of line to manage as ours goes up w/peak and throat halyards on blocks w/no winches. Because we're short handed (just the two of us), we try to keep as many lines run to the cockpit as possible. So, that means we also run the halyards back from the foredeck to cleats alongside the cockpit combing--the sail can be doused quickly though one must raise it from the foredeck if we really want a tight halyard. The only PITA is the gaff vang (from the gaff to a block on the main mast) which really can have a mind of its own and seems to take way too much management compared to every other line on the boat.

Fair winds,
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:40 PM   #48
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It may be a matter of perspective. Last schooner I operated was 61' and the one before 84' with three masts. Both sailed several+ trips daily during the season, in the tourist trade, so everything was done around the passengers, and often with just one or two crew besides myself.
On my 65' gaffer, built in 1909, which I sailed in the south seas for 5.5 years, all halyards were at the mast so no matter the weather, someone was up there getting wet and pulling strings for what seemed like forever, on a pitching deck. Hauling in the main sheet was not something you turned around on the seat to do; you got to your feet and pulled as hard as you could, sometimes with help, always keeping a wrap around a cleat.
As much as I am a huge fan of traditional gaff boats, they certainly are a great deal more work than my present boat; a 53' ketch with roller EVERYTHING! We sail almost every third day, literally from the anchor, to the anchor, where practical. Some trips are short pleasant ones, just a half dozen miles, while others, like today; 42 miles hard to weather in 25 to 30 knots and 4 to 8 foot seas. At least it's 80+ degrees and mostly sunny.
I'd never go back, even though I drool like an idiot whenever I see a pretty gaffer. I'm quite old now and I feel I deserve an easy boat to end my sailing days aboard. Winches galore, some even electric and every mod-con to make life easier.
Yeah, I know, I'm a wimp. But I was one of those "iron men who sailed wooden ships", once.
I'd like to know more about your pretty schooner; I've admired the pic, but saw no info on your profile page.
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Old 09-05-2013, 04:53 AM   #49
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Thread necropsy, I know, but I'm new here and have to say that's one BEAUTIFUL boat!

We've no boat of our own yet. I'm planning to learn to sail no later than next summer and our daughters (10-year old twins) also want to. My wife gets headaches on any conveyance other than a bicycle, so she may take a bit of convincing. We're down the road in San Jose.
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Old 09-07-2013, 03:27 AM   #50
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Thread necropsy, I know, but I'm new here and have to say that's one BEAUTIFUL boat!

We've no boat of our own yet. I'm planning to learn to sail no later than next summer and our daughters (10-year old twins) also want to. My wife gets headaches on any conveyance other than a bicycle, so she may take a bit of convincing. We're down the road in San Jose.
Welcome aboard

San Jose CA? If so, Spinnaker Sailing in Redwood City will be a close and good place for you to take lessons.

Fair winds,
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Old 09-08-2013, 12:43 AM   #51
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Thank you, redbopeep!

I popped in at Spinnaker a while back, after a dental appointment (her office is in RC, near the Port) to check them out in person after finding them on the Web. I found them a very pleasant lot, and the operation seems quite well organized. They're less than a half-hour from my place and have classes on weekdays, so they are very convenient as well.

I'll probably sign up the girls for Stanford's Sailing Camp, also at Redwood City, next summer.

Should have been "necromancy" in the original post. I was tired...

Cheers,
Daryl
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:55 AM   #52
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Default planning rig conversion to gaff

Greetings to all,
I am currently researching on net the subject of bermuda-to-gaff rig conversion. This thread had some great information. I am also going through my books ( here are some I am reading right now: J.Leather's THE GAFF RIG HANDBOOK, T. Cunliffe's HAND, REEF and STEER, D.L. Nichols' THE WORKING GUIDE TO TRADITINAL SMALL BOAT SAILS, etc).
I have a few small sailboats and the one I am planning to convert is an Northstar 22, with shallow keel & swing keel inside. The boat is right now completely stripped off, inside/out. If needed I will be able to move the mast and/or add a bowsprit, in order to end up with balanced boat. My idea is also to remove the swing keel functionality , and either fill the space inside shoal keel with similar weight or drill through swing keel on multiple points and fix it inside forever. The both keels will be removed from the boat before, sand blasted, protected etc to delay further corrosion as much as possible. The keel and swing keel is cast iron. Here is the link to the Northstar's sailplan: HUGHES 22 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com, NORTHSTAR 22 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com

The reasons for doing it - at least some of them: the look of the rig, reduced standing rigging tension, lower mast, no winches, no swing keel, less heel even with a shoal keel only, excellent project to learn something new. If I judge the results successfull enough - at least in my opinion, the boat will be used for cruising in various waters ( it sits on trailer when not in water).

I would appreciate any comments, advice and/or questions on what I am planning to do, if anyone has the time and will to comment.

Thank you and fair wind to your sails

Z
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:44 AM   #53
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You'll have to be picky about your gaff in terms of materials--it does increase weight aloft. Since you're proposing to rid yourself of the swing keel (I wouldn't do that, btw, I'd keep the functionality of it--wonderful thing to have that swing keel) then you'll be raising up your boat's center of gravity. At the same time, by increasing your weight aloft (we can assume changing the center of effort of the sail to a slightly lower position, but you'll have to calculate that one, too) you're creating a boat that will have less ultimate stability.

The gaff rig may not heel less, as a matter of fact, it may heel more. That is entirely dependent upon comparing what you have now to what you end up with. Are you intending high peak/low peak or have you gotten that far yet? You can keep spreaders on the rig (above the point of the gaff saddle) if it helps your rigging angles, btw.

Are you used to working with running backstays? You may wish to practice a bit with them to decide if you can live with them on your new rig.

Enjoy your project,
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:42 PM   #54
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You'll have to be picky about your gaff in terms of materials--it does increase weight aloft. .....-wonderful thing to have that swing keel) ...... Are you used to working with running backstays? You may wish to practice a bit with them to decide if you can live with them on your new rig. Enjoy your project,

The swing keel comment is very much valid, and in all honesty I am still not 100% decided on that one. You probably made me less convinced that this is a good idea to do. The work on it is planned for spring, so I will have enough time to re-think..... I am not planning to have a high peak rig, and will try to keep the spreaders if possible. Regarding running backstays, this is something I need to learn. In theory I know how one should handle them, but I never tried. My idea is to equip my 16' daysailer with them and start practicing on small scale - do you think this would give me good idea what to expect ??
Cheers,
Z
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:05 PM   #55
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Regarding running backstays, this is something I need to learn. In theory I know how one should handle them, but I never tried. My idea is to equip my 16' daysailer with them and start practicing on small scale - do you think this would give me good idea what to expect ??
Cheers,
Z
Some idea, but things are easier on a smaller boat. I take it you're not sailing the 22' one right now? faux running backs to see if you'll go crazy-- On the 22' boat (not the 16) just tie a couple lines onto your masthead/spreaders/somewhere up there and lead them down to the stern of the boat to a cleat on each side. Then force yourself to use them as "pretend" running backs for some sailing. Do some short tacks upwind and downwind... you'll begin to wonder about your plans a bit. When you do that accidental gibe--thwang--you'll be thinking more about it.
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:33 PM   #56
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Some idea, but things are easier on a smaller boat. ....... Do some short tacks upwind and downwind... you'll begin to wonder about your plans a bit. When you do that accidental gibe--thwang--you'll be thinking more about it.
Good point As always , there is a plan B if I decide that I do not want to live with it.... it is a chinese lug sail, which I always wanted to try out, but I did not go further than reading many books on the subject and also many first-hand accounts ( Hasler, Van Loan, Taylor) .
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:48 PM   #57
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I enjoy our gaff foresail but I'd never put a gaff sail on a boat that didn't already have a "classic" aesthetic. The boat you've got is great with the rig it has. If you want a gaffer, why not find a hull that "fits" with a gaff rig? Same thoughts for Chinese lug. On a small boat like yours the whole high-tension vs low tension rig is a non-issue. Oh, and you know you can have a lower tension rig with a Bermuda cut mainsail. The only sorts of rigs that just can't get away with low tension are ones with sophisticated spreader systems.

GL
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Old 09-10-2013, 05:45 PM   #58
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I enjoy our gaff foresail but I'd never put a gaff sail on a boat that didn't already have a "classic" aesthetic. ................ GL
I understand your point. However it is not so easy to find a classic hull here in Montreal, at least the one which is priced right considering what I am doing ... so in order to experiment, my old Northstar can provide a decent platform which might not please all eyes, but it will allow me to learn something new. And I guess it would be even harder to find an junk or sampan hull for experimenting with chinese lug rig

Again many thanks for your comments/opinion, it is very much appreciated !

Z
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Old 11-08-2015, 11:16 PM   #59
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Default gaff rigging

I know this is a late post to this thread, but I'm sure others will come along from time to time as they research the gaff rig vs Marconi debate elsewhere - that's how I got here.

I too have a Tahiti Ketch, but with an all Marconi rig. This was done by the original owner in preparation for a voyage to Australia from California many years ago. Over the years she has kept this rig and I, the 5th owner. have kept for the time being. The original owner was not a romantic in love with the "old world charm" of the gaff rig. I think he simply wanted a rig he could single-hand in mid Pacific.
My needs are much different, just a gentle cruise every now and then, and yes I am a romantic when it comes the old gaff rig. Interestingly though, the original owner did buy another Tahiti some years later with the designed rig of a gaff main, a club footed jib and a Marconi mizzen. When I asked him for an appraisal of the two rigs he confirmed all of what has been said on this forum. The gaff is not as good to windward as the Marconi, but off the wind she has some driving power. The extra halyard and any other mods for the gaff were not an issue.
So far I have found that the Marconi works well and she performs well into the wind, downwind is nothing to write home about.
I have made a decision to remove the Marconi Main and rig her with a gaff on the main. I will also be adding a gaff top s'l for lighter winds, and I will also be rigging a gaff vang. I have heard mostly good comment about the effectiveness of this feature. Only on local person express concerns that the vang could cause mast damage if used in strong winds because of the levering action up high. I guess the moral is to use with caution.
When finally set up as I want she will have a gaff main, Marconi mizzen, and a combination of head sails. Most of the time I'll be setting a stay s'l, a jib and a jib top s'l, but these can be interchanged with two sizes of Genoa.
I certainly would be interested in hearing from fellow Tahiti owners. If any of you are contemplating going the other way - Gaff to all Marconi, get in touch as I have the original sail plan drawing for this set up.
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Old 11-11-2015, 07:37 AM   #60
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Welcome to the forum and thanks for your contribution to the thread.
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