The Shallow Water Sailor Sailing Manual

3.0  Rigging

Rigging:  the term which embraces all ropes, wires, or chains used in ships and smaller vessels to support the masts and yards and for hoisting, lowering, or trimming sails to the wind.

                                              Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea

   3.1  Basic Terminology

            The last time I read Two Years Before The Mast, I kept handy The Oxford Companion to Ships & the Sea, a wonderful reference book on everything nautical.  It helped me understand all the nautical terminology used by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. in his descriptions of the Pilgrim’s operations as it sailed from Boston, round Cape Horn, to the coast of California.   It also helped in the enjoyment of the book.  Now I know what chock-a-block means and how to choke a luff.  Nautical terminology is, perhaps, the oldest form of jargon. It is a language that has evolved over 2000 years.  It is precise and concise.  It is used in this manual wherever it saves words over saying something in non-nautical English. You’ll find most, if not all, of these terms in all but the slimmest of English dictionaries.

   3.2  Dovekie Sprit Rig

The Dovekie's Sprit Rig

Need a Dovekie sailor to write this section.

   3.3  Hen Gaff Rig

Figure 1 - The Gaff Rig Terminology

           The Bay Hen, Mud Hen, and Peep Hen use the gaff rig.  The owners of these boats have found this rig to be very satisfactory.  The mast for a gaff rig is considerably shorter than that for an equivalent  Bermuda rig, a great advantage in a trailer sailboat.  The mast can be lifted without assistance, and swung down onto the gallows or mast crutch with ease.    The mast does not project far beyond the boat’s stern, another advantage for a trailerable boat.  Other advantages are the rig is easy to setup and the sail is easy to raise and lower from the cockpit.  Refer to the following figures to understand the terminology used:

    Figure 1 shows the basic rigging terms for a Hen featuring the gaff rig.
    Figure 2 shows details of the gaff jaw and its components.
    Figure 3 shows details of the mast hinge and the tabernacle.
    Figure 4 shows the reefing system  for the gaff rig.                

Figure 2 - Gaff Jaw Details Figure 3 - Mast Hinge Details

Figure 4 - Reefing System

           The rig originated in Holland and was in widespread use in Sweden in the 1500’s.  Marsh Hen and Dovekie owners would appreciate the fact that the rig developed from experience with the earlier sprit rig.  As sail size increased, the gaff was used for the purpose of more easily spreading large areas of canvas.
            The gaff rig has a lot of lines that can become quite confused and twisted when setting up the rig for the first time.  Since the rig is left on for the season (or multiple seasons) the bare pole setup is done infrequently.  Here is one way to get the setup done with minimum hassle:
  1. With mast down and boom and gaff connected, attach upper lazy jack line to lazy jack eye on mast and tie the two hanging ends to the mast with a short piece of line to keep them out of the way.
  2. Attach bitter end of throat-halyard to the attachment loop of the upper throat-halyard block attached to mast; reeve through the lower throat-halyard block attached to the gaff jaws; reeve through the upper throat-halyard block itself, checking to assure the halyard’s entry directions on the blocks do not result in a twisted halyard; reeve through one of the inner turning blocks at the mast base and back to the cockpit.  The Peep Hen is not normally fitted with a turning block at the mast base.  For this boat, the throat halyard should be led to one of the cleats on the side of the mast.  Traditionally, for a gaff-rigged boat, the throat halyard is lead to the starboard side of the mast.
  3. Attach the bitter end of the peak-halyard to the end of the gaff; reeve through the upper peak-halyard block; reeve through the mid-gaff block; reeve through the lower peak-halyard block, checking all the time to assure the halyard’s entry directions on the blocks are correct, i.e. halyard will run clean without any twists; reeve through outer turning block at base of mast just next to throat-halyard; run line to cockpit.  The Peep Hen is not normally fitted with a turning block at the mast base.  For this boat, the peak halyard should be led to one of the cleats on the side of the mast.  Traditionally, for a gaff-rigged boat, the peak halyard is lead to the port side of the mast.
  4. Raise and secure mast.
  5. Run gaff up and down to check for twisted lines.  If no twists, you’re a genius and need not be reading these directions!
  6. Attach lower lazy jack line to attachment point opposite the cleat on boom; release the upper lazy jack lines from the mast and thread the lower lazy jack line through one of the upper lazy jack line eyes; thread through the lazy jack metal eye on lower mid-section of boom; then moving to the other side of the boom, thread through the other upper lazy jack eye and secure to cleat on boom; check to assure the gaff and all halyards are inside of lazy jacks.
  7. Attach sail’s throat cringle to the throat shackle on lower part of gaff jaws; securely attach sail’s peak cringle to the outhaul hole in gaff’s end with a length of line; starting from the throat, thread the head lacing through the grommets and around the gaff, ending with several turns through the peak cringle and tying off the lacing through the outhaul hole.
  8. Now attach the sail’s tack cringle to the tack shackle; attach the luff lacing to the throat shackle and begin threading the luff of the sail to the mast, raising the sail as you go; tie off the luff lacing on the tack shackle; some lacing tension adjustment will be necessary to assure the sail can be raised and lowered freely.   Preferred Lacing Method:  To avoid lace binding during hoisting or lowering, use the following lacing method:  attach the lacing to the throat cringle, and take a turn around the mast and through the first luff grommet.  Now, instead of going around the mast in the same direction as the first turn, change direction around the mast and through the second grommet.  See Figures 1 and 4 which show this pattern.  Repeat the pattern attaching the bitter end of the lacing to the tack cringle.
  9. Attach the clew of the sail to the boom’s outhaul hole with a length of line; attach the sheet’s bitter end to the tiller block; reeve through boom block and then back through tiller block.  Place a figure eight stopper knot on sheet’s working end.  Check to assure sheet will stop the boom’s forward movement before it damages the boom’s gooseneck or any other equipment. Keep sheet loose so sail flies free.
  10. Fully raise the sail and adjust lazy jack lines to assure they are loose when sail is fully raised.  Also check to make sure the boom clears the gallows.
  11. Attach bitter end of clew jiffy reefing line to the attachment point of the reef block located near the end of the boom; thread through first reef clew cringle and reeve through the reefing block; thread through reefing eyes along boom forward; reeve through the free inner turning block; bring back to cockpit, reeve through other cockpit or cabin top blocks where present. The Peep Hen is not normally fitted with a turning block for the clew jiffy reefing line.  Thread this line through the hole in the cleat on the port side of the boom and tie a stopper knot in the end of the line.
  12. Attach bitter end of tack jiffy reefing line to tack shackle; thread through first reef tack cringle;  reeve through outer turning block and back to cockpit, reeve through other cockpit or cabin top blocks where present. For the Peep Hen, attach bitter end of tack jiffy reefing line to the cleat on the aft side of the tabernacle; thread through first reef tack cringle; lead the line back to the cleat on the aft side of the tabernacle.  Thread this line through the hole in the cleat and tie a stopper knot in the end of the line.
  13. For the Bay Hen or boats that have been fitted with lines leading to the cockpit, assure jiffy reefing lines are not twisted and thread them through the holes in cockpit cleats; place stopper knots on ends of reefing lines.
  14. Lower sail and check that lazy jacks are working to hold the sail.  Fold the sail smartly by pulling leech and making neat folds on top of boom.  Work from clew to peak.  As you fold sail use gaskets to hold in place.
  15. Check peak and throat halyard lengths (when the sail is in the lowered position there should be a little excess halyard length hanging in the cockpit).  I do not attach my halyards to their respective cockpit cleats but this is an option.
    The Hen’s gaff rig should be made ready for trailering as follows:
  1. Make up a 10’ “halyard keeper” of good quality 1/8” line.  Make an eye on one end dimensioned to fit snugly about the large cleat fixed on the front of the mast.
  2. Decide on which side the rigging lines will fall as you lower the mast.  Assure that the gaff is not sticking out on that side.  This will assure that when you raise the mast the next time, the rigging will not get caught on the gaff.  
  3. As you walk up forward work the keeper around the halyards and lazy jacks and attach the loop to the cleat while holding the other end in your hand.  Loosen the mast wing nut and carefully take off and pocket.  Push bolt in an inch and position yourself to take the weight of the mast.  Take bolt out and carefully set the mast down on gallows assuring that the rigging lines fall on the side you want.  Keep at least two spare mast bolts and wing nuts on board.  Be reminded that Peep Hens use “mast pins” and “clips” in place of the “mast bolts” and “wing nuts” described above.
  4. Pull the end of the halyard keeper to take up most of the slack in the rigging and loop the keeper’s excess around the forward part of the sail and mast.  Tie to mast cleat.
  5. I then tighten halyard and reefing lines and secure to cockpit cleats just for a neat look during trailering.  But you need to remember to loosen these lines before attempting the raise the mast next time you set the rig up.
  6. Using sheet, make several loops around mast, boom, and gallows/mast chock; secure neatly to stern cleat.
  7. Tie a last gasket around mast, boom, and sail about 1/3 of the way aft to support the boom.  This gasket also helps to straighten up the remaining rigging, just pull the loose rigging lines through this gasket to clear the cockpit of any drooping rigging.
  8. Put sail cover on.  Whoops, sorry I need to explain that I made a sail cover that fits over both the sail and lowered mast.  It’s a very simply design with a 20’ large plastic zipper.  It looks much better than the regular sail cover, but would not work if you keep the mast up.  Of course, a regular sail cover must be put on before the mast is lowered.
  9. Refer to Trailer Section for the rest of the “getting ready to trailer” routine.

   3.4  Shearwater Rig

Need a Shearwater sailor to define the rigging in the drawing and add a discussion of the rig.

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