boataccessories- Đ 1999/2001 Frank Ellinghaus -
P O S T Frank
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building the hull Accessories The "sailplan" "taping" the sail launcher

The Boat Accessories and Rig

mast    boom    sprit    sail    rig    daggerboard    rudder    deck     seats    oars    more about oars    tupperware    fastenings   

After completing the boats hull I thought the mainpart of the work was done. Unfortunately this wasnīt the case. Crafting and installing all the required accessories and painting the hull needed as much time (or more) as for the hull.

The Mast

My boats mast is made from a simple spruce 2īx 4ī. In contrast to a "regular" mast it isnīt round above the deck to the tip. Only the front edge is rounded to get a little airfoil. Where the sail gets knotted to the mast with its boltropes I drilled some holes in the masts back edge.

For the sprit rig the mast had to be free standing and turnable. So it had to be round from the deck downwards to the bottom of the boat. It was not necessary to have it round all the way up. Thus I glued on wood pieces to both sides of the mast but only from deck to bottom and sanded it round.

To have it better turning the mast got a small piece of round metal (like you use for the feet of a chair) underneath. I thought first this piece of metall (perhaps there is even plastic inside) might not be able to bear the load of the turning rig. But it worked very well and the mast turned smoothly without greasing or ball bearings. I think it works so well because of itīs small size. There is not so much what could produce friction.
The mast has two cleats underneath the boom. One cleat at the side to tighten the sprit and one at the back end for the sails boltrope from throat to tack.

turnable mast see it bigger This picture shows the distinct graining of the masts downward part due to the different woodparts that are glued on. When using a mast like this (only on a small boat of course) you save not only labor but it is also lighter than a round one.


The Boom

First I tried the boomless sprit sail. But this was to uncomfortable for me. It seems that the boat sails better and steering is better with a boom.

The boom boomhead

The boom is made out of a simple 2īx 3ī. At itīs end and near the middle there are two blocks for the mainsheet. There are also two cleats at the end. One for the foot boltrope to tighten the sails foot and one for the sails boltrope from top to clew. In the second picture you see the boomhead. Two ledges screwed and glued on both sides and a big screw through it - thatīs my gooseneck :-) . The difference to a real one is that here not only the boom turns but the complet rig with mast when you pull on the boom.

Rig see it bigger Fixing the boom to the mast
  • Pull out the big screw
  • insert the mast to the boom
  • push the screw back through mast and boomhead ledges
  • Put the nut on the screw and tighten it

    Thatīs it, the boom is fixed to the mast.

  • Why using the screw instead of a knot?

    So, you would say the screw in front of the mast is a bit over done? It could be simpler, say the boom tied with a knot to the mast.
    Yes, you are right, a knot is simpler but the screw isnīt high-tech neither.

    When I sailed at my local marina, I observed that the sunfishes with their latin rig struggled to come up to speed again after tacking or jibing while my little polytarp-bomber with a considerable smaller sail showed them itīs stern.

    This is my theory:
    When you tack or jibe you have to let your sail out and pull it in again while accelerating in the new direction.

    When the sail is out the sunfishes lower boom getīs pushed up, there is nothing what holds him down while doing so; the wind forces produce rather the boom lifting and a less advantageous sail-profile.

    On my boat the boom gets hold down through the screw in front of the mast even when Iīve let the sail out. So it accelerates noticeable better.


    The Sprit

    The sails sprit To the right you see the sad looking rests of my sprit. It served good for some sailing hours but after leaving it on the rack at the marina for a couple of weeks it looked like a banana. I tried to straighten it. Now I have two pieces ...
    The smaller red sprit is my first one it was to short for my actual sail but still serves as a backup.

    Sprit fastening The sprit is made from simple spruce. It is cut at an slight angle from one end to the other. So the top end is smaller than the bottom one. The upper side is rounded. To get the round side on the top when mounting the sprit (for a little airfoil shape) the rope in the left picture goes from the flat bottom fixed with a stopper knot to the rounded top.


    The Sail

    The sail is made from Polytarp, the edges are reinforced with a boltrope taped together with carpet tape. How to make such a cheap sail is described at Taping the Polytarp Sail.

    How I found the right size and how Iīve cut the sail, will be showed at "The Sailplan".

    I also made a drawing about the way how to mount the sail to the rig at The Rig .


    The Rig
    The drawing speaks for itself.

    The Rig - drawing bigger


    The Daggerboard

    The daggerboard The Daggerboard is made of three layers 1/4ī plywood. I have used a water resistant glue for it but for a more secure connection using epoxy for glueing would be probably better. The leading edge is rounded between blunt and parabolic. The building plan asked for a tapered trailing edge but for me this would be a pain to achieve since I did this by hand. Try to taper a bigger plywood section and you know what I mean. So my board has only a very slightly tapered trailing edge. The board is sealed with epoxy and painted two times.

    In contrast to a centerboard there is not much to adjust on a daggerboard. To change this I drilled 4 holes into the blade. Push two wood pins through this holes and the daggers underwater length is adjustable.

    The small board on the daggerīs top is glued and screwed on. It prevents the daggerboard from sliding to deep into the case and you sit more comfortable on top of it :-) . The designer has used the daggerboard case as base for a seat and the board is dropped through the seat into the case. I think thatīs a good idea since the space for the case is not wasted. If sailing with a second person looking forward this person is out of the way while the cockpit is free for the helmsman.

    There exists a rule of thumb which says "The centerboard should be about 4 % of the sails area" (Marchaj). With my boats sailing area of 57 sqft. the daggerboards area should be 2,28 sqft according to this rule. But it does have only about 1,4 sqft. and works fine for me.

    If your center-/ daggerboard is to small, the sails power will push your boat to much leewards. If it is to big this will slow the boat down. To make things more complicatet the balance between the water forces on the daggerboard and the wind forces on the sail changes with the boats speed. If your boat goes faster the needed daggerboard area decreases. (Look at the military airplanes which go very fast and their short wings in contrast to the wings of conventional airplanes.)
    The solution for an optimal daggerboard area would be to take some of the board out when it goes faster. Then the speed should increase even a little more.

    If you like to dig really deep into theory about foils like this youīll find it on John Kohnens website. There is Paul Zanderīs article about design and construction of centerboards and rudders and Craig OīDonnels cheapest foil chart.


    The Rudder

    The Rudder built from plywood bigger As with the daggerboard the rudder was made from three layers of plywood glued together coated with epoxy and painted two times.

    Here is Jim Michalaks nice article about building a kickup-rudder (with drawings). This rudder comes up when banging on something on the ground and down again afterwards.

    Another idea is to use an oar as a rudder for sculling and steering at the same time. Youīll see it on Don Hodges website


    The Deck

    The Deck

    As with seat plate I measured the shape of the deck with wrapping paper. You can get large rolls of this stuff at places like Office Depot for example. Its a great help to find out the exact shape of the deck plate. You simply lay it on the hulls front part clamp it on and scratch it with your fingernails on the underlying gunwale edge. Than cut this paperscratch out and use it as form to draw the lines on plywood.

    The deck plate is made from two 1/4 inch plywood pieces. The first plate put on the hull edges and on inwales which have been screwed and glued on before installing the deck. The screws are covered with epoxy later so you can let them in their holes.

    Screw (into the inwales) and glue this plate from upside down. After that you can get a stronger connection through laminating a tape on the plates edges and covering the gunwales. Than the second plywood plate should be put on immediately. This will cover the disturbing tape on the decks surface. The slant edge on the sides is filled with epoxy putty.



    Actually this could also belong to the hull, since the seats and here the seatplate give the structure a lot of strength. But my plan did not give measurements for accessories like seats. Only the structural parts of the boat hull was delivered. Chances are this could be the same for other plans. So you are likely to be the designer of your boats interior.
    I didnīt build separate seats but one big seatplate. This sure adds some weight to the boat and reduced the size of the cockpit in my case a bit to much. I think, I will cut a chunk off the plate when I take the boat home at autumn.

    Seat Plate      Ledges on bulkheads to hold Seat Plate

    The deck plate is made of two layers 1/4 īī plywood. The left picture shows the first layer. The first layer is made from 4 parts since itīs almost impossible to measure all at once. The measurements were taken with wrapping paper as for the deck.

    The layers 4 parts are glued to one piece using the butt joint procedure. This means all pieces are put together as they are without scarfing and connecting all parts on both sides through 2 layers (in this case) of cloth, filled with epoxy. These cloth-epoxy-joints should be as strong as the plywood. You find more about this method on Dave Carnells homepage , look under "Invisible Butt Joints".

    Iīve put this first-layer-plate on two ledges, crossing both bulkheads. But this isnīt a must. It was caused through my decision to set the seat a little higher than planned before. If you get the dimensions right in the first place you donīt need those ledges. After placing the layer on the ledges I glued the plate with epoxy-filled cloth to the hull sides.

    To get the measures for the second seatplate layer was simple, since the completed first layer could be used as a pattern. Glueing this on the first layer was no big deal. After filling the voids on the side with epoxy there was a strong bond to the hull and the completed hull got a very stiff structure.

    The slit in the fore part of the seatplate is for the dagger board.


    The oars

    selfbuilt oars selfbuilt oars
    self bought oars :-) but at least I have made the chafe protection myself  bigger 

    I would like to write of my selfbuilt oars full of pride in this place. But it didnīt work out that way. I have cut the handle (outch) of the oars into two parts since Iīd liked them to be stickable (for better stowing them in the boat). I thought to stick the parts together again through placing them in a plastic pipe. But both oars broke with the first heavy use at the pipe. The blades made from 3 layers plywood scrap did work but they have been a little heavy compared to the later bought oars in the right picture above. Unnerved from this experience and wanting back to sailing (with oars) as fast as possible I capitulated and bought new ones.

    To get a glimpse of some better oar building projects take a look at more about oars    featuring some pretty cool oar building techniques and on Jim Michalakīs articles   new about oar building and rowing.

    At least I can write about one successful oarbuilding task. The new oars (as the selfbuilt ones) got a chafing and creaking protection which holds the oars to the oar locks at the same time. It was made from a simple thin polyester rope glued on the oar handles.

    How can you get such a useful addition?
    Simple, cover the part you want protected with wood glue and clamp one end of the rope to the handle. Than wind the rope in narrow spirals with steady tension around the handle. If you have covered the desired area, tie the other end of the rope to the handle. Let about 2 foot of the rope free and cut the rest off. You can use the free rope end to tie the oar to the oarlock. So the oars donīt fall out of the boat and if you take them out, the locks are attached and there is no danger to loose them. You should take a closer look on the right oar picture for this kind of attachment. Click on the picture and you can see it even bigger.



    What has "tupperware" to do with building a sailboat? I used it to store small things, which shouldnīt roll around inside the hull. Since I liked the way you can store things in commercial kayaks with storing compartments accessible from above I tried to get the same - only cheaper. On my dinghy there are two built in tupperware boxes in the stern part of the seat plate. For this purpose it is important to find boxes with an sideward looking edge to all sides, so they canīt fall through the hole.

    Tupperware Boxes Youīll surely already wondered about the two extra holes in the Seat Plate. Their pupose is to hold the storage boxes.

    To get a durable bond the boxes should be taped at the sides with carpet tape (to seal the connection) and screwed on in addition. When I taped the boxes in without screwing they fell out when the boat was stored upside down on the rack.



    In case of capsizing your boat youīll be happy, when all the small parts in it are secured to the hull. Since my boat is small, I do this with oars, rudder, centerboard and even a bucket with a sponge (to get the water out of the boat).

    A convenient way is to lash or screw some strings with a loop at the end to the hull. The parts youīll want to secure get also a string with a spring hook at the end attached. Snap the spring hook to the loop and the connection is secured.
    mast    boom    sprit    sail    rig    daggerboard    rudder    deck     seats    oars    more about oars    tupperware    fastenings   

    building the hull Accessories The "sailplan" "taping" the sail launcher
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    P O S T Frank
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