Gaff Rig Take II

reef1The winds at the Pennsylvania lake where I sail are always unpredictable just by the nature of the high mountains that surround it, but when you add storm fronts moving through, it becomes that much more uncertain. Saturday was no exception. We had storms coming in from the west but I had a job to do, and that was to get this sail rig tuned in. Saturday we had gusts probably from 25 to 30 mph so I reefed the sail. You can see in the first picture that I have about one third of the sail tied fast to the boom. If I’d have gone full sail that day, I’d have been knocked down several times for sure. Even with the sail reefed, there were times I reached 8 to 10 mph. I had re-laced the top of the sail to the upper boom and was able to get that dreaded wrinkle out from the week before. She sailed beautifully and I honestly couldn’t have been more pleased. She sailed fine on a reach, a broad reach and windward as well. I am very happy with my new homemade gaff rig.

full-frontSunday came and the wind died down a bit. I was able to raise full sail. The winds died down from the day before to about 8 to 10 knots I’d say, but they weren’t steady. A puff here, a blow there. It was nice though, because I’m still learning how to raise and adjust this thing. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about sailing this new rig while I had the wind, but it only lasted about 2 hours and then it died. It didn’t really break my heart though, because I had one more test to prove. I had to see if I could fit under the bridge. After all, that’s what started this whole project.

I lowered the sail and tied it off. One pull fires up the mighty Johnson 4. At 3/4 throttle she purrs about 4mph. Good enough. I made it down to the bridges and under the first one easily with about four feet of clearance. Fifty feet away is the railroad bridge. As I got closer, I started to worry. It was looking like it was going to be a tight fit. I got within a few feet and kicked the boat sideways and went parallel with the bridge and looking up, could see that I was probably going to clear it but it would be close. I swung the rudder and under I went. I have about a foot of clearance. Much closer than I thought I’d be but it’s in a no wake zone so there’s rarely any waves there. It’ll work just fine. I turned her around and back under the bridges I went, proudly back to the dock.

She passed all of the tests. Now, it’s all up to me to learn and tune this new rig. Sailing is going to be great this year.

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