Compac 16 catboat questions

A man in Florida emailed me some questions. I thought I’d share them with you all in case anyone else finds the information helpful in their upcoming projects.

1. Question: Was there a reference book or web site that you used for the details on building the mast, spars and fittings?

There was no reference book. Just a lot of internet surfing and determination. I didn’t get over technical with it. I tried to keep it as simple as “it’s a few pieces of wood, a sail, some fittings and some rope.”

I got lucky on the sail. I added up the square footage of the original main and jib. Then I started looking for a gaff sail with about that same square footage and by luck, I found a brand new one on Ebay for a song. It cost me about $110 and was the exact size I was looking for. It was originally the gaff main for a Bolger 23 schooner. Dimensions can be found here.

2. Question: Do you remember the dimensions of the sail mast and spars?

Answer: As far as the mast. I think I cut it 16 feet x 3/14×3/14. (about 26 inches of it is below deck) Then I whittled the corners off with a draw knife and made it fairly round. The whole reason I did this is because the original mast was too tall to get under the bridges where I sail. I made it so that the mast hound (the thing that the original shrouds and fore stay hook onto near the top of the mast) was all the way at the top of the mast facing forward so I could use one of the original shrouds as the fore stay, and hang a single block on it to raise a spinnaker. I originally put it on upside down intentionally, but it didn’t hold under stress so I flipped it around and installed it correctly. It’s been working good ever since. I installed another one directly underneath it on the rear side of the mast to hang the dual sheave block to raise the sail and the gaff.

The gaff is a 2x2x8 with curved side pieces (cut from a walking crutch) bolted on to it to “wrap” around the sides of the mast. It’s total length is prolly about 8′ 6″. The boom is 13 feet long to match the foot of the sail with a few inches extra for hardware and such. It’s about 2″ x 3″. I whittled it down with a draw knife out of the leftover lumber from the mast. It is connected to the mast with a 1/2″ fence gate hinge and is easily removable. I’ve since installed a boom vang on it to help keep it down.

To put it simple, I bought the sail first and built everything around
it’s dimensions.

I removed the deck vent and slid the mast down into it to the floor of the anchor locker and positioned it until it was vertical and right where I wanted it and marked the spot. Then I took two pieces of 2×8 and cut them about 8″ long and stacked them on top of each other. I drilled a hole through them with a 3″ hole saw and screwed them into the
floor of the anchor locker where I had marked for the base of the mast. I made the bottom of the mast just under 3″ so it would slide into that hole and when I step the mast for sailing, I run 2, 4″ deck screws through that mount, into the mast to prevent it from turning. The forestay keeps it from lifting.

I did not have to hack or alter the boat or original equipment in any way. If I wanted to, I could remove this rig and put the original back on in about 45 minutes and no one would ever know anything about it.

3. Question: If you were doing it over again, what — if anything — would you do differently?

Lemme see. If I had it to do over again is a tuff question because of where I sail and what was available to me at the time. I don’t think I’d do anything differently for this application. It works well and looks pretty salty. I’d have bought better blocks for sure. I’ve already started replacing them with better ones. I’m still working out some things here and there as far as sail tensioning and such. The mast could stand to be a little taller so you could run another block up top to aid in raising the gaff, but that wouldn’t work where I sail because of the bridges, so I just pull harder when raising the gaff. 😀

I like this rig so much that I started dreaming of running a gaff rigged sloop. I do kind of miss a fore sail, so I bought an Alacrity 19 twin keeler. I’m going to make a short mast for that and mount it where it’s supposed to be, and run this main sail and spars and a jib or genny, but that’s a whole other project. If I’d have found a gaff sail that was the same square footage as the original CP16 main sail, that’s probably the rig I would have built instead of the cat rig.

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