Compac 16 with a gaff rig

I’m the proud owner of a Com-pac 16. She’s not the prettiest girl at the dance but she’s a fine, stable vessel and she gets prettier the longer I own her. I just bought her last spring. She was owned by the city of Atlantic City New Jersey. They had an auction and believe it or not, only one person showed up for it. He bought the Compac for $10 and a few other hand made wooden boats for $1 a piece. He was a lucky man that day.

Anyway, he put her on Ebay and that’s where I got her for a little over $600. I had to buy new standing rigging for $300 and that’s all she really needed as far as parts go, but she was neglected and abandoned and it showed. I sailed her all last summer and the more I sail her, the more I love her.

She needed a makeover in the cabin. All the paint was peeling and flaking from the sides and the ceiling and the floor was desperately in need of some paint. I have a lot of friends at the river and I made a deal with Johnny to scrape and paint the interior of the cabin. Johnny is a 13 year old kid who is genuinely a good kid. He’s the kind of kid that makes fathers proud. Anyway, with Johnny’s parent’s approval, I made him a deal. I’d buy all the supplies and Johnny would scrape and paint the inside of the cabin, stem to stern, top to bottom. In return, I’d give him my Snark Sunflower. Johnny watched me learn to sail in the Snark the year before and he took an interest in sailing himself. This was his chance to earn his own first boat.

He did a great job. The cabin was now at least presentable. Even though it was a just a bare shell inside, at least it was clean and tidy and it looked and smelled like a fresh start. I sailed her all summer like that and now that the sailing season is over, I’ve begun some other upgrades.

My main problem last year was mast height. The lake where I sail has several railroad bridges. From the waterline to the bottom of the bridge is 20′ 8″. The Compac 16’s mast height from waterline to masthead is 21′ so I was too tall to go under the bridges. Bummer. I need to get under these bridges, because one has to go under the bridges to get to the spot where all my friends party. I am determined to sail to the spot where all my friends party, so this fall, this is what I did.

I went to the local saw mill and had them cut me a nice straight 3 1/4 x 3 1/4 x 16 piece of douglas fir. They cut it out of an 8x8x20 beam and they gave me the left overs too. I’m an Ebay ninja and I found a brand new gaff main sail for a sharpie and bought it for $100, which just by luck was the same square footage as the main and jib of the stock Compac 16 rig combined. So now, I had the sail and the lumber. I took a week off work and spent it in the driveway with a drawknife. I whittled myself a mast and 2 spars. The Compac 16 has a cabin vent cut out in the deck and that’s where I stepped the mast. I removed the vent and lowered it down into the cabin and built a mast step down on the floor of the cabin. So the mast basically goes through that existing factory vent opening and attaches to the cabin floor 26 inches below. All in all it was about 4 days of wood working, and a day of installing and tweaking the hardware and rigging.

The mast and spars are in my living room now. I’ve stained it with a beautiful mahogany stain and urethane and during the rest of the winter I’ll sand and apply a few more coats. I’m fairly certain that she’s going to handle just dandy with this new rig. Last year, in heavy wind, I sailed her with a full main and dropped the jib rather than reefing. With the center of energy directly over the keel, she was firm and responsive. I know this is going to work. Here’s a pic of the roughing out process. There are more pics of her linked on the right side of this page and I’ll post some pics of the finished product this spring.

I think the gaff rig gives her a great look. If she sails as good as I think she will, she’ll get a fresh coat of forest green paint below the rub rails next year and I’ll start tricking her out with all sorts of goodies.


6 Responses to “Compac 16 with a gaff rig”

  1. Lookin’ good. Maybe if I’m bored some time I’ll head up to your place for burgers, beer and re-learning all my boating jargon.

    Hard’a starboard! Jibe ho! Stick yer winch in the fo’c’s’l!

    I’ll stop now.

  2. You’re welcome anytime Siper. Just gimme call and come on up and we’ll hit the wind.

  3. sure would like to c more pix of that boat. i just got a compac 16

  4. Have you joineds us yet?
    I’m sailing a CP-19 masthead sloop.

    Craig skip Weis, Sturgeon bay, Wisconsin.

  5. Wow – that is awesome! Good work!

  6. How did this work out for yiou?
    Also, why not just put a gaff sail in the stock mast?

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