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Mainsail hoisting on a dinghy


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Short version:

Do people ever hoist their mainsail on a sailing dinghy, as you would on a "big" boat?  If so, how? 

Long version:

I have a 28' sloop that I just love, but it's sometimes overkill to head out for just an hour or two.  So I bought myself a small rowing dinghy a year or so ago.   Today I went sailing in the dinghy for the first time (first time in ANY dinghy, not just my dinghy) and I LOVED it.  I bet the grin lasts for weeks.  Quite different from sailing the big boat, but by the end of the day, I was flying along. 

Now, today was maybe not the best day to go out, even if I knew what I was doing, as it was blowing pretty good, 10 knots or so. 

The problem wasn't dealing with the wind once I was out, the problem was just getting out .. getting away from the dock with a full sail up. 

You see, the mainsail (the only sail) has a sleeve you slide over the quite tall mast and then slide the mast into a hole in the bow. 

Well, all that sail just started to FLOG in the breeze until I attached the clew to the end of the boom.  This stopped the flogging, but the boom was now at 90 degrees to the boat, resting on the dock.   (The wind was pretty much dead on the beam)  Pulling the boom amidships, off the dock, resulted in a serious heel and the boat straining at the mooring lines; this boat wanted to GO. 

I was finally able to get away from the dock and go sailing, but there was a similar kerfuffle when coming home. 

Anyway, it occurred to me that if I could raise or lower my sail as I do on the big boat, a lot of these problems might go away. 

But I am completely new to dinghy sailing .. never paid it any attention in the past.  (My bad) 

Is this ever done on a small dinghy?  If so, how?  Tracks and slides, hoops,...? 

Thanks for any thoughts. 

 

Alan

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why don't you just leave the stern line off and let the boat go downwind, only attached by the bowline. When you are ready to leave, untie the bow, push the tiller, backwind the main, and go astern until you are far enough from the dock 

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Thanks for the thought, but this really isn't an option. 

The issue is that my dock is Tee shaped, so I have to get the dinghy about 10 feet sideways to get around the top of the Tee. 

And at low tide, I only have a few feet to deal with before hitting rocks. 

It really does call for a row it away and row it back solution. 

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Dinghies are handled around docks a bit differently than big boats.

Either let the dinghy swing from the bowline, one the lee side of the dock, bow to wind, or close to it. To put the boat on the windward side of the dock beam-to will make everything including getting away from the dock quite difficult.

10 knots is a nice fun breeze. If you keep it up, soon you'll think 20 is even more fun.

A T-dock gives you lots of options for different breeze directions. Practice bringing the boat to a controlled stop though, makes it much better.

FB- Doug

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Ok, this is a typical problem. 

Lasers have this problem as do many other similarly rigged boats. 

Short answer if you're not willing to modify your sail and add a halyard  is to learn to sail the boat under full sail to and from the dock...which is hard...very hard. 

We do it all the time at our club, but even experienced sailors screw it up occasionally. 

 

You can rig a halyard.   It's not hard. 

Several boats use sleeved masts and can do what you are looking for.

 

Look up: Banshee and Zuma boats (first two that pop into mind) 

That should get you started 

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Banshee and Zuma, will do.  Thanks! 

I'm fine with modifying my sail.  I actually sewed the sails on my 28.  And no problem adding a halyard, sheeves, etc.; fully expected to have to do it. 

I'd love to be able to sail in and sail out my slip, but new dock, new boat and new area .. I'm not sure I'll be doing that right off the back. 

I did have occasion to sail my 28 into her slip once.  Engine overheated, so turned around and sailed back.  The Coast Guard got very interested, as I was sailing in an inner harbour (False Creek in Vancouver).  There's no rule against it, but it's surely uncommon.  I was feeling very proud of myself until I was about 30 feet from the dock, when I realized I was coming in hot and had no good idea how to slow down.  So I started up the now cool diesel, put in into reverse for about 5 seconds, done. 

But the dinghy has no diesel ...    :)

Alan

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You may be able to roll the sail on the mast. A bungee to keep it rolled. Means sailing without battens - or putting the battens in somewhere out there.

If/when you get good handling the boat there's usually a way to sail it out of almost any situation. 

If you are going to change the sail, Weta and 29er/49er have mast tracks (high quality plastic curtain tracks!) that get glued to the mast. They degrade in the sun and abuse while hoisting so it's a standard spare part, you can purchase it easily. Bond with a generous dollop of gflex (epoxy) or plexus (metacrylate). 

The mast is probably not made for halyard tension. So ideally you set up a means to lock the halyard at the top. The Weta has a good mechanism for this: a metal V shaped piece, and a figure 8 knot on the halyard that locks into it. Beach cats achieve something similar with hooks and rings but that's a pita.

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When the wind is blowing you onto the dock, can you walk the boat round to a different side, where the wind is blowing you away from it, just to put the sail up? In Europe, sailing a dinghy means wading in to launch either from the beach, or a ramp, folk here wouldn't have the first idea how to sail on and off a dock.

If you find you really need your sail to be hoistable, maybe making it zip around the mast would work, installing a track on a 2 piece mast would be tricky.  Plus one on the rolling the sail around the mast till you're ready to use it, keeps it quiet, and clean, and reduces damage.

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Extra long mainsheet and/or extra long outhaul to allow sail to luff well forward when  needed. Don't get a loop of line around your neck if you row through a gybe.

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8 hours ago, martin 'hoff said:

You may be able to roll the sail on the mast. A bungee to keep it rolled. Means sailing without battens - or putting the battens in somewhere out there.

Thanks for this! 

Furling by rolling is a great idea, except I may have outsmarted myself.  After buying the dinghy, I went about restoring it a wee bit.  This included beefing up the bow, where the mast resides, with a few extra layers of fiberglass. I also installed a new sleeve for the mast that's a very nice fit, not wanting the mast to flop around in the hole.   Sadly, it's too nice a fit; it takes real effort to install the mast, and once in place, it's not going to rotate.  Plus, the sail has battens, and installing "out there" for me surely means that battens will also become a replaceable part.  :)

So this option is moved down the list. 

I'm not too worried about halyard tension.  The mast is galvanized steel, so I suspect it's strong enough to survive a hole for a halyard exit.  Having said this, I'm now remembering the impressive sideways bend in the tube when on the wind ... 

I'll look into the mast tracks you suggest.  They might be tricky to install, as it's a two part mast.  I could pop rivet them together, but now I'm searching for a spot to store a 16' long pole for the winter. 

Thanks again for the reply. 

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One thing to keep in mind is: it's likely that it'll take less effort to get competent at it (so you can sail it out of the tricky launching spot) than the modification effort.

This has happened to me more than once. Engineer at heart, I hop on a new boat, and find all these "suboptimal" things -- launching, return, hoist... -- get busy trying to change them... and it turns out I just had to figure out a bit of technique.

As a result, I have a personal rule of thumb: don't change anything until I'm passably competent on the boat. Usually all my early complaints are gone, as I've figured out how to do things as the boat designer designed :-) --. Alas, at that point I have new and different improvement plans! 

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26 minutes ago, martin 'hoff said:

One thing to keep in mind is: it's likely that it'll take less effort to get competent at it (so you can sail it out of the tricky launching spot) than the modification effort.

This has happened to me more than once. Engineer at heart, I hop on a new boat, and find all these "suboptimal" things -- launching, return, hoist... -- get busy trying to change them... and it turns out I just had to figure out a bit of technique.

As a result, I have a personal rule of thumb: don't change anything until I'm passably competent on the boat. Usually all my early complaints are gone, as I've figured out how to do things as the boat designer designed :-) --. Alas, at that point I have new and different improvement plans! 

^ This ^

Especially coming from big boats with a "use the motor in tight spots" mentality.

Double especially with a T-dock at your disposal.

FB- Doug

 

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41 minutes ago, martin 'hoff said:

One thing to keep in mind is: it's likely that it'll take less effort to get competent at it (so you can sail it out of the tricky launching spot) than the modification effort.

Heresy! You should be ashamed of yourself for saying such things!  :) IMHO, modifying a boat is one of the single best reasons for buying a boat.

I remember reading a quote from a naval architect, Robert Perry, maybe, that went like this.  "If life should so conspire that I could do only one thing, sail a boat or work on a boat, I think would choose to work." 

I feel the same way. 

Just as my wife has insisted on painting every place we've ever moved to, whether required or not, just to "make it hers", so I've tweaked every boat I've ever owned. 

(Translation: Tweak.  to heavily modify, beyond all reason, things working perfectly fine, for no reason whatsoever, save that one can.) 

I hear what you're saying, I really do, but an old boat is a bit of a blank canvas for me.   You see, for me, the best thing about sailing is also the worst thing.  The peace that comes from moving with the wind gives one time think, and my thoughts invariably turn to "improvements". 

I'm working on this illness of mine, but I'm afraid that at my advanced age, I may be stuck with being me. 

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1 hour ago, alan-bc said:

modifying a boat is one of the single best reasons for buying a boat

Agreed! To clarify, I'm saying - don't modify it to overcome first-outing frustrations. The best modifications are those you find once you've sailed it a bit.

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9 hours ago, maxstaylock said:

When the wind is blowing you onto the dock, can you walk the boat round to a different side, where the wind is blowing you away from it, just to put the sail up?

Sadly, yes and no.

The leeward side of the dock is available and would solve the problem.

However, my neighbour on that side is a resort with a marina and a huge dock facility RIGHT on the property line (and perhaps even a bit on my side) extending far out past my dock.

While there is some question as to the legality of his dock positionally, it would take a surveyor to determine this, and that's really not an option, considering the terrain (steep cliffs, etc.)

What's not in question is that the fact that his docks interferes with my right, and ability, to navigate safely. Sadly, this is under federal jurisdiction and the feds just can't be bothered to deal with such small issues.

The previous owner of my property did take this to court, a little guy against a giant multinational with lawyers on retainer, and on the surface, he actually obtained what seems to be a draw.   In reality, different story.

The compromise is that the resort can only moor boats from the deep end of their dock in to the deep end of my dock.  However, the resort tends to moor the very largest boats coming in RIGHT at this point (to minimize walking distance to shore, I suppose).  The upshot is that there is usually a VERY narrow channel to reach open water, 6 feet wide or so.  It's far to narrow to even row out.  Given the decent current and typical strong wind, sailing out would surely result in dinging a boat tied up there.  Even if it was the resort's boat, I just would not chance such a thing.  But since it's just some poor schmuck's boat (or more likely, some rich schmuck's boat) and is only moored there because they were told to do so, I simply cannot take the chance.

The other option suggested here is to make use of the TEE, but the top of the TEE is taken up by my big sailboat.  Even if it wasn't, the float making up the top of TEE is SUBSTANTIALLY higher than the float that is the  "arm" where the dinghy is tied up,.  It's all of 3 feet to the water, probably three and a half.  This makes for a very easy step onto the big boat, but it's a LONG way down to the dinghy.  Given the low freeboard of the dinghy, and the general tippiness that makes a canoe seem stable, getting in from an edge of the TEE is a no-go.

So I'm left with the somewhat goofy option of a hoistable sail on a dinghy.

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Launch with the sail on the mast, not attached to the boom and flapping, exactly as you did.

Get to part of the T where the boat is head to wind, or close to. Attach sail to boom.

Go sailing.

Sailing off the lee shore can be hard if you don't have space to get up to speed before you need to tack. Leward heel and sheet in hard to initiate tack.  Especially if the space constraint is your neighbors yacht.

Windward side is easy. Board up and drift away. Don't bear off until you have room to clear your neighbors yacht... Windward heal and sheet off to make the boat bear away, otherwise all your do is accelerate into his new paint job.

How boats steer is what yacht sailors learn when they get into a dinghy.

Edit. We don't usually tie dinghies alongside, tie bow only so they can swing head to wind and not fall over. Also hold by the bow unless you're climbing in or sailing away. Vang off until you're ready to go, and off again as soon as you're back in, or just before. It's the power on off control.

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You have lots of ability and skill. Making a hoistable sail for your boat is simple, gets around all the problems. So many different methods from the centuries old and cheap methods to the high tech. Just choose your level of financial and temporal input. Modifying boats is fun, it builds bonds and makes it yours.

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2 hours ago, Dart96 said:

So many different methods from the centuries old and cheap methods to the high tech. Just choose your level of financial and temporal input. 

Thanks for the input.

Yeah, I know, so many possible ways to do this, and having a suitable sewing machine and a decent little machine shop, very few obstacles. 

But I didn't want to do all the engineering, which includes all the first (second third) time failures.  I was just curious to know if any other dinghies were so rigged, and if they were, how they were rigged.

Frankly, I haven't found anything I really like.

So the current plan is DIY mast hoops, as I can't find any premade the right inner diameter.  Sheave at the top of the mast, possibly free to swivel, although maybe opening the mast base up a TINY bit to allow the entire mast to swivel is a better idea.  Halyard up, over/through the sheave, down the front of the mast to a jam cleat.  No holes in the mast save for a couple of small pop-rivet holes for the cleat.

I'll sew a new sail; the current one is a bit clapped out anyway.

This scheme does not really modify the current setup in any non-reversible way, in case (as so often happens) my seemingly brilliant plan isn't, leaving me free to return the original setup.

 

Alan

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