Simplicity Sail rig ...no
tape, no stitching, no glue!
This sail making approach was inspired by the impressive
way my experimental crab claw rig has held up. This is partly instructions on how to make a
sail for the Mini-Sharpie, and also a report on an
approach to sail making. At first I did this to refine a sail design before I
made one of "the good stuff" (White heavy duty Poly from Dave's
sail making site) but it might be a viable way to make small sails in any
case. Time will tell.
||The original crab claw sail has been left rigged
and under tension in the Florida summer sun for over 3 months. The polytarp
is breaking down, but the clips are still in great shape and have held the
tension to the spars extremely well.
I decided to use this same clip approach to make a more traditional sail, but
with very un-traditional materials and fasteners. I figure the easier it is to
alter the size and shape of a sail the more apt I would be to keep experimenting
until I arrive at the best arrangement.
Here are build notes for a standing lug sail that can be assembled in two or
three hours, including the mast and spars - if you work fast. (A balanced lug
can be made by using the sprit as a boom, and attaching it to the foot of
the sail with clips too.)
One fairly clear spruce 2x4 can yield spars (see spar making
below) , an 8x10 poly tarp the sail cloth, a short length of appropriately sized
PVC pipe for the clip fasteners.
||Here are some samples of how different sized sticks fit into
1" PVC clips.|
||Here are the dimensions for the latest rig I'm using on my
The mast is 8 ft long and made from a 2x4.
The yard is also 8 ft. long in my case a plant stake, but a wooden spar
may be more available.
The sprit is 3/4"x1" by 83" long with a 1/4" wide
3" slot in each end.
I sliced some PVC pipe into 3/8" pieces then
cut about 1/4 of their perimeter out of their edge to make them into little "C"
clips you see here. I spaced them about every 4 to 6 inches.
PVC pipe can be cut with a hack saw. (A band saw works well too.)
Here you can see the plant stake I used for the yard. It has some kind of mystery metal
core coated with plastic with textured bumps almost like rebar. Thought it
might help the clips grip. I used it at its full 8 ft. length so as not to
expose the interior metal. Available at home supply stores and garden
||The foot (lowest edge) and the luff (leading edge) of the
sail are factory edges of the polytarp. Though others recomend against
this, I've found it works if you beef up the corner grommet somehow. In
this case I put some hot melt inside the plastic corner reinforcer. So
only the head (upper edge where spar goes) and the leach (trailing edge)
need be cut to your pattern length.
.The upper spar, or yard, is placed in position on the poly
tarp. Two nails brace the ends while a middle nail forces it into a curve.
When this spring is released some camber will be forced into the sail.
||.I wrap and clip the polytarp around the spar. I also used
some small nylon cable ties to secure the ends.|
||.The inward curve of the leach is drawn with a batten. I
marked where I might later apply 1 1/2" fiber reinforced carpet tape,
but for now I'll see how the tarp holds up. Polytarp is not prone to
raveling, but whether it will be strong enough without reinforment, time
||Now for some rigging details....
This is a wooden toggle method of attaching lines - like the halyard
and the main sheet - to the yard and the sprit boom. Instead of getting
out a needle and sail twine and palm and doing fancy "seizing"
of the line to a 3/8" dowel, I'm using small nylon cable ties.
||Here it is rigged for use. A loop of 1/8" polyester line
(could be nylon but it stretches more) is attached around the yard through a
hole. This hole can be either melted
with a soldering iron or the tip of a hot melt glue gun, or simply made
with an awl or a nail.|
||Here's the same arrangement where the main sheet connects
to the sprit boom.|
||Here are some close ups of the sprit rigging at the mast
The line (called the "snotter") that attaches it to the
mast - starts with an overhand loop in the end, which will function as a
block or pulley. A constrictor hitch is tied
around the mast - the long part goes through the slot in the end of the
sprit then back through the loop and down to a mast cleat.
(Click knot name link to see an animation of the knot.)
This masterly animated constrictor hitch was fiendishly borrowed from
Craig O'Donnell's Cheap
Pages.... which contains more fascinating boat info and esoterica than
one could absorb in a lifetime! Go Browse his site....
||Rather than just cleat it off, I run it through the hollow
at the base of a cleat and then back up where I tie a taut
line hitch around the standing part. This way you don't need an
extra cleat, and sliding the taught line hitch up and down controls the
sprit tension. Looser for light air and tighter for stronger air.
(Click knot link to see an animation of the knot.)
||.Here's the yard hoisted. (I trimmed that cable tie later.)|
Here's a shot under sail. You see how my 180 lbs is close to her limits
as a sailing craft. Though my 40 lb dog swam out to me and I yanked her
aboard in front of the mast and I think she helped a bit with trim....;-)
||The sail functioned very well, but I decided that it was a
little difficult to see well under it, and that it might be a little more
sail area than younger kids might easily handle in any kind of
So I decided to go back to the "loft floor" and make her a
|.Now to test this quick and easy sail making approach on
||How long will it take to reduce the sail area? Every step of
making the first sail will be repeated, except I wont be cutting the
||First I clipped off the cable ties and removed the clips.
Then I tacked down the sail corners and set the yard in the new position.|
||.Again with three nails I sprung a bow in the yard and
trimmed the sail material 4.5" outside the spar edge.|
||.I folded the tarp double, wrapped it around the spar and
replaced the clips. Even though it's a new step and will add time to the
project, I decided to insert small pieces of that quilted
rubbery no slip material available almost everywhere these days - just to
increase the friction at the clips between the sail and the spar.
(I first saw this rubber stuff sold for motor homes to keep objects
from sliding. Then for under carpets, now I even see it in rolls in the
local Dollar Store.)
.First I ripped the 2x4 to 2 5/8" - in my case determined by
what a piece of 3" PVC pipe will fit over.
||My plans were to take the 7/8" strip left over and rip
it down the middle,
giving me two strips 7/8"x11/16" - one to be the spar, and
one the sprit boom. Turned out the trim off my 2x4 was too flawed to use,
so I used a 1x2 ripped to 1" wide (3/4"x1") for the sprit, and an 8 ft
plant stake I got at a home supply store for the yard.
Starting a few inches above the mast partner, the mast is tapered to
1.5" square at the tip.
|| It's edges can be rounded with a 3/8"
quarter round router bit, or by a rasp and sanding. I didn't round where
the 3" PVC collar will be.|
|| I drilled a 1/2" hole in the mast head and
rounded it with the same 3/8" router bit to create a sheave (sort of
a non moving pulley) for the halyard.|
||I cut a slice of 3" PVC to be used for the pivoting
The mast step has a hole cut in it with a hole saw. The disk left over
from the cut is screwed and glued to the base of the mast, so it can pivot
The center of the mast step hole falls 38" from the bow, [where the peaks of the sides touch at the upper edge.]
This leeboard idea I got from my friend Richard Frye. It
will work best with internal chine logs or stitch and glue. The
dimensions of the leeboard on this sharpie is 30" long, 8.5" wide at
the top edge that contacts the rail, flaring to 10" wide at the bottom.
(the one is the pix is Richard's which isn't flared. With the mounting
hole at the center of the arc, it will pivot down and be stopped
verticle by the rail. More leeboard details can be found on my
SummerBreeze build here.
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