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Old 08-01-2010, 18:12   #1
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Conversion to Gaff Rigging

Has anyone had any experience with converting a typical triangular sail to a gaff rigged sail? Was thinking of doing this on my ketch due to the short masts and small sail are.

Any thoughts?

Tom
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Old 08-01-2010, 18:38   #2
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Would leave things as they are.Two halyards instead of one.Generally do not point as well as Marconi.Might need running back stays,a real pain in the a$$.marc
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Old 08-01-2010, 19:44   #3
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you cold add weather helm screw the balance of the boat up big time. problem is you need to look below the water line as well. laying on more canvas in the wrong places could totally throw things into a state. similar the idea of shifting the ballast or load significantly forward or aft can effect handling. The designer tried maybe they didn't get it quite right but tampering with the balance this extremely requires an understanding beyond the what if i did this question. look real close probably could improve performance with some other methds,
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Old 08-01-2010, 20:10   #4
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You might simply have a naval architect look at your design lines and draw up a new sail plan. I know of one Angleman ketch which was rerigged from marconi to gaff which proved successful in creating a more powerful sailplan that seemed to suffer no loss in balance or close windedness. In another case, I'm aware of an Alden schooner that was converted from gaff to Marconi, a change which altered its performance from superb to mediocre.

Having said that, its more than just the sail. A proper gaff would ride on gaff jaws and the sail be attached with mast hoops or lacing (this might be encumbered by a track), the spreader location would likely need to be quite a bit higher, etc. In other words, you might need a new mast as well, different chainplate locations, doing something else for the backstay that will have to go, and number of other alterations.

Ray
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Old 08-01-2010, 20:38   #5
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Just before we purchased our Harstad, we were about to purchase an Angleman 34' ketch, which was gaff-rigged. The deal fell through when the diesel blew a gasket. That is what inspired me to rethink the sail plan on our Harstad, along with the fact that the current plan is a bit anemic, but then it is a motorsailer.

Tom
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Old 08-01-2010, 23:04   #6
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Gaff Hmmmm

All these posts have much merrit. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. I had an old wooden gaff rigged whaleboat conversion, a Bill Garden design. She was quite a sight with the main, club foot jib and the topsail all flying, but honestly I wouldn't get another gaff rig if I could help it, despite the modern execution of the rig. It had a wooden box section mast with single spreaders and the gaff ran up the mainsail track. It had a seperate track for the topsail next to the main that joggled center after it clear the main. But running backstays were a must and the only reason I could single hand it was due to the clubfoot jib. The added weight aloft made it a fairly tender boat and she wasn't very weatherly. A lot of this was also due to the hull shape and small ballast keel but I guess my point is unless you are going for a complete character boat, long may they grace our waters, you are better off sticking with the marconi rig on a boat that was designed for it. Going gaff would require new spars in any case so you would probably be money ahead going with a taller marconi rig and keeping your current managablity.

Just my .02
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Old 09-01-2010, 10:16   #7
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We keep talking about running back stays.You know with these an unintentional jibe in even moderate winds will in all likely hood remove one or both masts.marc
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Old 09-01-2010, 10:27   #8
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Sort of in line with what marksman said the boat will be tender OMHO.Think the center of effort seems to be higher in gaff than marconi.Or maybe gaff rigged boats are designed that way.Difficult to trim have peak,usually tight & adjust throat to spill if needed.Gaff riggers usually used on boats for reaching.marc
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Old 02-11-2010, 15:28   #9
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I have have read volumes on this subject before deciding to rerig my Privateer 26. I suggest you buy the book by John Leather :"The Gaff Rig Handbook: History, Design, Techniques, Developments" and decide for yourself.
IMHO, if you have the boat that it looks right on and you are not so obsessed with speed and pointing that nothing else matters then by all means go for it. I have learned that typical short gaff conversions (1 halyard on a bridle) will closely mimic that of the Bermudian rig. If you look at other long gaff rigs (2 plus halyards) you will notice they carry bow sprits for good reason.
Needing a larger head sail to balance the drive of the large sq ft area of the main.
If you are carrying a larger genoa then balance should be able to be had. Another trick is to take out some mast rake to deal with it if need be.
Like anything, it takes some tuning. You have to put new tools in the trick box before hand though.
I love NOS.... new old stuff.
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Old 03-11-2010, 06:02   #10
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Tom, I've made this conversion a few times and drawn up a few more. Most of the time you have to install a bow sprit to get the CE moved far enough forward, so you don't have a lee helm situation, which is dangerous. On a boat with a long keel, the conversion is much less demanding, assuming the CE balances over the CLP is a reasonable location (lead) for the specific rig.

Most often the chain plates cause the biggest issues as the Bermudian rig and the gaff typically need them in different locations, so making the Bermudian caps fit the gaff can be a challenge.

In the end, all things are possible, but frankly, it's not a difficult task for a designer, though the well meaning shade tree boat nut, will likely have balance issues, without professional help. It doesn't cost much if you have a well known design.

As for the back stays, yep, it'll have to go, but the gaff rig is a low stress rig and running backs are not as much a problem as you might think, once you get used to them. Unexpected jibes can be an issue, but the wise sailor will have a preventer, if the point of sail or conditions suggest it's needed.
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