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Old 27-11-2010, 22:35   #1
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Converting Marconi to Gaff Rig

How difficult would it be to re-rig a boat like this:


To a rig like this:


And how would one go about it?
Are there any good books on the subject?

I'm asking mostly out of curiosity, but would love to actually do it someday(soon).
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Old 27-11-2010, 23:13   #2
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the blocks and tackles required for the change of rig would place you in poorhouse..i wanted to do something similar--but keeping my marconi rig... but the blocks and tackles are prohibitive. i would need 8 blocks and tackles priced at over 800 dollars each. you will need running back stays. you will need to have hoops made for the mast and reconfigure the mast, if not replace it-- gaff rig does not use spreaders. you will need a gaff of spruce--boom of spruce....hoops of i am not sure what material---wood, but i dont know the type...lots and lots of ropes...lazy jax....important to have....running backstays...
the rigs are elegant and graceful-- but i dont know if i would change one over--very work intensive, also ..
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Old 27-11-2010, 23:24   #3
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I couldn't make out an image of the boat you intended to start this process with, but naturally the practicality depends entirely on the design, which i'm sure you realize since there is a bit more to it than spars and blocks. There are many good sources of information on gaff rig, but John Leaher's book by that name is a good place to start. I note you live in Southern California - drop by the Maritime Museum of San Diego any weekend and you can see what its like to sail a gaff rigged vessel first hand.

Ray
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Old 28-11-2010, 01:45   #4
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Ben, There is only one way to go about such a task, and that is too discuss your intentions with a Naval Architect who has experience with traditional vessel rigging.
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Old 28-11-2010, 02:10   #5
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Thanks for the input.

The first picture was of a columbia 34, but I was asking about any marconi sloop(as they are seem to be the most common).

Does one have to make an appointment at the maritime museum to go sailing?

By the way, is there a book on making rigging hardware? I have done a lot of wood and metal work and would like to see how the blocks etc. are designed and made (all I have at the moment is Ashley's and a model ship book)
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Old 28-11-2010, 02:24   #6
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Ben,
There is a Bristol Channel Cutter going through a complete rebuild after a hurricane severely damaged her. The owner decided to convert to gaff. He went to a naval architect and had a new rig designed.

You can read all about it on his blog here Bristol Channel Cutter Restoration

Good luck!
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Old 28-11-2010, 08:50   #7
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Ben:

I don't know of any book that talks about making rigging hardware with the exception of Hervey Garrett Smith's book The Marlinspike Sailor and there's not too much even in there. Catalogs which continue to have a good bit of traditional hardware to the scale you'd be looking for include classicmarine.co.uk and toplicht.de.

Regarding an appointment, well no not quite. You can go online to sdmaritime.org to sail in the revenue cutter Californian or schooner yacht America as a passenger for a daysail (we put our passengers to work by the way) or Californian for a multi-day trip, or show up any Sunday at 8:30 ready to volunteer and you'll soon be pretty immersed in the technology of 18th and 19th century sailing vessels, and if you'd like to help build a 16th century galleon, that period as well. I suspect that you'd be ready to make your own hardware before too long.

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Old 28-11-2010, 09:10   #8
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This is a popular question in recent weeks. I answered a question just like it a few weeks ago Ben. This is what I had to say at that time, which is still the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PAR
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.
Additionally, blocks and much of the hardware can be home made, if you elect to go this route. I make blocks all the time and they work out to be about $10 to $20 each, depending on sheave types, bearings, becket, swivels, number of sheaves, etc.
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Old 28-11-2010, 11:00   #9
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Hi Ben,

I agree with all of the contributors so far. Talk with a Navel Architect. Don't be put of by the cost of Blocks and parts. As Par says blocks can be made (I make all of ours and we have a Gaff Schooner) as for the metal parts Gammons, Crance Iron and such, if you are half decent with a welding torch then these can be made in your own shop. Gaff is a low stress low tech rig and any half intelligent man can make it work.
Making it work well is another matter altogether.

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Old 28-11-2010, 11:07   #10
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Amazon.com: The Gaff Rig Handbook: History, Design, Techniques, Developments (9781408114407): John Leather: Books

This is a book on the Gaff Rig that may be of some help.

That BCC is an anachronism. He's got an electrical panel and all the electronics and modern gear fit for a Boeing 787 and is putting a Curtiss Jenny rig on it. Somehow, it doesn't fit.
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Old 28-11-2010, 18:45   #11
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I have converted smaller boats to gaff and I built (not designed)the hull and rig of my avatar boat.
Do it for the right reasons, simplicity, saftey,and cost. ( not cuz it looks cool) But these are gray areas, others might see gaff as less simple, less easy and more costly.
If you can make EVERYTHING, (and you can) the savings are great , and anything you make you can fix. My mast is a fir tree, cost, zero. ( you do not need spruce) Sails , blocks, made em. Running backs are a curse that take more rigs down than they keep up, I don't have any.I use West Indian style dead eyes, no chainplates. Laminated wood boom and gaff jaws. No metal fittings. All blocks rope stropped.
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Old 28-11-2010, 19:53   #12
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Thanks for all the information it is really helpful.

Safety was mentioned as a reason to convert to gaff rigging, besides shorter mast(s) lower CoE are there other safety considerations?
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Old 28-11-2010, 20:11   #13
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You have a fin keel boat. It is not a good hull for a gaff rig. I have built and owned a few gaff rigged boats. They are very cheap to build if you are building from scratch. You cannot use your extruded aluminum mast because it is not strong enough. You can use a standard aluminum irrigation pipe for a mast, or just a tree. There is a lot of info on the web. Google gaff rig and you will find lots of it. But my first comment is the most critical for you. Gaffs and fin keels are not a happy combo. By all means consult a Naval Architect. Contact Michael Kasten of Kasten Marine - tell him I sent you.
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Old 29-11-2010, 00:19   #14
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The gaff rig is certainly compatible with fin keels and every other sort of appendage configuration you can imagine. To say contrary, suggests a lack of design understanding. This said a well designed (or should I say a well refined design) will have appendages optimized to the rig choices they've made, but you still can make as grand a change, as switching from a double spreader Bermudian sloop to a gaff cutter. The trick is to know what you're doing and where to places the various "centers". This assumes thought out and good landing points, for the strains of the new rig too.

Do not fool yourself into thinking the CE of the sail plan will move lower substantially, it will not move nearly as much as you think and this shouldn't be as important as many will make it out to be. In fact, it can make a comfortable boat, a less comfortable one. Most modern yachts can't tolerate a grown mast, but must use a hollow stick. These same yachts will also need light weight gear aloft as well. It'll still likely be heavier then a Bermudian rig, but not so much as to harshly affect it's roll moment.

Lastly, the use of deadeyes and lanyards was one of the fastest things to be swept out of yachting, when "rigging screws" first appeared. Unlike many "innovations" in yachting, deadeyes were literally drummed out of service in less then a decade, with the advent of turnbuckles (then called rigging screws). They appeared (naturally) on a HMC yacht first, then within a single year appeared on every major yacht in the competitive fleets around the country. Within 5 years 90% of the country's yachts where retro fitted with screw controlled shrouds and stays. There are always some diehards in every industry, but there is absolutely nothing good about a deadeye and lanyard arrangement.
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Old 29-11-2010, 07:04   #15
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Well PAR, There are about 60,000 good things about mine.
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