One of the most important boat
design decisions is "What kind of Rig?"
For many years I have been interested in the simplicity of the "Free Standing Mast" rigs seen on a variety of boat brands and types. Some of these boats are traditional "cat boats," some are "junk rig boats," and some are high tech boats.
I am starting this thread in order to put together some materials and videos and information and discussion on Free Standing Masts (rigs).
This is an open discussion thread. Of course you may post your own photos, videos, links, comments etc.
To get it started, I am going to post some video clips and photos from I have in my notes regarding various boats I have seen using Free Standing Masts. This will include many different kinds of boats and different sizes and even different types of sails
Let me emphasize that last point. This will include different types of sails
and very different designs and sail plans. You see, boats with Free Standing Masts may be:
The first example I will post is a Wyliecat Cat Boat. But, you will also see a 65 foot Cat Ketch
in the videos.
These use the distinctive Free Standing Mast
, with a wishbone boom. Remember, they are not the only boat maker (brand) to use this combination, and I will post photos and videos of the others as soon as possible.
Key Points for Discusson:
1. Simplicity of Rig (and easy maintenance)
2. Simplicity of Operation (using the sails)
When watching these videos, the key thing to see is the ease and simplicity of the tacking maneuver.
Unlike boats that have a foresail on a stay (the typical jib or genoa
on a forestay) and that require quick sheeting and winch work
on jib sheet winches, a catboat simply tacks over the helm
Consequently, a sailor with a cat boat (for example) can do a lot of "short tacking" very easily, just by moving the tiller or turning his wheel
, with NO need to adjust the sails or to sheet or to grind on any winch
This makes this kind of rig especially appealing to single
handing sailors or shorthanded sailing crews (e.g. a couple).
Other brands of boats have a similar "Free Standing Mast" and rig. A few noteworthy ones are some of the Freedom Yachts boats, and the Nonsuch boats. I will post photos and videos about them soon. I will also post photos of other boats (including custom boats and one-offs) and homebuilt boats too. Anything that has a Free Standing Mast is open for posting or discussion in this thread.
We should also discuss the relative merits or shortcomings of this type of rig. More on that later.
The most important point about a Free Standing Mast:
No Shrouds or Stays
Now, consider the parts
of a typical stayed mast that must be in perfect condition to be safe and seaworthy
5. All connecting fittings
6. Boom Vang
Each of those requires maintenance
, and occasional replacement. Replacing the "standing rigging" during a yacht's refit
can be expensive, and with typical stainless wire shrouds, it is generally suggested to replace them completely every 10 years. Replacing chainplates can be a big hassle, if they are embedded in the hull
In contrast, the Free Standing Mast generally lasts the life of the boat. Some will require some maintenance
, depending upon their materials (e.g. wood needs varnishing or painting).
Free Standing Masts have been made from a variety of materials including the following:
Solid Wood Spars
Hollow Wood Spars
(square, octagonal, rounded, hollow masts)
light poles have been used)
NOTE: I have NO financial connection to the boats or manufacturers or sellers of any of the boats I post here. I am posting this information for discussion purposes so CF members can discuss the merits of different boat designs.