Monday, July 9, 2018

Starting to Build a Rig

Now that we are settled in and the four-foot grass is mostly mowed down etc, the next thing to do is to start putting a rig on Corncake. We started by cutting out 2x4s into 1.5” strips for battens, then extra half inch thick strips to add to the other side of the polytarp sail as retaining battens. My theory was that if the retaining battens were firmly bound to the main batten, as well as fastened so that they were not free to move against each other in shear, they would have most of the strength of 2” thick battens. This very well may be too light scantlings and prove unsatisfactory. Time will tell.

We stained them a handsome red with some left over stain. If it looks blotchy and somebody says my stain job looks like a four-year-old did it, I can heartily agree.

Here you see yard on the right, with battens and the noodle-like retaining battens on the left

 With all the wood bits made, it was time to lay out the sail on a 15x30 white polytarp. The material isn't ideal, but I get the feeling this is not the final sail for Corncake, and if she sees enough use for the sun to bother it, that good for us! 

 Arne Kvernland drew this sail for me, for which I am very grateful. 

 Here you see the general idea. I slid the main batten under the sail, then lined up the fabric on top, laid on the skinny batten, and screwed through all with the supposedly high-quailty coated deck screws that resist corrosion bla bla bla. We'll see. 

I love a man with knobbly knees!

Then I tied double constrictor knots on nylon seine twine, poking through the sail cloth to bind the battens powerfully together.  I tied marlinspike hitches onto two spikes, stepping on one (on a wooden pad) and hauling on the other. I think this compresses the two together really nice, judging from the way the twine mashes the wood as it tightened. I only broke the twine once, whipping the living crap out of my right hand. 

When the parts are assembled, I find the result rather smart looking, if I do say so myself.  If anyone has an opinion about this, please let fly. My only doubt is when the retaining batten is on the weather side of the sail and it gets really windy. Will it hold up? 

When it was all done, I took the boat out to the yard and hauled up the naked sail, which immediately assumed its natural cocked position.  The sail weighed 70 lbs and the 3 part halyard allowed the kids to haul the sail up most of the way themselves. I would have no problem going four parts, but the friction would make the sail hard to get down, I think. 

Here the sail is restrained aft by a tack parrell. Lots of work remains to be done. Setting up batten parrells, proper topping lifts, and other running rigging. 


  1. Hello, love the concept and the great education you are giving your beautiful daughters! Did you motor Corncrake? If yes, what motor and how did she perform? I attempted to email you, but it got returned. Maybe I have trouble reading cheerios :)

  2. Oh maybe went to junk folder sorry! Yes we motored her with a 5hp tohatsu 2 stroke and she made 3.6 knots at 1/3 throttle and nothing more. I did some research and found the propeller pitch is way wrong for this boat/motor combination. With less pitch I would expect at least another knot in calm water. Try to email again and i will check my junk folder