Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sail plan - what to do?

The biggest question I've been wrestling with is what to do for the sail plan. The 16' plans call for a 90 ft2 stayed gaff rig. I'd much rather use a simple sprit rig, and the 13' plans use a 72 ft2 sprit rig. So I'm considering scaling it up to near 90 ft2 on roughly the same footprint as the 16' gaff rig. This allows me to accomplish several objectives: (1) Use a simple unstayed sprit rig instead of a more complicated stayed gaff rig (2) Use 12' spars all around, which I *think* will stow inside the boat (3) Add reef points to optimize sail area depending on weather.

In theory I'm not opposed to a more complicated rig. I've built two Penobscot 14' boats as Gunter-rigged sloops (stayed rigging). But for a Melonseed it just seems to me that I should choose more simple over more complicated.

Here's a quick sketch of my idea. If you see an obvious flaw in this idea please let me know! Just remember I'm interested in quick set, unstayed rigging, and ease of operation over top performance. I figure I have some extra wiggle-room since the lightweight hollow spars will keep down the weight aloft.

I'm leaning toward Douglas fir over Sitka spruce for the hollow spars. Where I live, clear d-fir and s-spruce are the same price, so there is no cost savings one over the other. But I'm thinking d-fir is so much stronger than s-spruce that for hollow spars it makes more sense to use d-fir. I welcome your comments.

The red lines show the approximate footprint of the 16' sail plan as stayed gaff rig. The blue lines show my idea of scaling to 88 ft2/68 ft2 reefed unstayed sprit rig. The smaller rig gets the clew & foot of the sail (and the boom) further up and out of the way of the crew.


  1. I am excited to see your progress on the two boats.

    I have the sail as drawn on the plans on my 16' Melonseed. I don't find it to be a hassle at all, actually it is the thing that attracts most people to the boat.
    The setup time is less then ten mins and I am happy to have the extra structure when the wind picks up.

    Hope this helps.


  2. I have to agree with Matt, I think the gaff rig really suits the boat. On Rivus, my Barto 16' I put a 120sf unstayed rig...I did ask Barto and said go for it. I overbuilt the birdsmouth mast and so far it's worked great. Really moves, and even handles gusty conditions when reefed.

    Keep up the good work,