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Thread: Homemade Bermudan sail rig recap, thank you and next steps

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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    15

    Default Homemade Bermudan sail rig recap, thank you and next steps

    After 10 days in Canada with lots of sailing time on the water and an intentional capsize and recovery, I wanted to recap my canoe sail build and thank many members here for their feedback, especially Dave at Solway Dory. As you will see, I borrowed heavily from their bermudan expedition rig. I had a few earlier posts on here and got great help. Sorry in advance for the long post - I'm hoping it will be helpful to those attempting to do what I did.

    To put all relevant info in one location, my canoe is a 14' Sportspal aluminum canoe. The sail is about 40 square feet designed for a Sabot. I used a Hobie rudder and built my own rudder head, dagger board mount and mast thwart. I have 1.25" and 1.5" round tubing for a two piece mast and made my own fiberglass bearings to attach to the upper mast to fill the gap between the upper OD and the lower ID. I'm happy to provide more details - just ask. I made some rigging adjustments after I took the close up pics from shore after my first sail, including to the sail downhaul line routing.

    https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...ZGcDB0azUtZkF3

    The Sabot sail is a sleeved sail and I initially had trouble wrapping the sail around the mast to reef it. I tied a short piece of line around the top of the mast to hold the top of the sail tighter to the mast - now it reefs just fine. I'm very pleased with the outhaul and kicker set up that I used, with a cleat on the starboard side of the mast and a cheek block more forward of that, which allows easy tightening of the outhaul (releasing the outhaul requires reaching the clam cleat to pull the line out of the jam). The push pull steering took a little getting used to (I sail a Sunfish and an O'Day Daysailer II), but it works very well in a canoe.

    The canoe points quite well, is much more stable than I expected it to be and I had no trouble sailing it where I wanted to go, even in some fairly heavy wind. I managed a max speed (per my sailing app) of 5.4 mph during a broad reach. I came close to that on a beam reach. I think there might be a bit more speed even with the current configuration. My leeboard is simply a flat board rounded at the sides and pointed at the end, that I had on hand, so I think a Solway Dory style board should yield a bit more speed. I was worried my rudder would be too long, but I don't think it is or that it's holding me back much. I sailed in wind that I would estimate to be between 8 and 12 mph (7 and 11.5 knots) based on forecasts and nearby actual readings, with gusts at least 15 mph (13 knots) and maybe 20 mph (17.3 knots) at times. I spent most of my time in the rear seat or on the floor to the windward side and was rarely on the gunnel.

    During my vacation in Canada, the lake has a fun regatta. I've sailed a local Sunfish there for years, but wanted to sail my canoe this year if I determined it would be capable. I wanted to capsize intentionally and self-rescue before I raced in the regatta. I had 30' deep water just off of shore from our cottage that worked perfectly to experiment. I have 8' of 1" closed cell foam (also called backer rod), and it held the mast at the surface and the canoe did not turtle. I decided to make it turtle and then right the canoe. After it turtled, I easily brought the mast back to the surface. I then pushed the boom vertical in the water and swam to the leeboard side, and fairly easily righted the canoe using the leeboard as leverage. Everything was intact and undamaged. The good news essentially ended there. I attempted to get in the canoe to see if I could do it, but it was nearly full of water, and any pressure on the gunnel pushed it below the water line. It became clear I would have to take a significant amount of water out of the canoe before getting in it. I can easily get in the canoe from the water when the canoe is empty, as the foam sponsons provide excellent stability. I had a hand bilge pump and was able to pump water out from my position in the water next to the canoe, but it would have taken likely 30-45 minutes or more from there to empty enough water. I emptied just some water and tried to get in the canoe, filling it again, and eventually swam the canoe to a shallow rock to be able to stand, and from there I pumped out the canoe. So a self rescue will be doable, but time consuming. Bailing from inside the boat would be impossible. I wonder if a 3 gallon bucket vs. the hand pump would be a better option to more quickly get water out.

    The sailing regatta is open to all sailboats and they use a Portsmouth handicap system. I wish I knew what Portsmouth number they used for me. I had to sail about a mile into the lake to the start line, and then the course is about 2.75 miles, depending on wind and tacks, around an island that is somewhat leeward, and up and around and island that is somewhat windward and back to the line. We had 9 boats and with the handicap system I finished 4th, behind the winner, a 1930s Alden dinghy, and 2 Sunfish. My raw time was not too much slower than those Sunfish, and I beat another Sunfish. I had my 8 year old son with me - the canoe will definitely sail faster solo.


    Issues to work out:
    1) I am undecided if I should reduce the mast height by 2" or so. It was comfortable sailing, but to me looks a bit too high still. Thoughts based on the pictures in my link above?

    2) I am used to being able to carve a great tack in a Sunfish and lose little to no forward momentum. I tried several approaches, but I always found the sail flagging significantly as I passed into the no-go zone, losing most of my forward speed, and I often had to lean to leeward to get the canoe to finish the tack and fill the sail. Can I improve on this, or is this what I should expect from a rather wide canoe with a sail? I'm sure a jib would help pull the bow around, but I'm not ready for that addition just yet.

    3) Does anyone use a retainer line or something to keep the oar lock "gooseneck" tighter to the mast, and a downhaul or vang (beyond the boom vang/kicker) to keep the gooseneck resting on the collar on the mast? I found when I wanted to tighten the outhaul or make other adjustments, the sail tension sometimes was not enough, and I'd pull the oar lock out or up and off of the mast unless I held the boom tighter to the mast.


    Next steps are:

    1) Uninstall all wood and add several more coats of epoxy resin for better protection (I had 1-2 coats but ran out of time before my trip)
    2) Build a proper foiled leeboard
    3) Add a rudder uphaul (I just had the bolt tight enough that the rudder would stay out of the water when I raised it by hand)
    4) consider whether I want to add outriggers at all - I'm leaning towards no
    5) get back on the water more this summer

    Thanks again for the help and advice I received and found on this forum - it was a great resource.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    grange over sands, cumbria
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    931

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    Your rig looks good and i dont think it looks too high. Ideally you want to be able to see where you are going, under the boom, from sitting on the gunwale.

    If you heel the canoe away from you before you start the turn when tacking, the ends will come out of the water and make the canoe turn quicker. As you go through the tack, roll the canoe over to heel it over on the opposite tack. This will pull the sail up and over through the wind and gives you an extra push. As you get over to the other side with again a lot of heel, the canoe will easily continue the turn as the ends lift again. Finally as you bring the canoe back up again on the opposite tack the sail will catch the wind and give you an extra push to get you on your way on the new tack.

    In open canoes in the UK we use side buoyancy bags of at least 112lbs buoyancy. These support most of the canoe out of the water whilst it is on its side, so it comes up with very little water in after capsize. Your foam sponsons look good but maybe a bit small in cross section

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Washington State, USA, shores of Puget Sound
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    503

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    Parrel beads across the open fork in the boom throat will keep it against the mast with not too much pressure. Even a cleverly wrapped tiny bungee will suffice.

    Capsize and recovery is something to be practiced, I've heard. I shun such exercises by driving a trimaran. I'm not a fan of icy water for more than a few minutes, which can and has taken lives, even while clinging to flotation. AS to the bucket bailer, I'd suggest something on the order of a one gal container, like an old bleach bottle with the top cut off but retaining the handle. You won't tire so fast because it won't weigh as much, and the handle will help if your hands begin to stiffen. The amount to water you can move in a 3-gal bucket won't be 3-gals, but it will wear you down very quickly anyway.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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    15

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    I remembered I had made a list of to-dos, and came back to revisit it. It turns out I skipped the to-do list and jumped to No. 5 and just went sailing with it a few more times this summer, with no modifications. I removed all of the sailing additions in the event I'd use the canoe for duck hunting (I don't think I did). I spent the winter periodically researching better leeboard construction, making a list of tools I'd need to acquire and a plan to build one. In the end I hit the easy button and should have a solway dory expedition leeboard in my hands next week. I'm looking forward to comparing it to the flat board I was using last year. Until then, this is my son and I last July.

    Last edited by klb67pgh; 20th-April-2017 at 06:59 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Bc Canada
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    9

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    This is the same project I am undertaking, to make my own bermudan rig as pioneered by Solway Dory. I plan to use it on my Hellman Prospector, to replace the small lateen I have used for several trips. the canoe is very seaworthy , and up to a bigger sail. Mine will be about 44 square feet.

    What size tubing did you use for your boom? I have a good source locally, and want to make sure the mast and boom are strong enough , but not overbuilt.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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    The boom is 1.5 inch .065 wall tube I ordered from Dwyer.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Bc Canada
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    Thank you!
    I think I have the rig understood, except for the detail of the outhaul. How does it work on the outer end of the boom?

    I have found sources for all the bits and pieces. The hardest being 6061T6 aluminum tube of a consistent grade with good quality control.

  8. #8
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    Feb 2016
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    I've seen several different approaches to the outhaul. Most tie line to the clew of the sail, run it out to the end of the boom through something and then back to the gooseneck. I used a pad eye on the top of the boom and a micro block. A bullseye would work as well. Or a tube end fitting that has a hole to accommodate the outhaul like a sunfish spar endcap.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
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    I'm back in Ontario for vacation again with my new Solway Dory leeboard in hand. I just need the thunderstorms to quit and a bit of wind so I can go sailing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    North Idaho, USA
    Posts
    30

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    Unfortunately the link in the first part of the thread is not working now. Us newbies need all the photos we can get.

    But great job copying the SD idea in general. I want to do that too, but I have to come up with some way to raise and lower the mast on a hinge and have it furl by pulling on a line wrapped around a pulley sheave like the Hobie Inter island. Tall order I think. Probably need a special mast base at least or maybe a fore stay on a swivel at the top of the mast and forward to the bow.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    North Idaho, USA
    Posts
    30

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    KLB,

    Don't know how active you are on here, but I'm very interested in your Bermudan DIY canoe project. I live in North Idaho, so it's canoe country for sure, and I'm on lake Pend Orielle- well almost. Unfortunately. your pictures on Song of the paddle fail to open. So if you could possibly re-post them somewhere that I can access, it would help me and the whole canoe sailing community out immensely. I think one possibilty is Fliker, as I think it is still free. Photobucket is charging for their services now and it's hard for any non-paying individual to see anything there. But anyway, Please do post as many pics as you can ASAP! I am starting from scratch pretty much with odd pieces of gear here and there.
    The sail(s) are turning out to be the big hurdle, so anything that you can post or send out would be much appreciated! If you are anywhere near Idaho on the Canadian side maybe we could sail together!

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