Rigging your Boats

Quite a few are still looking for my articles about rigging sailing dinghies. It’s the new season, and some of us have already taken to the sea seven or eight times this year. It has been a late spring, and my heart goes out to those who are still having snow. The spring here is still cool, but the weather is pleasant except in the more inland parts of Europe.

To those of you who are sailors, I wish you luck (and skill) in rigging your boats and sailing them. If you have questions that I could help you with, please let me know via the combox. Most of it is either right or wrong for each type of boat, but there are ways of getting around problems or jury-rigging when things really do go wrong.

Remember to observe safety at sea, and don’t take risks! It’s not worth it. Always wear your life jacket and take a mobile phone or a portable VHF with you – or both. Take an anchor especially if the wind is coming from the coast and blowing out to sea. It will save your life if your mast comes down! Check the weather and tides beforehand and let your nearest and dearest know you’re going sailing, fishing or whatever. Remember the sea is always stronger than we are!

Good luck…

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3 Responses to Rigging your Boats

  1. Paul Nicholls ofs says:

    Living on the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario) and having canoed and boated on inland waterways, your advice is just as applicable here. We have great sailing opportunities here, but every year needless accidents take place because people do not follow your advice. I would also add asking for the intercession of one of the saints considered to be a patron saint of sailors, wouldn’t hurt. Having Devonshire ancestry in me I personally have a fondness for the water and boating.

    • Saint Brendan the Navigator.

      Other bits of advice: Many problems come from bad rigging. The condition of a boat’s standing rigging is vital. Even on a dinghy, there is very little you can do if your mast comes down at sea. If the wind is blowing toward the shore, you can set up the jib with the lower part of the mast held in your hand, and that will get you to shore so that you can re-rig. If the wind is coming from the shore, all you can do is anchor and signal to another boat for a tow (always carry a tow rope). Calling for rescue must only be in the most extreme and life-threatening emergencies. You have to find your own solution if possible. I always carry a paddle – not very effective, especially against the wind, but better than nothing. Another problem is capsizing – you either have a boat you can easily right (by grabbing the centreboard and pulling it down with the bow of the boat facing the wind) or having a ballasted boat. A major problem can be caused by ropes getting tangled (set up wrong) and the running rigging not working properly.

      The captains of old insisted on a tidy ship for a good reason! Have a sense of routine when rigging and having everything perfect before launching.

      I can’t over-emphasise the need for people to learn to sail at a proper sailing school. You go out in a group in double or solo boats, with the instructor in a motor boat – and you make all your mistakes with safety near at hand!

  2. Pingback: Sailing Questions | As the Sun in its Orb & New Goliards

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