Thursday, March 3, 2016

Moving Forward

I been building on Autarkia for just over 2 months now.  I am happy with the progress, but also I am aware of how LONG things can take to get done.  In the early stages of a project  (and I have experienced this in other projects I have done) we tend to dismiss the seemingly little, or easy things as a bridge we can cross upon arrival.  The problem is, once you start to get close to that bridge a hard decision must be made.

An example would be how I am to finish the hull once the woodwork is done.  In the post 'Bullet Proof Hulls' many things were discussed with regard to how I would fiberglass the hull - epoxy or polyester was a biggie.  I really agonized over that one.  In the end I have made a decision (vinyl ester) and am getting lot's of advice and help from Chris Morejohn in using his time tested and proven method.  I am almost done the plywood planking and am ready to drive to Vancouver for glassing materials so this part of the project may proceed.

I owe this partly to my efforts at keeping an open mind, but the brunt of the credit goes to those who have contributed herein and whom are showing a genuine interest in seeing a successful completion to it.  My warmest thanks to you all!

So, in that spirit and with the aforementioned reasoning I am making a decision with regard to the rig.

To preface however I have come to the following realizations:

If I am to design the rig in its entirety then I must sit down and produce an actual plan for the sails.  It is within my ability I think, given the excellent reference material in Practical Junk Rig (did I say junk? yes, I have come to my senses Bob) - but how much time would it take me to go through that process?  A lot I think.

If I am then willing to sew up the sails myself, what is involved with procuring the material, setting up up for layout, sourcing bits and pieces, and then actually making the sail (two of them in fact and the second will be better than the first which would really bug me)?  A fair bit of effort and time as well.

My time, as an aside, is a major consideration.  I am not really retired yet - simply in hiatus as they say.  While I am building the boat I am not earning income.  I will have to - and want to - do something job/gig wise until pension time.  So the time I spend building Autarkia is a careful trade off.

Back to the rig.  I had a sort of epiphany yesterday.  It was a compromise sort of epiphany but an epiphany nonetheless.  An that was: Most everything I need to build my rig is before me already.

Stay with me.  On page 156 of Practical Junk Rig by Hasler/McLeod is a design and specifications - complete enough for a sailmaker - for a low aspect junk sail of 227 square feet.

I will take two of those, thank-you.

I can shop those specs around with various sailmakers and have them made up.  Might have to use a Chinese firm and I understand that these days they can use the business. My preference though would be to go with someone in BC and if it won't break the bank that's what I would do.

This sail design will work with a 20 foot aluminum pipe extrusion as a mast.  If a short extension is required then I would build them up with Douglas Fir - I have lots.  I am thinking 4 inch pipe for these.  I wouldn't agonize over this though.  If a lot of concern comes up over the scantlings I would put a stay on either side Colvin style.

My mast hinge would be what I described in a previous post.  I have every confidence that this would be strong enough for a free standing mast.  That assembly can be farmed out locally to fab in steel.

I understand that the final result may leave some things to be desired so I'm vetting it here.  If there are no significant drawbacks though, I think it is a desirable way to go.


  1. Hi Alan,

    Couple considerations...

    Check out tarp makers. Flat cut JR is nothing more than a glorified tarp, and many will take it on.

    Check out Weathermax and TopNotch fabrics, and Sailrite for grommets and sewing supplies.

    Dave Z

  2. Thanks Dave. I never thought about that. I do have a few quote requests out to some sailmakers. I have no idea what they'll come back with but I'll certainly post the results.

  3. Dave has proven the rig you are settling on so you almost can't go wrong. Luna had this rig, basically, except also had a small mizzen. Huge utility in a mizzen and probably worth working one in IMHO. I am 100% with you regarding finally just having to make a decision and going with it.

    Re mast choice aluminum makes a lot of sense but Colvin also recommended steel. I used this for a mast once and it works well and adding masthead attachment points is a snap by just strong welds. You just use a smaller diameter mast than aluminum. But, if I could afford it I'd go with aluminum from the git-go. The two shrouds per side worked well for me and never interfered with my lugsail use but Daves the man lugsail experience wise (vastly) and he may well know of many ways shrouds make no sense. But then Colvin was too and he used shrouds..... who knows?

    Lastly sewing up my sails was a fun expereince for me and didn't take that much time. The money you save doing it yourself would probably justify the effort. If you're pinched for time and bucks the method I used for my 430 sqr footer works: stake out the battens and yard, attach boltrops between them, lay on a 20X40 polytarp, cut 6" beyond the boltrope outline, trace battens and dot where you want grommets and punch them in, re-lay out sail and merely sew it to the perimeter ropes then attach battens with black plastic zip ties. Works. That said my second one was sewed up with Colvins most excellent chinese sailmaking book of the TopGun fabric he recommended. That book is worth 10X it's cost!! Made sewing it up a snap (hard work still though for a older guy with a lot of on-the-knees posturing.... think thick kneepads!!!).

    And, really lastly, Rochford supply is a good source for fabric still. I STILL have the huge bolt of TopNotch "seconds" fabric I bought (along with Dave in 2008) as future sail making material. Since then they even have some newer varieties that would work really well for sail material and at seconds prices. Too bad I am all the way down here close to Guatemala now because I have the two Luna lugsails with me and each is 225 ft sqr. A bit tired but with a few years left still (no real holes yet but a bit brittle and of regular sailcloth). TopNotch has been proven well by Dave on Slacktide and is a delight to sew with (creases even better than TopGun, Colvins choice).

    It's ALL fun.....a delight to watch yours come togther. Best of luck with it and continued satisfaction. I would imagine this documented build, from a guy who is not retired yet, could be eventually very inspirational to fence sitters who want to somehow join the ranks of the Sea Gypsy tribe.

    1. Thanks Robert! Dave emailed me some fabric sources as well. It all boils down to what I would have to pay to have the sails done, and calculating the advantage/disadvantage timewise for me to do while not earning some money.

      I haven't ruled out a mizzen either. If I make up my mast lower sections from steel, as I described in my mast hinge post, I'm free to play around with the mast placement quite a bit. Since I don't need tabernacles for instance, I'm not limited to the foremast being positioned at the forward cabin bulkhead. Given that kind of flexibility I can optimize my mast placements, leeboard placement and leave enough room for a small, practical mizzen to aid in control.

      I may not need stays at all. Based on empirical evidence, sails that size are well served with aluminum tube masts of 5inches o.d. If I went with aluminum pipe that has 5 inches I.D. and a thicker wall I'm sure I'm good given the greater righting moment of the boat.

      Can you remember the details regarding your steel mast? Size, length, sail area, stays etc? I'm interested...

      And it's great to know I'm on the right track thanks to you guys!

    2. TColvin didn't have scantling info in his sailmaking book but did mention how to butt the tabernacles against a steel cabintop, all for steel masts, etc.. By poking around on various forums I found a guy who said he'd conversed with Colvin about steel mast scantlings and upon querying that guy by e-mail he shared with me e-mails Colvin had exchanged with him regarding steel pipe diameters for various square footages. It escapes me now as that was about a decade ago but I do have a lot of pix of my mast and masthead arrangement I can dredge up and you can guesstimate the sizes. As I recall maybe 32 feet above the deck and maybe 4.5" to 5" steel pipe for a 330 to 430 ft sqr lugsail. I ran it all the way to the keel thru a partners tube I had welded up. IMHO you're better off with aluminum though. No rig is ever going to be perfect but sounds like you're zeroing in on what pleases you personally. I prefer no shrouds as well but since I was winging it design wise I went with them since I didn't fully trust my deck partners tubes anchoring to take it all..... insurance!

  4. If you could dredge up those pics and post here for us all it would be super appreciated! Thanks Robert!

    1. My regular laptop is kaput as of a few weeks ago and with it my only disc drive. I am down to a chromebook and a tablet. The pix mentioned are not in the "cloud" so I can't access them right now. When I make my next states trip I'll lay in a new laptop (to put my fave OS, Ubuntu linux, on..... dig it). Electronics down here are way expensive. So, sorry for the no pix for now.

  5. Just got a quote for both sails in 6 oz polyester fabric made to the specs in PJR. I was from Sails East based in Chicago who have their sails made in Hong Kong. They quoted $3986.00 USD including shipping to my home. I don't know if there is duty from Hong Kong though. The exchange works out to $5301.00 Canadian dollars. I'll keep posting as more quotes come in...

    1. Import duty on sails from Hong Kong into Canada is 16%...

    2. Yikers!!!!!~ Colvins book isn't near as expensive. Amazing. Any future sails for me are definitely going to be home made.

  6. Well, we'll see what the rest of them have to say. I'll take Dave's suggestion and try some of the tarp makers around...tent makers come to mind as well. Might be sewing them myself up after all. I think I'll buy that book regardless.

    1. It seems that Sailmaking by Thomas Colvin is unavailable. Bummer.

  7. From Lee Sails here in BC:

    Junk sail, 227 sq. ft. Battens not included. As per drawing.

    Challenge HM 6.63 white cloth with heavier, (HM 7.3) batten pocket forward end.

    Price for two - $3,774.90 CND


    Junk sail, 227 sq. ft. Battens not included. As per drawing.

    Bainbridge Tan 655 tanbark cloth with heavier, Tan 755 batten pocket forward end.

    Price for two - $5,209.36 CND

    That seems better to me - at least I can have local support...