Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mast Raising for Trailer-Sailers

Trailer-sailers are great boats for those who don't want a bigger boat or don't have the funds needed to own a bigger boat and keep it on a permanent mooring or marina. They can be taken home or to a storage facility when not being used, to reduce ownership cost. Their size allows them to be used as a short-term cruiser for a small family, for weekend or holiday cruises of a week or two. They are also capable of getting you into all sorts of nooks and beautiful little spots that are inaccessible to larger boats. This can be great to get away from the crowds in some locations or for just getting you right up to the beach, to almost step ashore onto dry sand.

Cape Cutter 19 "Zest" tucked into a small spot that
is out of reach to bigger boats.
Cape Cutter 19 "Kaliope" taking a party break from
the tough duty of cruising the Greek Islands.

Launch and retrieval, with their associated activities of preparing the boat and raising or lowering the mast, are relatively simple when there are enough hands to help with doing the actual muscle work and ensuring that rigging wires, halliards etc are not hooking around the trailer, rudder or other obstacles. It is when this is all being done by one person that it can become rather challenging and it becomes very necessary to have your boat well prepared for the operation.

There are various ways to do this with hinged mast steps or tabernacles in combination with spinnaker poles, folding bowsprits and bipods, with varying degrees of effectiveness. The biggest problem is normally ensuring that there is decent lateral support for the mast as it goes up, to stop it from going off centreline and damaging something.

The bigger the boat and the taller the rig, the more important it becomes to have a well thought-out system to raise and lower the mast without a host of people to help. Another factor is how far out of alignment the mast hinge position is from the chainplates. The Cape Cutter 19s shown above have a short mast, folding bowsprit and tabernacle on a flush deck, so it is fairly easy as long as the many ropes and wires don't hook on anything. The Didi 26 shown below has a hinged mast step (less stable than a tabernacle) and taller mast stepped on top of a high cabin, so it will not be easy to do it by yourself without a decent system.

Didi 26 "Butterfly" tied to a tree in the Swedish
Baltic Islands.

A few days ago I read an article about a system that seems to have sorted out all of the normal problems. The best solutions are normally developed out of necessity, which is the case here. The owner of the boat has a mooring that is up-stream from a low bridge, which means raising his mast after passing under the bridge every time he wants to sail and lowering it before the bridge when returning to moorings.

My thanks the staff at  Tropical Boating for taking the trouble to write a clearly illustrated article about a solo mast raising/lowering system that can be adapted to most trailer-sailers.

See out full range of designs at .

Monday, June 11, 2012

More Sneak Preview

A few months ago I blogged a Sneak Preview of a new design that was developing in North Carolina. That boat will not be ready for the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport later this month as expected but it is progressing. It should be there next year.

Yesterday I received the latest photos from the owner builder, taken this past weekend. When you look at them, please bear in mind that this man is an amateur boatbuilder and this is his first ever boatbuilding project. He has been a very hesitant builder, unsure of his own woodworking skills being up to the task that he had taken on. He has occasionally needed my reassurance to guide him in the right direction or confirmation that he is doing something correctly. He has shown himself to be a meticulous craftsman, working to a higher degree of accuracy than I have in any of my boatbuilding projects.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

He has chosen to stain the colour onto the plywood and to use clear finishes. His aim was to allow the grain to show through, highlighting the fact that it is a wooden boat as well as the details of the construction, to anyone who looks at the boat. This could have backfired badly for a careless worker because any mess-ups would be highlighted or accentuated. This level of work takes time, of course, so his progress has been slow.

As you can see, his boat is looking absolutely gorgeous. He is producing a boat that is a work of art and of which he will feel very proud, justifiably so. I look forward to sailing this boat and seeing it exhibited at Mystic in 2013.

The builder is Aussie Hunter Gall. He lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia but is building his boat at a friend's property in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

You will not find this design on my website yet but it should be there soon. The tentative design name is the DS15, for Didi Sportboat 15. It is 4.5m (14' 9") long and 1.8m (5' 11") beam.

You can see our other designs at

Friday, June 1, 2012

More Didi 29 Retro

The files for cutting kits for the Didi 29 Retro have been completed and delivered to CKD Boats in Cape Town. They will be adapted to the CNC Machinery that will be used to cut the kit and cutting of the first boat will start in the next few weeks. The owner will start construction in the next couple of months.

I will keep you updated on construction progress through this blog. In the meantime, here is animated video of the Rhino model of the design.

See more about the Didi 29 Retro in my previous blog entry or at