|Converting a tender for sailing
Return to Contents and What's New page
From 'The A-Z of cheaper boating' by Bill Beavis, publ Stanley Paul, London 1977
'You have no need to buy a specially designed sailing dinghy for those odd afternoon sails from the moorings. The average yacht's tender can be converted to sail quite easily and most importantly the gear can be stowed inside the boat and set up in a jiffy.
The most popular conversion is the standing lug (although a sprit rig is good and carries more sail). For this the mast does not have to be stayed and both it and the sail can be handed and set in the same operation. The conversion shown in Figure 35 was contrived by Des Sleightholme, editor of Yachting Monthly. It was specifically made for an 8-foot tender but boats up to 15 foot have been successfully converted.
The gear required is as follows. The pine mast and bamboo yard should each be about 8 feet long and just short enough to stow inside the dinghy. The mast should be roughly 2 inches in diameter and have a brass bolt drilled down inside the truck and protruding slightly; this is to hold the yard becket. The bamboo pole may be obtained from a carpet warehouse. It should have two rope beckets, the second for use when reefed should be one-third down from the peak. The sail is made from unbleaehed calico bought from a draper's, although a good-quality bedsheet could be used, suitably waterproofed with a substance such as Nev. The sail measurements are roughly: head 7 ft 6 in. (2.3m), leach=8 ft 6 in. (2.6m), foot=6 ft (1.8m), luff=4 ft (l.2m).
Foot and leach should be taped for strength but head and luff must have a boltrope sewn in. Cringles can either be sewn in or brass eyelets used. There should be one at the tack, one at the
claw and two reef cringles also. Smaller cringles along the head enable it to be laced to the yard.
A leeboard is made from 5/16 inch (8 mm) marine ply and should measure 3 ft (l~0 m) by 18 in. (450 mm). A small block of wood fixed to the inboard side will allow it to rest on the gunwale while a lanyard fixed around the thwart will keep it in position. The leeboard is always rigged on the leeward side where the pressure of water holds it rock solid against the boat's
The mast is stepped through a hole in the foward thwart and into a step bonded or screwed on top of the keelson. Steering is by means of an oar and for this a sculling notch or rowlock must be fitted in the transom. The tack line is secured by passing it under the thwart and on to a clam cleat.
Mr Sleightholme remarks, 'The magical thing about this rig is that if you let fly the tack line the whole contrivance up-ends and dissolves into a mass of floppy folds so that if a hard squall descends one can just jerk the line and duck.'