Home - Project Just Right
Chapter 1 - My goals and Requirements
Chapter 2 - Choosing the Boat to Build
Chapter 3 - Preliminaries, What I Did Before Starting
Chapter 4 - Setting up Frames and Building the Hull
Chapter 5 - Interior
Chapter 6 - Deck and Exterior
Chapter 7 - Topside Details
Chapter 8 - Keel, Centerboard, and Rudder
Chapter 9 - Mast, Rigging, Sails, Outboard & Anchors
Chapter 10 - The Electrical System
Chapter 11 - The Trailer and Trailering
Chapter 12 - Sea Trials and Cruising Pictures
Chapter 13 - Future Projects ... When is a Boat Finished?
Chapter 14 - Useful Information... Sources and Links
Chapter 15 - Questions and Answers
Chapter 16 - Other Vagabond Builders and Aficionados
Chapter 17 - A Few Good Ideas
Chapter 18 - Chapter 18 - Specifications and Equipment

Chapter 9 - Mast, Rigging, Sails, Outboard, and Anchors

I thought about titling this chapter "Getting Going and Staying Stopped". I cover the sailboat parts first, next the outboard motor, and finally the staying stopped part...anchoring.

Mast, Boom, Spinnaker Pole and Furler

The mast and boom were purchased from Dwyer Aluminum Mast Co. through the designer. I was told that the mast section and end fittings were designed for the 24 foot Hunter. The remaining items were standard Dwyer catalog items. Dwyer will fabricate the parts to order or you can do it yourself. Copies of the mast and boom drawing markups are shown below.


The mast is set up for four internal halyards: main and spinnaker on starboard and genoa and spinnaker topping lift on port. The spinnaker sheave is mounted about 6 inches above the headstay tang. The pole topping lift sheave is mounted just above the swept back spreaders. I thought about using the topping lift for a small staysail or storm jib as well as the spinnaker topping lift or holding up the wind scoop when at anchor.

Looking at the picture of the open end of the mast, notice the little tee shaped flange. I slit a length of thin wall PVC tube, slipped it over the tee and slid the pipe up inside the mast. Three wires are led up the mast to power the running lights. The white running light on top the mast has two separate bulbs, one forward and one aft. Under sail, the bicolor and aft white light is shown. Under power, the white forward light is also lighted. A two step pull-pull switch is located just inside the companionway hatch. I can control the running lights without leaving the helm. The lights use 0.4 amp halogen bulbs so the draw is less than 1 amp under sail and 1.5 amp under power. If the bicolor bulb fails, I have a temporary bicolor, which I can mount on the bow. I can always use a flashlight shown aft if the white bulb fails. I wanted running lights positioned so that sails would not obscure the visibility. By mounting the lights high, the range is increased. I also have a large flashlight to shine on the sails if overtaken. The mast head also mounts the Metz VHF antenna and Windex windvane. The last picture shows how the VHF coax and mast electrical line plugs are carried through the deck.


The boom is set up for two slab reef lines and an outhaul. The mainsail is loose footed. A "Boom Kicker" which is basically two fiberglass rods which hold the boom up when the main halyard is released either to lower the sail or reef. A three part Garhauer boom vang line is lead back to a cleat on the port side. The picture below shows the way the main outhaul is rigged. I can pull aft and down to tension the foot of the main. The clam cleat captures the line. To release, I just reach in front of the block and pull down. Inside the boom is a small block and tackle to give a 2:1 purchase on the outhaul.


I purchased a Schaefer Snapfurl roller reefing/furling assembly for the headsail. The Snapfurl works well. The luff tension can be controlled by the genoa halyard. The sail rolls smoothly around the plastic extrusion running over the headstay.

I discovered two things about the Snapfurl. The sailmaker cut the luff tape too short and it pulled out of the feeder as the sail reached full hoist. It was nearly impossible to feed the luff tape back into the feeder to lower the sail. After trying everything that I could think of, I prevailed on the sailmaker to replace the luff tape. Now, the luff tape sticks out of the bottom of the stainless steel feeder and comes down just fine.

The second problem was that the weight of the furler pushed down on the toggle that attached the furler to the tang. When attaching the furler, I had a hard time holding up the weight of the furler while trying to insert the clevis pin in the toggle. I fixed that problem by drilling a hole in the toggle and inserting a cotter pin. Recently, I noticed that both screws holding the cross piece at the base of the furler drum are missing. When I replaced the screws, I put a little Locktite on those screws.

My spinnaker pole is a Cal 20 antique. The aluminum pole is slightly long for the Vagabond, at 7'3" with a diameter of 1.5 inches. The pole uses the standard fittings on each end and has bridles, top and bottom. To store the pole, I use web loops on the port side deck, one around the anchor roller and one through the deck eye near the chainplate. I added an extra long 6 foot spinnaker pole track to the front of the mast. The track starts a few inches above the deck. The track serves as part of my mast raising system. I can also attach the pole to a slider positioned at the bottom of the track and slipped through the webbing loop around the anchor roller. I attach the asymmetrical spinnaker downhaul line to the outboard end of the pole. The pole extends out about 6 inches in front of the headstay.

Standing Rigging

The standing rigging follows the Vagabond plan very closely. The shrouds are 1/8 ss 1x19 wire. The head stay is 3/16 ss 1x19 wire. I used open turnbuckles and professionally swaged fittings on all wires.

One variation from the original plans was to use stainless steel chainplates angled to match the spreader sweep back angle. You can see the extra blocking I attached to Bulkhead D in the earlier construction chapters. The headstay tang follows the specification in the plans.

The backstay is rigged with a three part tackle through a split lower backstay with roller providing a six part purchase on the backstay. The backstay tangs are standard Scheafer tangs.

Running Rigging and the Deck Layout

The drawing below and the picture looking down on the deck should give a pretty good idea of how the boat is rigged. All the lines except the slab reef lines are lead back to the cockpit and are secured with cleat or sheet stoppers. The tails of the lines are coiled and stuffed in the open hatches in the seat backs.


I chose slightly larger Lewmar 7 winches that are mounted on the cabin top. When I fabricated the deck panels, I epoxied reinforcement pads on the underside for the winches and genoa tracks. The winches are arranged to tension the genoa sheets or any of the lines in the sheet stoppers. Since the line leads were approaching the winch drums from different angles I decided to mount the winches flat on the cabin deck. This caused a problem with overrides on the genoa leads. After some careful experiments with positioning, I located bullseye fairleads with stainless steel liners so that the genoa sheet feeds consistently onto the bottom of the winch. The fairleads keep the loose tail of the sheet captive when the winch is used to tension the lines coming from the sheet stoppers.


All running rigging uses Sta Set polyester yacht braid line. My color code, used when ever possible, was blue for headsail lines, white and red for mainsail lines and green for the spinnaker lines. For halyards, I allowed 1' for a splice, 4' for winch wrap, 1' for stopper knot, and 2' extra. The list below gives the lines, color, size and length for most of the lines.

We fiddled all different kinds of shock cords and lines to try to mind the tiller for a few moments without any consistent success. Finally we discovered the Tillerstay and purchased one. This is an ingenious design that allows adding smooth friction to the tiller. It works as advertised. On our last trip to the San Juans, we left the lines connected almost all the time. It isn't an autopilot but then no batteries are required.


Sails and Sail Handling

The Sails: Main, Jib, Chutes, and Staysail

I bought the main and jib from Cruise Direct, the North Sails mail order loft. The sails are just fine, with all the features I wanted for a very reasonable price. The rigger helped me measure the rig for the sails when he installed the standing rigging. Each sail needed some rework but the local North loft took care of all the problems, some under warrantee and some I paid for.

The main has a full batten on top and is loose footed. The main has two sets of reef points. The sail is pretty basic, without a headboard for example. The top batten supplied was too stiff so I replaced it with a more flexible West Marine batten. The loft added adhesive spreader patches at my cost after a few marks on the sails indicated where to position the patches.

The headsail is a 130% lapper designed for roller furling. The clew is cut a little higher than normal. The sail seems to set well and works when partly roller reefed. Unfortuately, the loft cut the luff tape too short and the end of the sail pulled out of the furler feeder. It was very difficult to feed the tape back into the feeder to take the sail down. After trying every quick fix, the loft agreed to replace the luff tape. Now, the end of the luff tape stays in the furler feeder and works like a charm. If you order a sail for the Snapfurl, make sure the luff tape extends to within about 8 inches of the tack.

Here are two pictures that Judy B. took at the SCA Cruiser Challenge II. The pictures give an idea of what the sails look like.


The asymmetrical spinnaker was purchased from UK Sails. It is very nicely made. I was able to choose the colors in the triradial "Flasher" pattern. The head angle of the chute is fairly narrow so the sail can be flown somewhat to weather like a large drifter all the way to a broad reach. UK claims the sail will work up to 55 degrees off the wind in up to 12 K apparent. The main largely blankets the chute when sailing dead down wind. My original thought was that with the swept back spreaders, that I wouldn't be going dead down wind very much so the asymmetrical chute made sense. We are still learning all the ways to fly this chute. The problem with learning how to fly a spinnaker is that you have to beat to weather for hours to have minutes of downwind running. We had one 30 mile long, broad reach on a trip home from Santa Cruz Island.

A friend gave me an antique Cal 20 crosscut spinnaker probably dating to the 1960's. The chute probably weights twice as much as the new chute and fits in a tiny turtle bag. The chute is fun to fly. My rigging was designed to accommodate either asymmetrical or conventional spinnakers.

Ever wonder what the difference was between an asymmetrical and conventional chute? I laid one on top of the other to answer that question.


The not very good composite picture shows running dead down wind with the asymmetrical chute boomed out on a long whisker pole. This combination works well, particularly in light air.

I made a heavy weight storm staysail to fly inside the rolled genoa. The small staysail is hoisted on the pole topping lift and attached to the pad eye about four feet in front of the mast. In higher wind conditions, we plan to tie in a third reef on the main, roll the genoa up tight, and hoist the small staysail.

We tried out the staysail with the double reefed mainsail at Monterey. I designed the sail to sheet inside the lower shrouds to the existing genoa cars. The cars are large enough that I can lead the staysail sheets without removing the genoa sheets. The boat turned out to be very well balanced with this sail combination both going to weather and running downwind.


To round out the inventory, I added this tiny sail. No, it's not a hurricane trisail! I experimented with a blue tarp to see if a small riding sail aft would reduce the sailing at anchor. This is the result. How about that sandy Bahamian beach in the background?

Riding sails are cut flat with lots of luff curve to keep the edges from flapping. Some of the sails use battens to keep the sails flat. I imagine that with lots of wind, the sail flapping back and forth might cause lack of sleep.

I did an experiment last fall to check out the size and effect of a small riding sail. I simulated a sail with a folded tarp. Without the sail, the boat was sailing back and forth about 20-25 degrees each way in about 10-12 K on the bow, single anchor. With my riding sail, the angle was reduced about 10 degrees, definitely worth adding the accessory sail. Besides adding comfort and restricting swinging room, the sail will reduce the strain and chafe on the anchor line.

For my sail for a 20 foot boat, I started with 41 inches along the backstay edge and 31 inches on each of the other sides. I used stainless steel sail snaps to clip the sail to the backstay. A 4-5 foot pendant connects the sail to a cleat on the rail. I used some heavy dacron sail cloth left over from my storm staysail. I'll use No 2 grommets in the corners reinforced with stitching like sewn in rings. If I were making the riding sail again, I think I would make it larger.

For a cruising boat, this is an adequate sail inventory. We have toughed it out in winds from 2 to 22 knots and maybe a little more at times. We like to put the first reef in the main a little early at about 10 knots. We have sailed with the second reef and the genoa rolled about half way more than once. The boat handles very well and feels secure in the higher wind conditions, especially considering her size. Eventually, I plan to add a third reef to the main. 

Sail Handling

Normal Sailing: With the rigging previously described, the usual sail shape controls are all available. With the fractional sail plan, the main sail provides the majority of the drive. I have a very smooth Harken traveller with 4 part main sheet. The traveller control line is double ended and cleats on the car. The boom vang comes in to play when the traveller is fully extended. The outhaul on the boom controls the shape of the lower part of the main sail. I do not have a cunningham, I use the main halyard to tension the luff. I use the backstay adjustment to bend the mast which flattens the main.

Flying the Spinnakers: I have both an asymmetrical and symmetrical spinnaker. The asymmetrical is new and is a star cut with a relatively narrow head angle. It works well from a broad reach at about 150 degrees to close reach in light air. I use the pole downhaul as a tack line for the asymmetrical. I attach the tack line block either to the anchor roller or the end of the spinnaker pole. I mounted a spinnaker track from near the bottom of the mast to the usual height. The symmetrical chute is an ancient Cal 20 chute that looks like it could be flown in 20 knots. It works well from down wind to a beam reach. We launch and retrieve the chutes from the cockpit while on a starboard tack. With the swept back spreaders, I don't plan to sail DDW very often. I added spreader patches on the main to reduce chafe.

Reefing: The working sail area on the Vagabond has proven to be adequate in light to medium winds but this means that we need to reef a little early. We tend to put the first reef in the main at about 10 K. Next, we roll a small reef in the lapper. The 130% lapper is mounted on the Schaefer Snap Furl roller reefing/furling system. We have only one headsail. I can easily reef the genoa from the cockpit. The main is set up with two reefs. To reef, I drop the main halyard to a mark. My crew slacks off the main sheet as I go forward. I hook the tack ring over the reef hook at the gooseneck. Next I take the slack out of the slab reef line and fasten it in a horn cleat on the side of the boom. I can raise the halyard at the mast and cleat it in a cam cleat near the base of the mast. When I return to the cockpit, I use the starboard winch to tension the main halyard. The reef system works like a charm for our two person crew.

We added a tiny staysail to use when the wind dictates that the genoa should be fully furled. Under these conditions, I think I might like to have a third deep reef in the main. But mostly, I hope I am not out there under those wind conditions.


This picture shows my temporary halyard stopper cleat on the starboard side of the mast. I use this cleat to temporarily secure either the spinnaker halyard when I raise the spinnaker while standing at the mast or the main halyard during reefing. When I return to the cockpit to tension the halyard with the winch, the line just pulls out of the cleat as soon a little tension is applied.

The Outboard Motor

I purchased a Nissan 5 HP long shaft four stroke outboard. The motor is mounted on the skirt motor mount and so far has stayed on the transom under all conditions. I do remove the motor from the boat for trailering.

Last year, I replaced the #8 standard propeller with the #7 which seems to better match the slow speed operation of the displacement sailboat hull. We seem to be achieving between 20 to 40 nm./gallons from the motor. I have a 6.5 and 3.5 gallon fuel tanks so the range under power may approach 350 nautical miles...not bad and probably useful on a cruise in Mexico or the Channel Islands. Best of all, at the end of the trip, I can siphon any remaining fuel into the van to save trailer weight for the return home.

I added the generator coil and rectifier kit which generates up to 40 watts of 12 volt DC power. I plug the generator output directly to the battery. I don't really have a way of telling how much the generator is putting out but after a week long cruise, the battery has come home fully charged.

Here's a picture that Doc took of Just Right under full throttle on the first Mead Madness trip.


I reluctantly added a 2 HP air cooled Honda outboard to use on the inflatable. Our thinking was that for longer treks, the outboard might be useful. I prefer to row but we discovered that the tiny inflatable is so small that the passenger has no place to sit when the dinghy is rowed.

Anchors and Anchoring

I started with two anchors on board but lost one anchor to fouling in the San Juans. Now I have three anchors on board that are perhaps like Golilocks: too small, too big, and just right. I have a small Danforth 5# S300 with 9 feet of 3/16 chain and 100 feet of 3/8 nylon line. The second anchor is a Bruce type knockoff called a Claw, 5 KG with 20 feet of 1/4 chain and 200 feet of 3/8 nylon line. The third anchor is a Norhill 13# with 16 feet of chain and 185 feet of 1/2 nylon .

Each anchor is stored in a bag in the one of two anchor compartments foreword. The compartments are low in the boat which keeps the center of gravity low.

When it is time to anchor, I move the anchor bag to the cockpit. I straighten out the anchor rode and get ready to drop the hook. We start upwind over the spot we want the bow anchor. I drop the anchor as we motor slowly downwind and make sure it is set, then I let out addition line. If we plan to set a stern anchor, I let out all the bow anchor line. I drop the stern anchor and then move the bow anchor line up to the bow and pull up to the desired scope. Usually, the stern anchor sets as I pull up on the bow anchor line. Sometimes we row the stern anchor out with the dinghy.

When raising the anchor, I pull in the line and coil on deck. When the boat is over the anchor, I lead the line through the anchor roller and break out the anchor.


I sewed a very nice setting canvas awning for the boat but it takes too much effort to set up. I wanted something quick and functional. I hit upon a 5x7 foot premium tarp from Home Depot. The color isn't bad and the quality is good. I fabricated a single bow from a piece of PVC pipe. Which fits into pockets sewn about mid way down the long side. The pipe came with an extruded coupling so it breaks down into two short easy to stow pieces. The awning is waterproof so it keeps rain from coming down the open hatch. The sides are just high enough to sit under. We discovered that in the dew prone Pacific Northwest, the awning tends to not only keep the deck dry but seems to keep down the condensation on the inside of the cabin roof.



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