Sailing Rig

Ric Altfather

WCHA #4035
I'm throwing out the bait for Todd Bradshaw but would appreciate any advice from others. So far, I have been a non-sailor but currently in the process of outfitting the Old Town with a rig.
I recall a product from 20+ years ago called "The Outboard Sail Rig" that was a single unit which included the sail, tiller, rudder and mast. It was designed to mount onto the transom of a dinghy, rowboat or square stern canoe and except for the tiller, everything was outboard of the wales and transom. This would be great if you are out fishing but what about the dynamics of sailing...what happens when the sail is mounted outboard?
I guess if the product was any good, there would be alot of them out there...instead, there are probably a lot of small craft out there with torn out transom's....

Just curious,

Ric Altfather


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"The Outboard Sail Rig" doesn't look like a very efficient way to add a sail. The first attached image below shows another variation on this theme from an early 1980s White catalog. The second image shows a catamaran made from two canoes that was on the back of the 1967 Old Town catalog. Have fun,



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instant sailboat

it was also published in Mother Earth News Nov / Dec 1985 page 44
i would send a picture but its copyrighted
As nice as it might seem to just stick a sailing rig anywhere that's convenient and easy, it tends to ignore the fact that the hull is a pretty important part of any sail rig and how well the boat sails is directly linked to the positions and relationship between the hull and the rig. Excuse me if I'm not willing to trust the word of Popular Mechanics, The Boston Globe or Sports Illustrated, but there is no way that rowboat is going to sail worth a hoot with the rig mounted like an outboard motor. These things just don't work that way. The outrigger/ama-mounted White rig would work somewhat better, but still isn't the best all-round answer and sail-generated down-force is liable to bury the ama in much of a wind.

There is a self-contained, drop-in sailing system available though, that really will work. John Hupfield's company "Lost in the Woods Boatworks" builds it and the combination mast step, leeboard bracket is called a "Rigging Deck". You can read about it and see a drawing here:

You'll still need something to steer with (paddle or stern-mounted rudder) but this system will put the rig where it can actually do the job.

The traditional system using a seperate leeboard bracket which clamps to the gunwales and a modified thwart or seat with a mast hole in it, combined with a step attached to floor really doesn't generally require huge or particularly obnoxious modifications to the hull, so it's always a possibility. Once in a while, a boat comes along that is hard to convert neatly. The general rule is to try to do as little drilling, screwing, adding to or moving parts of the existing structure as possible to get the rig mounted on the hull and to maintain as much open interior space as you can. A canoe is already small enough inside without adding even more cross-bars to climb over. I'm finishing up a pair of sails for Rob Thumb's English 20 at the moment and it's been very challenging to get a rig in it that puts the sails where they need to be yet uses the existing thwart/mast socket positions. It took a computer drawing that was ten layers thick to finally come up with a sailplan that fit the boat, looked good and didn't obstruct any more of the interior by needing extra thwarts. Usually the process isn't particularly difficult, but occasionally certain hull/structure configurations can be, and may take a bit of creative design work to solve. Something like the drop-in rigging deck can often make such a job easier. Unfortunately, sticking it on the back of the boat, as nice as it looks in their drawing, isn't the answer.