where to mount the mast in sailing canoe.


Curious about Wooden Canoes
I have seen MANY pictures of sailing canoes, and am confused as to where the mast step is mounted, whether in the bow or stern.

I am converting a modern Royalex Charles River, and have all the original OT hardware to use.

Should the mast step be in the bow seat area, or the stern seat area?

Pictures would be greatly appreciated.

C9G :confused:
It can (or could) be either, because the step's position is determined by the type of sail used and generally it's placed in the best spot to locate the center of effort of the sail pretty close to the middle of the boat.

If you are going with a single sail, it's usually more common to use the bow seat area, with either a hole in the seat frame for the mast to pass through or a thwart, with a hole in it for the mast, positioned right behind the bow seat. The step is then secured to the floor, directly under the seat or thwart's opening.

Turning the boat around and running it backwards with the mast stepped through the stern seat is usually only done on twin-sailed rigs. Unless it happened to be an really large sail, it would position most singles too far forward to be ideal.
mast step location

Thanks Todd. What a straight forward and logical answer!

I have a sprit sail, mast, and boom from an old sailing pram that I have saved. Even tho' it appears that lateen rigs are more common, I am going to use what I have.

You have been a great help.:D
Yep, that's why they pay me the big bucks....(yeah, right). A spritsail is fine. Sounds like you're most likely in the "bow seat area" category. Since spritsails tend to be pretty rectangular, you can just about eyeball the center of effort as being about half-way back and about half-way up the sail. We want that part pretty close to being over the center of the boat, but there is a big fudge-factor available if needed. This means that you can use the existing structure of the seats, thwarts, etc. as much as possible, rather than moving things around a lot just to step the mast and drilling a bunch of new holes. Then stick your leeboards right under the sail's center and start field testing and fine tuning.

On a canoe, fore and aft trim and how it effects the amount of windward/leeward "bite" the canoe's respective ends have on the water is a major factor affecting how the boat handles. Slight changes in the sailor's body position and the boat's trim can make up for a lot of handling problems due to sail and leeboard position, so don't be afraid to try moving about a bit when tacking to find the sweet spot where the canoe responds best.

If you need to find the exact Center of Effort for the sail, there is a PDF which explains the process here:
It's stolen from a book, but it's OK as the author and I are quite close.