SailNet Community

SailNet Community (
-   Learning to Sail (
-   -   Gaff rigg / throat halyard question (

lbdavis 09-10-2008 10:00 PM

Gaff rigg / throat halyard question
A buddy just got his wooden gaff rigged cutter into the water after many years in his barn. I never thought he'd get it wet...

We were rigging her up to head out and had a hard time getting the gaff high enough on the mast. There was about two feet of mast left between the upper block for the throat halyard and the goose neck of the gaff. We couldn't get it any higher because the halyard was running outside the gooseneck and the higher you try to take the spar, the more it would be pinched by the halyard.

I wish I had a picture.

Let me try to explain it another way: As the gaff approaches the upper block for the throat halyard, the halyard is pulled away from the mast by the gooseneck and makes it very difficult to raise any further.

My question (I have very little gaff rig experience) is, how should this halyard be run? Can it be run inside the gooseneck? Would that be a stupid way of chaffing and breaking the halyard? Can you run the halyard on the "front" of the goose neck, or would this put to much stress on the "retaining line" (sorry I don't know all the gaff terms) that closes the gooseneck? Or is this simply as high as it will go?

Thanks. And by the way, gaff rigs are pretty damn cool.

captbillc 09-10-2008 11:04 PM

on the sheila yeates , a gaff topsail ketch i sailed on (50 ft on deck) the halyard went through a block on the gaff close to the throat & back up to the top of the mainmast which was about 5 ft above when the throat was all . the way up. when the peak was raised the gaff was at about a 55 degree angle. .the gaff topsail was sent up on a vertical gaff that extended above the topmast & was sheeted at the outer end of the lower gaff. when you raised the gaff (not the gaff topsail) it had to be horizontal till it was all the way up, then the peak was raised up . if you didn't do it this way it would jam. i hope this helps.

JohnRPollard 09-11-2008 12:32 PM


Captbillc's description sounds about right to me. The key in my experience is that the top of the mast needs to be quite a bit higher than the normal operating location of the throat. If the throat is hoisting all or nearly all the way to the top of the mast, it is tricky to get enough purchase to get it all the way there. Also, if the mast is not tall enough, it will be tricky to get the peak where you want it too.

Here is a photo of a gaff-rigged pocket cruiser. This design has a particularly short luff, with lots of mast above the throat. It is very easy to get the sail up by simultaneously hauling both the throat and peak halyards, keeping the gaff level, until the throat is at max height, then the peak is raised the remainder of the way:

knuterikt 09-11-2008 01:10 PM

My experience with gaff rigs are from larger boats than the previous post.

On these boats the upper throat block are attached to a "galow" so its located in plumb line above the block at the gaff throat when the gaff is set.

The best way to hoist the main sail these boats is to let the throat go up first - so while hoisting the angle between mast an gaff is opposit of when set, when throat is at correct hight just hoist on the peek halyard.
This is called to "let the peek drive the throat". On this kind of rig the peek halyard is fastend above the throat halyard on the mast.

If the throat hallyard goes thrugh a sheave in the mast you must have some distance between the throat and the sheave to avoid jamming.

Even with the setup I described you need some dsitance to get free movement of the gaff.

Two feet of mast above the throat is not much, are you shure it must be hoisted higher?

I found an article in Norwegian describing the gaff rig in detail, Ther are some drawings to look at

lbdavis 09-11-2008 01:57 PM

There was far more than two feet of mast above the throat. The block for the throat halyard was not at the mast head. There are still several feet above this block, IIRC. The luff on his mainsail is significantly longer than the one shown on John's picture. That's a wicked cute boat, BTW.

Perhaps it's just the marconi rig in me that made it so hard to swallow. We were able to make a nice sail shape, but I felt as though the boom could have been higher off the cabin top (12") and I really wanted to reach for those upper winds...

JohnRPollard 09-11-2008 03:27 PM


Originally Posted by lbdavis (Post 366936)
Perhaps it's just the marconi rig in me that made it so hard to swallow. We were able to make a nice sail shape, but I felt as though the boom could have been higher off the cabin top (12") and I really wanted to reach for those upper winds...

I hear you. It takes some getting used to, but they have their merits.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:18 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2016 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) LLC 2000-2012

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome