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Old 05-17-2009
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Improving my 9' Sailing Dinghy

I'm a long time power boater... new to sail. Eventually I want to get a 30' sailboat for coastal cruising/weekending at catalina (i'm in southern california).

Anyhow, I just bought an old sailing dinghy. It's 9' long, has a lee-board, and a mainsail. The mast is all the way forward. Unfortunately when I launched, the wind and tide were against me. But I wanted a shakedown of the new boat. Besides finding out one of the oars was rotten (broke it in half on the first stroke) and learning the dangers of a lee shore, I've got a list of improvements I want to make. I was wondering if anybody might have some input on a few areas as I'm new to sailing.

1) The sail slips on the mast (ie there is a pocket for the mast in the sail). I'd like a way to raise and lower the sail. The mast is fiberglass or something similar. Is it just as easy as rigging a line to go through the pocket in the sail and attach at the top, or is it even doable? I know I looked like a lubber the last time I launched, so I'd rather not raise my sail and then have the line cut it like butter or something.

2) Add another hinge in the tiller so I can make it shorter

3) I was kinda thinking bowsprit so I could put a jib on it... but it would probably be too much for the dinghy.

Any thoughts on the best way to achieve #1?

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Old 05-17-2009
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Welcome to the wonderful world of 'blow boating' (aka, sailing).

Your description of the main sail makes me think that it is set up a bit similar to a windsurfer where a pocket in the sail fits over the mast. When you set up a windsurfer you first put the sail on the mast (on the beach) and then attach the mast to the board. There is no need to raise or lower the sail except when setting up or breaking down the rig so there is no halyard (line) for raising the sail. If this is the case with your 9' dinghy then just let the sail luff until you are ready to go.
If the mast is all the way forward then your boat sounds like it may be Cat rigged (eg., 1 big sail, flat bottomed boat). If there is a pulley or block at the top of the mast then you probably can rig up some kind of halyard for raising your main sail. Some cat boats have gaff rigged main sails, does yours?
I think you answered your own question (#3) already.

A photo or two would be quite helpful.
Good luck.
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Old 05-18-2009
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By letting it luff I think I tried that... both just putting slack in the line that secures the end of the sail to the end of the boom (sorry don't have all my sailor lingo down yet) . I tried both letting it go slack, and taking it off completely so the sail was "one sheet to the wind". It was annoying enough that I removed the mast so I could get the sail off completely. I had to remove the boom, then pull the mast and slide the sail off it. It was a pain.

The sail is attached to the mast via a pocket that runs the length of the sail. You slide the mast into the pocket, and then there is a line that secures the sail (and mast) to the hull.

I'm thinking of getting a 2HP Honda outboard for it. Would the outboard work like a rudder? I'd love to be able to practice sailing and then just have the outboard handy for those times when wind & tide are against me, but want to keep the rig as simple as possible since space is limited.
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Old 05-18-2009
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Here's a link to the brochure, mine is a 9', a Lyle Hess designed Montgomery:
http://www.msogphotosite.com/MSOG/pdfpage/mdinkbro.pdf

I loved the Pardey's books--would love to go cruising if I got the opportunity--didn't even realize I was buying a dinghy designed by the same guy who designed their boats!

My mast is not in two pieces, so I guess it's not original.
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Old 05-18-2009
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Ok, thanks for the link to the pdf of the dinghy. Pictures do help.
If the flapping of the luffing sail is such a problem try this:
- put the sail on the mast as per normal
- wrap the sail around the mast and use a bungee cord to hold it in place. This should keep it from flogging and flapping.
- once you want to 'raise' the sail simply unwind the sail from the mast, install the boom and attach the lines for the sheet/out haul.

With any luck you may be able to twist the mast once it is stepped (vertical) so you can roll up and unroll the sail at will.

Having seen a picture of the boat I now understand why you might want to reduce the size of the tiller as there is not much space in the boat to begin with. As ShakeNBake suggested you should then add a tiller extension. This can be as simple as drilling a hole in the tiller and the extension piece and using a nut and bolt with plenty of washers to allow it to slide from side to side while still offering positive control while you sit on the rail as the boat heels (leans over).

As for a small (2 hp) outboard, yes, you can use it a bit as a rudder if you can rotate it. On a boat this size though wouldn't a pair of oars make more sense?
It is a sweet looking boat BTW.
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Last edited by CalebD; 05-18-2009 at 08:25 PM. Reason: more
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