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post #1 of 3 Old 02-27-2016 Thread Starter
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Question Hello, and looking for some information

Hello folks,

My wife and I are looking to get into sailing as we recently purchased a house on a creek off of the Chesapeake Bay. My wife sailed while in college and I have always been interested in sailing as well but possess essentially no experience. We plan to take it pretty slow and go do a few lessons and likely do some kind of sailboat share for a bit.

What I need help with is figuring out how I could at some point in the future have a sailboat at my house. I have a pier already and there is at low tide about 3 to 4 feet of water under it. But the real challenge is a fixed span bridge down the creek from me that has a 14' clearance. There are many sailboats after the bridge in marinas and at the end of private docks, but up stream from the bridge where my house is located there are no sailboats. So the question becomes 2 parts. The first, are there any production sailboats that have a mast that can fit under this bridge? The second part, assuming I decide to make my own boat (I am hobby woodworker with a full shop so this is not out of the question) what is the biggest boat I could make and still fit under this bridge?

My research so far has come up with 2 options but I am not sure if there are better alternatives. The first is just build a very small boat with a mast under 14'. The second is build a boat with a gunter rig that could be lowered below the 14" span. Knowing very little about this right now I am unsure if existing production boats could be altered with a gunter rig or some other clever trick to get me under the bridge. I would need to get past this bridge every time I take the boat out and I would need to do it while moving down creek.

Thank you for any suggestions!


Last edited by minorhero; 02-27-2016 at 09:15 PM.
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post #2 of 3 Old 02-27-2016
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Re: Hello, and looking for some information

It would need to be a folding mast, on small Boats its do-able. There are lots of them in Europe. Do a GOOGLE search they know everything. Refitting a small Boat with a folding mast would be a good option too.
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post #3 of 3 Old 02-27-2016
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Re: Hello, and looking for some information

What you need to think about is a 'tabernacle mast' setup.. still somewhat limited by boat size, but it's a way to, theoretically, at least, allow easy dropping of the mast for low clearance situations. As you might imagine this is rather common in the European canal system. Some images:


However it can be impractical or difficult depending on boat size, arrangement, and rigging used to accomplish this. Small boats are of course more manageable because the rigs are smaller, lighter, and have less leverage as they are dropping.

It's probably equally impractical to build a boat with a 14 foot mast.. even a 10 foot dinghy could easily have a mast taller than that. Gunter rigs might be doable, but again it depends on what level you want to get into sailing. Daysailing or eventual weekending and cruising?

The other issue that can arise is that, with your boat tied nicely in your back yard and the rig down, it's not a 'slip the lines and go sailing' situation and I think that would discourage usage to some degree. Are there sail-able waters your side of the bridge? That would be better if you didn't have to fiddle with the rig EVERY time you go sailing.

Having a boat in your own backyard is a pretty incredible situation to be in.. those of us paying moorage year after year get very envious. Good luck with how you decide to go..
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