Make your own free website on

HOME - Dream Catcher Model Sailboat  Kits Ready For Christmas!

simprigalter6.jpg (12968 bytes)

Simplicity Sail rig tape, no stitching, no glue!

Mini-Sharpie lug rig

simprigbeached.jpg (14439 bytes)

This sail making approach was inspired by the impressive way my experimental crab claw rig has held up. This is partly instructions on how to make a sail for the Mini-Sharpie, and also a report on an approach to sail making. At first I did this to refine a sail design before I made one of "the good stuff" (White heavy duty Poly from Dave's sail making site) but it might be a viable way to make small sails in any case. Time will tell.

crabclawclipsage.jpg (99743 bytes) The original crab claw sail has been left rigged and under tension in the Florida summer sun for over 3 months. The polytarp is breaking down, but the clips are still in great shape and have held the tension to the spars extremely well. crabclipcloseup.jpg (115797 bytes)

I decided to use this same clip approach to make a more traditional sail, but with very un-traditional materials and fasteners. I figure the easier it is to alter the size and shape of a sail the more apt I would be to keep experimenting until I arrive at the best arrangement. 

Here are build notes for a standing lug sail that can be assembled in two or three hours, including the mast and spars - if you work fast. (A balanced lug can be made by using the sprit as a boom, and attaching it  to the foot of the sail with clips too.)

One fairly clear spruce 2x4 can yield spars (see spar making below) , an 8x10 poly tarp the sail cloth, a short length of appropriately sized PVC pipe for the clip fasteners.

pipeclipsize1.gif (7257 bytes) Here are some samples of how different sized sticks fit into 1" PVC clips.
minsharprigmeas.gif (5772 bytes) Here are the dimensions for the latest rig I'm using on my Mini-Sharpie.

The mast is 8 ft long and made from a 2x4.

The yard is also 8 ft. long in my case a plant stake, but a wooden spar may be more available. 

The sprit is 3/4"x1" by 83" long with a 1/4" wide 3" slot in each end.

simprigsparslice.jpg (23520 bytes) .

I sliced some PVC  pipe into 3/8" pieces then cut about 1/4 of their perimeter out of their edge to make them into little "C" clips you see here. I spaced them about every 4 to 6 inches. 

PVC pipe can be cut with a hack saw. (A band saw works well too.)

Here you can see the plant stake I used for the yard. It has some kind of mystery metal core coated with plastic with textured bumps almost like rebar. Thought it might help the clips grip. I used it at its full 8 ft. length so as not to expose the interior metal. Available at home supply stores and garden centers.

simprigsparbend.jpg (11851 bytes) The foot (lowest edge) and the luff (leading edge) of the sail are factory edges of the polytarp. Though others recomend against this, I've found it works if you beef up the corner grommet somehow. In this case I put some hot melt inside the plastic corner reinforcer. So only the head (upper edge where spar goes) and the leach (trailing edge) need be cut to your pattern length.

.The upper spar, or yard, is placed in position on the poly tarp. Two nails brace the ends while a middle nail forces it into a curve. When this spring is released some camber will be forced into the sail.

simprigsailclip.jpg (11742 bytes) .I wrap and clip the polytarp around the spar. I also used some small nylon cable ties to secure the ends.
simprigleachcurve.jpg (12097 bytes) .The inward curve of the leach is drawn with a batten. I marked where I might later apply 1 1/2" fiber reinforced carpet tape, but for now I'll see how the tarp holds up. Polytarp is not prone to raveling, but whether it will be strong enough without reinforment, time will tell.
simprigtoggle.jpg (14668 bytes) Now for some rigging details....

This is a wooden toggle method of attaching lines - like the halyard and the main sheet - to the yard and the sprit boom. Instead of getting out a needle and sail twine and palm and doing fancy "seizing"  of the line to a 3/8" dowel, I'm using small nylon cable ties.

simprigtogglerig.jpg (16441 bytes) Here it is rigged for use. A loop of 1/8" polyester line (could be nylon but it stretches more)  is attached around the yard through a hole. This hole can be either melted with a soldering iron or the tip of a hot melt glue gun, or simply made with an awl or a nail.
simprigmaintoggle.jpg (22196 bytes) Here's the same arrangement where the main sheet connects to the sprit boom.
simprigspritclose.jpg (16751 bytes) Here are some close ups of the sprit rigging at the mast

 The line (called the "snotter") that attaches it to the mast - starts with an overhand loop in the end, which will function as a block or pulley. A constrictor hitch is tied around the mast - the long part goes through the slot in the end of the sprit then back  through the loop and down to a mast cleat.

(Click knot name link to see an animation of the knot.)

This masterly animated constrictor hitch was fiendishly borrowed from Craig O'Donnell's Cheap Pages.... which contains more fascinating boat info and esoterica than one could absorb in a lifetime! Go Browse his site....

simprigsnotterclose.jpg (21376 bytes) Rather than just cleat it off, I run it through the hollow at the base of a cleat and then back up where I tie a taut line hitch  around the standing part. This way you don't need an extra cleat, and sliding the taught line hitch up and down controls the sprit tension. Looser for light air and tighter for stronger air.

(Click knot link  to see an animation of the knot.)


simprigyardclose.jpg (8573 bytes) .Here's the yard hoisted. (I trimmed that cable tie later.)
simprigfirstsail2.jpg (11108 bytes)  

Here's a shot under sail. You see how my 180 lbs is close to her limits as a sailing craft. Though my 40 lb dog swam out to me and I yanked her aboard in front of the mast and I think she helped a bit with trim....;-)

simprigfirstsail.jpg (9914 bytes) The sail functioned very well, but I decided that it was a little difficult to see well under it, and that it might be a little more sail area than younger kids might easily  handle in any kind of breeze...

So I decided to go back to the "loft floor" and make her a bit smaller.

.Now to test this quick and easy sail making approach on this alteration.
simprigalter1.jpg (19870 bytes) How long will it take to reduce the sail area? Every step of making the first sail will be repeated, except I wont be cutting the curved leach.
simprigalter2.jpg (24066 bytes) First I clipped off the cable ties and removed the clips. Then I tacked down the sail corners and set the yard in the new position.
simprigalter3.jpg (23815 bytes) .Again with three nails I sprung a bow in the yard and trimmed the sail material 4.5" outside the spar edge.
simprigalter4.jpg (210305 bytes) .I folded the tarp double, wrapped it around the spar and replaced the clips. Even though it's a new step and will add time to the project, I decided to insert small pieces of that quilted rubbery no slip material available almost everywhere these days - just to increase the friction at the clips between the sail and the spar. 

(I first saw this rubber stuff sold for motor homes to keep objects from sliding. Then for under carpets, now I even see it in rolls in the local Dollar Store.)


simprigalter5.jpg (143942 bytes) I removed the nails and attach the cable ties to the ends.
simprigbeached.jpg (14439 bytes)
These are before and after photos.
simprigalter6.jpg (12968 bytes)
According to my watch, 35 minutes later, the sail is back on the boat. 

Once you have your spars and clips, and using your old sail as a pattern, I bet a new replacement sail could be made in less than an hour. (Always keep a spare poly tarp and few cable ties!)

simprigmastrip.jpg (15528 bytes) Spar Making....

.First I  ripped the 2x4 to 2 5/8" - in my case determined by what a piece of 3" PVC pipe will fit over.

simprigtaper.jpg (13418 bytes) My plans were to take the 7/8" strip left over and rip it down the middle, giving me two strips 7/8"x11/16" - one to be the spar, and one the sprit boom. Turned out the trim off my 2x4 was too flawed to use, so I used a 1x2 ripped to 1" wide (3/4"x1") for the sprit, and an 8 ft plant stake I got at a home supply store for the yard. 

Starting a few inches above the mast partner, the mast is tapered to 1.5" square at the tip.

simprigmastround.jpg (20292 bytes)  It's edges can be rounded with a 3/8" quarter round router bit, or by a rasp and sanding. I didn't round where the 3" PVC collar will be.
simprigmastsheave.jpg (22395 bytes)  I drilled a 1/2" hole in the mast head and rounded it with the same 3/8" router bit to create a sheave (sort of a non moving pulley) for the halyard.
simprigPVCcolar.jpg (8358 bytes) I cut a slice of 3" PVC to be used for the pivoting collar.

The mast step has a hole cut in it with a hole saw. The disk left over from the cut is screwed and glued to the base of the mast, so it can pivot as well.


Back to Methods and Materials

Simplicity Boats Home Page



HOME - Dream Catcher Model Sailboat  Kits Ready For Christmas!