The Sea Chest click here to read or make an observation about this  article

by David Nichols - Austin Texas - USA


Yorgos' Gunter

Whenever I publish an article, or book for that matter, I always hope that readers will not only find it interesting but useful. So I was very pleased when I heard from a reader who had used the information he found in an article I wrote on the Sliding Gunter sail for the November 2004 issue of Duckworks.

The reader, Yorgos Papatheodorou, had built, as his first project, an 11 foot 6 inch sailboat from a set of 40 year old plans. After several attempts to modify the original Gaff sail he was still not happy with the resulting Bermudian sail. The mast was too tall, the sail had no way to be reefed and according to Yorgos was “downright dangerous” if the wind kicked up. But after reading the article in Duckworks he “modified some of the existing pieces for a Sliding Gunter.”

The first step was to modify the original Gaff yard into the Gunter yard. In the article I mentioned that it could be as simple “as a square piece of light-weight wood, with or without a taper” and that is the way Yorgos made his yard.

click to enlarge
Figure 1

Figure 1 shows that the square yard was laminated from what appears to be White Pine. Nothing exotic just what you’d find at the any big chain lumber yard like Home Depot or Lowes. In fact everything he used in the entire project including white pine, ½ plywood, rope, and fair leads can be found at the local store.

(click images to enlarge)

He made the jaws of the Gunter yard from ½ plywood and used wooden beads and rope to make the parrels.

click to enlarge

Figure 2 (above)
Figure 3 (right)

click to enlarge

If you compare the jaws on Yorgos’ yard (Figure 2, Figure 3) to the jaws of the Drascome Longboat in the article (Figure 4) you can see he was heavily influenced by the Longboat jaws.

click to enlarge
Figure 4

He could have just as easily used a toggle or roband but the jaws matched up nicely with the square mast as Figure 2 indicates.

Another good match is the top of the yard to the mast and it’s one of the features I like best about the rig Yorgos designed.

click to enlarge
Figure 5

If you look closely at Figure 5 and Detail 5 you can see that the halyard is made fast to the yard with a loop and then fed though the top of the mast. As a result the yard matches up with the mast.

Compare this to the system in the article (Figure 6) where the halyard has a snap clip that attaches to the yard. Even with the halyard hauled tight the yard doesn’t lie next to mast because the clip acts as a spacer.

click to enlarge
Figure 6

click to enlarge
Figure 7

But with the system Yorgos devised, the yard lies right next to the mast (Figure 7).

Even when the sail is reefed the mast and yard match well. Figure 8 show the sail with a reef taken.

click to enlarge
Figure 8

click to enlarge
Figure 9

The toggle shown in Figure 7 and close-up Figure 9 help the yard lie close to the mast as the halyard is eased to take a reef.

It is possible to reef without this toggle but the yard will tend to flail about without the yard secured to the mast in some fashion.

Yorgos had to learn to make an eye splice in order to put together the toggle but he feels that making an eye splice is a good skill to have and I couldn’t agree more. It was marlinspike skills (making the eye splice and other running rigging) along with some careful thought that turned a “downright dangerous” boat into one that is a pleasure to sail.

According to Yorgos (Figure 10) he gets “a lot of questions and compliments on the old-timey rig, which is brilliant in its simplicity and functionality.”

click to enlarge
Figure 10

I think “brilliant in its simplicity and functionality” really sums up not only the Sliding Gunter but all traditional sails as well.