Rigging of a Friendship Sloop
Submitted by palmer, with thanks to
Mr. Alexander Forbes of the Friendship Sloop Society
Note: If you place your cursor over some of the terms that are highlighted like this - gaff, a small window will appear with a brief explanation of that term. For more sailing terms and their definitions, see this site - Sailing and Sailboat Glossary
I am going to submit this article in two parts. The first is my question. The second is the kind response from a member of the Friendship Sloop Society. There is some great information for those of us who are interested in small working boats. palmer
I am in the process of completing a Blue Jacket kit of a Friendship Sloop. The model represents a boat about 22 feet on deck. It is gaff rigged with no topsail. There are two head sails. A club footed staysail and a jib. I had a question regarding the best way to display the running rigging for the two headsails without including the sails themselves. I contacted the Friendship Sloop Society to see if they could help. I received a reply from a Mr. Alexander Forbes, a sloop owner and former master rigger at Mystic Seaport. The information he provided is invaluable to those of us who want to model small sailing vessels.
So it makes some kind of sense, I am including the question I posed to Mr. Forbes first and then his response.
I am trying to complete the running rigging for a model of a 22' sloop without a topmast. I want to show the running rigging without including the sails. I am trying to figure out how the sheets, the halyards, and the downhauls for the forestaysail and the jib are handled. I ditched the tacks.
This is how I set the running rigging for the headsails:
• The running end of the downhaul is attached to the strop of the jib peak block.
• The sheet blocks are bundled together with the peak block.
• The running ends of the sheets, the halyard, and the downhaul are run through their tackle to their normal attach points.
• For the forestaysail I just attached the downhaul to the peak block strop and tightened the downhaul so the halyard runs parallel to the forestay.
• The staysail peak block is down about where the foot of the sail would be.
• I took the staysail club and the attached sheet and tackle and lashed them to the deck.
• The hanks for both sails are lashed together on their stays.
It looks logical and like it would work but I have no idea if anyone who actually sails would do it that way.
Mr. Forbes kindly response:
On my sloop, 19' long, I only have one headsail. This is pretty common on the smaller sloops; the William M Rand ("WMR"), a 22' sloop and my old nemesis at the Homecoming Races, has the same arrangement. However, your sloop has two headsails (and, okay, double-headsail sloops look a lot snazzier), so we'll work to that standard.
* Staysail halyard: an eye is worked in the working end, spliced around a thimble, and is in turn shackled to the grommet worked into the head (peak) of the sail. From the head of the sail, the halyard is run up to a single block at the masthead. The masthead block is suspended on a strop that runs up through the eye of the forestay, and around the mast, with the aft section of the strop resting on top of the eye of the forestay; the block, on its strop, dangles between the legs of the forestay eye splice. From the masthead, the halyard runs down to the deck. There, each sloop is different in how the halyard is made fast. My sloop has turning blocks to send the halyard back to the cockpit, where it is made fast to a cleat on top of the cuddy. I think WMR has horn cleats screwed to the base of her mast. Some sloops have a spider band with pins, some sloops have sway-cleats, some sloops have a combination main boom gooseneck and spider band, some sloops have a wood collar with belaying pins, some sloops even have a fife rail.
One difference between most small (under 24') sloops and yours, and my sloop is typical here: I do not have a halyard block attached to the sail itself; the sail is small enough that I don't need the extra purchase. If I were to get technical, the extra weight and windage of the block aloft adversely affects performance --and, more practically, it's another block I'd have to buy and maintain. That extra block would also mean that I'd need to design room for it at the top of the staysail into the sail plan --and I'd lose a bit of sail area.
* Staysail downhaul: this is small line, tied with a bowline to the same grommet in the head of the sail as the halyard is shackled to. From the grommet, it is run down the starboard side of the luff to the turnbuckle at the base of the forestay. At the turnbuckle, it is rove through the lower turnbuckle fork (from starboard to port), and led aft from there. Other sloops, to turn the downhaul aft, have a small block for the downhaul at the base of the forestay turnbuckle, shackled to the eye where the forestay is made fast.
On my sloop, the downhaul leads from the foot of the forestay aft to the port shroud, (in the photo, you can see the bright white of the line leading out to the end of the bowsprit) through the shroud's turnbuckle link, and back inboard and up to a cleat on the cuddy roof, where I can reach it from the cockpit (in the photo, that's the coil draped over the port side of the cuddy) --but this is not typical. All the other sloops I have seen and sailed, the downhaul leads aft from the base of the forestay, usually to a small cleat on the side of the inboard end of the bowsprit (typically the port side). *Or*, less often, the downhaul is led aft to the bitts that secure the heel of the bowsprit, where it is permanently tied off with a bowline. In the latter arrangement, the downhaul is adjusted so that when the sail is up, and the bowline is tied off, there is no (or very little) slack in the downhaul. This way, there is no need for a cleat to adjust the tension. When the sail needs to come down, whoever is responsible for the task just casts off the halyard, and leaving the downhaul's bitter end made fast to the bitts, pulls the sail down, and makes the downhaul fast to the bitts. The bowline is never untied. The two advantages to this is that you don't need to build, install, or maintain a cleat for the downhaul; and you haven't the slightest chance of loosing the end of the downhaul overboard in the hustle of getting sail down or up.
* Jib: on the sloops with two headsails, the jib halyard and downhauls have been rove exactly as have been those for the forestaysail. I can't recall having seen one with a block on the head of the jib itself if it hasn't had one on the forestaysail too. The sail areas are equal enough that if there isn't enough mass there to warrant the extra expense and fussiness of more rope and another block on the one, there isn't on the other, either. Where there have been two headsails, the staysail downhaul has been led to port (either a cleat on the port side of the bowsprit or the port-side upright of the bitts) and the jib downhaul to starboard.
If, on your model, you want to demonstrate a jib with the extra halyard tackle, with a block on the head of the sail, your arrangement of making the downhaul fast to the strop of the block sounds like an excellent way of rigging it. On the larger sloops, where they *do* have a block shackled to the head of the sail, I have usually seen the downhaul just made fast with a bowline to the grommet in the head of the sail. Yours is actually a neater way of doing it, even though it really only works with rope-stropped blocks.
* When I have had the sails off my sloop, and have left her rigged (as, if I understand correctly, you are displaying your model), I have tied the running end of the downhaul through the thimble at the running end of the jib halyard and drawn them taut against each other so that the knot sits maybe a foot above the forestay turnbuckle --just *exactly* as it sounds like you have done for your forestaysail.
* Staysail sheets: My sloop's one headsail is club-footed and self-tending. The standing end of the sheet is made into a spliced eye. This eye is then girth-hitched to a strap-eye screwed to the port side of the foredeck. The sheet then leads up to a single block shackled to a strap-eye on the underside of the club (though I intend to change this, removing the strap-eye and attaching the block with a strop). The sheet then leads down to a block shackled to a second strap-eye on the starboard side of the foredeck (the mirror twin of the first deck strap-eye). The sheet then leads aft to a cleat on the starboard washboard, beside the cockpit, close at hand to be tended by whoever is at the helm. This is a very typical arrangement for a self-tending jib or forestaysail; every small- to medium-sized sloop I've been aboard with a self-tending headsail uses this arrangement, and they all have the sheet led down the starboard side. The sloops 28' and up often add a part to this tackle, though, since the staysail is by then growing big enough to demand a little extra oomph. This can be done any number of ways; let me know if you would like me to go into the options.
* One piece of rigging you have omitted that almost all sloops have is a topping lift for the staysail club. This is almost never a running lift, but is adjusted once, when it is put on, and then ignored. Typically, this is a piece of small line with an eye splice in one end. The eye splice is girth-hitched around a convenient point or fitting somewhere up by the halyards (pad eye for mainsail lazy jacks, staysail halyard strop, shroud eye, etc.), then led down to the aft end of the staysail boom, where it is rove through a hole drilled athwartships through the end of the boom (typically the same hole where the staysail's clew outhaul is rove and hauled taut). Once rove through the hole, the line is then adjusted so that it holds the boom off the deck, with the aft end of the boom not quite as high as it would be when the sail was set. The idea is that this lift will hold everything up off the deck when the sail isn't set, but once you set the sail, the sail brings the boom up a little bit farther... and thus slacks off the lift for you, without your having to do a thing.
I can't say that every sloop has one of these, but every one that I've seen does. From an aesthetic standpoint, it also keeps the staysail boom at a nice jaunty angle when you're in port. I tend to peak my staysail boom up a hair higher than the jaws of the main gaff when the mainsail is stowed, making the lines of stowed mainsail and the line of stowed staysail about parallel --but that setting is very much a personal preference. A few sloops try and make a single line of staysail boom and main boom, some a single line of staysail boom and main gaff...
* Jib sheets: I don't have a double-headsail rig, or even a loose-footed headsail, so I'm going by what I recall of WMR, and a photo I have of her in a book. She's 22', like your model, but only has a single, loose-footed headsail. Her jib is small enough that she does not have any purchase on her jib sheets; her sheets are led straight back from the clew to a turning block --this is a single block attached, with a short rope strop, to a pad-eye on the washboard-- and thence back to a cleat on the side of the cockpit coaming. Again, on a small sloop, there isn't much point to the extra line and hardware of a sheet rove for purchase. Even on Morning Star, a 28' sloop I used to sail, the jib sheets were led straight from clew to cleat --but she had a big jib and it was a hell of a grunt to get her sheeted home! Her sheets led down to a simple strap-eye fairlead on the side deck, then aft to a cleat on the washboard beside the helm. This was apparently a pretty traditional way to rig the sheets: it eliminated a lot of (expensive) hardware, and the reasoning was that if there was too much wind to allow you to wrestle in that jib, there was too much wind to have it set.
That being said, most sloops over 24' have their jibs rigged with purchase. I sure noticed, a few years after I had been sailing her, that the next owners of Morning Star retrofitted purchase on that cussed jib. I don't think I've ever been as strong as the era when I was sailing Morning Star. One hell of a sloop, though...
If, however, despite having a 22' sloop, you want to demonstrate jib sheets rigged with purchase, I've seen it done a couple of ways.
You say you've got the jib sheet blocks "bundled together with the halyard block.” By "bundled together" do you mean that all three blocks are right there touching? The sheet blocks stropped right to the clew of the jib? If so, that's one way I've *heard* of them being rigged, but not a common way. Usually the sheet blocks are on longish pendants: Splice a single block into each end of a piece of line, then girth hitch the middle of that line to the clew of the sail. This puts the sheet blocks at the ends of long-ish pendants. The point of those pendants is so that the blocks don't have to drag across the forestay every time the jib is tacked; each block stays on its own side, thereby not beating up the forestay and forestaysail every tack. The sheets are then anchored at a deck pad eye, led up and forward to the sheet blocks (on pendants), led back aft to the deck block at the pad eye, and aft to cleats screwed to either washboards or coamings. The pendants are made just long enough so that the blocks stay on their own side of the forestaysail regardless of how far the jib is let out when running before the wind --but here's the kicker: they at the same time have to be short enough so that when the jib is sheeted in tight, sailing close hauled, they don't two-block against the deck block and keep you from sheeting the jib in as far as it needs to go. Anywhere within that range of functionality --short enough not to two-block early/long enough to stay on their own side of the forestay-- is legitimate and up to personal preference.
* How to present the sheets without any sails? If it was my sloop, and had to pull the sails off and leave her rigged, my first choice would be to pull the sheets entirely, coil them, and stow them below.
If I were to leave the sheets on deck, I might un-reeve the sheets from the blocks but leave them attached to the deck pad eyes, coil them, and hang them in the shrouds; the blocks on their pendants would stay with the sail or stow below. Hypothetically, if I wanted to show off my snazzy sheet blocks on their pendants, I might pull the sheet blocks (on their pendant) off the jib, then hitch the pendant to the strop of the halyard block as if I were hitching the pendant to the clew of the jib. I'd then tie the running end of the downhaul to the halyard block strop and haul that whole event up a ways. I try to get it so that when the halyard and the downhaul were hauled taut against each other (just as you've done with the forestaysail), and the jib sheets were snugged down a bit, the sheet blocks, on their pendants, would drape nicely aft --and wouldn't hit the deck and ding things up. Look at a modern sailboat with a furled roller-furling jib and note the drape of her jib sheets above her foredeck. I'd try to mimic that with the jib sheet block pendants, leaving the blocks suspended just above the deck.
* As for your omission of the tacks --I haven't ever seen a sloop that has running tacks. For that matter, I haven't ever seen a sloop where the tack isn't just tied down with a piece of small line, usually within a couple inches of the cranse iron. A long tack line is one thing on a jib topsail, when the sloop has a topmast, but they just don't happen on forestaysail or jibs.
* Regarding jib hanks: you must be building a pretty early sloop if the hanks aren't sewn to the sails --and I'm impressed at the research you've already done. If you've got a sloop that old, you've done it exactly right to leave the hanks loose on the stays, ready for the sails to come up and be seized to the hanks.
So I guess, looking at what you've written, I can only find a couple of things about your model that would raise my eyebrows if I were to see her in a museum.
1) She's awfully small for double headsails --but okay, so she's rigged with double headsails. She looks right smart, and I'm probably just suffering from jib-envy.
2) She's got more purchase on her headsail halyards than she really needs. This might make me a bit grouchy --it's extraneous rigging-- but in the sake of keeping with her double headsails, I'll accept it.
3) I don't think I would put a boat to bed and leave her jib sheets rigged, but for the sake of displaying the rigging, I could see why the model had been rigged that way.
4) If the jib sheet blocks aren't on long pendants, I'd be wondering what the rigger was thinking. The pendants are very typical to Friendships, as well as to most other craft of that era --and traditional-rigged boats of this era. Beyond that, they're practical.
5) Where's the staysail boom topping lift? Why is the staysail boom just lying there on the foredeck? Of all the elements that you described, that is the one I know for certain would raise my eyebrows.
Other than that, nothing rings any alarms. I'd love to see a photo of her, if you can send one.
I hope you find something useful in all this blither,