So instead, use the sprit-boomed 'sharpie sail' in
his Fig. 34, above. The sprit can be wood, bamboo or part of a castoff
windsurfer carbon mast (or wishbone). It is usually somewhat longer
than the foot of the sail, but the exact length will depend on the
angle you give it. It should angle down at least a little bit. The
straight foot and boom will keep the foot of the sail down and a single
sheet is realistic with a sprit boom. The mizzen is normally sheeted to
suit the course you are steering, and then the sheet is cleated off.
The mainsheet is held in the hand.
Attach the tack to the mast with a loop of line through a
plastic bullseye located on the front of the mast. Use hoops, rope
loops, or a lacing to attach the sail to the mast.
The snotter controls the sprit and thus the sail
tension. With a sharpie sail we need a snotter. Paddlefast describes
the old style small-boat snotter, which isn't worth fooling with and
won't work well with synthetic rope anyway.
The mizzen is so small its snotter can attach to the boom at
the end, run through a bullseye on the side of the mast a little bit
above the end of the sprit (same side as the sprit), and down to a
cleat on the mast. In fact, the mizzen is so small that you don't
really need a halyard at all - just a snotter. Tie the head of the sail
to a hole at the top of the mast and lace it on.
In this drawing, a and b can be either
small blocks or bullseyes (a.k.a. fairleads). One is on the front of
the mast and the other is attached to the deck for the sheet.
c is a bullseye on the front of the mast to tie the
tack of the sail to.
d represents cleats. Clam cleats work fine but you
can use horn cleats or Butler cleats or something.
The green represents your lines. The lower line runs from
the end of the boom, through the block or fairlead, and up to a cleat
the skipper can reach.
The upper green line runs from a hole in the fore end of the
snotter, into the block or bullseye on the mast, and down whatever
convenient distance to a cleat. The sail is tied to the mast with loops.
The main is a little more complicated. Sharpie spritsails
are difficult to hoist with a halyard because there's something on the
mast which might catch the sail: your snotter and its associated
hardware. In the olden days this wasn't much of an issue, because the
snotter was all rope which would shrink when wet. So you'd haul up the
sail, push up the snotter, tighten, and keep it there by keeping it wet.
But wait! There's a solution. Actually, several.
One is to accept the fact that the sail will only
drop as far as the snotter stuff and bundle it in place on the boom.
With a small sail on a shortish mast, this won't be too obnoxious to
cope with. When removing and stowing the sail, you just work it over
the glob of tackle by hand after removing the boom and snotter rope.
Another is to have a simple, tapered wooden bullseye for
the snotter to pass through on the mast so that lacings or ties or
hoops (if big enough) will slide right over it once the snotter rope is
slack and the front of the boom has been let down to the deck.
Another is to use jaws on the boom, and put the snotter at
the clew end of the sail. This is the Commodore Munroe approach which
he used on his sharpies, and it must have worked because they came in
Finally, there's one I prefer which is one of the more
obscure ways: you attach your snotter tackle to a mast hoop, and hoist
it with the sail... you can see this on some of the large sharpies in
Chapelle's American Small Sailing Craft.
On the right is the mainsail.
Blue dots are blocks.
One block lashed at the top of the mast for the halyard,
though this can also be a simple tapered hole or "dumb sheave".
One block well forward to lead the halyard away from the end
of the sprit boom and then back to a cleat near the skipper. Can be
lashed to the stemhead.
One block at the base of the mast, on the side away from the
sprit boom, which leads the snotter rope back within reach of the
skipper. A jam cleat is best here.
The reddish dot is a bullseye for the tack.
The sheet attaches to the end of the boom as with the mizzen.
Now, the snotter setup. You can use sail ties or hoops or an
upper and lower lacing to attach the sail to the mast, except a X,
it or not, PVC pipe is a good
material for a mast hoop.
The idea is for the snotter line to be tied to the front of
this hoop, or to a becket on the block on this hoop; pass in a slot,
hole, or through a block lashed to the sprit boom, come back through
the upper block from the sprit side, and then run down alongside the
mast on the opposite side to a block at deck level which sends this
line back to the skipper. The mast-hoop-block is nominally mounted
across rather than fore-and-aft. Since it's on a hoop, it will turn as
the sail turns.
Here are a couple more ways to lead the snotter tackle and
get a 2:1 purchase. A 1:1 purchase simply isn't enough except on
something like a mizzen sail.
The one on the left comes from a New Jersey garvey builder.
Your rope acts something like a bowstring. There is either a hole, well
rounded (B1) or a chock (B1) to engage the snotter line, or a V-shaped,
smoothed notch in the end of the sprit (B2) with a reinforcing band to
prevent splitting. Or any other way you can think of to let the rope
create force on the boom without binding.
A is a bullseye; tie the line here, run through B, through a
block C attached to the mast, through a block D and aft to a cleat E.
The system on the right uses the English "tye and whip"
system. Knot the rope to the boom somehow at A. Pass through a block or
bullseye at B. Tie to the shackle of a block at C. A second rope runs
from the deck (D: can be a becket block but I show the separation to
make it clear) through the block C and back to a block, E, leading to a
Both use the same amount of good ol' Harken stuff though the
"tye and whip" uses a little more line. I've used the New Jersey system
quite happily. I've used the second system as well, but on a
gunter-rigged yard rather than a snotter.
You might as well buy tiny Harken blocks, or else use the
Holt-Allen stuff made for rigging Lasers. Use prestretch dacron, or
Spectra line, for everything but the mainsheet. Splurge a little. The
sail will set better.
I'm not sure how the guy in the drawing is supposed to sail
while holding two sheets and an endless-loop yoke rope to the rudder.
No matter. Use a push-pull tiller, which I'll describe when I next
update these pages.