The Online Magazine For Amateur Boat Builders

Make & Make Do
by Rob Rohde-Szudy

This month we welcome Rob Rohde-Szudy aboard as a monthly columnist. He has been a regular contributor to Duckworks for a while so I asked him if he would like a permanent job. He said: "Yes, if I can be 'VP of colorful little pieces of glass'." And so the deal was sealed.

Easy Sail Gaskets

I hate tying reef points. I especially hate typing reef points under the conditions where they need to be tied. And in calmer weather I hate having big bunts of sail draped all over, blocking my view as I try to row or motor. And my light schooner has a LOT of sail!

Fortunately, a simple bit of wooden hardware seems to have dealt with both of these problems. The “easy sail gasket”.

The part I hated was having to tie and untie so many knots, and cleating is easier. So why not design a cleat for the purpose? I made about 10 of these things from scrap maple from a ruined office desk drawer. They have made schooner life much simpler.

These only work going around something. The line first goes under the “thumb”, then after reversing direction the line jams in the cleat end. Just as in a Butler Cleat, the thumb acts like a fairlead, directing the line at the right angle to the jam.

Used as a gasket as shown above, they are fast to install and remove, and plenty secure enough. A small boat with lots of sail really needs something like this to keep things neat.

Used as a reefing device, the sail needs to be a little different. Instead of sewing on reef points, we install grommets through the same points. As far as I’m concerned, whacking in a grommet is much faster and easier than the hand sewing involved in attaching reef ties. Then we simply run the gasket line through the grommet and under the sail’s foot. Roll up the bunt and cleat it to finish. Almost elegant!

When reefing, I like to hitch the standing end over the thumb for extra security.

And if I’m really worried, I’ll just turn it again through the thumb and make that extra hitch on the jam.

But this is only needed because I should have made the thumbs a bit longer.

Here’s what they look like while being built.

Overall length is about 1.5 - 1.75”. Don’t make them too long or they will be difficult to snug down on a small bundle.

I’ve been using 1/8” Dacron line, so I can’t say how well they would work with anything that stretches.

--Rob Rohde-Szudy