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by Dan Rogers – Newport, Washington - USA

You see, it's like this. Lady Bug and I have been shipmates for 5 or 6 years now. I really don't keep track of time all that well; that's why the "5 or 6" estimate. Sure, like every self-preserving married male, I have my anniversary and Kate's birthday tattooed on the inside of my right eye lid. Everything else, I sort of wing it.

And, that's what happened to Lady Bug. She's had more surgery than Joan Rivers. I'm always changing stuff. It's not her fault. But, that little boat was born under-long and over-heavy. Actually, she's built like a floating bank vault. The scantlings of a 30-footer, all stuffed into a 16 foot body. Really. Nothing flexes. The original rig was just a hair under quarter inch on the shrouds and stays. Yes, spreaders and lowers and back stay and a regular tree stump of a mast section. Hell for stout. But, under-rigged and rather timid as a sailboat.


Anyhow, we've been mates for quite a while now. I hope to keep it that way. Some folks decide what they want in a boat, or spouse, or friend for that matter; and then they go out and try to find what they think they want. Me? I'm from that "Love the one you're with" camp. Except, with boats, it's more of a "Love her, and change just about every damn thing" arrangement. Maybe you know somebody like that?

So, here we are, at he beginning of our fifth-or sixth?-season. And, I have a new motto. I prefer to grow old WITH this boat, rather than BECAUSE OF this boat. Seems reasonable.

Just about all the time, I have to figure on launching, recovering, and rigging by myself. It's not that I'm anti-social. But, a long time ago I came to the conclusion that if you can't take your boat out by yourself, you're not going to be going very often. As a result of a Fibber Magee's Closet full of modifications and "improvements," such as: a beach cat rig (adding 5 feet to the mast length) and the need for a deeper rudder and waaaaaaay longer tiller (now up to 6 feet long); I have ended up with a lot of new strings to pull.

All those strings took lots of holes and thru-bolts and such to hold the fairleads and cleats and winches and all that. I had lines and cleats crossing and rubbing and generally metastasizing all over the cabin top and cockpit. So, this winter when it was finally time to paint hull and deck; I took everything off and filled all the holes. I even "replaced" the cabin top with a new "blank slate."

Time to start fresh, and hopefully, loose a lot of the clutter and left-over inventions.

The biggest part of my new motto is in response to the number of times I have (in the past) had to walk out on the narrow foredeck to rig the mast-raising apparatus. Most of the time, this is while the boat sits on her trailer. The bow pulpit is a shade over seven feet from the pavement, and that's a lot farther than I want to fall. Especially backwards and head first, if you know what I mean.

After a series of gin poles and multi-block falls and mast foot bearings and such tom foolery, I finally settled on a couple ineluctable truth(s). A gin pole can only stand on its own if it has a schlock of strings
-basically a mini mast-or if it has two legs. A mast with off-set shrouds (to eliminate the back stay that intrudes on a roachy main, and wraps around the skipper's neck during the mast raising ceremony) needs an auxiliary set of shrouds to keep it from doing an athwartships swoon at the most embarrassing and inconvenient times. And, as a direct result, all the poles and wires in this ménage MUST ORIGINATE FROM A COMMON AXIS.

There. I've said it. And, I'm glad. It's time the truth came out. Y'all with trailerable sailboats are not congenital oafs. The fact that it takes the whole village to raise one extruded aluminum tube with a few wires hanging from it has nothing to do with ineptitude. Nope. It has everything to do with discontiguous axes.

Now that you've finally heard this revelation, from the Gospel According to Dan, go forth and get your axes straight. And, if this is all kinda' obtuse, you're welcome to look at the pictures.

So, to make an extremely convoluted evolution less mobius, I have settled on a wishbone arrangement that will (hopefully) stow on the deck and stay ready for action. Of course, if it's too much of a trip hazard, or to clear the foc'sl for parade, the wishbone is pretty easy to remove. More complex to stow than the previous single-pole contraptions. This particular wishbone is still on probation. I was fortunate to be in a thrift store that specializes in things like household windows and junk furnaces one day. They had scads and scads of windsurfer booms in a pile. When I asked about them, the nice lady behind the counter said something like, "You want those poles? Take 'em." And now I have a whole collection of spares. No windsurfer. But, lots and lots of wishbone booms. So, there's room for adding and subtracting length. Simplicating.

Anyhow. Now, it's possible to raise the mast and secure almost everything from the companionway. Pretty cool.

The lifting lanyard becomes the inner forestay. The headstay tensions the entire rig with a multi-part purchase. And, yes, there's a catwalk on the trailer that I can stand on and tension both of these from, without the need to go out on that narrow and sloapy and high off the pavement foredeck. Or, when raising or lowering in the water, I can of course go out there on the pointy end and square things away.

That fact that it took half a decade of tinkering to get to this point, tells me that I'm either pretty slow; or, that the problem is one that simply needs a lot of messing around with. Anyhow, I figure anything that rides around on a trailer between puddles and uses stick and string for main battery can be handled by one guy.

But, you gotta' get your axes straight!

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