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Introduction & Rigging

Our Club's Seabird boats are a "Sloop" type of sailing yacht. A "Sloop" is the simplest form of a sail boat having a main sail and a head sail (jib) and a single mast. It is manned by a helmsman and a crew of minimum one and maximum four.

In 1920, the Royal Bombay Yacht Club assigned a naval architect, Derrick Morgan Giles to design a sail boat specially for Bombay harbour. After studying the peculiarities of our harbour and earlier 6 to 8 decades' wind, tide & currents data, Giles designed this gaff-rigged sloop called the "Bombay Harbour Seabird". This does not mean that the boat is sailable only in Bombay Harbour. Seabirds have made extensive cruises to far off places like Goa, Cochin, Colombo, Karachi, Lakshadweep, Cutch and even open sea crossings to the Andamans, Muscat and Bandar Abbas (Iran). Also, over the years the quality and design of these boats have been improved and fine-tuned and superior materials of construction like fibre-glass, stainless steel and polyester have replaced conventional materials like wood and canvas. The safety record of Seabird boats is excellent. The Seabird is 21 feet long and 7 feet at the beam (i.e. at the widest). It weighs approx. 1750 lbs (800 Kgs).

Rigging

This note on rigging (i.e. preparation) of our Club's Seabirds is written for beginners intending to take up cruising. For racing, the method may differ slightly. Wherever required, unfamiliar seamen's terms are explained in simple language in brackets.

On Stepping In:
Ensure that:

  • Adequate number of buoyancy aids (5 nos.) are provided and handy.

  • A large sized bailer (bucket) is available, lashed securely.

  • A paddle (oar) and a spinnaker pole are provided, also lashed properly.

  • Proper anchor is available with anchor warp (i.e. anchor-rope) secured at both ends, especially the bitter end (i.e. far end) to the mast.

  • The centre-plate tackle cable is not frayed and the plate moves freely up and down.

  • No water is seeping into or collected in the boat.

  • Both hatch covers are well secured.

The above are only the very important checks and the helmsman is required to satisfy himself fully with further checks during rigging. He must have proper data on tides and winds and for extended cruises he must carry amongst other items, a torch, a compass, proper charts and a whistle.

Actual Rigging:

  1. Uncleat the mooring rope/s from mast and bollard (mooring cleat). Slacken the line (line means rope, string, etc.) and place the mooring buoy in the dinghy and cleat again to the mooring bollard together with the dinghy painter so that the dinghy is secured alongside.

  2. Remove the line securing the two pairs of shrouds to the mast and store it carefully.

  3. Remove the sail cover, bundle it neatly and store it near the front hatch or where it could be kept as dry as possible.

  4. "Ship" (i.e. hang) the rudder on the transom.

  5. Uncleat the main sheet and leave it free (a sheet is a line controlling a sail and not the sail itself).

  6. Slacken the two runners from the brass cleats and secure them "relaxed" into cam-cleats.

  7. Haul on topping lift to lift the boom off the crutch-see note 2 on cleats and halyards. Fold and store the scissors / crutch under the rear thwart.

  8. Take up the slack in the peak halyard.

  9. Remove the two gaskets securing the sail, gaff and the boom, and store carefully.

  10. Insert the batten/s in the slots in the leech (i.e. the trailing edge) of the main sail.

  11. Now, haul up the main sail by pulling simultaneously, the main and the peak halyards. At this stage the crew must pull hard and secure first the peak halyard and then the main halyard. The helmsman may double check this and if required again tighten the peak halyard.

  12. The topping lift is now fully released.

  13. The luff (i.e. leading edge) of the main sail is lashed / laced firmly to the mast by the line provided.

  14. Unfurl the jib (head sail), shackle it to the jib sheets and lay these jib sheets neatly on the deck. Tighten the jib halyard. It is very important to give maximum stretch to the luff of both the sails. The secret of a well-set sail is the tautness of its luff.

  15. Ship the tiller (also called helm) and secure it with the tiller pin. Under normal conditions, the tiller must be shipped only after the main sail is hauled up, otherwise the same may get entangled into the flapping main sail.

  16. One of the last acts before releasing the boat is to lower the center-plate to the required position. Insert the wooden wedge on the windward side to restrict the play of the plate.

  17. Neatly coil the main sheet (this is very important), the runners and the center-plate line. Check and free "tell-tales".

  18. Secure hard the runner on which is going to be the windward side.

  19. The helmsman now gives the call to release the mooring after making sure he has a safe passage out.

The crew releasing the mooring, walks back with the mooring rope in his hand towards the main shroud and simultaneously backs the jib so that the seabird falls off away from the mooring (dinghy on windward side).

Special Notes:

  1. A rope or a string is always called a line. Different lines are identified by their functions; e.g. all lines used to haul up sails are called "halyards", lines for controlling the sails are "sheets", lines for securing boats to moorings or for towing are "painters", line attached to an anchor is "warp", etc.

  2. There is a bank of four cleats on the coaming (i.e.: panel) near the mast in the cockpit. These cleats are used to secure the halyards, which are from left to right:

    On Cleat 1 Topping Lift
    Cleat 2 Main or gaff halyard
    Cleat 3 Peak halyard
    Cleat 4 Jib halyard

  3. It is very important to coil all sheets and ropes especially the main sheet (which controls the main sail) very neatly and continuously check even during sailing that the main sheet is well coiled and not entangled. Most common cause for boats capsizing is the entanglement or restricted movement of the sheets, particularly the main sheet.

  4. During the entire rigging process keep all sheets free. The sails may flap, sometimes violently, but the boat remains upright and motionless. The halyards are made secure but never the sheets. Also, lowering of the center-plate should be the last act, because a lowered center-plate causes drift, which induces strain on the moorings, anchor, etc.

  5. A beginner is advised to practice rigging by his/her own hands under supervision of a tindal or a senior sailor. He/she must try and find out reason for every action. Then, and only then, will the beginner understand the boat, its rigging, its capabilities and its limitations. He/she will soon find out that a boat, which appeared so complicated and technical in the beginning was probably the simplest contrivance for conveyance on waters.

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