This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rigging Complete

Click photos to enlarge.  Click again to enlarge even more.
There are many ways to rig a Navigator and there are many different sail plans to choose from.  Described below is the rigging I chose to use for the Gaff Yawl Rig that I selected to build.  I mostly followed the plans, but also borrowed many of the really good ideas from Kevin's Slipjig rigging videos.  Thanks, Kevin!  Nearly everything works very well. Where it didn't, I will attempt to describe what I should have done. I will also continually update this article as I fine-tune the rigging.

I provided links to Duckworks for the hardware I purchased to help save future Navigator builders time and effort should they also choose to order their rigging there.  I purchased nearly all my rigging, and my sails, from Duckworks because they are helpful, fast, convenient and inexpensive.

Gunter Main in Red vs Gaff Main in Green
Navigator can be built as a conventional sloop, with the choice of a crusing main or racing rig with more sail area.  Most builders seem to choose the yawl rigs. If you are building the Yawl version of Navigator, note that there are two different mainsail configurations. The Gaff Yawl (which I built) is shown on plan sheet NV12. The Standing Lug mainsail is shown on NV7. The two mainsails are a different shape as illustrated in this superimposed diagram. The Gaff main's gaff angle is greater and it uses a horizontal conventional boom.  The Standing Lug main has a nearly vertical gaff angle, and the foot is cut straight and angled upward to serve as a vang for a sprit boom.  In addition, I have rigged my Gaff main as a Sliding Gunter.  I will describe the Sliding Gunter rig and its benefits later in this article.

OK, let's start at the bow and work our way aft.  We'll begin with the bobstay.

The bobstay is made from a length of 1/8" SS cable with 1/8" thimbles and sleeves swaged on both ends.  The SIT-2001 small swage-it tool made swaging easy. The bobstay connects to the Bow Eye with a small shackle.  The arrangement leaves plenty of room for attaching the trailer winch hook.

The other end of the bobstay attaches to an Oblong Eye Plate on the under side of the bowsprit with a RL-245S shroud adjustor. Another Oblong Eye Plate is located on the upper side of the bowsprit to attach the roller furler using another small shackle.  The two eye plates are bolted together through the bowsprit.  A 3/8" fairlead guides the roller furling line.

The mast on a Navigator is freestanding, but shrouds and a wire luff are used to tension the jib tight enough to prevent the luff from sagging.  I lash my jib to the roller furler with a simple rope lashing.  A lashing is quick to rig, inexpensive, and provides plenty of tension and adjustability.  No need for blocks here. The lashing is tightened until the shrouds go "boing" when tapped with a metal tool.  Ideally, the jib should be positioned as low as possible.

Bow chocks are mounted on either side of the bowsprit.

When using a roller furling jib with a wire luff, there is no need for a jib halyard or a separate headstay. The wire luff serves as the forestay.  At the head of the jib is a swivel for the furler, a shackle, and a boom bail.  The boom bail is one I had lying around, but a good alternative would be a RL-425-H hound.  The shrouds are made of 1/8" ss cable with swaged thimbles on both ends. They attach to bent RL-320 tangs on either side of the mast with small shackles. The small line immediately below that loops through the pad eye  is the lazy jack/topping lift for the boom.
Note that when adding a roller furler to the jib it may be necessary to move this hardware higher up the mast from the location shown on the plans to account for the added space required for the furler.  I recommend not drilling this hole in the mast until after test fitting the jib and its associated hardware.

The lower ends of the shrouds attach to the hull with RL-245L shroud adjustors attached to RL-397 chain plates and RL-344-B covers.
The peak halyard controls the angle of the gaff, from horizontal to vertical.  Instead of tying mine to the gaff with rolling hitch, mine attaches to a cable bridle on the gaff with a carabiner, then goes through a swivel block attached to the mast with a RL417-S boom bail.  This swivel block can abrade the mast under certain conditions so I added a strip of leather to protect the mast.  The bridle is made from a length of 1/8" ss cable with loops on both ends and two SD-081200 pad eyes on the gaff to hold it in place.  The bridle needs to be as tight as possible and long enough to accommodate two reef points.  It goes roughly from the middle of the gaff to the top of the gaff. This bridle is called a "Gunter".  Having one changes the rig from a Gaff Rig to a Gunter Rig.  The Gunter allows the gaff to be raised and lowered while remaining vertical, which makes reefing safer, quicker and easier.  Without a Gunter, and before the sail could be reefed or de-reefed, first the gaff would have to be dropped, the peak halyard repositioned higher or lower on the gaff, and the gaff raised again. With a Gunter, the gaff stays up the entire time.  The gaff is lowered a bit, the reef tied in, and the gaff tightened back up.  The Gunter and gaff jaws also prevent the gaff from flailing around or inverting when it's lowered.  Click here to download a brief 2-page article describing the Gunter Rig.
The throat halyard raises and lowers the gaff.  It attaches to a rope bridle at the gaff jaws with a carabiner. The plans show a pad eye in lieu of the bridle.  Use a bridle instead.  Because the gaff sets nearly vertical, a pad eye would bind between the gaff and mast, damaging the mast.  Two SD-081205 heavy duty pad eyes are located on the gaff to attach the main sail, one at the throat and one at the head.  I keep the main sail lashed to the gaff and roll the sail around the gaff for transport.
The throat halyard then goes through a RL-308-B cheek block mounted on the mast.  The cheek block is mounted off center (to port) so the halyard can go up the center of the mast and down on the port side.  The cheek block works much better than using a double block for the throat and peak halyards atop the mast.
The halyards and furler line go through the deck with RL-49P fairleads. Note that the furling line makes a 90 degree turn here through its fairlead.  A block would be nice to have here but I haven't been able to find a suitable one yet. The arrangement works but would be better without the added friction and abrasion.  I know it's more traditional to run the roller furling line along the port side deck, but I like all my controls located near the aft centerboard case for safety and convenience.
The halyards and furling line then go through three RL-2040 deck blocks on the front seat and are then led aft. Also in this area is an oblong eye plate for the boom vang, and a RL-708-AD double cheek block for the centerboard lift.  Good thing I added reinforcement under this area of the front seat!

The centerboard lifting line attaches to the centerboard with a RL-702-A becket block and two RL-320 tangs. The tangs were easily bent to the shape shown.

Ellie's control center.  Port to starboard are throat halyard, roller furler, main sheet, centerboard lift (cleated), and peak halyard.  The halyards and furling line go through RL260S cam cleats although a  horn cleat or clam cleat would have worked just as well.  The cam cleats work well for tensioning the halyards. The throat halyard in particular requires a lot of force to tension it tightly. The downside of using cam cleats for halyards instead of horn or clam cleats is the risk of the lines getting inadvertently released causing the gaff to fall. I tie a stop knot in the halyards to prevent this. [UPDATE: I later switched to home-made jam cleats for the halyards] I can raise, lower, furl and control all three sails, and the centerboard, while remaining safely seated in the cockpit.  I can't over emphasize how safe and convenient this is.

Mainsheet tackle consists of an RL-850 swivel camcleat and RL-306-DF fiddle block mounted on the aft centerboard case top. On the boom is a RL-334-S boom bail, a shackle and a RL-304-A becket block. This arrangement works very well. I find the 3-part tackle to be perfect.  The aft portion of my centerboard case top is permanently fastened in place. The forward portion is removable for access to the centerboard. First time out I noticed a slight amount of water seeping through the seam from water sloshing around within the case. I solved that by making a rubber gasket seal.

Jib sheets lead through SD-082615 fairleads near the shrouds [oops, the fairleads should have been located 120mm aft of B4 per plan sheet NV11], and another SD-082615 and RL-260-S cam cleats mounted on douglas fir pads so the jib sheet can clear the cockpit coamings and angle back toward the cockpit at about the same angle as the mainsheet.

I also added non-skid strips to the side decks.  Not necessary.  They never get used as everyone prefers to step directly onto the seats instead.

The goose neck fitting is an RL-328-C with a 3/8" pin.  I drilled an oversized hole in the boom, filled it with epoxy/silica/fiberglass, and re-drilled it to 3/8".  I located my gooseneck fitting 6" higher up the mast from the location shown on the plans.  The plans have the boom located right at face level.  When located 6" higher, the boom clears my head with a nod instead of a crouch.  Much improved and highly recommended.

The Boom vang has a RL-378-A double fiddle block at deck level, attached to the oblong eye plate with a small shackle and carabiner.  The boom end consists of a D-100 block/cleat, a RL-304-A single block, a RL-334-L boom bail and a small shackle.  I wish I had led the boom vang line back to the cockpit too.  [Done. Substituted an RL-304-A for the D-100 and led the line back to the cockpit to a cleat.  Much better.]

The mainsail clew is attached to the boom using a SD-081205 heavy duty pad eye, 1-1/4" ring and a SD-043030 cleat.

Reefing hardware is similar. They consist of SD-081200 pad eyesSD-191410 rings and 3" cleats.
Here are the reefing lines in the stored position.

And here they are in the reefed position. The reefing line, attached to the ring, loops around the underside of the boom to the opposite side, goes up through the eyelet in the sail, back down through the ring, and to the cleat.

The topping lift/jackstay line attaches to a SD-081200 pad eye on the port side of the boom, goes through another SD-081200 pad eye on the mast [recently replaced by a small fairlead], and back down to a 3" cleat on the starboard side of the boom. It too, is readily accessible while seated in the cockpit.  When I lower the mainsail, the topping lift/jackstay line supports the boom and captures gaff and mainsail, preventing it from spilling all over the deck.

The rudder is attached using RL-490-G pintles and gudgeons. The rudder uphaul and downhaul lines are led through identical RL-340 cheek blocks one on either side of the rudder head. An SD-082010 fairlead on the downhaul line protects the bottom of the rudder head from abrasion.  Also visible is the SD-520010 drain plug.

The rudder uphaul line leads to a SD-043030 cleat on the port side of the tiller. The downhaul line leads to an auto release clamcleat on the starboard side of the tiller.

The mizzen mast has three SD-043030 cleats at its base. One for the halyard, one for the snotter, and one for the topping lift. The mizzen sheet leads through a RL-260-S cam cleat, similar to the jib sheets.

Atop the mizzen are two blocks, one for the halyard and one for the topping lift. They are RL318 spin straps and RL-205 swivel blocks.

The snotter leads through two SD-081200 pad eyes. A stop knot is tied in one end, thread it through and cleat it off. This arrangement is simple and works just fine.

I built my mizzen mast as a "rotating mast".  Past experience with sprit booms and snotters has taught me that if the mast cannot rotate, when the sail is eased out, the snotter will put considerable pressure on the pad eye on the mast and something will break.  To allow the mast to rotate, I rounded the bottom of the mast and lined the mast partner with leather and allowed sufficient clearance so the mast fits loosely within the partner.    
Two more SD-081200 pad eyes attach the mizzen sheet and mizzen clew with carabiners and the topping lift.

The mizzen tack attaches to yet another SD081200 pad eye with a carabiner. [Update: I replaced the carabiner with an s-hook, with the pad eye side of it pinched closed. It is much easier to release the tack for furling now]  The plans show a downhaul line that goes through a pad eye on deck to a cleat. That arrangement would have prevented my rotating mizzen mast from rotating.

The boomkin has a SD081200 pad eye and SD-191410 ring.

It took a considerable amount of tweaking to get my new Suzuki 2.5 outboard to clear the transom in the raised position using my Duckworks motor mount. Mine is the 15 degree model. The Suzuki 2.5 comes with a bracket that only allows the motor to be raised when the motor is pointing forward. Facing forward, the power head hits the transom so I had to remove this bracket to allow the motor to be raised on its side.  I also had to add the thickest possible wood block to shift the motor aft as far as possible, and I had to shift the motor as far starboard as possible. I finally got it to clear - barely.  Other outboards have different sized and shaped power heads that may make them easier to fit using this mount. An adjustable mount might be a better choice as well.


Here are my mast carriers. They were constructed from leftover 2x4's, scraps and some brackets I had lying around. It works very well and it requires no modifications to the boat. The forward one rests on the foredeck and ties into the forward cleats.  The aft carrier rests on the side deck and is held down with a short line that goes through the cam cleat for the mainsheet. Foam pads protect the deck and foam-lined notches hold the lashed down main, mizzen, boom and gaff.

Setup time at the boat launch takes about 30 minutes.  Here is a time-lapse video.

I hope these examples help someone. If you have any questions or comments, please post them below. Feedback is always appreciated!


  1. Congratulations Joel, she looks a treat. Good luck with the weather for the week-end. Happy sailing.

  2. Looking good Joel! Best of luck getting her wet.

    God bless!

  3. Thanks for taking the time to do this Joel. Excellent explanations and use of the high resolution photos. Joe

  4. Great presentation Joel and very helpful although I am building Pathfinder but still will find it helpful.
    Cheers Roger

  5. Great summary. I can't remember how you have the throat/peak of your mainsail attached to the gaff spar.

    FYI, here's a drawing from Raven's fine hand (Sailmaker's Apprentice) that I am following for SCAMP #1

    Also, what's the background / reasoning for painting some of the ends of the varnished spars/boomkin white? I'm just now starting to notice it, such as on Bill's recently launched Houdini


  6. Hi Simeon,
    There are several good reasons for painting the tips of spars white.
    It protects and hides the end grain better than varnish.
    It makes them easier to see, especially in the dark.
    They are easier to touch up after you drop or scrape them on something.
    There is usually hardware mounted there (blocks, furlers, lines, etc) causing dings or abrasion. Again, easier touch up.
    Lastly, it just plain looks good!

  7. A great answer. Your points all make good sense.
    What hull paint did you use for Ellie?

    We used Pettit Easypoxy on SCAMP, for the bottom & off-white hull, and Interlux Brightside for the beige. We would have used Pettit all around but didn't like their off-the-shelf beige as it wasn't quite as warm looking.

    So far, my initial feelings are that the Interlux may have a slightly harder finish.

  8. I used white alkyd porch and floor enamel for the hull and almond rustoleum alkyd enamel for the deck and rustoleum hunter green for the trim. They aren't as glossy as Brightside or Petit but that's fine with me - too much gloss hurts my eyes. The floor enamel takes longer to fully harden than the others.

  9. Hi Joel,

    Andrew here in Portland. Just completed cockpit combing and thinking about rigging. Very much appreciate this work.


  10. Hi Joel,

    Big fan, your site has helped me so much. I was wondering what kind of lashing/knot you use to attaching your forestay to your jib furler? I was thinking of using a trucker's hitch (maybe finished with a rolling hitch for easier adjustment instead of two half hitches), but I wanted to know what you used.


    1. Hi Zack,
      I use a lashing I learned in Boy Scouts called a "Shear Lashing". Scouts use it to lash two poles together but it does the job for me quite well.

  11. Joel, your site has been a huge help for me with the hardware. Could you tell me what you used for your halyards and sheets? Duckworks has some low stretch line that I am looking at for halyards but what size is a mystery.

    Ralph Merriman

  12. Hi Ralph. I use 1/4" rope for everything except 3/8" for the mainsheet and main halyards. For lacing sails to spars you can go down to 5/32 or 3/16"

  13. Great site, I got a lot from your photos.

  14. Thank you for putting this site up. I am looking forward to shamelessly copying much of the techniques in my own Navigator build here hopefully in the fall. I will be sailing the Florida gulf coast, maybe see you there.?.

    Thanks again,

    Geoff Adams

  15. Hi Joel.
    Great pic's and video's...
    I'm from the Uk and now living in Philippines and will start work on a similar boat, i'm am aluminum mast sailor and here in Philippines aluminum mast are like "rocking Horse Sh*t" impossible to find, i could import from USA but cost is a no brainer, so, i'm going over to WOOD....and "Gunter Rig' and your pic's have shown me the set-up.
    when i start doing the mast and rigging i'll use you as my Guide...Thank You Joel..."Happy Sailing'

  16. Hi Joel you've inspired me with this great site. I have a Hartley 16 and want to replace the Bermudan rig with a Gaff Yawl rig as the Pathfinder. Do you have any sail dimensions? The Hartley is used mainly for racing and has a high main aspect ratio...I would like to cruise with a more traditional stable rig, by adding mizzen and small bowsprit and lowering the mast. Currently the mast is 20ft 4 inchs,main-125sqft,Jib56 sqft total 181 sqft for a boat 16 ft long.
    Intending to keep the mast and stays in the same postion and make all the spars.Any I crazy?
    Paul in Sydney

  17. Wow. Amazing well done boat. Loved the rigging detail pics as I contemplate adapting a sliding gunter sloop for a scamp.