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.

Monday, June 20, 2016

New and Improved boat tent - version 2

Every Spring I try to improve something onboard Ellie.  I call these Spring improvements "Spring Tweaks".  This year's Spring Tweak is an improved boom tent.

This tent has several improvements over my previous boom tent, yet remains just as inexpensive and easy to construct.  It fits and functions better, it's a little quicker to set up, and it's brighter inside.  It also resolves some shortcomings that I discovered using the previous tent.

The most obvious improvement is the color.  While cammo green may be ideal for Stealth Camping, it has the unfortunate affect of making the interior of the tent very dark.  This new tent is made from  white polytarp which is far brighter inside.  I like the brightness a lot better.
Another big improvement with this tent is that the main sail is now stored outside the tent, not inside the cabin.  The last thing you want, after sailing in rainy weather, is a wet sail inside your tent dripping on you.  Instead, I lash the mainsail to the gaff and raise the whole affair up the mast prior to setting up the tent.

The boom is supported with a boom crutch instead of using the mizzen halyard.  This holds the boom in place much more securely.  Snugging up the mainsheet and boom vang lock the boom in place. The ends of the boom crutch simply attach to the stern cleats with a loop of rope.
The tent is secured with bungee cords rather than relying on sandbags (or water bottles) as weights.

After the boom tent is set up, I lower the gaff (which still has the mainsail lashed to it) down so it lies atop the boom, securing it in place with a bit of rope from the end of the gaff to the mizzen.

When not in use, I store the boom tent under the port seat.  I added quarter-turn hatches to the front of bulkhead 5 to provide a new storage area for the rolled-up tent and boom crutch.

The tent can also serve as a sun shield on hot summer days by flipping one side over the boom (folding the tent in half along the boom).  My Navigator sleeps one or two in comfort using my sleeping platform.

The tent performed well during the Pocket Yacht Palooza Crooza where it rained quite hard during the night.

Will there be a version 3?  Probably - there is always room for improvement.  I noticed a couple of small drips during the night (although it was raining very hard).  They occurred around the gap at the aft end of the boom where it protrudes outside the tent, which can be eliminated.  The tent could be made less drafty.  It would be warmer at night if I had taken greater care in eliminating gaps between the tent and the deck around the front.  The tent is starting to fray along the edges (I cut it with scissors). Next time I will trim it using a soldering iron to melt the edges and "cauterize" them.  But overall I am quite pleased with the results.

You can download plans for the boom tent


  1. Hey Joel,
    Very cool tent! How did the sides work out? You were concerned about them blowing up and letting water in. It was great seeing you at the Palooza!
    All the best,

  2. Hi Scott
    I am going to add another eye strap and bungee cord on the sides. That will secure them nicely without being too intrusive. Had a great time at the Palooza! Looking forward to next year.

  3. Hi Joel-- Thanks so much for this website! I just launched my Pathfinder, Crucible, and will be turning my attention to incorporating many of your improvements in her. Your write ups and clear photos are first rate! Please keep it up. --Mike

    1. I saw some pics of your Pathfinder. Beautiful ship! Nice work. I hope she brings you years of enjoyment and adventure!

  4. I've been considering using Polytarp for an impromptu tent camper on my pick up truck. That way I could sleep in the truck on various excursions to the water in Oklahoma and put Aransas without having to put up a tent. Your blog gave me some ideas and showed how nice it is inside. Like the light!

  5. Hi Joel. I made a jib furler according to your specifications and it works great!!! I already sent the video link to you and you have included it as demo. The boom tent is also another awesome contribution from your site. Cheap, but very efficient!! However the polytarp I use is ''not bad'' but not the best. I will change it next year for high quality material (canvas or high quality polytarp) The haging bottles idea is great. Your site is very helpful.