Skerry boom lifts


Has anyone experimented with a boom vang or even just a rope stopping the boom  from lifting? The downhaul keeps the boom from going up against the mast but the end is harder to keep in check.

 I got caught in a really strong wind and the boom kept wanting to lift up. It was really quite scary and made me think that I could use some help in controlling the sail / boom. Is it ever done on a sprit sail? 

Or maybe its just that I am not strong enough? 


15 replies:

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RE: Skerry boom lifts

Christine, Did you go for the double block you discussed on your previous post? You can gain mechanical advantage by moving the block further aft on the boom. A vang won't hurt but you will need to pay out appreciably more sheet in a big puff with the vang on. As long as you realize this give it a try. SEEYSA JackPS If you have a picture of your rig up and sailing post it .

RE: Skerry boom lifts

Hi Jack

I have not yet tried the double block. Your post that it would slow my reation by requiring more rope gave me pause.  Do you think I could just tie a rope from the boom to the base of the mast at a tension that would prevent the boom from going really high but not interfere otherwise? 

I got into much the same situation minus the roll this time. We have had very quick changes in the weather this summer. It seems storm warnings every day for weeks on end. If it looks iffy I just stay in the breakwater and that usually keeps me safe.

I don't understand what you mean by having to play out more sheet when a big puff comes. I always imagined a boom vang just sitting there pulling the boom down with an adjustable tension.

I visualized that when a big gust came then the vang would keep the boom down and sort of controlled at a maximum lift height and the sheet would be used to control the amount the sail is in or out.  

I'm nowhere near needing a boom vang to trim the sails when I'm just going along. My experience is still just staying afloat and resonably safe. Speed and perfect sail set is not a goal yet.

I really appreciate your advice. At the club the Skerry is a bit of a mystery to the others and their experience is mostly with bermuda rigs on Wayfarers.  


RE: Skerry boom lifts

Yes you can just use a piece of line to try the vang idea but take one precaution. Tie it with a quick release knot on the end tied to the boom so you can release it if you need to. You have the right concept about what a vang does…… Paying (not playing) out line is what you are doing when you ease the sheet. The reason you would need to pay out more line is that the vang will keep the sail flat as you sheet out. With the sail flat you are dumping less wind as you ease therefore you must ease proportionately more to get the same results. Without a vang the boom will rise thus putting more belly in the sail and spilling more wind at the head…..I was iffy about the double block for you. If you can describe the sheeting arrangement you have now I’ll try to make a recommendation……  Remember, with good air tight lockers in both ends of the skerry you’re not going to sink it so have fun. SEEYA Jack

RE: Skerry boom lifts

I understand now Jack Thankyou.

I know I won't sink but lake Ontario is COLD and I'm chicken. I'll keep my eyes open for a wetsuit for the fall. And yes I am having a ball!  My little Skerry is turning out to be alot of fun.

I'll take a picture of my rig and if you can suggest an improvement I'll be grateful.


RE: Skerry boom lifts


Everyone has done a good job explaining sail twist, and how a vang reduces it.

The main reason the Skerry's mainsheet is amidships is to function as more of a vang when off the wind.  It was a tweak that came quite late in the Skerry's development.  (Skerry #1 was speckled with screw holes where we experimented with all sorts of rig setups.)  As such, the mid-boom sheeting (a racing dinghy term) works well enough that I've never felt the need for a vang, though if Skerry racing ever gets going I expect boats to sprout them.

Unless I amend the Class Rules to prohibit vangs as out of character in a 19th-century herring fishery boat.

Anyway, you can avoid "death-rolling"---the offwind rolling with a divergent oscillation that can dump you---by simply not squaring out the sail in heavy air.  That's what I do.  If the boat starts rolling off the wind, just sheet in some and that'll stop it at once.  The Skerry's so wide and has so much reserve stability that I think it would scare you rather than dump you, anyway.  Because the Skerry's gooseneck only allows the boom to sweep through about 190 degrees, best not to square out the boom, anyway.  I've heard of some broken booms as a result.



RE: Skerry boom lifts

Hi John

Thanks for the advice. I'm glad I've experienced the "death roll", been there done that, check! You are dead right about having the sail squared up. Now that I know I will not fret about it.

The problem of course is that I was simply not quite strong enough to easily control the sail. It really was very strong wind. 

I did not put a gooseneck but rather a u shaped end to my boom. It seems to be working fine except that it can pivot all the way around and it has!

Not many herrings around here, the odd smelt I'm told! I'll keep my eyes open though. (when I'm not running in a squall!) 

I'm finding the Skerry to be everything you promised. There is not a thing I would feel strongly about changing. I will tinker endlessly because I like to but the boat stands very well on its own. I have had it in many different kinds of waves and weather and it seems to just take it in its stride. It moves when there is practically no wind and is very steady when there is alot. I've rowed it and its fun and fast. I have no trouble launching sailing and taking it in alone.  All that and pretty to boot.



RE: Skerry boom lifts

Christine, I have a question about the Skerry.  Is it possible to reef the sail on this boat?

When you say that the wind was strong enough that you could not control the sail, to me it sounds like you may have too much sail up for the conditions and need to either take a reef (or scandalize) the sail.

I realize (from first-hand experience!) that the wind can sneak up on a sailor when he or she isn't paying proper attention to it.  In those situations, you have to do the best you can to survive, and keeping the boom in tight before the wind is one way to do that.  But it should not be plan A--shortening sail, BEFORE the bad weather reaches your boat should be.




RE: Skerry boom lifts

Hi Camper

It was not a gradual wind increase. It was an almost immediate huge gust that stayed. We have had some really strong sneaky weather lately and this was the case. I had suspected that something might be coming and gotten inside the breakwater but once the wind took off there is no way I could do anything about reducing / scandalizing the sail. It has no reef points and I could not have reached them anyway.  

I can count on my fingers and toes how many times I have sailed this little boat. Plus a couple times just rowing.


RE: Skerry boom lifts

Sounds familiar!  Anyway, enjoy the Skerry--I'm jealous.  It sounds and looks like the perfect small sailboat.

RE: Skerry boom lifts


I am writing based on my long-time sailing experience but NO expereince directly wiht the Skerry.

Mainsheet: go with the double block. If you were to use blocks with bearings (like Harken) the "wheels" will spin easily and, in case of a puff, will allow the sheet to pay out quickly. If you don't have one already, I would incorporate a cam cleat into the arrangement so you aren't having to ALWAYS hold onto the line. If it gets puffy, the cam cleat is quick release and you can always just hold onto the mainsheet.

Boom Vang: go with a two-part vang. Use a special block (secured to the mast below the boom) which allows you to secure the end of the vang line to it. Lead the line up to a single block on the boom, then back to the original "special block" on the mast wiht the line led forward to a cleat which is accessible to you in your sailing position. A stable sail makes for a more enjoyable sailing experience.

Comfort: how are your hands? If you are not wearing sailing gloves, I would recommend you try them. They make holding onto lines far more enjoyable.

Good Luck!

Tim Clark

RE: Skerry boom lifts

John wasn't kidding when he said they experimented with all sorts of rigs. Here's a 2-masted Skerry :-)

Seriously, though, the year before this picture was taken, the Skerry showed up at Okoumefest with a boomless sprit rig. It was interesting to sail that one. Getting the right sheeting angle took some work, but when you got it, it took off and was a real joy to sail in a light breeze.



RE: Skerry boom lifts

Interesting to see the 2 masted version. Do you have any other pictures of the experiments with different rigs? I would love to see some.

That's alot of sail on the boat how did it go? 

I tried my Skerry without a boom but in a stiff breeze. I had brought the boom home to change something and forgotton to bring it back. Well I wasn't going to just go home without sailing and I tried without the boom.

It was really difficult to handle because it was too windy. The sail really pulled and it was hard to keep set up. As you say I think it would have worked in a light breeze.  

RE: Skerry boom lifts

Christine, you read it too fast. See the smiley face? See the Jimmy Skiff behind and to the left of the Skerry?

Gotcha! :-)


RE: Skerry boom lifts

You did!! Here I was trusting you and you were just funning me!

Another perfect sail this morning this time with someone else in the boat with me. The Skerry behaved really well and was much less jumpy and ran more smoothly with a bit of extra weight. 


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