Free standing rigging for PMD?

I'm looking for input on my idea for changing my Passagemaker into free-standing rigging.
My experience with boat building is completely encompassed within the construction of my
PMD, so I am clueless as to whether this is a really stupid idea or not. :-)

Here's what I'm considering:

- Cut a through-hole in the mast step and forward thwart
- Add reinforcement the hull with a plywood doubler
- Add new mast step on top of the hull doubler
- Glue a length of PVC pipe in place for the mast to sit in
- Drill hold in bottom of PVC pipe and run small tube to drain into bilge

  forward bulkhead
         |  PVC pipe
         v   |
          ==| |=======  <-- mast step with hole cut through it
         !==| |================   <-- forward thwart with thru-hole
         !    | |
         !    | |
         !    | |
drain .!....|.|
         !=========  <-- hull reinforcement
====================================  <- hull

  Your thoughts and suggestions (even "You're an idiot") are welcome.  :-)

  And yes, I understand that I still need a forestay for the jib.  But eliminating the
backstays would really simplify rigging and unrigging the boat.



9 replies:

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RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

Sorry for "advanced" graphics. I think you'll get the basic idea anyhow...

RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

The standing rigging is there to strengthen your rig and allow you to tension your jib.

I think you would take a big hit on efficiency if you take it off. The Gunter usually has standing rigging and is close to a bermuda rig in its ability to point etc. I think you would decrease the advantage you have with that set up.

The only rig I have seen with an unstayed mast with a jib is with a spritsail or a lug. I'm not an expert in this but traditional rigs have evolved as they have because they work. To arbitrarily change usually means you have to compromise the good points of the rig you are changing.

There are really nice rigs you could use if you decide to change the rig. I'm thinking a balanced lug is getting alot of thumbs up these days. You need to be sure to keep your sails balanced though.

I agree that an unstayed rig is much easier. 

Good Luck




RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

Thanks Christine - that makes a lot of sense.  I'll stick with the stock rigging.

  BTW - I visited your web site a while back and decided that I need to build a wooden mast for my PMD.  Thanks for the great "how to"! 



RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

Hi Jim

Its not a bad idea to have your first rig as the designer intended it. You know its been tested and works quite well.

THEN... you can play to your heart's content. There is nothing to stop you from making other rigs and trying them out.

That's my plan and so far its been alot of fun. I've tried 3 different sprit sails and each has had advantages and faults.

I really want to try a balanced lug next. Just for fun really, I also want to try and put a little jib on to see how it feels. 



RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

Difficulty with putting a jib on an unstayed mast (including a balance lug rig) is that the 'jib-stay' needs to be tight if the jib is to achieve any efficiency - and that means either backstays or a really solid (and therefore heavy) mast. 

On my Sassafras, I'm making an (unstayed) yawl rig (a big balance lug near the front and a smaller one on a 'mizzen' mast at the rear). Keeps the centre of effort low.

I'm a huge fan of the balance lug - easy to rig, you can make all your own hardware (even the blocks if you're feeling salty!), and it jibes gently (important in a narrow craft, particularly where my skull might encounter the lower yard/ boom!)

Re stayed rigs, at least on a regular small craft, the backstays are usually  fairly straightforward - once you have their length adjusted correctly you can just clip them in place with the mast laid down and the stays slack, and then, as you bring the mast vertical, everything settles into a nice straight package, simply by tensioning the forestay.


RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

Go with the tested and proven rig?? That's crazy talk!!!!  :-)

Okay, maybe you have a good point.  I'll go with  the standard rig to start, and then play around with modifications later.

 Thanks for the input Christine and David!


RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?


I just joined but can't figure out how to search for other builders in my location.

I'm in Guilford CT,

Will make a trip up to Mystic soon.  I'm less than an hour's drive to Mystic.

Also thinking of making the Passagemaker as my 1st boat.  I could use some encouragement!!!


RE: Free standing rigging for PMD?

 Hi Mark,

  I'm not all the far from you. I'm in Douglas, MA. 

  I'm planning on being at the WoodenBoat show in Mystic. We'll have to meet up and talk!

  And let me tell you - the Passagemaker is a perfect first build! I absolutely love mine!

  The Passagemaker Builders forum: is an excellent source of everything related to Passagemakers.  I understand there have been some long delays in getting accounts created, but I dropped the moderator a note about it. Hopefully we can get some new blood/epoxy flowing over there.

  Choosing the Passagemaker as your first boat is easy.  Choosing what type of rig you want to go with...not so easy. :-)  I have the Gunter Sloop rig and love it.  My boat can be as docile as a kitten, or raise the jib, haul in the sheets and you're burying the rail, going like stink!  It can be fast...VERY fast....but only if you want to go fast.

  And they are easy to move around.  I can turn mine up on its side and pick it up by myself.

  What don't I like about my boat?'t come up with anything in 4 years of sailing her.  :-)


  Best regards,


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