Catapult Catamaran Sailing: Faster rigging suggestions

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    I get some mockery of my speed of de-rigging and vanishing from events (particularly after forgetting my sail in Devon at the Nationals) but it is the flip side of trying to make the rigging process as easy and fast as possible.

   The points below came from cruising with the previous Classic rig, wanting as much time as possible on the water, and rigging single-handedly. I hope now to have the current boat ready to take down to the water’s edge around 45 minutes from driving up.

   The three things I think I do differently are:

       Keeping the shroud tackles, with the mast heel line, set up on the trampoline. (This is basically an example of “packaging”, to have as few steps as possible on the day, and to avoid having to sort out tangles.)

      Raising the mast as one piece

     Rigging the mast on the hull frame before attaching the hulls

                 Keeping the shroud tackles in position
                                   on the trampoline

  I came to this gradually, starting with the need to tie up the shroud tackle ropes tightly to stop the blocks “flipping” and tangling the lines.

  It was then logical to tie them tightly in a bundle on each side of the trampoline, at the position they are on the boat, and to leave the mast heel line running across the trampoline in the sailing position.

  (I have tied these as a bundle, but tangling could also be prevented by pulling in the leads until the blocks are tightly together, although this  takes a little more time.)

  This is one example of “packaging”, with the double aim of having things already in place to minimise trips to the car, and of avoiding sorting out tangles.

  The folded trampoline deck also contains the forestay bridle, the mainsheet, towrope, and the bag of bolts and marlinspike. (I don’t use a sailing bag for the boat)

Raising the mast 

Tipping the boat to rig the topmast has always seemed the most awkward part of the process.

 I tried various ways of lifting the Classic rig and sail into position. I first tied the foot of the mast to lower and then re-raise the mast and sail (using the Classic rig where the sail wraps around the mast) going under bridges down the Thames in stages, from Oxford to the tidewaters

For assembling the up-to-date boat now, the mast ball can be tied down over the socket so that it pivots in as the mast is raised in own piece. (Even if it pops out, it is easily lifted in when vertical.)

As well as the ease of fitting the mast together on the ground, another bonus is being able to set up the twin halliards, tied tautly, ready to raise the sail, without extra unwinding after the mast is up, gazing into the sky.

(The photo at the bottom of the page shows the arrangement for tensioning the shrouds using a clam cleat, setting up with the shrouds slack, and then quick tensioning.)

    Above: the mast ready to be raised, the port shroud
  free still (and a boat being rigged conventionally next door)

      Rigging the mast on the hull frame

 Whichever way the mast is rigged up, it seems easier to set it up before the hulls are in place.
 When raising the mast in one piece, as above, having the heel at ground level makes it almost trouble-free (or at least the trouble is seen sooner and is easy to rescue, as if the ball pops out, the mast can still go up to the vertical, and be lifted the 6” up into position)

   Tipping the boat over to rig the topmast in the usual way must also be easier with the frame only.

  The downside is kneeling to tension the trampoline, and to rig the shroud tackles (but the latter is quick, with the shroud tackles in place, as noted above)

   I had expected another disadvantage, that fitting the hulls would be clumsier with the greater weight with the mast up, but in fact there is another advantage, from the greater inertia in the whole rig while the tubes are being pulled along their tracks. This might help with pulling on the heavier Hypalon hulls. (I have the lighter original blue hulls)

  The other rigging aid is a sprayed on, as Halford’s Silicone lubricant along all the bolt ropes--of the sail, of the trampoline (carefully) and of the inflatable hulls. The sail can become too fluid, cascading down as the mast hook is released.

   Left: Shroud tensioning. As seen, I have repositioned the mast heel line to cross the trampoline  forward, to avoid catching and tripping it.

  The tail is held in a clam cleat---releasing this allows a foot or so of movement, to give sufficient slack to rig. It is straightforward to mark the setup positions at the cam and clam cleats.


  As the photo left shows, it produces something which looks more like a concept than a boat. I think there must be an instinct to make a "boat" before rigging it, so doing it in this order is still a minority approach, like pointing out that the earth is not flat.

  Another piece of packaging is having the halliards wound onto a 1 metre frame, to tie onto the topmast for travelling.

  There are small gains in time elsewhere. I have replaced the sail head shackle with a hook (for its 2 minutes of use each day, safely under a load when going up).

  At the foot of the mast where the halyard turns around the roller to be pulled up, I successively added to the diameter of the roller, and then cannibalised a ball bearing block (with balls jumping around the garage at times) to give free running.

  An expensive small gain is from captive-pin shackles for the shrouds and trapeze, and similarly it seemed worthwhile to get a somewhat oversized sailbag made up quickly by Dolphin to speed use.

catapult catamaran shroud setup