Different ships, different saddles

In the good old days when gaffs lay at an angle of 45 to 50 degrees to the mast, the prime function of the gaff saddle or jaws was to accommodate the thrust of the gaff on the mast, and stop the thing falling off sideways. If you wanted to improve windward performance, you set a topsail. “Modern” gaffers tend toward the view that if you peak the gaff up higher and higher it goes better and you don’t have to muck around with topsails - the logical extension of which is Bermudan rig. It is not the place here to argue the pros and cons of high peaked gaff rig. But from the point of view of the fittings, as you peak the gaff up two things happen.

Easy when you know how

632I was chatting to the English Braids rep on his last visit about rope maintenance. Over a season your ropes tend to go hard and crusty. Over a period of years they become nearly impossible to use. So what is the best way to extend their useful life - put them in a washing machine, like I did rather expensively last year? Apparently not. Just leave them to soak in a bath overnight with soapflakes, rinse them and dry them. Ill try it this year, slightly nervous that in the first good shower of rain next year my mainsheet will go all frothy. Ah well, at least my hands will be nice and clean at the end of a race.

Or do I need a tool with that?

627We keep being asked for the right tools for setting roves onto copper nails. Now all you need is a lump of metal with a hole in it big enough for the nail to go inside. Something like 1 round bar, 3 long with a 3/16 hole should do most sizes. Slide it over the nail with the rove already on at the end and hit it. If you cant find a suitable lump of metal, or only have a handful of nails to do, then a socket spanner (wrench) should do the trick instead.

....or how not to get grumpy with your keel

621So I had this lump of lead to drill, and reckoned that the most difficult bit was going to be heaving the 180 kg - 400 lb - lump around the workshop. So I thought about that bit and with the application of the odd engine crane and various tackles, it was easy.

Now for drilling the holes.

If you use a sharp bit it tries to take too much in one bite and locks solid. So grind a flat on the cutting edge like you do for brass and the softer bronzes, and the heat generated means that semi- molten lead is redistributed around the drill bit which then seizes solid in the hole.