As usual, there isn't any mystery for experienced builder/sailors -- i.e., for those few, those happy few, for whom the lost arts of the wooden boat sailors are not lost.
But for the rest of us, this voyage into the past must be one of discovery.
Oddly enough, the standard boat building texts aren't much help. They all explain how to make spars, but are strangely silent on the subject of attaching them together. Chapelle's "Boatbuilding" at least explains why: "The details of rigging have been covered in many books; it is too specialized a matter to be discussed here."
The 'many books' that Chapelle assumed to be in every sailor's basic library are now forgotten and out of print, but the answers are preserved in some of the specialized books written by traditional boat lovers, riggers, and sailmakers.
In particular, there is a drawing in Brian Toss's "Rigger's Apprentice", that shows practically everything I was looking for. If you have this book, it's on page 208.
Not to keep you in suspense, the solution I was looking for is the common rope grommet. At least they used to be common.
|Rope Grommet at top of Mizzen Mast|
A grommet is simply a piece of rope that has been spliced into a loop. An incredibly useful loop.
For example, if you seize a thimble in one end of the grommet, as illustrated in the photo above, it's easy to hang one over the 'shoulders' of the mizzen mast (over the shroud eyes, so it can't slide down.) Shackle on a block, and the problem of how to hoist your sail without mast hardware is solved.
Compare this stout and sturdy bit of rigging to the plastic cheekblock that tried to replace it. Which would you rather bet your life on?
|Close up of grommet with a thimble seized into one end|
When researching rope grommets on the Wooden Boat forum, I got the impression that it was very difficult to spice a grommet. Not true. I learned how to do it in an hour, while watching American Idol last week (my guilty pleasure.)
My first effort wasn't perfectly shaped, but it certainly was strong -- probably at least 98% as strong as the rope itself.
|Red dots show where I plan to use rope grommets.|
That, I think, is where those two missing eye straps come in.
I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure those eyestraps were part of a lazyjack/topping lift system. I found something very like it in Emiliano Marino's Sailmaker's Apprentice:
|Topping lift/lazyjack system|
The legs are just another line. It's tied to the boom at (1), led up the back side of the sail through the eye (2) and back down to the boom, where it passes through the aft eye strap (3). It then goes up the front side of the sail, through the eye (4), and back down to the boom (5).
Instead of being tied off, the line is led along the boom through fairleads into the cockpit where it is tied off to a cleat (6). You can pull on this line to tighten up the system to make it work like a topping lift, or slack it off for sailing.
Since the strap eyes are on the bottom of the boom, and just hold the leg line in place, the topping lift will be as strong as the line and spars.
Pretty clever, these old timers, eh?
Finally, how to keep the yard -- the 11' pole laced to the top of the sail -- under control while I raise and lower the sail. As I said, this baby swings around like a bucking battering ram in a breeze. The lazyjacks will help, but it needs something more.
|Hint of a parrel line in plans|
plans by Tom Gilmer
What's a parrel line? According to Wikipedia, it's "A movable loop or collar, used to fasten a yard or gaff to its respective mast. Parrel still allows the spar to be raised or lowered and swivel around the mast. Can be made of wire or rope and fitted with beads to reduce friction."
Loop? Rope? Sounds like the perfect job for yet another grommet!
So, that's my solution to the Mystery of the Blue Moon. It's not the only one, of course. There are many correct solutions to this puzzle. But it's a satisfying one that fits all the clues left by the Blue Moon's original builder, whoever he was. More importantly, it should tame my mizzen and turn it into a useful sail that can be quickly raised and lowered without a fuss.
I can't wait to give it a try!
>> Next Episode: Huntington Harbor