How to Rig a Gaff on a Sailboat

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Techniques for rigging boats, casting sails and anchoring can date back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. For this reason there are a variety of rigs, though some are specific to a boat's size. Other rigs are relatively generic and applicable to most any sailboat. Such is the case of the gaff rig -- where the sail is placed fully behind the mast. A spar supports the sail at its top extending upward and behind the mast. Your sail can be secured with a gaff rig with just a little knowledge.

  • Put the mast down in its lowest position with the boom and gaff -- a removable sail, connected. Locate the eye of your lazy jack on the mast and attach it to the upper lazy jack line. Tie the hanging ends back away from the mast.

  • Locate the "throat-halyard," also known as the "throat." It's a line that raises the end of the gaff closest to the mast. Attach the end of the throat to the upper throat block affixed to the mast, connecting to the attachment loop.

  • Run a wire, called a parrel line, through the lower throat block, attaching it to the gaff jaws. Then, run the parrel line through upper throat block and run it back through the block toward the cockpit. This keeps the gaff on the mast. Be certain to check the parrel line to prevent twisting the upper and lower throats.

  • Attach the throat end to the "peak halyard", also known as the "peak." The peak is a line that raises the end of the gaff from the mast. Thread the parrel line through the upper peak block, then back down through the mid-gaff block. Run the parrel line through the lower peak block. Keep the lines free of twists. Run the parrel line through the outer turning block beside the lower throat at the base of the mast to the cockpit.

  • Raise the mast, securing it in place with the gaff. Run up and down your gaff to check for twisted lines. Your gaff rig is now in place.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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