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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Cargo Booms for Cruisers
CERES unloading, using her sprit as a Cargo Boom.
Note the 'universal joint' is a simple snotter.

Boom boom boom boom
A-haw haw haw haw
Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm...

-- From Boom Boom by Johnny Lee Hooker

Cargo Booms for Cruisers

A Cargo Boom is a durn handy thing.

Boarding or off-loading cargo (including groceries, luggage, tools, flotsam, what-have-you), a dinghy, an MOB, a pet. Raising a mast, a large hatch, an anchor. Heeling the hull to lift clear of that rock ledge you clipped...

A Cargo Boom is a durn handy thing!

The jargon of cargo handling is extensive and not always perfectly standardized. Here, I'm going to use terms as I've heard them used in my area. For those who care, there are many fine hairs to split.

A fully rigged Cargo Boom

Boom Derrick

The derrick (referring to the whole setup) pictured above is very common, though on small boats, seldom so thoroughly rigged. Essentially, it has a universal joint more or less fixing its derrick/boom heel to a mast, a topping lift to control lift aka hoist (vertical lift/lower) and guys to control swing (horizontal rotation).

A sailboat already has a mast, halyard (generally with multiple purchase) and likely a boom (and/or spinnaker pole). Thoughtfully rigged, the halyard can be transferred to the lift point of the boom (if not already so rigged) and guys added, and shazzam... you've got your cargo boom! Best yet, this kind needs no additional stowage when not in use.

Once set up, the boom can be more or less short and horizontal (preferred for amateurs) or more or less long and vertical (preferred by professionals). In both cases, the topping lift should be at near right angles to the boom.

In the short, horizontal case, the topping lift should be at an acute (sharp) angle to the mast (which then supports the load mostly in compression. The boom is only holding the load away from the mast, in this case, and is under much less stress than if it were near vertical.

Consider a halyard attachment which is easy to shift, with enough extra length to drop the boom end to deck level. Consider a universal joint that can handle the full range of potential boom movement. Consider bungee lines to gather rigging (such as lazy jacks) that go slack during boom operations. Consider supplemental backstays to support the masthead (low stretch line or wire in all stays... nylon is stretchy and can be dangerous!).

Stowing a dedicated cargo boom can be inconvenient. Rigs with spars set on one side of the mast have a section along the mast side opposite the spars that will never be swept, called the chimney. A boom may be stored vertically in this location. Consider using the boom as a side rail (like a lifeline) when not in use.

The pole isn't labelled... it's lower center and angled... the load is hanging from it.

Gin Pole

A gin pole is simply a near vertical boom with no mast.

Essentially, the heel is securely fixed to the deck, and the head inclined over some useful hoist point.

It can be rigged to hoist and swing around that point, but operation is complicated. More commonly, it is guyed (stayed) in one position, and lifting tackle used to hoist the load.

This type is less useful for cargo, and is generally improvised for raising a mast.


An A-frame derrick is a spread pair of poles lashed at the apex, and working in compression. Tackle hoists from the apex, and the fore and rear (aft) guy swing a load up and along a line perpendicular to that of the legs.

On board, this can be set up on the sheer, and cargo hoisted, then swung inboard.

Be aware that the guys can develop immense tension loads if their lead becomes too acute, and the threshold is reached and surpassed in surprisingly short order. If overloaded, something is likely to give - a guy or your sheer structures, most likely - and the A-frame can whop flat like a mouse-trap. Ya feel me, Mouse?

Be sure to limit the swing to short hops, keeping the A-frame near vertical at all times. Consider raising the guy anchors to improve their lead to the apex (closer to right angles).

Downside of A-frames is that they're a lot to stow. On the other hand, they work well at barge ends. Many rigs can be improved by A-frame masts, so it can pay its way between jobs.

I sometimes dream of an aft A-frame, flying a double stays'l rig on roller furlers. Whatta toy!


Keep in mind that, even with relatively light loads, some wicked forces can develop.

As cruisers, our setup is likely to be DIY and... well... funky. Do familiarize yourself with forces involved and safety procedures, and follow them scrupulously! Do not pass under a load or allow anyone else to do so. Move slowly, with good communication among all present. Keep lift/lower and swing in/out operations separate.

Consider familiarizing yourself with vector diagrams to help assess loading. Consider which forces are acting in compression, and which in tension. Consider keeping your boom either short and close in (when used horizontally), or long and close in (when used vertically). Consider hoisting only modest loads.

Cultivate a state of healthy paranoia!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Day in the Life

"Maybe you're getting into the rhythm of sailing life," says James. "You know, the tides going in and then out, the wind blowing east and then west, the high of a perfect day out on the water, the low of a thunderstorm or a wind that won't go your way."
― From Unbreak My Heart 
by Melissa Walker

A Day in the Life

Okay. Several of you have requested a 'typical' day in our life. Not so sure there is such a thing. But if a day like this were to happen, I wouldn't be in the least surprised. Here you go, in all its gritty detail.



The alarm wakens us and I kill it with a swipe. It's still dark in the wee hours, with a light lip,lip of water against the hull. As time and space return to our groggy minds, we recall that we're anchored along one of the 'walls' of Chatham Strait, waiting to catch a fair tide. We've got about an hour to get underway.

Morning. Mmm... kiss, kiss... mmmm.

We've got a few minutes to spoon and cuddle, and make the most of it. A little later, we sing:

It's up in the morning drinking gin...
Hey! Ho! Chicken on a raft!
To have another would be a sin...
Hey! Ho! Chicken on a raft!

Dunno why... it's our 'gotta get up and go' song... it's driving rhythm helps get the blood flowing, I guess.

With an effort, I roll out of the bunk to look around. Wind is light and, of course, contrary... if it had been fair, I'd get us underway, over-running the last of the tide, and Anke would make breakfast when she's ready. As is, we'll wait for the tide to turn before beating into it.

I load and light the woodstove, using kindling split fine and drying in a can beside the stove. In minutes, it's crackling, cabin temp is rising and my breath ceases to steam.

Grind coffee. Set water boil and rice to cook. Saute some greens and spices in a cast iron pan. Slice cheese. When the rice is done, stir it in, part a hole in the middle and add three eggs, then deal cheese over the top. Cover with a lid, and the lid with a towel. Voila! A 'standard' breakfast. More water on for the 2qt thermos and hot drinks through the day.

Anke dozes until she hears The Sound.


That's me, imitating Anke's preferred Italian Expresso Pot as I plunge the French Press. When we moved into SLACKTIDE from LUNA, the smaller galley meant keeping one or the other. The FP handles company, so the other had to go. Turns out, the sound was the critical component of expresso, so far as Anke is concerned; so long as I make The Sound, her coffee tastes right.

We sip our coffees, interspersing thoughts about the upcoming day with quiet appreciation of pre-dawn.

We're vaguely heading for a favorite estuary about 20 nm north. Weather is s'posed to be mild, so we don't have to push ahead of high winds. On the fair, rising tide, we will sail further out to take advantage of stronger current, undiminished by friction with the 'walls'. We note on the charts any rocks, coves, shallows and points of interest along the route, and recall the last shelter behind us (ya never know). We listen to the marine weather forecast (if in range).

Spit bath? Too late... get one tomorrow. Dishes in a bucket for cleanup underway. Start the day's log. Bail the dory. Drop the boards. And time to go.

One of us hauls anchor while the other takes the helm. Today it's Anke's sailing us off. She frees the sheet and raises the mizzen, letting the sheets run (the junk rig hauls sheets vertically on raising) and spilling the halyard in a puddle at one corner of the cockpit. She watches her ranges as I haul, ready to act if we begin to slide before she hears from me.

Anchor's a'trip (Anchor's a'trip)... the flukes just broke free; I can feel it through the line.

Anchor's away (Anchor's away)... anchor is free and I'm hauling hand over hand.

At this point, we begin to slide aft in the light headwind, bow held up by the slack sheet mizzen. Anke backs the helm – shunting the stern opposite our intended course - and begins to raise main.

Anchor's aboard (Anchor's aboard)... cleated taught-set in its roller, ready to drop.

I step to the main halyard and help raise the last of the mains'l. We've angled off on our tack, by now, and the lax main fills. Anke trims and makes fast; the vessel comes alive – heeling a bit – as we begin to slip forward, about 45deg to the apparent wind. I close and dog the anchor hatch before coming aft to help tidy halyard ends into their stowage buckets.

We note the time in the log, along with actual windspeed and direction and barometric pressure. We'll enter these every hour until anchored. Underway, five minutes into the young flood.

And a glorious morning it is!

First light dilutes blue black to blue greys, dark greys to silvered. Mother-of-pearl, opalescent highlights in rose and gold begin to define the clouds before giving way to full day. Today it's squally, stone sky with shafts of golden rays in the breaks. Our sister calls them God's Eyes.

We start slow and pleasantly in light wind and little current before picking up to the day's breeze and mounting tide. Long tacks out (the good one) and short tacks in. Short tacking along the edge of the rain, parallel to and inshore. Where there's something of interest 'longshore, we pull in further than is strictly efficient. Sometimes, we're becalmed, checking out a beach behind a headland and scull our way back to the breeze.

A squall or two bluster by. We drop the sails a panel or two to reef, then sheet to trim. Once past, we ease sheets, raise 'em back and trim again.

By late morning, the tide has maxed and waned. Slackened and fouled. We shift inshore, 'wall-crawling' where the opposing current is slower. Riding back-eddies behind the points and shooting a goodly ways out around them to avoid the counter rush at their tip.

Cold lunch – a rice and pickle salad – and later, coffee and a spoot (peanut butter, brown sugar, chocolate with cinnamon and/or vanilla and thickened with milk powder) to fuel us through the afternoon.

We've made good progress. Rounding a bluff, we see the berm – a twelve foot wall of sand and gravel running perpendicular to the river and parallel to Chatham – embracing our estuary under the watchful eyes of Lynn Mama (one of our favorite mountains). We plan to round that berm and anchor behind it, neaping out for a week or so.

We reach and pass our river entrance, slightly, to a point just upwind and current. We round, and, unopposed, approach with full control and good power to fight the river current (extra strong as the ebb is with it).

We watch our ranges as we enter, pointing counter-intuitively high upstream to track straight for our goal. We slip in behind the berm. As usual, the current is very strong, here. as the flats empty, funneled by the berm. Anke shoots as deep in as she can, then bunks the bow against the steep backside. As she drops sail, I jump ashore with the anchor (pre-cleated) and run it in.

Using the pole at the bow, we position ourselves mid-creek (the flats are narrowing down to drainage creeks), checking with the the pike pole on all sides for equal depth (we want to settle down flat, and can't see through the glacial water). One of us rows out a second bow anchor, then one off the stern. We'll explore our options while the tide is out, then shift the boat on the next incoming tide.

Now it's time for a glass of wine on deck as we take this new place in and wait to ground out. We hold our wine loose as we settle in little lurches, the not-quite-down chine digging in as we sweep back and forth over the bottom. Then a feeling of resignation as she takes her feet; afloat no more.

We're a little low on firewood and it's not raining. When the water's down to ankle depth, we wade across with wood bags (nylon navy surplus sea duffels), saws and axe and walk the berm. We spot and note a muddy flat, perfect for a week's stay in all weather.

Once in the woods, we find a standing dead tree – not so thin as to waste effort; not so thick as to require too much – and drop, buck and split it. A little less than two bags worth, so we split the load. We only carry them near water's edge... we'll pick them up with the dory near high tide.

The sky's clearing to a beautiful sunset, reflecting in from the Pacific on the ocean side of the islands. We decide on a beach fire, and whip up some Dutch Oven delight. Not a lot of small, dry wood on most berms, but always seems to be enough for a week or so, if we don't go crazy.

Well fed, we watch the clouds lose their scarlet ribbed radiance. Shy stars show one by one, regarding themselves in Chatham's now glassy water. The world hushes down in that moment before the night hunters announce themselves to their prey.

We'll have to shift the boat to the flat we spotted sometime after mid-night, riding the incoming tide. Pick up our wood before it rains again. So we dowse the fire and head home.

If we've any juice left, Anke may draw while I doodle a barge. We might read a little, separately or aloud, one to the other. Or play a little music. Or a game of Scrabble?

Like as not, I'll look over and she'll have nodded off. Watching her face - relaxed and flushed in sleep - I'll feel that familiar, warm rush of love and gratitude...

That she lets it be me.


PS. There are other days, of course. Not all go this bucolically. It's even been a while since any day under sail is typical (building for a while, now).

And there are lots of days when I'm the one slug-a-bed and nodding off at the end. It ain't so purty, themdays!