Please visit our home site at

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

Friday, January 27, 2017

Many Hands Make Light Work

I shall build... THe ARK!
Heard it's gonna rain.

We cannot do with more than four
To give a hand to each.
-- From The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

Many Hands Make Light Work

Maybe I should be satisfied with two arms, hands and opposable thumbs. But most days it just doesn't seem enough - even with a bucket of clamps to back us up.

So here's a few ways to give ourselves a hand.

Stanley MaxSteel Multi-Angle Bench Vice

This light duty vice rotates in all angles around the ball joint we see protruding at the right. This means you can clamp the whole vice either horizontally or vertically, then angle the 3 in jaws as you choose.

This has been very handy for any number of small projects!


SE MZ101B Helping Hand

This doohickey has a weighted base, and all the parts slide and lock.

It's been especially useful for soldering wire and electrical components. Definitely a friend  in need when trying to juggle a soldering iron, flux, the wire and whatever fitting we're trying to make as one.


I couldn't find the artist to credit for this great drawing!

This bar clamp works by setting up wedge pressure at the variable end against a block fixed at the far end.

Our first workbench featured this system, cut in half. The far end was bolted under our work surface with the variable end protruding. The bench edge acted as the fixed block. In actual fact, the 'variable' end, in our case, was fixed at an angle that matched the wedge (block and wedge cut from a wide, 2x plank).


Pallet WorkBench

Our Q&D mentor turned us on to workbenches made from pallets. Any number can be joined by sliding 2x4 stock longitudinally between the slats before adding legs to any comfortable height. Two or three usually does the trick. Can usually find them free for the asking.

It's easy to clamp, anywhere, and circular saw cuts into the slats are no big deal (cut clear of nails, though!). Just swap 'em out as necessary. For a solid surface, we find it's easiest to lay down a square of plywood.

While any pallets can be used, look for those with slats of uniform height and check that their longitudinals are undamaged and have good grain.


This is just the tip o' the iceberg!

Try scrolling down these image search returns for DIY clamps. Lots of great ideas out there. Wood and wedge, nut and bolt, even PVC springs!

We don't need most or all of them, by any means, but it's amazing how often an idea tucked away comes in handy, one day.

 Handy, handy!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Riglets: A Look at Promising MicroCruiser Rigs

Sven Yrvind showin' us how it's done!

[NOTE: Sven Yrvind may have more off-shore experience in very small boats than anyone alive. His advice is simple, modular mast/sail units that are easily muscled up or down.]

Set a little sail to catch a little  wind,
To lift the hull and give it wings,
And roll us 'round the bend.

Riglets: A Quick Look at Promising MicroCruiser Rigs

In my book, a sailing MicroCruiser is much more than a DaySailor.

It's got to be able to stand up to some shit. It should provide shelter from the elements and sleep its crew aboard. It should carry supplies for a cruise. Human auxiliary propulsion.

So its rig must be handy.

Handy to set and strike. Handy to handle. Handy to reef. Handy to DIY.

Dropping the mast to the deck reduces windage for rowing... free-standing is a plus. Easy handling, especially 'hands-off' from the cockpit via lines, makes for easy, trouble-free sailing, Easy reefing means we can reduce power quickly when ambushed by the wind. DIY 'cuz we're cheap.

'Course, we might be tempted to give a little, one way or the other...

Many traditional western rigs - 'Marconi', sprit, lug, and gaff among others - get lots of coverage. But they present challenges for the microcruiser, as well. To address them, a number of lesser known rigs have been tried. While they, too, need careful implementation and adaptation, each offers a 'new' approach to practical sail.

In what follows, I'll give a very brief description with a pic... the headers and high-lit text are links to further information.

So let's go take a look at some contendahs!

New Haven sharpie drawing

Imagine these cut-off sails are LOM!

Attribution: Barbetorte, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>,
via Wikimedia Commons

A standard LOM, often laced to the sail, with a sprit boom extending forward from the clew and tensioned by a 'snotter' at the mast. It allows adjusting the sail's 'belly' and is self-vanging. The inboard end may be used as a lever in the manner of a sail tiller. Variants include wish-bone booms, possibly with 'baskets'. The booms are low and easy to handle.

This rig is common in sharpies, and favored by Phil Bolger and used in many of his designs. Wishbone variants were common in the line of NONSUCH Catboats

An uncommon option we've used extensively is eliminating a running halyard. The peak is fixed near the mast-head, as is a line running downward to a cleat near the partners. This line is used to spiral wrap the boom (brought vertical) and sail when furled.

This one is perhaps the traditional rig to beat.


Image from Horizon Sails

This is a quadrilateral sail with its peak spread by a sprit rising diagonally from a snotter low on the mast. It may also incorporate a sprit-boom in the manner described in the previous entry. It has the advantage of spreading more sail area on a short mast than LOMs can manage.

These are powerful and, once mastered,  handy rig used by many traditional, sailing fisherfolk, especially in the Occident.

Sven Yrvind has rigged many of his vessels with one or two of this type.


Perry Phillip's BOBBER
Junk Rig

Fully battened, standing lug rig with lazy jacks, sheeted along leech. Hands off, easy reefing. Ingenuity required  for easy set up and take down. Countless variations. I sing its praises here.



A fully battened sail luff-mounted on a short mast and sliding gunter. Similar to Junk rig in shape, it can be adapted for JR's easy reefing with light lazyjacks and batten led sheets.

This rig was used by Frederick Fenger on his YAKABOO, canoe sailing the Caribbean in the early 1900s.


Matt Layden's Lug Rig

Layden Lug

Standing lug rig, roller-furled on the boom. Hands off (though gotta be deft with halyard, sheet and furling line). Boom is easily dismounted and lowered to deck. VERY well proven small boat rig!

This rig was designed well-tested by Matt Layden in designs such as his PARADOX.

More info at


This is a taller version than likely for our needs

Ljungstrom Rig

Twin, flat-cut, triangular sails, fixed along the mast. Open wing and wing with two sheets, or sail into the wind doubled and sheeted as one. Roller reef by rotating the mast. Typically boomless.

The rig was designed for catamarans by Frederick Ljungstrom after his son was tragically lost overboard after being struck by a boom.

The BSD Twins are an interesting, boomed variant for smaller craft.


Shown about half reef

Holopuni Quick Rig

This loose-footed, Leg O' Mutton sail roller reefs around the free-standing mast, while the light boom spreads the sail. It's travelling clew outhaul doubles as sheet landing on the boom... both move toward the mast as the sail is reefed.

Note that this could easily be implemented as a half-Ljungstrom!


Illustration may be from one of Daniel Spurr's great books?
Fully implemented, this would be the main.

Stays'l Rig (aka Delta Rig)

Mast stepped well aft, flying large single or double staysail. Roller furling may be used. The LOM 'mainsail'(?) 

Aft placement is handy to the cockpit. Roller furled staysail provides clear air for the leading edge and develops upward lift as well as forward drive. Lies well to anchor. Must be strongly tensioned for windward efficiency. I'd lean the mast aft with amsteel stays set running.

Wharram TIKI 21
Jib optional

  Wharram Wingsail

A short spar gaff sail with an 'envelope' around mast and halyards, reducing turbulence. Can be used with or without a boom.

The short gaff sail was often used in Herreschof designs. James Wharram (and Hanneke Boon?) pioneered the envelope.


T-Modified Crab Claw Rig

This is essentially a Crab Claw Sail set on a short mast with a swiveling yard. Rotates around three axies (vs the normal one)! Very versatile, and possibly a good-to-great rig.

Unfortunately, it demands a lot from a monohull crew in terms of a steep learning curve. Although it holds promise, I can't recommend it as a serious microcruiser rig without further evidence that it's manageable.

Holopuni Canoes refers to this rig as HSS Rig... haven't heard back from them with the inventor.


Transition Rig

Rig based on a bird's wing! Stretch fabric and bone joints allow 'reefing' by extension and flexion. Folds down as a wing folds in. Really. Check it out! Not as low-tech as some, but...

I wouldn't say this one is ready for our needs. But definitely one to watch!

This genius rig was developed by Richard Dryden.  


So there's a quick tour of some rigs a little off the beaten path.

Hotbeds of innovation include,,,

There's a whole world of sailing out there...

Fair winds!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Maasdam Pow'r-Pull: An 'Endless' Rope Come-Along

Maasdam Pow'R-Pull

Come get your duds in order,
For we're going to cross the water,
Heave away me jolly tars,
We're all bound away!
-- Sea Chanty attributed to Pius Power, Sr.

Maasdam Pow'r-Pull: An 'Endless' Rope Come-Along

I'd like to introduce you to a close, personal friend of mine... the Maasdam Pow'r-Pull.

These are much like more familiar wire come-alongs, but not limited by drum capacity. Cranking the 10:1 advantaged handle for 3/4ton straight pull hauls 1/2in rope around a rope clutch. The tail end is passed clear of the hauler to be spilled or coiled. 

This is what makes them 'endless'... we're not limited to a small wire drum's capacity before having to reset. It will work with all the line we've got. If needed, we can turn the hauling part around a block to double the pull to 3 tons.

Polyester braid or laid  line is low stretch, and so preferred for many uses, but the clutch handles nylon as well. This puts anchor line in play!

If 1/2in nylon is in your rode locker, you've got a good length of line available for moving heavy objects, such as a microcruiser hull above the tide line. If it's deployed on an anchor which is set into heavy wind, beyond surf or is simply stubborn, the rope puller gives you additional muscle. Kind of a modern day handy-billy.

We've used ours for all of these, plus moving logs along a beach (for a DIY grid), to pull 'hung' firewood free, to raise and lower mast, and to ride to the rescue of friends and family.

A stunt we unfortunately never got to try was pulling a TRILOBYTE 16x4 straight up a cliff. Would have made for a good pic...

A Fitzcarraldo moment!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Seaweirdy: A Case Study

Brian Small's Autonomous Ocean-Crossing Square Boat
What wearied doom of baffled quest
  Thou sad sea-ghost is thine?
-- John Greenleaf Whittier

Seaweirdy: A Case Study

I'm often asked if Square Boats are seaworthy. I answer that I dunno, but don't see why not, given solid build, good equipment and handling.

On the whole, I defer to the expert opinion of others more experienced than myself.

So, when I hear about a North Atlantic crossing - Newfoundland in Canada to County Mayo in Ireland - by a square boat that's a kissin' cousin to TriloBoats, I get excited!

That's no placid pond... Greenland and Iceland enliven that route. Burgs and floes! Legendary N Atlantic storms!!

What might the crew tell us of their experiences? How was the ride? Did the boat take care of you? Did it test your mettle and push you to your limits? Or did you arrive wondering what all the fuss was about?

Umm. Well. Turns out I set the don't-see-why-not-if-only bar a skosh high.

The build was solid enough, it turns out, and arrived in "relatively good shape". From some of the pics after it's been damaged, I can see substantial framing and structure. If well fastened, it's not surprising that it held up. Foam in the walls provides (reserve) positive buoyancy that was apparently never called upon (the boat was not awash on arrival). Good. Good.

But the gear consisted only of solar panels and electric drive. Inadequate power (reportedly, it could barely move at full throttle). High tech and no redundancy. Anchor gear, if any, was neither visible nor mentioned.

And it was handled... ahh... there was no one aboard!!!

Brian Small - an Ontarian solar mobilist of considerable fame - reportedly built her with the intent to prove that a solar powered Atlantic crossing was possible. He (wisely) decided against the trip, however, and left the boat tied to a dock, gifted to the Canadian Homeless for shelter (via a note left aboard).

The boat apparently broke loose, drifted across the ocean, and fetched up on the shores of the Old World. Only then, in the surf, did it suffer significant damage!

Oddly enough, the relevant Canadian authorities are out of Halifax, home of the HALIFAX ART BOAT... wait for it... a T24x8 TriloBoat!!!.

Kevin McDonald

Not sure what the moral is... I think this story confirms that a Square Boat can be seaworthy. But it sure qualifies as seawierdy!

The story, that is; not the boat!

News reports search results here. Worth poking through a few, if you're interested, as story and pics are spread around.
Here is a follow up article from 2019, confirming Rick Small as the original owner/builder. It has since been refurbished and is now a part of a 'sensory garden' in Binghamstown, Ireland.