Jury Rig

Pepita's substitute rig doesn't cut it
Mike Wick

We had arranged an outing for a group of seven boats, catboats, Welsford boats, a Sea Pearl, and my melonseed, PEPITA. We would start from Dame’s Quarters, cross the Wicomico River and the Nanticoke for a lunch stop, then sail across Fishing Bay to Goose Creek, not far from Hooper Strait. It was going to blow strong, so I decided not to use my regular gaff rig, but to go with a leg o’ mutton rig from a slightly narrower boat. My other boat is a foot narrower; the rig had only 2/3 of the sail area. You can see from the picture that my mast seems narrow for that boat, and I guess it was.

Damage control party report to Frame 2

The first five miles of our trip was blowing strong enough so that I was glad of a reef, even with my smaller sail, but soon it lightened up enough so that I could shake out a reef. As I came into Clay Island under full sail, the wind was fairly strong but not all that strong. I heard a crack right at the gooseneck , and my fine bird’s mouth Douglas hollow mast came tumbling down. “Just wait until I get my hands on that mast builder; that’s right, it’s me.” I paddled ashore in a jumble of mast and sail , The brain trust gathered around my stricken boat and began to minister to her needs.

The mast had broken fairly low, and there was plenty of length left, so we decided to restep the shortened spar and tie a reef in the sail. It wasn’t a handsome repair, but it would see me out. The boom lay on deck and I was able to tack just by passing the boom over my head. It didn’t need a mainsheet at all. Thus we went on to Goose Creek to anchor in the lee of Ruben Point for the night . It was a merry crowd; we ate and drank well .

Next morning was light winds but a weather report predicted more wind in the afternoon. I got up early to catch as much of the calm as I could while my partners came along behind. The boat was’t great for pointing, but I was just able to weather Clay Island before the wind picked up. It was a wet reach to Dames Quarters , and then Pete’s Marshcat towed me upriver to near the launch, then his outboard ran out of gas. I tried to row but could barely move upwind, so I anchored in the channel and was scratching my head wondering what I would do next , when a passing speedboat saw my plight and gave me a final lift to the ramp. Good thing, too because I had had a full day and was ready to trailer my boat home.

I was pleased with my 20 mile passage completed ¾ of the way under jury rig but wondered what had gone wrong. There must have been a fault in my mast, but I had used it for many miles on another boat . Especially when unstayed masts are concerned, we concluded that you can’t trade rigs between narrow and beamy boats.

Early bird catching the worm