Sailing Question

The sailing season is nearly upon us, though it’s still rather cold here in Normandy. Under 10°C with probably no more than 7 to 8°C in the water, there is a real risk of hypothermia even with a good wetsuit such as I have. I have no intention of putting rescuers’ lives at risk as well as my own! Also, sailing is meant to be a pleasure, not some kind of penance at St Patrick’s Purgatory!

Since publishing a posting on rigging a Mirror dinghy, there has been this query in my search box: what knot for attaching halyard to gaff shackle.

I had said in the other posting: Tie the main halyard to the gaff with a figure-of-eight knot. Here is how to tie a figure-of-eight knot:


If you want to revise your frequently used knots whilst your boat is still laid up for the rest of the winter, here is a good link with animations – Some Useful Sailing Knots. I rarely use anything other than the bowline, the figure-of-eight and the reef knot on a dinghy, sometimes a round turn and two half hitches and a trucker’s hitch for  things like an improvised rope pulley tackle in a jury rig when pulleys aren’t available.


Before tying this knot, with the gaff horizontal and within reach, the gaff jaws on the mast and the parrel tied (figure-of-eight each side of the gaff jaws), thread the halyard through the shackle from the side farthest away from the mast towards the mast. Then tie the figure-of-eight knot. In this way, when the gaff (with the main sail attached) is fully hoisted and vertical, the halyard will run straight downwards through the shackle and be stopped by the knot.

Maybe in a couple of weeks or so… Last year, I sailed at the end of February, but that is most unusual in Normandy. On the sailing forum we have here in France, there are plenty of sailors chafing at the bit and looking for the first opportunity. Some have already been out on the water – – – brrrrr!

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