Of goosenecks and tabernacles

Until very recently I assumed goosenecks were of interest only to geese and tabernacles were the natural habitat of Mormon choirs. Now I know that they are also parts of my boat’s rigging. Both were installed a few weeks ago.

A gooseneck is an elaborate hinge that connects the boom to the mast. It allows the boom to swing sideways and also fold up and down. My boat’s designer included instructions for fabricating a sturdy gooseneck from iron rods, a short piece of pipe and some pins. But I’m impatient and also largely disinterested in metalwork, so I purchased a simple and serviceable gooseneck from Duckworks, my always reliable source for “exactly what I needed” boat building parts.

Here’s how it looks:

The tabernacle is simply the lower part of a hinged mast. It sits upright through the boats cabin and with the mast. Creating the tabernacle was much more difficult—emotionally, at least. I built my mast some months ago and devoted two full weeks to its carefully assembly. Now I had to cut it down at its knees. The bottom four feet would sit in the previously assembled mast box and become the tabernacle, while the top eleven feet would be reattached with some sturdy hinges and serve as the mast. This allows the mast to drop for transportation without having to be completely removed and disassembled.

To avoid mistakes, the rule is “measure twice, cut once.” But in this case, I think I measured a hundred times. I absolutely did not want to make a stupid mistake and cut the mast too high or too low. So only after reviewing my plans for the tenth time, did I finally take my circular and slice through the mast.

The next step was to reconnect the bottom and top portions with hinges. The designer called for two 12 inch gate hinges, one on each side of the cut. This made sense; the hinges had to securely hold the mast upright. But I had a couple of problems: The largest gate hinge I could find was ten inches long and, furthermore I also discovered that my gooseneck got in the way; I could use a hinge no longer than six inches on the inside.

A quick tour of boat building Web sites reassured me that many other builders had made similar modifications and that, in the end, the mast would be held up by the stays— which the nautical term for ropes that reach from the top of the mast to the hull below. The results strike me as functional, if not especially elegant.

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6 Responses to Of goosenecks and tabernacles

  1. Tom says:

    Great Progress Paul

  2. Paul Boyer says:

    Thanks, Tom!

  3. Tom says:

    Have you decided on sail material? Are you making them yourself or having them made? There’s always a good cost/benefit/effot thought process there.

    • Paul Boyer says:

      Tom, Hold on a few more days. I’m working on the sails and will post an update. I’m going the polytarp route, but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot….

  4. roger mullette says:

    How did this hinging above the folded mast/gaff work. I am building another boat now (SELWAY FISHER ABLE) and the ability to just fold the upper mast over the doused sail and gaff would so simplify the launching process. Roger

    • Paul Boyer says:

      Sorry for the delay in responding, Roger. I neglected the blog for nearly a year for reasons I will soon explain. Anyway, the hinge simply allows the mast to fold down without having to pull the whole mast out of the mastbox. It’s hinged on the back for folding. The front end also has a hinge–but the bolt is cut so that it can slide out (for lowering) or put back into place once the mast is raised. What I realized after building the boat is that the hinges help keep the mast in place,but the really don’t hold up the mast under sail. It’s the stays that keep the mast from crashing down once the sails are raised. I hope this helps!

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