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Fletcher's Canoe Sailing Rig

canoe rigged with marconi/bermuda sail

We have the seventeen foot model of the Blue Hole Canoe pictured above, right. I am modifying the canoe to use a homemade sailing rig. The goal is to use recycled and found objects - the only things I have purchased are a few pieces of hardware and some polyurethane.

Sailing Components


The Rudder was adapted for this project from an old rudder found at a garage sale.

Rudder Mount

The Rudder Mount, the only piece I completed before I picked up the project again. I need to add a piece of shock cord to help keep the rudder in place, and to keep it in if the boat capsizes.

canoe leeboard mount

Leeboard Mount

Leeboard Mount, without bolts. It is currently clamped to a thwart with a U bolt. Since the picture, I have added a strap that stretches across the boat and hooks to the opposite gunnel.


A Leeboard is the same as a center or dagger board, except that it is attached to the side of the boat. That little patch in the middle is there because originally, I was going to have two leeboards, with a different mount design. I had to add the top part to make it compatible. I need to design a kick up mechanism that allows the rudder to pop up if it hits something, but stays down otherwise.

(see above)


A used 420 Sail pulled from the trash

Former rig: I made a gaff rigged sail from polytarp. The rig proved to be too top heavy, So I will shorten the mast, remove the boom, and redesign the gaff so that it attaches near where the boom was, and goes diagonally upward and outward.

(see above)


The mast is composed of two pieces, The bottom half is 6' of 2x3, and the top is 10' of a fiberglass windsurfer mast. They are held together by 18" of overlap.

Former rig:The mast is made of a 12' 2x3. I would like to find an aluminum replacement though.

Mast mount

Mast Mount

The mast mount is pretty basic, just a board with a hole that clamps to the gunnel.

homemade mast step for canoe

Mast Step

I am using a step I fashioned out of threaded metal rods. The idea behind this was to let me move the mast location within the boat in order to get the center of effort to make sure that the center of lateral resistance is on the leeboard. The step will be fastened to the mast itself.


Background | Updates

I started this project in the summer of 1999. I picked it up again in 6/2001. I built a second version of the rig in 2002.

I am modifying my 17' canoe with a sailing rig. I found a 420 sail in the trash, bought a rudder at a yard sale, and made everything else out of wood.


8/23/2002 I have finished the mast and the new adjustable mast step.

8/16/2002 I found part of a windsurfing mast in the trash at camp. I am going to use it as my new mast. I will either have to make a new sail or retro fit an old 420 sail to use with it though.

4/19/2002 I have decided that The boat needs some kind of anti capsize device, such as pontoons on the sides or an out rigger/trimaran. Making it self rescuing is beyond the scope of this project. Right now I am thinking some kind of narrow mini surf board, or pvc pipe for the pontoons.

08/14/2001 This project has been put on hold because I am leaving for college & I need a light weight mast.

7/05/2001 I just returned from the cape, having tested my canoe out my canoe. It needs some modifications.
The mast is too heavy.
The leeboard needs to lock in the up position.
The Gaff's "fork" broke and needs to be repaired.
The mast step is loose and make the mast tippy.

6/25/2001 I am trying to finish the rig before I go to the cape in a few days.



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