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Billygoat newbie question thread


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Hi Maricatters,

Starting a new thread as an introduction and somewhere to post all the questions I'm gong to have in the next few weeks/months/lifetime.

I grew up in Sydney racing Skyriders, then Flying 11s, and eventually sailing sheethand on a very non-competitive 16' Skiff out of Drummoyne (I don't think we finished a race in the couple of years I was sailing there, but we had a lot of learning experiences...). Dad bough an ancient NS14 at one stage, which we floated around Botany Bay on a few times before I moved to Melbourne, then on to Ballarat.

It's now 20 years since I sailed regularly, so I used to know a few things but will be a bit rusty. I'm thinking it's about time my 9yo daughter learned one end of a mainsheet from the other. We have Lake Wendouree in town - an over-filled swamp about 2km across... shallow and full of weed, so I figured we'd be best off without a centreboard. The only cats I've sailed have been rented by the hour, a handful of times in the past decade. So I won an eBay auction, and brought our new old Maricat home yesterday.

Apparently she was a Sydney boat originally, then was sailed keenly by somebody near Sale before moving to Melbourne under the ownership of the guy I bought her off yesterday. He had never sailed, and didn't have a very successful time with it.

So, I've now emptied my sail box and tallied up two booms, two mainsails (with different numbers... one 23xx and one 24xx, both rainbow, the 23xx seems to be slightly bigger... both made by a sailmaker in Sydney, old enough that the phone number on the label only has 7 digits - I remember going to 8 digits in about 1992). Two jibs on furlers (different shades of yellow - haven't unfurled them to get a better look), with jib sheet pulleys attached, and one with no hardware (with an American sailmaker's patch sewn on it, may be a random misfit). Two sets of three older looking stays (one with the fourth broken eye that must have been attached to the broken stay in the box), one set of two newer looking stays. I've pieced two pairs of intact stays into a set of four, which appear to be two fore and two aft stays. Will worry about mast rake later. I'm thinking that the two new ones must be for sloop rigging.

I'm thinking that breaking a stay must have been the end of Old Mate's brief sailing career - he said he never tried rigging with a jib, and there are no jib sheets anywhere to be seen. He never mentioned breaking a stay, but that information may have been forgotten in his haste to get me and the boat out the gate. There's a toolbox full of random bits - lots of pairs of pulley blocks... assumed to be jib related,, although I haven't found anything that might be a boom vang either (if we run a vang on these? I haven't looked at the boom/mast connection yet). Digging through your own sailing toolbox can be a scary and confusing time, digging through somebody else's toolbox is even worse. It looks like a few bits may have been stowed while wet, but hopefully nothing terminal.

The hulls seem to be in good shape; the port side hatch is half full of salty water. If it got in and never got out again, I reckon the screw hatch itself must be suspect. The tramp was new when Old Mate got it, but has popped a short section out of one of the tracks, so I'll have to see about getting that back in somehow. The mainsheet and outhaul have been on the boat, out in the weather for who knows how long, but the blocks seem to be in okay shape even if the sheet needs replacing. The rudder blades are in fair shape, the downhaul (? terminology?) ropes and shock cord bits are pretty ragged, and the stick what joins the tillers together :-D is corroded pretty badly where the extension is riveted on.

So, my plan now is to try and rig her up, on the trailer in the back yard, to check that it's possible... then de-rig, head down to the lake and give it a proper trial run. Without jib sheets, we'll be cat rigging for the immediate future, but I'm pretty keen to get fully rigged before long. May need some assistance there - I've only ever had direct pull jib sheets, and both my rigged jibs have pulleys on them, so we must use some kind of mechanical advantage (which must involve some of the pulleys in my box). I used to solo the F11s and NS14, so should be able to solo this Mari with minimal assistance from offspring, until she gets the idea of pulling ropes when shouted at.



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Okay. First rig successful. Had to put longer chainplates (had some in my scary tool box) on the bows so the stays would reach, but I eventually got the mast up and stable. Maybe a bit more slack in the stays than I'd like, but it's hard to tune with chainplates... I'm used to whipping the forestay to the bow of a monohull, and just making it as tight as you want on the day.

Anyway, I've had both mainsails up and rigged. The older one (23xx) must be cut for an unraked mast - the boom is quite low. The newer one (24xx) is quite a bit higher at the clew. It has been stored with the battens tensioned :-/ but seems to be the nicer of the two sails. Got the sail downhaul and vang worked out... not sure if it's standard rigging, but it went together pretty easily, and looks like both booms are pretty much the same.

So... my next task is to get the sheets in order. Replace the mainsheet, source some jib sheets. Is there a standard for what length of what size of what type rope is used? Looks like I'm set up to run 2:1 jib sheets, if there are different options, and it's a 6:1 mainsheet.

Didn't get up to the lake today, but planning to get out there tomorrow and see how it goes.


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The weed may be an issue.  I sailed Wendouree  in the 60s and 70s, and if the water levels were down then the weed was a significant factor, and part of tactical considerations.

Many of us have the tips of the rudder blades tucked forward (plenty of advice on this in previous posts) to give the Mari a much lighter feeling helm.  I am guessing that if your boat has this then you will get quite a weed collection on your blades very quickly.

Darcy on this forum is a good source of advice on these old girls.



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Jib sheets, no real set length, make them as short as you can to save having to pull all that rope through the blocks. (I have mine at a length that just allows me to almost fully furl my jib but only that). Main sheet normally is 10.000 metres long.  That allows you to use an "endless" mainsheet traveler, ie the end of the main is run through as the traveler, saves having an extra rope on deck, you can adjust the traveler easy as you already have the main in your hand, yes you can tie the end of the main to the traveller sheet but then you have this knot that gets caught in every thing.  Look up the stuff for setting the rudders, re amount of helm.

Inspect the dolphin striker, if its suspect in any way replace it, if that breaks its swimming time for you.

Forget about the vang ("boom vang, we don't need no stupid boom vang").

If you need new or second hand parts or any advice call Mick Colecliffe on 0419999785, he is the NSW Maricat dealer.

Anything else that you are unsure of or need to know or see, we can always take a photo of our boats so as you can compare, just let us know.




NSW /ACT Maricat Assoc.



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More stuff I thought of.

Rig tension is achieved by the use of the mainsheet, when you are all rigged, pull the main right out to one end of the traveller then pull on a fair bit of tension in the sheet.  Then adjust your stay tension with the main keeping the stay on this side loose.  Repeat for the other side.  If the wind is up, you'll have to turn the boat through the wind so as the main will set on the side you want it to.

its easier to rig the boat off the trailer, with it sitting flat on the ground, use some rubber or such to stop the rocks etc from damaging the hulls.  To learn how to rig on your own read the notes stuck to the top of this forum.

Re the weed you may be better off with beach rudders.


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Photo showing my jib sheet setup, and it will give you an idea of the length of the sheets needed, (mine is probably on the minimum).


Nope maybe not, I can't get the photo small enough (40kb) and still have it readable.

The photo is in the gallery section under the maricat folder, look for jib sheet setup.



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Thanks lads.

I got out on Lake Wendouree yesterday, and earned myself a good sunburn. Had a steady northerly blowing all day, peaking at around 15 knots which was ideal for me.

I had a few stonking good tacks across the lake... then found out how cats like to stand on their tail when rounded up into the wind when you're a bit slow on the cleat... proceeding into a backflip. I gave the sail a good rinse and learned how the righting rope works :-D. That happened right outside a lakeside restaurant where my in-laws were having lunch, unbeknown to any of us at the time - I didn't know they were there, they didn't know who was flopping a rainbow sail around in the water for their entertainment.

My rudders aren't tucked under, and when we get up and moving she pulls to windward like a very pully thing. I can see why the mod is so popular. But, as noted, I already get more than enough weed on my vertical blades... they'd be even worse tucked under. The wind eased off a bit later in the day when my daughter was ready to come out, so she had a good time steering in the light air. I expect it to be a bit more neutral once I get a sloop rig working.

Lake Wendouree makes things a bit difficult for beach rigging. The entire swamp^Wlake is lined with rocks set in concrete, with trees overhanging the water to foul masts if you try and move through the shallows. No beaches at all. Definitely easiest to rig (and de-rig) the mast on the trailer to minimise the amount of on-water rigging required. Everything generally went okay (rigging solo), but I'll choose a ramp somewhere with fewer trees next time.

I figured out why the forward port corner of my trampoline is popping out of the track. The rivets on the clamping strip have broken. That would also explain the salt water I found in that hatch, and why there was a fair bit of water in the hull at the end of the day (granted, that hull was in the water for a while when I went over). I'll get some new rivets and drill-tap-replace the whole lot... if some are gone, the others must be close. Not sure whether I'll replace the strips with caravan tracks... depends what I find at Bunnings.

I ran a tape measure over my stays. The ones I have on at the moment are 5000mm aft, 5210mm forward, all just long enough to attach to the end hole of a long (10 hole) chain plate at each corner. I hadn't thought of using the mainsheet to tension the rig, but it was okay for the conditions, with a bit of slack in the leeward rear stay. I guess my current mast rake is somewhere between "traditional" and "modern".

I like the idea of running a single mainsheet - traveller sheet. Mine are knotted together at the moment. The rope is horrible... I wore cycling gloves yesterday, and my hands are still absolutely trashed. Not sure where to find new sheet rope around here. Apparently there's a boat parts shop in town, but I expect they're more about outboard motors and rod holders than sheet ropes. I'll have a look. Otherwise... do BCF sell anything useful? Online options?



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Plenty of action on the mari front. More time fixing than sailing, but that's boats for you.

I figured out a workable sloop rig, and got out for a brief sail in light winds on Lake Learmonth yesterday. A couple of locals stopped for a chat as I was rigging up; one reckoned I was the first to sail there since the lake filled. Not sure whether he meant since it was walk-across dry 5 years ago, or just since our horrendously wet winter and spring filled all the catchments to overflowing. Either way... blazing new trails.

Had a bit of an "oops" moment when derigging. Main and boom packed away, jib furled... then I remembered that I had used the traveller/mainsheet technique to tension my shrouds, and hadn't released them while I still had a main sheet rigged. Oops. Solution eventually involved a very tight halyard to the back beam, and some colourful language. Will remember to de-tension before de-rigging next time.

My next problem is my port tiller. I noticed it was sitting much lower to the deck, and on investigation... the pic tells the story :-(

I've read an old discussion here that 28mm Al tubing isnt a standard... but I have found that my local Ballarat ally shop does sell 28.58x1.42mm tubing... and offers a tube bending service. That seems to be almost the exact dimensions of the busted one. Looks like I'm doing myself a new tiller system!

They say the 28.58 tubing is "telescopic", in that 25mm goes up it, and it in turn goes up standard 32mm tubing. Makes me think it might be worth nesting a bit of 25 in the rivet area where it broke, for extra strength. Although, the first one lasted 30 years or so, so it's probably strong enough without.

Also thinking I might dispense with the heater hose joiners, and do a bolt-up connection. That would definitely be a good place for an inner sleeve.

I broke one of the original rudder pull-down levers the other day, and hacked a replacement together out of a bit of ~12mm Al tube I had kicking around, bolted to the original bracket. Worked really well at Learmonth yesterday. Now I'm wondering whether to duplicate it on the other side, or whether to start over and just attach jam cleats to the new tillers.

Fun and games!



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  • 1 year later...

No newbie question today - I'm generally on top of things now, making mods and repairs along the way as I need to.

Just a video. I've taken to mounting an action cam under my jib furler. Gets some good footage.

This was last Friday on Lake Burrumbeet (20km west of Ballarat). I had the day off work, and at 42dgC with a solid nor'westerly blowing, I had to make the most of it.

It was pretty gusty and quite choppy for an inland lake, which added to the excitement.

The wind picks up at about the 1:00 mark, and things really get moving :-D


Like I said, it was a bit gusty...



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