gunter rig

Gunter

[guhn-ter]

In sailing, a gunter is used for two main configurations of rig:

  1. The gunter is defined as a wire that leads from one point near the end of a gaff to a point near the other end. A block travels along this wire, and a halyard is attached to this block. This allows the gaff to be raised to the vertical by a single halyard, though another halyard is required at the gaff jaws to control height.
  2. The gunter is created by hoops or parrel beads which secure the gaff loosely to the mast in a vertical position. A halyard is bent to the gaff jaws to control height.

A sail raised by either of these means is called a gunter rigged sail. A vessel with a gunter rigged mainsail is called a gunter rig.

Gunter rig is normally used on small gaff rigged sailing vessels, such as sailing canoes (not the International Canoe) and dinghies where the gaff is carried very nearly vertical, forming an extension to the mast so that the sail is triangular and mimics a Bermuda rig. The effect is to have a topmast (the gaff) which is a pseudo telescopic extension of the shorter mast.

Operation of each type

Single halyard operation

  1. fix the gaff loosely to the mast in a vertical position, parallel to it, with either hoops or parrel beads so that it will slide freely to the desired height, and ensure that the sail is bent to the gaff.
  2. secure jaws of the gaff around the mast with parrel beads if the gaff is a jawed gaff, or rely on the hoop if hoops are employed.
  3. bend the throat halyard to the jaws
  4. haul the jaws up the mast until the desired height is reached and make fast
  5. using whatever reefing mechanism you have, usually reefing points, reef any excess sail at the foot to the boom (if any) or gather the belly of the sail if loose footed.

Even with a single halyard the hooped gunter is a vertical sliding gaff

Double halyard operation

One halyard, the peak halyard, has a block, sometimes just a shackle, that allows the gunter (wire parallel to the gaff and fixed to it at two points on its upper (or leading) surface) to raise the gaff into the vertical position up against and parallel to the mast. The other, the throat halyard, is used to raise or lower the jaws of the gaff.

The mode of operation is:

  1. bend the peak halyard to the sliding device on the gunter
  2. bend the throat halyard to the jaws
  3. secure the parrel beads around the mast from jaw to jaw to locate the jaws positively around the mast
  4. haul the gaff into the vertical with the peak halyard and make fast
  5. haul the jaws up the mast with the throat halyard until the desired height is reached and make fast
  6. using whatever reefing mechanism you have, usually reefing points on larger vessels, reef any excess sail at the foot to the boom (if any) or gather the belly of the sail if loose footed.
  7. adjust the tension in the luff of the sail by adjusting the throat halyard, downhaul, gooseneck or any combination of these.

Confusion between Gaff Rig and Gunter Rig

Over time the two terms have been used with some interchangeability. While a true gaff rig is with the gaff at an angle to the mast, small boats such as the Heron, the Mirror dinghy and other small sailing dinghies have small, light gaffs which are raised to the vertical position by a single halyard fixed close to the midpoint of the gaff.

This looks like a gunter rig when the boat is fully rigged. However it does not have the sliding component of the wire or the hooped gunter.

Nonetheless such small dinghies have been termed gunter rigged and gaff rigged with free use of each term. It is likely that the fluidity of language allows both terms to be used with correctness for these small boats. For larger craft the terms tend to be more rigorously applied

See also

Gaff rig.

External references

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