This Gaff rigged mainsail using classic colored Vektron narrow panel is a 36 foot wooden ketch.

This Gaff rigged mainsail using classic colored Vektron narrow panel is on a 36 foot wooden ketch.

Gaff and Square Sails

Gaff mainsails are designed and engineered using the same specifications as our conventional mainsails. Much of the detailing for Gaff sails is applicable to Square Sails as well. One of our most recent projects that incorporated Gaff and Square sails was the build out of the entire sail inventory for Rhode Island’s Tall Ship, Oliver Hazard Perry. There are a couple of key details that are unique to four sided sails, which are noted below.

Edge Attachments:
Depending on how precisely the sails attach to the spars, we can install any type of slide. Usually, though the luff on Gaff sails has grommets in it that shackle or lash to wooden hoops on the mast. The foot of the sail, if not loose, and the head of the sail will lash to their respective spars using a light line.

On square sails where only the head of the sail attaches to the yard we work closely with the ship’s crew to arrive at the best attachment required for the service.

Oliver Hazard Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry

Our standard specification will be for webbed on stainless steel rings, although this can vary depending on how the spars are rigged.

As with all HOOD Sails, the detailing in the reefing patching reflects the requirement that all HOOD Sails provide lasting value over a long time. The engineering for these sails is based on that used for conventional sails.

Two-ply Leech:

Oliver Hazard Perry

Oliver Hazard Perry

On occasion where the engineering demands it, we will do a two-ply leech. As it suggests, this is a detail where the leech of the sail has a second ply of sailcloth sewn down so as to provide the strength and stretch resistance the sail requires. Boats with Gaff rigs tend to be heavy displacement so increasing the sail’s specification is common.


Leech Cord:
The leech cord is generally installed the same way as conventional sails, unless there is a reason to lead it overhead, which we can do as necessary.

Batten Pocket Ends:
The batten pockets are designed, manufactured, and installed as for conventional mainsails or they can be custom designed as circumstances dictate.

Chafe is very often a big consideration of Gaff (and square) rigged boats. As for conventional mainsails, both three rows of stitching and/or Duroseam is an available option. Many gaff-rigged yachts and ships and almost all square-rigged ships today are working ships that put a lot of miles on their sails in short order. In many cases, for square sails in particular, we will install heavy Dacron “tapes” over the seams to defend against the seams being chafed directly. These can be readily removed and replaced as required, thus saving the seam stitching from chafe. We can apply leather chafe protection too, commonly used in the corners of the sail.


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