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June 2016

Getting a W17 ‘ready for the road’ …. a step-by-step summary of the folding process

After hauling the boat out, the sail (already rolled around the boom) is generally moved to the vehicle or can be slipped down into the cockpit.


A gin pole end fitting is slipped into the mast tube and the pole supported by a fixed-length topping lift clipped to the mast. Two side guys clip to brackets mounted aft of the front beam. A U-shaped ‘shoe’ is slipped under the mast base and bolted to the beam (see photo) and a pivot bolt slipped through the bracket and the mast. This prevents the mast from rotating and holds the mast heel as it is lowered. So far, this takes about 10 mins to set up. After the main halyard is snapped to the after traveler and tensioned, the shrouds are moved to the same P&S brackets so that all is in line with the mast pivot and finally, the spinnaker halyard is snapped to a 4:1 tackle clipped to the bowsprit and the jib-forestay detached. That’s another 10 minutes. A wood crutch (complete with a roller) is then placed in the aft well of the boat and supported with lines P&S around the aft beam, and the mast then lowered into it. Once down, the pivot bolt is pulled out and the mast rolled forward a few feet … and moved slightly to port. So about 25 mins in all so far.


Plywood stools are now centrally placed over each beam, and where attached to the amas and beams, both trampolines are slackened about 6”. A notched post is now placed under the port ama to stabilize the boat during the folding. The two starb’d lower latch pins are then pulled out, and with the tallest person at the bow, the starb’d ama is lifted up and over … to land its outboard edge on the wood support. Once there, a small wood frame (see part with holes in brackets in the photo) is placed over the bow of the starb’d ama and the mast lifted up to the outer ledge of this bracket. (This moves the mast sufficiently clear of the centerline, so that the last ama does not contact the spreaders while being folded). The port latch bolts are now pulled out and the last ama folded ‘up & over’ to also sit on the wood stools. It’s not heavy, so if reasonably tall, even a female crew member can generally handle the rear end of this. The important thing is to work together, as you do not want to twist the ama-aka joints. (lifting from one end only, is definitely a no-no).


Once all folded, the mast is repositioned on the centerline and a mast retaining line plus two straps added over the boat decks fore and aft. With a support under the rudderstock and a rear light-bar added, the rig is ready to trail. Say another 20 mins.

Although the ‘packaway’ takes about 45 mins. in total, it will likely take 10 minutes longer to do things in reverse, as setting up the boat for sailing always requires more checks and adjustments. Either way, it’s all part of ‘playing around with small boats’ and therefore something to be cherished rather than bemoaned.

Further progress was made on shortening the rigging time during 2016.  By using :   1) trapeze lines to stabilize the mast sideways; 2) attaching the gin pole to the pivot pin at the mast shoe and 3) by using a pre-mounted trailer-winch instead of the tackle to the bowsprit; the total rigging time from trailer to launch has now been demonstrated at around 40-45 mins. This assumes there is a trailer-winch available and also a helper who is tensioning the trampolines while the Skip looks after the mast-rigging set up.  Such improved times can be achieved with planning, practice and repetition.


Feel free to send in specific questions or comments via my Questions Form, that I may select to answer through this website if considered of broad interest.


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