Technique Articles - Page 2 of 3 - Small Boats Magazine
The placement of a melonseed skiff's mast so far forward, rules out setting the topsail while afloat. Other boats that have the mast set farther aft and offer the sailer good footing and stability won't have to be rigged while ashore.

Topsails for Sprit Rigs

A classy addition to a classic rig

Barry Long has always liked sailing in light air—ghosting along close to shore on a quiet evening feels like magic, especially in a small boat. But light-air sailing, though relaxing, is surprisingly challenging. In moderate winds, any boat competently handled can attain hull speed, but light wind requires sharp skills and careful attention to detail to get the most out of what’s available. Sail shape and trim make a big difference. Beyond skills, having a little extra canvas adds a sharp arrow to the quiver.

At Nubble Beach on Maine’s Butter Island, the tide exposes several hundred feet of beach at low ebb. Here, the anchor was set just beyond the low tide mark, and the extra warp was walked out the rocky promontory to secure the boats. With this adaptation of the Pythagorean system, the boats can be pulled into water even deeper than it is where the anchor is set.

Pythagorean Mooring

Variations on anchoring

The Pythagorean mooring technique appeared in Roger Barnes’s delightful and informative book, The Dinghy Cruising Companion, when it was published in 2014. It is a simple and clever way to anchor a dinghy without using a clothesline loop or outhaul set up. As described, a Pythagorean mooring, named after geometry’s theorem of right triangles, is most useful in settings where tidal range is modest and where there is fairly deep water close to a shoreline.