The 10 Laws of Boat Rigging

One of the cool things about rigging your own boat is that you can personalize it. Make it everything you want it to be. It’s not about spending a lot of money (although you could!), it’s also about coming up with an idea, designing it, and putting it in place.

To do it right, you have to spend time thinking about what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. This post discusses our philosophy of design and installation, and the underlying principles that contributed to it.

Our first pass at the Rack

Our first pass at a luggage rack for Toy Boat 2

It is Part II in a series regarding boat riggingPart I discussed what we decided to add to Toy Boat 2. Subsequent posts will dive into more detail about the rigging process, and we’ll wrap up with some posts on what went wrong (or didn’t go quite the way we expected), how we fixed the problem, and what we’d like to do in the future.

Fundamental limitations of ocean skiffs:

Before we bought anything, we did a fair amount of research and planning. We reviewed equipment and pricing, went over customer feedback and reviews, checked on availability, planned out how we would install it, etc., etc. As we did our planning, we kept these issues in mind:

  • Skiffs don’t have a lot of room. This is made worse by the amount of safety gear you should bring along, and the fishing tackle you will bring along.
  • Getting wet is to be expected
  • Rough water and subsequent pounding is to be expected
  • Skiffs will rock more than large boats
  • Managing weight (both total weight and distribution of the weight) is critical
Bait-pump disconnect experiment

An experiment in making a bait pump quick-disconnect

If you combine these limitations with Murphy’s Law and a couple of laws of thermodynamics, you get:

“The 10 Laws of Life Aboard a Skiff”:

  1. Sooner or later, you will wind up tripping over, bumping into, or falling on top of, almost everything in the boat
  2. Everything will eventually get wet
  3. Getting pounded in rough water is a “when”, not an “if”
  4. Anything that can break loose and slide around, will break off and slide around
  5. If you’re going overboard, everything looks like a handgrip
  6. When you need something the most, you will not be able to easily get to it.
  7. Almost everything will eventually break, and have to be repaired or replaced
  8. You will make mistakes and/or change your mind about how things are laid out. These things will also have to be repaired or replaced
  9. You can’t anticipate every problem
  10. There is a natural order or flow of things that you should follow – don’t fight it!
Hose Coil

Our HoseCoil install

What does this mean when rigging a boat??

Before we buy any equipment or make any modifications to Toy Boat 2, we ask ourselves “What will happen when we apply the 10 Laws”? That is:

  1. Will doing this make it hard to move around the boat? What will happen if we trip over it, bump into it, or fall on top of it?
  2. What will happen when (not if) it gets wet?
  3. Will it survive when we repeatedly run the boat through rough water?
  4. Is it securely anchored to the boat? If not, what will happen when (not if) it gets loose?
  5. What will happen to it when the heaviest person in the boat grabs it to avoid going overboard?
  6. Can we access it easily? Or does it matter?
  7. When it breaks or we want to replace it, how easy will it be to remove?
  8. If we decide to move it, how easy will it be to repair the damage caused by installing it?
  9. How easy will it be to fix an installation error?
  10. Is this the easiest way to do something? Or is there a natural way to correct a problem?

An early photo of Toy Boat 2 at rest

Of course, not everything we do will survive the 10 Laws of boat rigging. Like most things in life, rigging a boat often involves compromise. The key is making sure that if you have to compromise, you fully understand the ramifications of what you’re doing.

Next up: Some tips on selecting gear