Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Flying Flag From The Backstay"
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Thread: "Flying Flag From The Backstay"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012

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Flying Flag From The Backstay


George and Rayna Shaunfield

Been a long time since I read the specs on flying a flag from the backstay but seem to remember it is something like 2/3 of the way up to the masthead. Anyway, what equipment is needed and what is the best way to fly a flag or yacht ensign there? W32 Galena (http://www.sv-galena.com/) flys their flag that way and I emailed Bill but did not hear back.

Thank you in advance to you knowledgeable Westsailors.
George
s/v Wings of the Morning
W28


Michael Dougan

Can't comment on flying from the backstay, however on gaff-rigged boats, they fly a flag from the leach of the main sail, just below the gaff. Or, they have a special flag halyard which runs through a block at the peak (aft) end of the gaff.

The only etiquette thing I remember about how to fly the flag is to ensure that you not attach both eyelets of the flag to the angled sail (or backstay) because that would make the flag fly at an angle.

You should run a leader of some sort from the top eyelet to the stay (or sail) so that the flag flys level horizontally.

Cheers!


Frank and Melanie Scalfano

I just finished helping with the power squadron booth at a boat show, and it was kind of slow, so I sat there and read some of the booklets at the booth. The one on flag etiquette said pretty much the same as Mike says above. I guess I have been doing it wrong by flying mine on the starboard spreader halyard. Has anyone found a source for the necessary hardware to set up a backstay halyard? The kit offered by Sailrite only fits wire up to 3/8.


Mike McCoy

I just lashed a small 1/8" swivel block to the backstay using a wire tie. I then attached one of those universal cleats that you can clamp on wire (via 'U' bolts) at the bottom. Use your favorite way to hang the flag on a parachute cord halyard and there ya go. No special hardware or expensive kits necessary


Aaron Norlund

Hey all,

I have two flag halyards on my port shrouds; one upper, one lower, as well as one on my backstay. I wrap a bit of self-amalgamating parcel around the wire, then use tarred nylon seine twine to sieze small turning blocks to the rig. My local True Value Hardware store has some small single bronze blocks for $5 that work great.

I use cheap 1/8" braided polyester line with a 3/8" bronze snap hook on each end to clip to the flag. To secure the halyard, I use cheap plastic cleats which are seized to the port shrouds (again, with parcel underneath). The little cleats West Marine sells work great; use a rat tail file to work a trough for the seine twine to seat in and prevent it from being chafed by the halyard being made off to it. I have seized a 6" cleat to both of my forward shrouds for securing my jib downhaul and spinnaker sock trigger lines when in use.

I also have a couple of those stainless bulldog-style cleats on my after lowers to secure the stackpack's lazyjacks, but I plan to replace them with seized cleats as I donk't like the idea of point loading the shrouds with clamps.

If anyone wants photos of this stuff, I can snap a few.

Fair leads!
Aaron N.


Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

Aaron,

By "self-amalgamating parcel" are you referring to something like that tape they sell at boat shows that fuses to itself?

-Steve


Aaron Norlund

Steve,

Not exactly - you're thinking of the plasticized rigger's tape, which is good stuff for some things. It would probably work for this even - the goal is it increase the friction of the seine to prevent whatever your seizIng from moving.

The parcel to which I'm referring though, is a black cloth-based tape that is saturated and coated with a tar-like substance. Whatever the coating is, it is not sticky to the skin, but clings well to metal, and adheres to itself when tension is applied.

I believe it can be purchased from R&W Ropes (www.rwropes.com), and is called something along the lines of "self-amalgamating rigging parcel tape". It can also be found in industrial fishing supply stores. R&W Ropes also sells tarred seine twines, Davie Co. Hardware, and other traditional marine stuff.

Best,
Aaron N.


Frank and Melanie Scalfano

Aaron,

I would like to see a pic of your setup.

Frank


Aaron Norlund

Frank,

OK, I'll take some when I'm home next weekend.

Cheers,
Aaron N.


Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

Thanks Aaron. I've been procrastinating reinstalling the pinrails on my shrouds. I took them off to refinish them and, at that time, it seemed like they tended to slip down the shrouds if any weight was applied. Since I also intend to install ratlines, I definitely need a way to clamp the rungs to the shrouds and not have them slip inder my weight. Looks like this stuff might do the trick.

-Steve


Ralph and Sandra Weiland

Steve,
Take a look at http://www.cruisersforum.com/gallery/showimage.php?i=2351&c=503 for a very professional way to attach ratlines to shrouds. I doubt that your pinrails will stay put for long unless you use siezing along similar lines.
Ralph


Ralph and Sandra Weiland

Aaron,

Thanks for the feedback. I wondered about the single strand of seizing connecting top and bottom in the photograph - talk about a weak link. Doing this stuff represents a lot of work and obviously better to do it right the first time. Looking forward to receiving the book you recommended - just ordered.

Ralph


Aaron Norlund

Ralph and Steve,

That photo is the right idea. However, it is a relatively poor example of a seizing. The 1" gap between the upper and lower seizing is from that ratline slipping down the shroud, and now there is a lone strand of seine exposed to chafe. If it goes, so does the rest of the seizing. This is because it does not incorporate sacrificial frapping turns on top of the load turns, with isolating hitches to prevent the whole

Harvey Garret Smith's "The Arts of the Sailor" is a very good, concise collection of valuable twine and line arts, including all sorts of seizings, lashings, parcelings, and splices, knotts, and other stuff. I highly suggest you get it!

The Arts of the Sailor

I had the pleasure of working aboard a few tallships and have probably done a few hundred seizings, all in Harvey Smith's fashion. Good skills!

Cheers,
Aaron N.


Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

Thanks Aaron and Ralph. I'll take a look at the link as soon as I get all caught up on my WOA message board reading. And, I just happen to already have a copy of that book. Guess I'd better go pull it down off the shelf and get bust reading and then doing.

-Steve


Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

Aaron,
I went back and read Hervey Smith's pieces on parcelling and serving shrouds, Now I'm inspired to give it a go. Besides the practical aspect, it'll look so nautically traditional and go nicely with the rope fenders I'm making. I also re-read and recommend reading what Brion Toss has to say about ratlines in The Rigger's Locker

-Steve


Aaron Norlund

Frank and others,

Here are the photos. Sorry they're so dark; I forgot to shoot the photos until after dark. I tried to modify to brightness/contrast to make everything visible.

Visit the following link. They are near the bottom, and you can click on each one to make it larger:

Projects

Cheers,
Aaron N.





Frank and Melanie Scalfano

Aaron,

Thanks for the pics. Since you obviously know a lot about rigging such things, do you know what the traditional method of rigging a flag that has a luff rope rather than grommets in the corners. I have a couple of flags I got in Europe that I might want to fly some time (I thought I might fly the Venetian flag on the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto;-)


Aaron Norlund

Frank,

I'm not familiar with flags with luff ropes. Is that to say that, rather than having grommets, you have two bits of line coming off the top and bottom of the flag's luff?

If so, depending on how much line you have sticking off, I'd probably splice an eye into each end, or just tie a bowline, so you have a "loop" to clip your halyard's snaps to. This way, you can still use snaps on your flag halyard that are compatible with all of your grommet flags. If ALL of your flags have rope luffs, then leave the flag halyard ends free and tie sheet bends to both ends of the flag's luff line. I prefer little snaps to tying knots onto flags though, mainly because I find it annoying to tie and untie small line.

Perhaps take a photo of one of your luff-line flags?

Cheers,
Aaron N.


George and Rayna Shaunfield

Frank,
Here are two pictures of the way I setup to fly my US flag from the backstay. I used self-almagating rigging tape (only sticks to itself, no tar etc) around the backstay and then siezed a stainless eye strap with SS wire before raising the mast. A Harken micro block is captured by the eye strap.

As hindsight, the only thing I would change is to sieze the eye strap so that it would face forward rather than aft. Also, I went with overkill and used 3/16" braided line.

When sailing I fly the flag two thirds of the way up the backstay which is a little above spreader height (per US Power Squadron website on flag etiquette).

George
Seizing to backstay
siezing

Flag halyard
flag flying


Frank and Melanie Scalfano

George,

I assume that your wished placement of the eyestrap has to do with the way that the halyard tends to hang, presumably down. That got me to thinking about what Mike said about a leader on the upper eyelet. Wouldn't that only work if you were sailing upwind? If the wind is astern, would that not result in the flag flying at even a greater angle?

Frank


George and Rayna Shaunfield

Frank,
My now preferred placement of the block has to do with the fact that raising and lower the flag halyard is more convenient from the boat-side of the backstay. Placing the block on the forward edge of the backstay would simply give it a little better alignment when raising or lowering. Actually, it is a very minor point - not a real issue. If I take the mast down in a few years maybe I will move the block.

I cannot see how a leader would have any benefit. I am quite satisfied with the way the flag flies so far. Of course, it is a little hard to have a good view from underneath it. Pictures of the flag flying from W32 Galena's backstay is what spurred me to mount mine this way.
George

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