A Wind Vane for Ella

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Project by Dan Lyke posted 08-13-2012 03:33 AM 1076 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ella is our sailboat, a 12 foot long hard chine skiff from the "Summer Breeze" plans that we built this spring. Ella has a “lug rig” sail, which is a setup that allows sailing fairly close to the wind, requires very little hardware, no complicated boom hinges, a lot of sail area for a fairly short unstayed mast. The problem is that there’s no good place to put a wind vane: Normally you’d either put “telltales” on the shrouds (the cables that hold up the mast) or a vane on the top of the mast, but the highest spar here is at an angle, held in place by the luff of the sail.

So I went into the shop to see what I could do. The brass was all assembled from K&S structural shapes, the only extra cool bit is that the top of the tube which forms the vane bearing has a plug with a brass wire sticking down to form a needle bearing. The gimbal assembly is cut out of purpleheart, I cut the ring with a hole saw and the center of the ring with a Forstner bit, in the drill press. The weight is a hunk of, I think Ipe, because damn it was heavy and seemed perfect to hold the whole thing in place.

In that second picture you can see the range of motion this thing gets.

And in the last picture you can see it up on the spar. This was in my back yard, we’re going over to camp at Lake Berryessa next weekend, hope to spend most of the weekend sailing in that northwestern arm, we’ll see how well it does.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

4 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4142 posts in 1512 days

#1 posted 08-13-2012 07:49 AM

Now that I do like

It would be great for my Hospice project.

It has a great look.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11477 posts in 1761 days

#2 posted 08-13-2012 11:59 AM

Great idea, well made too!! Good luck sailing with it…...................Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Napaman's profile


5346 posts in 2733 days

#3 posted 08-13-2012 05:59 PM

very cool! ANd you MUST post many pictures of sailing in Berryessa—-it counts—-sailing on a boat you built with your own two hands…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1474 posts in 2781 days

#4 posted 08-13-2012 08:01 PM

The problem with posting pictures of sailing is that my Canon G9 broke, so I’m back to using my cell phone. Which has a fixed focal length lens. Which is actually okay for a whole lot of things, but doesn’t work terribly well when the boat is only 12’ long… I end up with a lot of pictures like this:


But I’m hoping I can get some of my GPS issues worked out and we can do tracks of our path in Lake Berryessa. We’ve got reservations for a site at Chaparral Cove, and I’m hoping that northeastern finger is relatively protected and still sailable.

But, yeah, we’ll get the pictures we can…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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