Lifting with your Rigging

Sailboats can be viewed as delicate creations that glide across pressure differentials in the air and water. Following this logic, you would be inclined to fear using your spars and rigging for anything other than sailing.

This is where davit companies take over, offering you an easy way to create a crane arm on your yacht that will lift your dinghy and outboard motor.

If you want to hang your dinghy on the stern and you don't have over-extending spars, then yes, you will need davits. If you are willing to place these heavy objects on the deck where they would be within the reach of the spars, then no, you won't need davits.

Davits are merely miniature replicas of what you already have, a mast and boom. The mast provides the vertical fixation point while the boom offers the horizontal fixation point. Using the two of these in tandem will allow you to easily lift and position any object you want onto your deck.

To do this, the first thing you need to do is stop viewing your rigging as a setup for sails and instead view it as a crane. The halyard is your hoist and your boom is simply the lateral positioning.

To carry this out, all you need to do is run a line from your mast out to the end of the boom and back. You will tie a bowline around the halyard in the end of this line after it has returned from the end of the boom.

This line is your outhaul and will position the object you are lifting along the boom.

To raise an object, you simply need to attach your halyard to it and begin cranking on your halyard winch. The outhaul will position it on the boom, so it is best to start with the outhaul all the way at the end of the boom, that way gravity will aid you in bringing it closer to the mast.

You can lift the object as high as the boom, and the boom can be lifted by way of the topping lift, giving you great flexibility in how you will manage your cargo. Once the object is clear of the lifelines by lifting it with the halyard, you can begin to ease the outhaul to bring it closer to the mast. When it is in the position that you desire, simply swing the boom over and it will bring the cargo with it.

Once it is over the area of interest, you can ease the halyard to lower it onto your deck.

Using this method, you can easily and safely remove and reinstall your inboard engine, as well as launch and retrieve your dinghy if you keep it under the boom behind the mast.

I keep a special line with a large thimble spliced into the end for the outhaul. The thimble reduces the friction and chafe between the outhaul and halyard, increasing their longevity. If this is a one time thing though, fire away with a bowline and get the job done!