How to Make Skate Sails
Bat Wings ] Cape Vincent Rig ] Country Rig ] Danish Rig ] English Rig ] Norton Rig ] Norwegian Rig ] Additional Skating Wings ]




Search  Inquiry Net

Back ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

Bat Wings
Cape Vincent Rig
Country Rig
Danish Rig
English Rig
Norton Rig
Norwegian Rig
Additional Skating Wings

How to Build Sleds
How to Make Snowshoes
Hudson Bay Capote
How to Make Skate Sails
Survival Kits
How to Make Moccasins
Snow Ballista, Catapult
Equipment List

Scout Books

Site Contents

Four Skate Sail Plans:





Copy_of_sails100.gif (33854 bytes)




Skate-sails should be perfectly flat and stretched as tight as a drum-head.  The spars and rigging should be moderately light, yet strong and simple enough to be easily handled in cold, windy weather.

Spars may be made up in one piece for economy and simplicity in construction, but it will generally be found more convenient and worth the extra expense to make them jointed in two sections.  Spruce is unquestionably the best wood for spars, but light weight ash, or other woods may be substituted.  

The sail material can be a good grade of sheeting, or unbleached muslin, but for best results should be a nonporous, light-weight, and very tough modern sailcloth.  All edges should be reinforced with non-stretching tapes and corners with double thickness patches.   Brass eyelets (grommets) should be set through reinforcement.  In every case, the selvage edge of the material should run parallel to the long free edge of the sail, so that the strain of stretching will pull the sail smooth and flat.

Windows or ports are necessary for safety and are invaluable for racing; they should be approximately three by seven inches in a clear vinyl available at automobile or sailing supply shops.

With the exception of Sail No. 4, the proportions may be varied as desired to increase or reduce the area, or the height of the mast, which is determined by the height of your shoulder above the ice.  The areas recommended for the various weights, however, are based on experience and take into consideration the usually stronger winter winds, unless you desire to go into the design of a reefing arrangement.


Sail No. 1 is simple TWO-SPAR SAIL of thirty eight square feet area, suitable for Scouts weighing about 100 pounds.  The small triangular portion of sail (the jib) which extends in front of the mast, gives good balance and reduces twisting strain while sailing.

The sail is kite-shaped with a mid-scam down the center, and a small V-shaped insert at the forward end.  When basting the mid-seam for sewing, sufficient slack should be taken up to draw in or curve slightly the long free edges, so these will be perfectly tight when the sail is stretched on the spars.  

All four edges and the mid-seam are reinforced with non-stretching tape.  The point of the jib has a heavily reinforced pocket to take the forward end of the boom.  The other three corners of the sail are reinforced and have 3-4 inch brass grommets set in, or heavy hand-worked eyelets, into which a 15-inch length of rawhide is fastened for securing the sail to the mast and the rear end of the boom, as indicated in the lower right hand corner of the drawing.

The spars are 1.25 inch thick in the middle and taper to about 1 inch at either end.  The mast should be cut about 4 inches longer than the height of the sail and the ends bored with a 3/8 inch hole so that the rawhide thong can be fastened through it.

The boom is cut 2 inches longer than the sail, and the forward end is slightly padded; the rear end is bored with a 3/8 inch hole.  If it is desired to join the spars in sections, the joint or ferrule should be of 18-gauge brass or 16-gauge aluminum tubing, 10 inches long; the butt end of one portion of the spar is forced tightly half-way into this ferrule and fastened with a brass wire nail or screw near the middle, as shown in the detail at the middle bottom of the drawing.  The end of the other portion of the spar is shaved to a fairly snug fit, and then both spars are marked for matching in pairs.

To rig the sail, the cloth is laid with the open side of the jib pocket upward.  The mast is first fastened in place by passing the rawhide thong through the holes and wrapping and tucking them as shown in the detail.  Pull just enough to slightly stretch the sail; tuck the ends of the rawhide as shown, do not tie knots.  Insert the forward end of the boom in the pocket, then pass the rawhide thong at the rear end of the sail through the hole in the end of the boom.  Stretch as tightly as possible and fasten as shown. The mast crosses beneath the sail and the boom.  Fasten these two spars where they cross, using a good webbing strap or tightly bound piece of rawhide.


Sail No. 2  is a modified CAPE VINCENT type, extremely fast for its area, very easy to learn to handle, and a good storm sail.  However, through the absence of the jib, it is thrown somewhat out of balance and shows a tendency toward tail-pressure.

The general cut of the sail body is the same as Sail # 1, except that the forward edge has a full length pocket, 3 inches deep and open at the ends with 3/4 inch grommets set in.  The pocket seam is left open for 4 inches on one side of the sail at the exact center, so that the boom can pass through to join the mast.  Twelve inches above and below the center line are two 6-inch hand holes completely through the sail, so that the mast can be firmly gripped with a gloved hand.  The pocket is cut on an easy curve, so that when the sail is drawn tight on the spars, the spring in the mast keeps the long edges tight and flat.  

The boom for this sail is the same as for Sail No. 1, but the mast should be straight 1 inch ash or hickory so that it will bend without danger of breaking.  Whether the spars are jointed or not, the mast for this sail should have a 9- inch ferrule or sleeve of brass or aluminum, drilled at the center with a 1/8 inch hole.  The forward end of the boom should be filed with a deep groove to fit the outside of the sleeve on the mast, and then have a heavy wire nail or screw set in the center of the groove and the head cut off, as detailed in the lower left hand corner of the drawing. 

 In setting up this sail, the mast is slipped into place in the pocket.  The pin in the boom is fitted into the hole in the mast sleeve and the groove turned to fit snugly against it.  The sail is then stretched tight to the end of the boom and fastened.  The forward ends are then pulled out snugly to the ends of the mast and fastened. 


Sail No. 3 is a NYACK type racing sail, extremely light in weight when properly made.  It is very fast, especially in light winds, and is easy to learn to handle.  The tail-pressure in sailing is noticeable and is somewhat tiring for long distance racing.

The shape is nearly rectangular with all four edges reinforced with tape and the corners also reinforced.  The forward and rear edges have 1/2 inch grommets set 6 inches apart for lacing on the spars.  One grommet is skipped at a point about 12 inches above and below the center of the forward edge, in order to provide ample hand room for holding the sail. Four small pickets are provided as shown, to hold the light spreaders or battens.

The boom on the original Nyack sails were of selected Calcutta wood (a form of bamboo) with a cleverly made joint, but in general it will be more expedient to use good clear straight-grained spruce, 1&1/2 inches in diameter at the center and tapering to 1 inch at the ends, about two feet longer than the sail.  The forward end of the boom is notched to take the guy wire, while the rear end is fitted with an eye or ring to receive the rear guy line and permit pulling it up taut.  The mast is ash, 4x7/8 inch tapering slightly towards the ends.  The first spreader is light oak, 1x5/8 inch tapering slightly to the ends and sewed permanently into the pockets.  The gaff is ash or hickory, 1X5/8 inch.


Sail No. 4 is a HOPATCONG type racing sail; very fast, steady and well-balanced for all-day use at high speeds, and the most modern in design.  Its proportions should not be changed.  Due to the excessive curves required, it should properly be cut by an experienced sail-maker for best results.

The jib pocket is 6 inches wide at the center, tapering to 3 inches with open ends, set with four 3-4 inch brass grommets (one grommet on each side of the pocket).  The pocket is open 4 inches along the seam on one side of the sail at the center to admit the end of the boom.  The tail pocket Is 4 inches wide with open ends, and open 3 inches in the rear seam in the center, to admit the stretching harness.  The facing of both pockets on the spar side of the sail is fairly heavy duck or light canvas to stand the wear.  Each end of the jib pocket is fitted with a 15-inch rawhide thong.

The mast and boom are 1&1/2 inch diameter spruce, tapering to 1 inch as described for Sail #1, except that the forward end of the boom is finished with the grooved pocket and pin as described for Sail #2.  Due to the deep curve of the jib pocket, a bow of very pliable 5/8 inch diameter hickory may be used, but better results will be obtained if 1-inch diameter rattan can be secured.  This bow tapers to a fine pocket at each end and is cut so that it comes 2 inches short of the ends of the pockets when the sail is set up taut.  It has a ferrule joint in the center drilled to take the pin in the boom.  The tail how is 1 inch diameter rattan tapering to 1/2 inch beyond the ends of the pocket.  This bow is left permanently in the tail pocket and is fitted with a stretching harness of 1/4 inch strong, cotton line as detailed in the lower center of the drawing.

In setting up this sail, it is laid with the opening in the jib pocket and the heavy facing of the pockets upward.  The jib bow is joined and inserted in the pocket.  The mast is joined and laid in place but not fastened.  The boom is joined and the pin inserted in the ferrule of the jib bow, and the stretching harness is threaded through the eyelets and set up about half tension.  The jib is then smoothed out so that the bow is properly in place in the pocket, and the thongs are made fast to the ends of the mast with a good pull on the sail.  The stretching harness is now set up as fully as possible, so that the sail is drum head tight.  The mast is between the sail and the boom, and these two spars should be tightly bound where they cross.

For Tips on How to Sail a Skate Rig, See: 
How to Skate Sail
, and Dan Beard's Skater's Wings

See Also:

Tom Thumb Ice Boat

In Addition to the Four Skate Sail Plans Detailed on this Page, See Additional Plans, Below:






Additional Information:

Bat Wings ] Cape Vincent Rig ] Country Rig ] Danish Rig ] English Rig ] Norton Rig ] Norwegian Rig ] Additional Skating Wings ]

Peer- Level Topic Links:
How to Build Sleds ] How to Make Snowshoes ] Hudson Bay Capote ] [ How to Make Skate Sails ] Layering ] Survival Kits ] How to Make Moccasins ] Snow Ballista, Catapult ] Equipment List ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Winter Camp ] Activities & Recreation ] Food & Water ] Gear & Clothing ] Health & Safety ] Sleep & Shelter ] Travel & Navigation ]

The Inquiry Net Main Topic Links:
 [Outdoor Skills]  [Patrol Method [Old-School]  [Adults [Advancement]  [Ideals]  [Leadership]  [Uniforms]

Search This Site:

Search Amazon.Com:

When you place an order with Amazon.Com using the search box below, a small referral fee is returned to The Inquiry Net to help defer the expense of keeping us online.  Thank you for your consideration!



Amazon Logo



Scout Books Trading Post

Dead Bugs, Blow Guns, Sharp Knives, & Snakes:
What More Could A Boy Want?

Old School Scouting:
What to Do, and How to Do It!

To Email me, replace "(at)" below with "@"

If you have questions about one of my 2,000 pages here, you must send me the "URL" of the page!
This "URL" is sometimes called the "Address" and it is usually found in a little box near the top of your screen.  Most URLs start with the letters "http://"

The Kudu Net is a backup "mirror" of The Inquiry Net.  

2003, 2011 The Inquiry Net,  In addition to any Copyright still held by the original authors, the Scans, Optical Character Recognition, extensive Editing,  and HTML Coding on this Website are the property of the Webmaster.   My work may be used by individuals for non-commercial, non-web-based activities, such as Scouting, research, teaching, and personal use so long as this copyright statement and a URL to my material is included in the text
The purpose of this Website is to provide access  to hard to find, out-of-print documents.  Much of the content has been edited to be of practical use in today's world and is not intended as historical preservation.   I will be happy to provide scans of specific short passages in the original documents for people involved in academic research.  


Last modified: October 15, 2016.