A Wind Vane for Ella

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Project by Dan Lyke posted 08-13-2012 03:33 AM 2081 views 3 times favorited 7 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,

7 comments so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3740 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

25330 posts in 3989 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


5533 posts in 4960 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

1522 posts in 5008 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,

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25330 posts in 3989 days

#5 posted 10-06-2014 12:22 AM

Very cool. Have you ever got the urge to build a Sundial? I saw some neat ones in Jerome,Az and got a lot of info from the builder and may do one some time. It seems like something you would build too!!

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

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4209 posts in 3992 days

#6 posted 10-06-2014 01:22 AM

Lake Berryessa…wow, I used to visit there when I was in the USNavy in the mid-’70s (Mare Island). It’s probably changed a bit from then. Not that I would necessarily remember, that was a long time ago.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1522 posts in 5008 days

#7 posted 10-06-2014 01:45 AM

Jim, I haven’t seen plans for a Sundial, is it something like a Sunfish/Sailfish? Flat closed hull? I sailed one of those when I was a kid that my uncle had built when he was a kid. We’re kind of more sedate and dryer than that these days, but… we really like the attention of unusual looking boats, and I got to thinking that we could probably park a trailer for a 16’ long boat if I parked on the street.

So if we did a relatively boxy hull (probably stick with a lee board), but put a fold out bowsprit and two masts on it, we could do something like a miniature version of the Scow Schooner Alma, large enough to take a few friends on, maybe even stretch out sleeping bags on a seat on, small enough that the two of us could handle, and enough lines and sails to really draw a crowd and get people pointing and talking.

The other thing I’ve considered is a two masted dynarig boat of the same scale: If we engineered it right, probably very easy for two people to manage, but definitely a “holy cow, what is that?” looker.

Dark_Lightning: I dunno, there ain’t a whole lot over that way, and most of it’s protected lands, it may be very similar to what you remember from the ‘70s…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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