Pick Up Stick!

Almost all other model sailboats use standing rigging. That means they use shrouds and stays to hold up the mast. Sort of like early airplanes that used guy wires to hold the wings on.

Freestanding Rig

The RC Laser uses a “freestanding” rig, meaning that the mast is supported by its own strength, just like modern airplane wings. There is lots more to know about the design and performance characteristics of freestanding rigs, but that is another story. For now, please accept that this is a terrific rig and one of the true attributes of the RC Laser.

Old Habit of the Lazy (who me?)

This article relates to a habit that is only seen in model sailing. Models that have standing rigging are often launched and retrieved by using the mast as a handle. Heh, it is easier than bending down and picking up your boat by the hull or keel. With all these other model boats, there is no real damage done and the practice is common.

Not the RC Laser

However, if you try to pick up the RC Laser by the mast, that’s all you will get – the Mast! One of the great design features of the RC Laser is the “free” stepped mast. Meaning that the mast stands in the mast step fitting without anything to hold it in. It scared me silly the first time I sailed the boat in a heavy wind because I was sure it would come right out the first time I took a knock down – but it didn’t, and I have never seen a mast come out while the boat is sailing, no matter how nasty the weather!

Mast Step Fitting

I had one person call me and report that his mast step fitting came out of his deck. I asked him the circumstances and found that he lifted his boat by the mast, and because of the angle he began to lift the boat, the bottom of the mast actually bound up in the mast step fitting and pulled the fitting out of the deck. I was a little surprised by that, so I actually pried my own out of the deck to look around. And it unveiled another terrific engineering job on the RC Laser. The mast step fitting itself is press fit into a socket molded right into the boat.

So you are fair warned not to lift the boat by the mast step fitting either. Some sailors have pulled theirs out and then seated it again putting a little adhesive in the socket – like 3M-4200. But the press fit is all you really need UNLESS you do something with it that it wasn’t designed to do.

So… How do you pick up your boat?

The ring on the top of the keel is a great place to grab your boat to launch or retrieve. You can usually get two fingers in there – unless you have big ol’ fat fingers – and it is very handy.

Gaff Style

I have seen a couple of “boat hooks” made up that are like a fish gaff, with a 3-4′ pole handle and a small hook on the end to catch the keel ring. That way, you don’t need to bend over at all. CAUTION – If you use such a boat hook, be very careful not to twist the hook while in the keel ring or you may snap the ring off! If you do, the keel is gone!

Paint Roller Style

I sail in mountain lakes most of the time. And the water is really cold at 8000 feet. So wading into the water to launch and retrieve my boat is not my idea of a good time. I came up with a version of something I saw other model sailors use. It is a telescoping paint roller handle. On the end is the “hook” made to mount a small 4-6″ paint roller. I covered this hook with foam and taped it in place (pipe insulation foam works great). Now I have both a retrieval reach of some 15′, or I can pick up my boat when near shore by sliding the hook UNDER the boat and around the keel FROM THE REAR. Then I can lift the boat to me without getting my tootsies wet!

This article was written by Steve Lang of SailRC.com.