Legs are a worthwhile addition to any boat that sails in tidal waters. The ability to dry out upright on beaches and in drying harbours can add considerably to the yacht’s cruising range, in addition to giving more safe options in bad weather. Legs are also a valuable maintenance tool, allowing access to the whole hull for activities such as epoxy coating and anti-fouling. I have also wintered the boat twice on legs alone, although I added lines between the legs, under the boat, to ensure they could not be knocked outwards by another boatyard user.
The legs shown were purchased for the Yacht Legs Company in UK. We bought the adjustable version, which we have not regretted, although it is doubtful that having the fixed ones would have caused us any serious problems.
Yacht Legs in action
Picture shows Straitshooter in the drying harbour at Belle Ile, on the Atlantic coast of France. Fin keel boats that do not dry are obliged to moor to buoys outside the harbour, where they are exposed to the weather. We took this opportunity to scrub the hull, grease the Autoprop and check underwater fittings.
A late season scrub at Beaumaris, Menai Strait. Before leaving for a September cruise to the Isle of Man we dried on the shingle bank in front of NWVYC to remove the heavy growth of fouling that had built up during the season.
We have also antifouled between tides at Ramsgate on the legs.
A winter in Holland spent removing all antifouling and coating the hull with Gelshield 200. Although the boat was wintered in a cradle we were able to lower its supports while supporting the boat with the legs, This process avoids the tedious lowering of supports one-by-one to achieve total coverage.
Also in Holland, hauled out for anti-fouling after a winter afloat.
In Greece, showing the location of the socket into which the Yacht Leg is mounted.
The first decision to be made is where to locate the sockets on the hull. This should ideally be close to the maximum beam and the mid-point of the keel’s footprint on the ground. Care should also be taken that the internal fittings of the boat will allow space for the backing pad, studs and nuts of the fittings. In my case, with a shallow, relatively long keel, this was not difficult to achieve. There are lockers inside the region where the sockets are fitted and measurement was required to ensure that the studs entered the boat within the lockers, rather than at points where their framework was in contact with the hull.
Having decided the location of the sockets, the next step was to drill the holes through which their studs would pass. A great deal of measurement, inside and out, preceded this activity. Eventually the decision was made and the holes were drilled. The Sadler 34’s hull is foam filled, so further actions needed to be made before the pad and nuts could be fitted.
I used Tufnol as the backing pad for my sockets, dimensions of each were about 30 cm x 13 cm, 2.5 cm thick. With the holes marked and drilled in the pads I was able to mark the cut line on the inner skin, then cut it out. This proved to be very easy indeed, as the thickness of this layup is extremely light and it was easily cut with a fine padsaw. I cut the foam in the same way and found it lightly adhered to both hull and inner liner, so that it came out easily.
The block was shaped slightly to fit the small curve of the hull and to allow the inner liner to be sandwiched between the block and the washer/nut at the same height as the remainder of the liner. Finally I coated the outboard side of the block with Sikaflex 291 and bolted everything up tight. My original plan was to fill the cut in the inner skin with Sikaflex but it fitted so well that I have never bothered.
The photograph shows the Tufnol block inside the boat with the inner skin and foam cut away. The vertical recess on the left is the locator for the partition between the two upper side lockers on the older design interior of the Sadler 34.
The original piece of inner skin replaced over the Tufnol pad. This is normally hidden from view inside a locker. The cut could be sealed using Sikaflex or something similar but I have not bothered.
The sockets are located just aft of the midships cleats, although this measurement is not critical. The socket is placed just above the lower cavita line as can be seen in photos of the boat’s exterior.
Two adjacent boats wintering ashore on legs, at Milford Haven. Both are Yacht Legs Co products, adjustable at left, fixed at right.
This photograph shows the simple but elegant socket used by Yacht Legs. The spigot attached to the leg has a collar on its inner end. The U-bolt drops down through two holes in the socket, trapping the collar.
The same design of socket but in this photograph used with the adjustable length version of a Yacht Leg.
Legs are not a high-tech item, and not particularly difficult to manufacture. The sockets are perhaps the most difficult component to make without specialist equipment. This site details the manufacture of a good-looking pair with little more than standard workshop facilities. (Sorry, that website appears to be defunct). Here is another but the sockets are not included http://www.faymarine.com/Pauls%20Information%20Site/Yacht_legs2.htm
The simplest form of legs, used by many boats throughout the world, are made from wood bolted to the hull. An upper shaped piece is padded to protect the hull. A single bolt attaches the legs to the hull, using a nut internally.