Safely Lifting Shackleton

One of the first things I realized after building Shackleton, is the need to maintain Shackleton.  Occasionally, this will mean lifting the boat off the trailer for recoating of the bottom or center board maintenance.  In my case, I wanted to add a retrieval line to the center board, so the boat needed to be lifted.

Well, I learned quickly that lifting and rotating this boat is not easy.  During one attempt the boat fell about 12″ onto the rear Starboard quarter.  It didn’t do any damage, but I knew I needed a better way to safely lift this boat.   DSC00416I pulled out my Sailrite Ultrafeed sewing machine.  I purchased this machine a few years ago because I wanted a man’s sewing machine.  You know…one that would sew leather and canvas, not lace and petticoats.  This machine is bomber and easy to operate.  It has proven handy for several project, the last of which was making a cover for my backyard fire table.

DSC00417I took two cargo straps and sewed a loop into each end.  These will become the lifting straps and fasten to my block and tackle.  One fore, one aft.

DSC00416Then I took left over strapping and made two cross straps, with loops in each end.  This will keep the lifting straps from spreading.  Scamp is very shapely.

DSC00421This photo shows the cross straps slid over the lifting straps.  I made one cross strap for each side of the boat.  Before lifting, I teased these cross straps into position below the boat.

DSC00424I called Chuck at Ductworks…he set me up with a system that I believe will work.  Initially, I tied the top blocks to the eye bolt screwed into the rafters.

DSC00427But I didn’t like how it felt, so I added a carabiner.

DSC00416This shows the entire set up.  I have 4 blocks and one cleat at the top block.  With this setup, I can safely lift my boat off the trailer or even lift the boat off the ground heigh enough to set onto the trailer.  This is exactly what I wanted:  Simple, effective, lightweight and easy to operate by myself.

DSC00417I raised my boat off the garage floor high enough to set onto the trailer.  The cross straps keep the lifting straps from spreading off the ends, but you still need to keep an eye on things.  The balance point is just aft of the veranda.


  1. A ‘Come a long’ would be total over kill for this type of lifting.  I doubt the weight of Shackleton would even pull the cable out of the real.  Plus, these always look like they are waiting to take your finger off at any moment.
  2. A hoist lift was way too expensive and way too slow for this type of lifting.
  3. The cargo straps work horribly.  First off, they have very limited range of motion (before the bail is full and stops catching) and second, they only lift and do not lower.  These straps are really designed to secure a load on a trailer.  I needed range of motion and the ability to lower after lifting.
  4. Though not cheap, the block and tackle system seems to be the right tool for this job.

Now for the 49 Changes

DSC00516OK, folks, we have a problem.  The problem is, after seeing all these totally cool wooden boats, you come away with a completely different understanding of what this fantastic little micro cruiser can do.  Then you start dreaming, then you come up with #49 things you want to do to improve your boat.

Here is my list:

  1. refinish bright work (it failed completely)
  2. fix rudder downhaul (failed on oyster bed debacle)
  3. re-rig #1 & #3 reef points
  4. re-rig lazy jacks (add adjustability)
  5. run thicker downhaul line
  6. run longer halyard line
  7. add oar locks
  8. buy oars (break down version from Gig Harbor)
  9. fasten oars onto seat longitudinals
  10. add foot well
  11. add hatch aft of foot well
  12. router seat sides to accept filler boards
  13. build filler boards
  14. secure filler boards to transom
  15. attach anchor against transom (ready to deploy within 5 seconds)
  16. build anchor rode locker, secure biter end of anchor line.
  17. rig anchor retrieval system to boat
  18. add 1 additional fuel bottle (1 liter Nalgene bottle)
  19. clearly mark both fuel bottles with duct tape for clarity
  20. secure small funnel to each (2) fuel bottle
  21. design Bimini (Sergei, Tyler and a rain storm totally convinced me of the merits of a Bimini)
  22. build new boom (1″ taller to better accommodate reefing hardware)
  23. simplify toilet, bail bucket and garbage into one small bucket, secure to boat
  24. organize veranda:  tow lines, fire extinguisher, lantern, shoes & jackets all hung neatly and securely to bulkhead #3
  25. add compass
  26. add safety flairs
  27. add music
  28. add (2) VHF radios
  29. rework all storage items, dry bags, dry boxes for better organization
  30. lube engine swivel mechanism
  31. store extra prop & pins
  32. create tool kit for all simple repairs
  33. add leather to spars
  34. add transom stainless eye for simplified towing (quicker attachment & removal of tow lines)
  35. add wing nuts to mast boom crutch for fast removal, fore and aft
  36. add thin yoga mat cushions to seating
  37. add sponge and tether to boat
  38. add small dust pan and hand broom, secure in hatch
  39. add water boots & storage bin (I now have a no shoe policy inside the boat)
  40. replace all dock lines & tow lines with braid (3 strand comes unraveled)
  41. redesign bow of trailer to minimize rubbing
  42. rebuild CB cover to accept O-ring to prevent water intrusion
  43. replace life jackets with simple design (pillow back design on current jackets get hung up on main sheet)
  44. add O-ring to CB bolt for water tight fitting
  45. router finger holds in skegs
  46. add grab rope to center board for easier retrieval
  47. add 5:1 retrieval block and tackle
  48. buy (2) pneumatic rollers with foot pump for beaching Shackleton
  49. buy a dry suit for a Yellowstone Lake sailing expedition in 2017 (come join me)

I plan to blog about each and every change I make.  The capability and versatility of this little micro cruiser just continues to impress.