Al & Michele's Catalina 34

Hull #55 "Kindred Spirit"

E-Mail me if you have any questions at (

Homemade Whisker Pole

Use at You own Risk!

wpe69425.gif (35097 bytes) pole2.jpg (336655 bytes) wpe13609.gif (37964 bytes)

Click on any picture to enlarge it

Total cost was about $60

Homemade Whisker Pole

Subject: Homemade whisker pole
Bob Wrote:
I bought a 12' twist-lock telescoping pole used for trimming trees from home Depot for $29. The outside diameter of the one section is 1" and 1.5" for the other. I removed the sawing section and bolted a hook to each end. The hooks cover about 270 degrees, so they don't close completely.  A better choice would be something like a spring loaded snap hook. This would lock the pole onto the mast/sail. The pole is fiberglass over PVC. It has some bend to it over the 11' span and will flex a foot or so when pushed. Total cost was $37, compared to the $200-$400 as listed in BOAT/US, although mine is definitely lacking in total strength in comparison (One gets what one pays for??). 
I am racing tonight -- winds are predicted to be around 5 mph -- so I will let the list know how this contraption works tomorrow.
Thanks to all who responded to be aware of the dangers of a homemade whisker pole. Sound advice. "Their letters of Concern are listed below" Just to clarify one point, the pole is a combination of fiberglass over PVC. It is not made from wood. 
Bob Mann Windcatcher '85 c27, #5928 Lake St. Clair, MI

Subject: Re: Homemade whisker pole
Al Wrote:
No sailing today because of bad weather, so I am looking at boating catalogs trying to get ideas for the RED pole ends. How does this sound?....A ski tow hook that looks like a fish hook with a flapping piece on the hook end that holds the ski tow line in. SS with bolt length of 3 inches and an eye diameter of one inch. This may not be spring loaded but for $4.95ea at M&E Marine (page 214) you can't go wrong. It is made to go into the transom of a boat and a nut on the inside...what I picture is the threaded portion fiberglassed into the end of our RED pole. Excess space would be filled with a sleeve or filler.
West Marine 1999 Power (sorry) Master Catalog, pg 616, a Lewmar Nab Shackle LARGE (sailboat hardware) that is made to go on light air spinnaker sheets (plastic RED & GREEN not metal). "SEE PHOTO'S ABOVE" The line goes thru a hole and is knotted, like a clip on the end of a bungee cord. I picture not the line going thru but a 5/16 inch SS Philips head (45 deg head) 3 inches long bolt and two 5/16 SS nuts and SS washers larger than the RED pole ends... going in the shackle where the knot would have been. Now you have a Nap Shackle with bolt sticking out with a washer and then the two nut locked together so that the shackle will swivel tightly on the bolt.... that is then glued into the RED pole ends. I like this one better because it is made of a plastic material but they are $29.99 for a pair...must be that Lewmar name or that space age material! 
Al,   Kindred Spirit, C34

Al Wrote:
I just got back from West Marine and the shackle works great. Cost the same as the pole...still $60 is better than $300
Al again

Subj: Re: homemade whisker pole
Al: Please keep me posted on this project as it would be perfect for me. I don't race my boat and would be using it only under 10 knots. I wonder if the Forespar end could be adapted to your invention? I'm going to Home Depot today to check out the RED POLE. Is there a brand name I should look for? Incidentally, the Forespar set up I was looking at , which was adjustable, was over $450 and that does not include the track etc. When it would be all said and done, I bet I would have been close to $600 for the entire setup, with tax. I love these little money savers !!
Don Guillette

Sounds interesting... good luck... we have a telescoping whisker pole which we are close to retiring... just ordered some spinnaker "stuff" and a 2 1/2" pole is one of the items on order.
FYI... our current pole has been "radiused" more than once... mostly trimming  against one of the shrouds... some from crew abuse.... -- my guess is the diameter is about 1 1/2" aluminum...YOU BE CAREFUL
Barry Green C27 #1938 Lake St. Clair

Subject: Re: Homemade whisker pole
Defender had some three part adjustable forespar whisker poles on sale (on their special surplus list) a while back for under $100. I bought one for my 22 footer. This pole sold originally for over $300. So, it was quite a bargain. If I were you I'd look for a similar deal. Your home (depot) made pole will certainly serve for a while especially in light air. But if you stress it enough, it's gonna break, and then you're gonna have half a pole hooked on the clew of your jib swingin' around like a stick in a Bruce lee movie. Good luck getting it down without being clobbered.

Subject: Re: Homemade whisker pole
(Bob, this isn't a personal attack, just a vehement difference of perspective!) I'm going to go out on a limb here (pun intended). I don't feel as though your whisker pole (made out of a tree trimming tool) is safe in anything but the lightest of winds. Murphy's law says that eventually, someone will try it in 15 knots or higher (like when you're going downwind in a race at 17 knots of wind and the competition just passed you with their jib whiskered
out!) and I believe that significant problems will result. I think it is important to relay to the list that this light duty approach to something like a whisker pole could result in bad thing happening in some real wind like putting an extra telltale window in your jib, or worse yet an extra appendage on your foredeck crew.  I'm all for improvising, but let's examine this A homemade cabin seat or insulation for the cooler is one thing to save money on, running rigging is an entirely different animal and it will bite you if you don't treat it with enough respect. There's clearly a reason that the whisker poles that you purchase through a chandlery are $200-$400 instead of $37. The difference is strength, purpose of function, and some extra markup because it is a boat part. I wish there was a way to get around the extra boat markup, but sacrificing the strength and purpose of function are still not optional. 
That's just my opinion, I could be wrong (Sorry DM!).
Jim Lay C27 3674 SF Bay, CA

Subject: Re: Homemade whisker pole
I have to agree with James here. I personally would not want to be near the foredeck with a wooden whisker-pole on the sail. I think you may be asking for some serious problems.
Joe Josef Weiss, Ph.D.

Subject: Re: Wooden whisker pole
Well now, Joe, Forty years ago I raced Hampton One Designs and all we had were wooden whisker poles. The question is how stout the pole is. Aluminum poles are just so much lighter than wooden poles of equal strength and rigidity. I definitely agree with the underlying concern regarding the telescoping pole from a tree pruner, however. I have one of those things -- way too "whippy" for me.
Jim Calleran, Division of Technology-Production Services

Return to My Upgrades page

Visit Catalina 34 National Association's Home Page Projects Page

FastCounter by LinkExchange
This page: