Sails & Sail Handling

Observations & Options

Removable Inner Fore Stay: The Caliber 40 has this as a part of its normal rig. The deck fitting is a toe buster. We have tried a number of methods to prevent toe dings but none has been entirely satisfactory. Latching the stay in place is counter-productive. As to the forestay itself, we seldom sail as a cutter, but the ability to set a staysail in heavy winds 30kts+ in lieu of the genoa has made for a more comfortable and easily managed and therefore, safer sail plan. We have yet to decide on whether to add roller furling on this stay (and whether to match the furling gear on the genoa, $$$$). If we have furling then it makes sense for the stay to always be in place. If we have to put the stay in place under sea/weather duress, then it’s not clear having a furler adds much. More thought and experiment is required. [Having endured the strong, Abaco winds this winter and heavy stuff offshore, we are in the process of fitting a Furlex 200 on the inner forestay.] [The Furlex 200 has now been installed and we are quite pleased with the arrangement. Having set the staysail twice now, There’s one issue to be resolved, but we need strong breezes before we can assess the solution. Because the staysail trims to a cross-deck track rather than a self-tending boom, we aren’t yet convinced we have the sheet lead right. The best solution is a big job — curving and arcing the track ala the Volvo Ocean Race boats. Ideally, the track would sweep an arc centered on the inner forestay and aligned with the sail bisector (the imaginary line between clew and stay that splits the sail 50-50). The cost of any mods to this hardware means we might have to recut the sail to put more hollow in the upper leech instead. And we may just live with it. As said, we need a strong breeze to assess the issue.]

Furling Gear: We have a Furlex furler on the genoa and main. After learning how to manage sheet loads and angles off the wind when furling, we have come to truly appreciate this equipment. So far, I have yet to have to pull harder than hauling a crab trap up to get the genoa furled. The main, with its endless-loop style winch, takes less effort than tailing a sheet winch. But this begs the question: is it furling gear or reefing gear? The answer up till this season was genoa furler, main reefer. This year we modified the genoa with a foam luff-wedge so that it sets well with a few turns rolled in. So far, we have been able to reduce our 130% genoa to a decently shaped 100% jib. I’m not sure we want to “reef” it more than that. We also changed our furling line on the genoa to a very, very low stretch line so that stretch loads applied during line hauling don’t result in line-lock on the furler drum.

Genoa: Living with light Chesapeake breezes we knew we wanted a 135% genoa. It was cut by Doyle-Barbados and had a tack a few inches below the bow pulpit and a clew almost at upper life line height. Initially, we liked this sail very much. After or AICW trip we weren’t entirely satisfied we had the right arrangement. Not only did this sail shape obscure our vision, it also appeared to lead to the wind in the lower 1/4 of the sail being disturbed (by cabin top and fixtures) and stalled. So having discussed these concerns with Doyle-Chesapeake, We had the sail re-cut. We removed the luff tape and pivoted the sail around the tack such that the clew was raised about 2.5 feet. The luff tape was reattached along with the added foam luff wedge. We can now see below the genoa at all reasonable heeling angles. We make less leeway close hauled. We sail slightly faster upwind. And in measurement terms it is now a 132% genoa. [The recut sail made it possible to sail efficiently, safely and enjoyably in the very windy Abacos this past winter. We are very glad we made the changes.]

Main: The hollow roach main is unremarkable. The furler is. With an adjustable main sheet car, the combination of trim options are such we can fine tune the balance of the rig we enough ease we actually do it. This fine tuning is friendly to the person at the helm — and especially friendly to autopilot current consumption. I could imagine trying vertical battens when replacement time comes, but it is not a priority. Some folks have had more negative things to say about this sail cut/furling arrangement.  Yes, for going to weather it has serious limitations — but they are more frustration than safety issues. Some folks advocate just furling completely when reaching, but this takes away the ability to reduce helm loads on the autopilot.  So far no one has commented you can’t goose-wing jibe a hollow-roach main.

Mast Winches/Halyard Management: We added a larger winch to the mast to assist with bringing the RIB onto the deck should we decide that is necessary. Nominally, this winch is also better for trips up the mast, but I prefer we use the windlass and a snatch block for that. I also sewed up a cover for our coiled main, spinnaker and furler halyards on the starboard side. It will prolong their lifespan, but it is attractive to nest-building wasps.

Spinnaker: We added a Doyle APC. We included an ATN Tacker (to control the spinnaker tack level) and a ATN Snuffer to launch and retrieve the sail under control. We need to come up with lighter sheets for lighter winds. Because the Bay is smaller to a 40 footer than a 29, we find it hard to justify putting the chute up sometimes. But when the runs are long, boy does this sail haul us along. See “Domo Arigato, Yanmar San” para. 3+. The fact that two people our age and strength can handle a sail of this power with confidence is just plain fun. Stowing the sail below is a bit less fun, and I am still exploring something less intrusive than stuffing it under the saloon table.

Rigid Vang – Rodkicker: While this has some features of a vang, it is seldom used as one. It functions more as an inverse boom lift than a vang. Unfortunately, it can stop lifting when cylinder seals fail. So, to prevent the boom from dropping and damaging something on the way (lesson learned from a bend hammered into a hand rail by the boom), I am putting a stop-collar around the smaller extrusion to prevent it from sinking all the way into larger one. [Went to a topping lift instead.]

Boom Brake: We bought a Wichard Gyb’easy boom brake to keep the main under control. We have used it a couple of times with qualified success, but the correct rigging still eludes me. Designed much like the Figure Eight I used when being trained to rappel, the design made instant sense to me when I saw it, but the geometry of the boat makes tensioning the device, well, a bit tense. I’m sure we will figure it out. What really sold it to me was no moving parts and a fairly small size (thought still large enough to provide a concussion to the unwary). [We have yet to figure this out and it sees little use.]

Winches: Happiness is the biggest set one can afford. We have Lewmar 44s on the cabin top for staysail halyard, staysail sheet (it’s self tending), main sheet, outhaul and davit tackles. We have 50s for the genoa and spinnaker (we don’t fly them at the same time). These are placed so we can get arm, gut and back power into them as necessary. With these, if we are having a problem sheeting we have too much sail flying. We’ve looked at portable electric drives and have concluded we don’t need them yet. If we final do conclude they are needed we may also conclude we are no longer fit for cruising. We’re not suggesting they don’t have their uses, we just don’t see how they would benefit us.


One response to “Sails & Sail Handling

  1. Pingback: Furlex 200, A Happy Addition | Periodically Peregrine

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