That could be the motto of the cruising sailor. Even when you think you have everything perfect, one more look around for problems never hurts. In that spirit, I was going over the boat again today, and found this unfortunate problem on our mainsail foil. The metal part that is cracked is the rotating part that furls our mainsail inside the mast.
It looks like a pretty easy fix–once we get to Fort Lauderdale and can access a machine shop, but in the meantime, we’ll be sailing without our mainsail.
Now, contrary to the name, on this boat the “main” sail is not the most important sail in making the boat go. For us, that would be the genoa in the front of the boat. Not having access to the mainsail will slow us down a bit in light winds, but won’t make that big a difference most of the time.
Things still look OK for our departure tomorrow morning. We might have some time to sit and wait through some calm winds, but nothing difficult or scary is forecast.
Bill, Too bad about the crack but as you allude with the Ketch rig the loss of the main isn’t that big of a deal. Do you think that there is any chance that the extrusion could fail completely and allow the main to unfurl in a blow? That might be an unpleasant event which I suspect that you have already considered and addressed but I wanted to bring this up just in case. Please be careful RE weather sailing on the East side of the Gulf Stream this time of the year, late Tropical storms seem to be more common with some even forming in January! Have a safe trip! Best, James
James, Even if the foil was to crack all the way through, there is no real way the sail can unroll. With the sail fueled there is no force on it, so I think we’re good! I don’t take anything on weather for granted, we keep an eye out and get forecasts twice a day.
While anchored in Radio Bay, Hilo, two sailors told me they never used their mainsails when ocean crossing. One was an Ingrid 38 ketch who had crossed the Pacific 18 times singlehanded, the other a Landfall 38 on its maiden voyage. Anyway. It was an eye opener to how others viewed the main. Who knew? Sail safe.
Curt, So much depends on the boat, and the sailor. When I was running day charters on San Francisco Bay on J-105’s the standard protocol on a windy day was mainsail only, and the boat handled fine. On a Catalina 32 we used jib only with equally good results. On our ketch we can always balance the boat with the genoa and mizzen and have a neutral helm. The main certainly helps us point a bit higher than we can without it. If the wind goes light and on the bow, we will miss it, but otherwise… not too much. Bill
Ouch! Do you think you can shorten the foil by a few inches, or is there a whole new foil in your future? Keep us updated on this repair. SM2K#400 Brava
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Definitely just a shorter foil–and a longer coupling. And a bit of noodling to see if I can come up with a way to make the torque transfer more robust than counting on a single bolt through the relatively thin aluminum of the foil! But this one last 23 years, so it can be too fragile. Bill
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