Mizzen Traveler.

When you are sailing an Amel Super Maramu you can do all of the routine sailing adjustments from the comfort of the cockpit.  All, except one.  Adjustment of the mizzen sail’s traveler requires someone out on the aft deck to manhandle the traveler from one position to another.  It is neither convenient, nor easy.

Now, my old boat didn’t have a mizzen traveler.  The mizzen sheeted to a single point on deck, and I was usually happy with that.  So why not just leave the mizzen traveler in the center of the boat and use it like I used to?  Because the sails are very different.  The battened sails on my old boat were not nearly as sensitive to leech tension as the un-battened roller furling sails on Harmonie.  Sailing Harmonie with too much twist in the sail makes the sail flutter and flop–not at all good for boat performance nor for the life of the sail.

At least one Amel Super Maramu was built with lines back to the cockpit controlling the position of the traveler.  The owner of that boat was kind enough to post pictures of the way the installation was done, and I more or less copied the factory installation.

We were lucky–we got several of the priciest parts as used gear at Bacon Sails, a great shop in Annapolis that carries both new and used boat parts. Two days of work, and the installation is done.  It was actually a pretty simple project that went close to exactly as planned.  The only wrinkle was the need to trim about 1/2 inch off the end of the existing tract.  This was needed first to get room to fit the new end stops with the turning blocks, and second, to avoid having the screws that secure the new end caps align with the existing bolts holding the track down.

The existing track is a Lewmar track, Size #1. The end pieces were available as a kit to convert the manual traveler to line control. The Andersen line driver is no longer in production, but Antal makes a line driver that works as well.

Attaching the line tender and the turning blocks was done a bit differently.  The were installed in a cored part of the deck, so water intrusion has to be prevented.  I also didn’t want hardware on the inside of the cabin.  So I drilled a hole slightly larger than the bolt in the top skin of the deck.  Cleaned out as much of the balsa coring as I could easily reach.  Coated the bolts with a thin layer of Tefgel as a release agent, then injected thickened epoxy into the hole and cast the bolt into it. Presto.  100% waterproof, and for parts like these that only experience shear loading, more than strong enough. Once the epoxy was set, the parts were bolted down bedding them with butyl caulking tape.

It’s clean and neat and works like a charm. Being able to fine tune the traveler position really helps in balancing the boat when going upwind, and when going downwind it makes a gybe simple and safe.

When you are sailing ketches upwind the mizzen sail adds very little drive.  The boat goes just as fast through the water without the mizzen.  Despite that, it is still an important sail to use because, on the Super Maramu, like other ketches, using just the jib and mainsail can leave the boat with a little (or a lot!) of lee helm.  That impairs the boat’s ability to get upwind, because the rudder is generating lift in the wrong direction.  This effect is frequently not noticed because it increases leeway.  Sailors are used to looking at wind angle as the evaluation of how well the point is pointing, because it is easy to measure.  The amount of leeway is usually hard to see.

Putting up the mizzen and adjusting its angle to the wind to give the boat just a tiny touch of weather helm reduces leeway, and gets the boat further upwind, faster than without it–even if the speed through the water is not significantly different.   A lot of Amel sailors don’t really pay much attention to the amount of lee or weather helm because they are always running an electric autopilot which just powers on through no matter what.  Moving the rudder from 2º on the lee side to 2º on the weather side will improve performance to weather that really adds up over a long passage.