Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Rigging & Sails

The Mast and Balance of the Topsides

At the mast have a close look at the limber hole in the base of the mast and make sure that it is clear; you would be amazed how much salt water gets inside the mast!

Check all exit blocks and lubricate then slowly work your way up the mast checking the gooseneck, paying particular attention to the pin, the boom and all lines and fittings on it.

At this point you will most likely find yourself at the spreader lights. Check they are working and that the lenses are clean and well sealed. Look closely at the wiring checking for chafe especially where it enters the mast.

At the masthead check all lights and fittings not forgetting the attachment of the stays.

Also clean and check your VHF aerial and clean the connections. CRC electrical contact cleaner and lubricator is good here. As mentioned before check all wiring, lubricate the sheave boxes and blocks including the roller furler swivel.

On the way down give the mast paint, varnish or a polish with a good quality cleaner polish such as "International Products". This helps protect the alloy, the anodizing, and helps stop black marks from the mast going on the headsails.

Lastly give the sail slides a spray of silicon as this will help the main go up the track without jamming and include you jib hank pins as well.


The condition and setting up of the sails will also have a great bearing on pointing ability. The H28 responds well to subtle changes in the positioning of the Genoa cars and the tension on the halyards of the main and Genoa. Also the backstay tension will affect the on wind performance and you will find on your boat to obtain best upwind speed in 12knots.

Fit tell tails (wools) to your Genoa and mainsail on both sides. (Available from your sail maker or chandlery in made up packs).

The over sheeting of the headsail will also cause the main to stall and back wind up the luff due to the slot between the main and headsail being closed up. The rule of thumb here is; if in doubt let it out!

The amount of kicking strap applied will control the twist in the leach of the main and this will also influence the amount of weather helm and pointing, as will the position of the mainsheet traveler, which you should be able to pull up past the boats centre line and to windward. This pulls the boom on to the centerline of the boat without flattening all the shape out of the mainsail and effectively opens the slot between the sails that I mentioned above.

All of these points and more are fully covered in the book I have mentioned. Quite often your sails will only need re-cutting which is much cheaper than a new suite. I have mentioned some of the main areas and it is really only through experimenting with settings on your own boat that will get peak performance when sailing.

Sail Care

Correct sail maintenance can make a large difference to the life and performance of your sails. Regardless of the sail material, a little care can help a lot.

Avoid flogging: Flogging and leech flutter are the worst causes of cloth deterioration. To maintain the shape and strength of your sails, minimize the amount of time they are flapping in the breeze. When hoisting a sail while motoring, don't go too fast and, if motor sailing, keep the main trimmed. Always keep the leech lines tight enough so that the leeches don't flutter.

Stretch: Using a sail in a higher wind range than what it was designed for is one of the quickest ways to destroy it. It is better to reduce sail before the wind does it for you.

Chafe: Any part of the boat or mast that a sail rubs against should be protected, and don't drag a sail over anything rough. Tape up spreader ends especially with leather etc.

Sunlight: While direct sunlight is one of the worst enemies of sails, you cannot keep your sails out of the sun unless you only sail when it is cloudy. You should, how- ever, keep your sails covered any time they are not being used, even if only for an hour or two.

Storage: Sails should only be stored dry, free of salt and folded or rolled into sail bags. Don't fold sails in the same place each time as you will finish up with permanent creases. If you have a damp sail at the end of a cruise, take it home to dry or, if unable to, stow it loosely in the boat as long as it is a well ventilated craft.

Cleaning: To get rid of most of the salt from a sail, a gentle hosing down regularly. To clean a sail of dirt, use a diluted solution of a mild cleaner and warm water. Contact your sail maker to advise a good cleaner suitable for your sails.

Folding: A folded or flaked sail will take up less room than one which is randomly stuffed into a bag, and it is much better for the life of the sail itself.

Headsails: To fold a genoa, start at the foot and fold in panels wide enough to fit in your stowage area. When the sail is entirely folded from foot to head, then fold both ends toward the middle leaving the tack on the outside of the last fold. It is preferable to have a large flat area to fold a sail - but rarely available - so you can fold on the cabin top using the boom as a feeder or fold on a marina using the boat as a feeder.

Mainsails: Can be easily stored on the boom by flaking it on to the boom and pulling the bottom fold out and wrapping it over the rest of the sail, then put a tie around the sail and boom or use shock- cord.
When the main is taken off the boom and mast it is folded from the foot the same as for a headsail.

Spinnakers: As long as they are dry, spinnakers or other nylon sails do not need to be folded. As long as the head and clews are gathered and the sail is not twisted, these sails are the only ones that can be stuffed into a bag.


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