The house goes on the market one week from today (hooray!) and then we can turn our full attention back to the boat. In the meantime, last Saturday we did get the chance to have some fun when we drove down to Sound Rigging Services (SRS) in Essex to check out the mast repair and our new standing rigging.
You may recall from the previous post on our dented mast that Chuck Poindexter from SRS had also found a crack in our existing standing rigging, so fixing the mast and getting new standing rigging became priority number one for this off-season. We had decided to go with Hi-Mod swageless terminals so that we could easily replace it ourselves in the future, and Chuck had offered to have us down to his shop so we could practice assembling a Hi-Mod terminal.
Installing new rigging meant that it was finally time to pull the trigger on something we had been thinking about for a while – removing the furler and switching to a hank-on jib.
Currently our headsail is on a furler which is what you see on the vast majority of sailboats nowadays. A furler allows you to simply pull on a line when you’re finished using the jib, rolling it around a foil. Basically the jib is always hoisted, but it rolls up when you’re not using it. When you need to reduce the sail because of high winds, you roll it up part way which reduces the sail but also reduces how closely you can point into the wind. Since we have a sloop (which means there is only one headstay), having a furler meant that to change to a different headsail (a storm sail for example) would involve unfurling the sail entirely (while it flogs in the wind), dropping the sail, putting the new one on by inserting it into the slot (which means raising it higher as you go, while it’s unfurled and flogging in the wind), then furling it after it’s fully raised. We had changed our headsail once when we had Little Bristol, and we had also installed and removed the sails each year at the beginning and end of each season (and once last season in anticipation of the hurricane that didn’t arrive). It’s a royal pain.
Before furlers were invented, headsails were hanked on. Hanked on jibs have small pistons along the luff of the sail which are clipped around the forestay before raising the sail. The sail can stay on the deck while it’s hanked on, so it’s not flogging like a furling sail. Hanked on jibs can have a reef point put in so that you can roll up the bottom of the sail to a certain point rather than changing to a smaller sail. This doesn’t impact your pointing ability. Changing the sail involves dropping it, unhanking it and removing the jib sheets, hanking on a new one and installing the jib sheets, and raising the new sail.
We decided awhile ago that when we replaced the standing rigging we’d also remove the furler and switch to hank on headsails. This definitely goes against popular convention, but we have several reasons for doing this: we don’t like how poorly the boat points when the jib is partially furled; we don’t want to spend the money on adding a solent stay, so if we kept the furler but needed to switch to a storm jib, we’d have to completely unfurl the sail before dropping it – a task that’s not appealing in high winds; and we like how hank on jibs are bullet proof – no furler to break down or maintain. So, consistent with our desire to keep things simple, we’re going hank on.
Last spring we were working on the mast when we noticed there was a dent in it. It was clear that something compressed the upper tang, causing a dent. The upper tang looked normal, so it must have been pulled out again. We hadn’t noticed it when the mast was previously unstepped, but maybe we simply didn’t see it. Regardless, it doesn’t matter when or how, it was there.
We decided to ignore it for the season and deal with it later. We weren’t planning on intentionally sailing in rough conditions nor out on the high seas, so we figured we’d take our chances. But when we unstepped the mast last month, we knew it was time to address the situation.