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2016-03-30

Lofty ambitions

Spring in the yard.

Silence does not suggest inactivity. Work expanded recently to fill a scheduled week away in March on a Caribbean sailing charter that was unfortunately abandoned, due to the sudden illness of the skipper,  Nonetheless, things are proceeding in the run-up month to launch.
Featureless cylinder to some, galvanic isolation to me.
A visit to the redoubtable Johnston Plastics in Etobicoke (everything marine is there in Ford Nation) got me a big sheet of 1/32" thickness HDPE. I will cut this into strips to isolate the aluminum roof from the steel framing of the pilothouse. Nylon bushings will isolate the SS fasteners, and butyl tape and a bead of sealant will keep the ocean out.
Not seen: the shattered "radome" for the flux gate compass. There goes another dollar.
The tarp I use to keep the heat and rain out needed replacing, as is often the case in winter's blasts. The rain comes from a persistent leak I need to fix prior to replacing all the insulation and some new and additional wire runs, as well as from some failed gasketing on the port side top hatch...I need to order a specific shape of gasket material from McMaster-Carr.  There's a rather extensive list of things I require needful of the U.S. Visa card, which is making little whining noises of late.

Before all was a trackless waste.

The "sailtrack" portion of the Tides Marine setup. After reading the directions and looking at the current bound and stacked mast of Alchemy, I think I will wait until I have the mast in its pre-hoisting position on sawhorses to install this. I need the mast to be facing the sky, and I may have to tap a few holes. 
Exceedingly pricy bits my sailmaker seems to understand.
The other bits went to Ron Fernandes at Triton Sails, who has laid out the new main's shape and whom I visited earlier today to see where he wanted to put the two deep reefs I want.

I wondered how a) he told all these lines apart and b) how often he had to repaint the loft floor.
The orange pin represents the tack end of the mainsail, the part that is through-bolted to a fitting on the mast end of the boom. The red writing indicates the position of the first or lowest of four battens, which will attach into batten cars, which will pivot on slugs which will slide on the sail track currently inside the big hexagonal box. See? Nothing to it.

More arcane squiggles.
Knowing a bit about how Alchemy needs all her sail to move her heft, I explained that our ambition was to carry a full main much of the time: Alchemy will do quite well up to 20 knots with a full hoist and a staysail running off, although I prefer to roll up much of the Yankee. What more theoretical, and is where Ron's experience and some back-of-envelope calculations that made me SA/D came in, is deciding where to put the reefs. They can't interfere with the battens and they must be, in a heavyweight, ocean-quality sail like this, represent meaningful reductions in sail area for when the wind is howling and the seas are well-developed.
Money goes here.
Reefs are akin to gears on the boat. Put a deep first reef in and everything stands up a bit more and slows down to a less frantic pace. The sails power the boat's progress: reduce the sails and the progress is reduced.

I believe this is the second reef. I was trying to follow Ron's descriptions.
On our original main (which we are keeping for light air duty and as a spare), there are three reefs, although they were not set up in a permanent fashion. The first reef subtracted five feet of sail height; the first reef here subtracts eight. Because we aren't racers, and because we will more likely be running off the wind than to weather, I would prefer a decisive depowering should we decide to reef. Pilots, other offshore sailors and my own experience tell me that it's the lack of wind, not too much, that is usually the problem, but, should we find some, I don't mind going slightly slower than we potentially could, because I may not have all the facts at hand, such as "will this stay steady in the mid-20s?" or "are the seas yet fully developed?" Often, I will have these facts, and if I know we're in for the milder sorts of squalls interrupting a good 15 knot steady blow, I would likely ease the main, fully up, and just faff around until we could resume travelling at a good clip of 6 to 7 knots.

Possibly the second reef? It was much clearer at the loft.
The second reef makes the main less than half its normal height. Not quite trysail-sized, but enough to provide drive and control up to about 40-45 knots, or so I project. It's the reef I would put it, if the wind allowed, for heaving to purposes, and I would consider dropping our fairly large staysail in favour of our heavily made storm staysail, which, as the "stay" part of "staysail" suggests, would be the last sail before we went under bare poles.
Helpful terms for the uninitiated.


It's hard to see, but there's a white chalk mark to the right of the line representing the original main's leech or aftmost part of the sail.
A welcome addition to this sail is about 20 square feet of extra area. The original sail is clearly a cut-down main from (Ron estimates) a 55 footer. It's very triangular in the sense that the leech is very straightly cut from clew to head. There's a big gap between the current main's leech and the twin backstays I want to fill with roach, and Ron has cut a lovely curve that will give us a little more oomph. More oomph, however, dictates that deeper first reef. The reason I haven't gone with three, as is customary, is due to weight aloft (more reefs equal more weight higher up the sail) and the rather stolid nature of our boat: she needs, most of the time, all the sail she can carry, but when she doesn't, I want to take it easy. As I stated long ago, around the world at four knots is fine by us...if we can get there in one piece, including the main.
More hard to see and confusing lines.
Across the street was Holland Marine, where the bottom paint we favour until we really have the hull blasted and recoated was paid for in full knowledge of the crap Canadian dollar. More to come soon.