Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine’s Chute-Out Aftermath

Rough days always have casualties


Our adventures Saturday didn't end when the racing did. We headed for harbor, and we prepared to drop the sails.

We had a bit of a glitch dropping the jib – when Pat had rigged the boat, he had run the jib halyard afoul of the boom vang line, something that isn't a problem when the boom vang is slack, but that was a problem this time, since Applegal had put on a lot of vang to keep the mainsail under control in the rough conditions. Once we slacked the vang, we were able to get the jib down.

The mainsail, however, proved to be another problem altogether. On most Etchells, there's a clip at the top of the mast, and on the main halyard, there's a T-bar that's designed to go into that clip. The idea is that the clip holds up the sail, so there doesn't have to be tension on the halyard within the mast that interferes with the ability of the mast to bend according to conditions. In practice, that clip causes a lot of difficulty, because it often jams, making it hard to unlatch the T-bar and drop the sail.

Black Magic has such a clip at the top of the mast, although it had never given us trouble unlatching when we wanted it to unlatch. However, with the mainsail that we have been using lately, the clip hasn't been an issue – we had never been able to haul the sail up to where the clip was. So we had quit thinking about it.

Then Saturday, Applegal had insisted on getting that sail hauled up high enough that the trim looked right to her. As it turns out, that height is the exact height that a sail is supposed to be on an Etchells – that is, the height at which the T-bar is the same level as the clip. We didn't latch the T-bar in the clip. However, with other sails, Pat and I have had the experience of being unable to make the latch click when we raised sail, giving up on it, and then finding out at the end of the day that the clip had at some point clipped itself. Apparently, that's what happened Saturday.

Only this time, we couldn't get the latch to unlatch. We went head-to-wind many times, but no matter what we did to reduce strain on the latch, it just wouldn't let go. We went upwind into a slip, tied the boat up, and tried to snag the end of the T-bar with the backstay to make it unlatch. Meanwhile, the sail, our best one, was flogging itself to death. Eventually, we got the trailer and hauled the boat out to the mast-raising pole, where a fellow sailor (he's from Georgia, so that's what we'll call him for now) went up in a bosun's chair to straighten things out. Georgia reported that the latch was in perfect condition, but the T-bar had gone into it crooked, so that's why it wouldn't unlatch.

So today, to avoid future grief, we made a modification to the main halyard: we removed the T-bar. From now on, we're just going to cleat the halyard the way most other sailors do, and not worry about the compression on the mast that a tensioned halyard is going to cause. I have a strong suspicion that we're not at the high-performance level where such tension will make a noticeable difference in the performance of our boat.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the compression of the mast , that the halyard causes, does not effect performance, but may cause the mast to fail, in heavy winds....especially, an older softer kenyon! Z

Wed Feb 18, 11:08:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Addendum ...

Pat and I got in more sailing over the rest of the weekend.

Sunday, Pat soloed in Black Magic, while I hopped aboard Constellation with Zorro. Conditions were light, but we had some good sailing. Pat has details on his blog.

Then Monday, we needed to get Black Magic from the northern marina to the main marina where the mast-up storage is. I plan to get more details up in a full-scale blog post, but in short, Pat, Cornhusker, and I set sail in extremely light conditions. We had an hour of little to no wind, about 20 minutes of really good wind, and then way too much wind. We ended up with a shattered tiller, a Vise-Grip pliers used as emergency steering gear, Cornhusker working sail trim to keep the boat under control, and a docking that looked much easier than it really was.

For those who are counting, Pat now has 13 days' sailing this year, and Zorro and I have 12.

Thu Feb 19, 01:55:00 AM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zorro has 14 at the lake and 4 at Asarate!

Thu Feb 19, 11:24:00 AM MST  

Post a Comment

<< Home