Discussing Mainsail options

Saxon Blue's Blog
Harvey Jones and Andrea Stokes
Tue 11 Jan 2011 01:42
Monday night

It's been a slightly elliptical day - we went around in almost a circle but it does feel like we got somewhere in the end.

Kali arrived back onboard while Andrea and I were still having a cup of tea in bed just after 8am. She'd had a great weekend with Big Bill on Alerre and explored Tortolla which sounds lovely so we're looking forward to going there on Saxon Blue in the near future. We headed straight over to our favourite French cafe for breakfast and a lot of gossip telling her what we'd been up to all weekend and her telling us what she'd done. She'd also had some emails from Bill 3rd who's off the the Virgin Islands to have a job interview so we all hope he's successful there. Then we decided to get on with the job of sorting out our mainsail.

We man-handled it off our foredeck and onto the front of the tender and then set off for the sail loft. With Kali sat on top of the sail and Andrea sat behind me, the tender certainly wouldn't plane but we went along at a good clip, pointing out to Kali all the places that we'd found over the weekend. Once we'd gone the length of the lagoon, we borrowed a trolley from the marina near the sail loft and soon had our massive bag in their workshop. There we met James, their sailmaker, who discussed all the options with us again.

He's concerned that we will lose a significant amount of performance from the sail if we remove the roach from it. When we had it laid out in their loft, it looked absolutely enormous and he laid a line from head to clew so we could see how much positive roach our battens were supporting. It's certainly a fair bit of extra sail area although how much it contributes to our speed isn't so clear, especially as we hardly ever have all the sail out and working. In the end, he decided that he'd like to speak to the sailmakers in the UK to see what they thought. They were at the London Boat Show so that complicated matters a bit more. In the end, we left him to it and went off to get some lunch at our favourite beachfront bar.

As we came out of the Dutch side canal, Kali spotted Billy Budd, the Oyster 72 which she was Mate on for ages, at anchor just off the beach. Kali went to the Arctic and the South Atlantic including South Georgia onboard so it brought back a lot of memories for her. The boat is now being chartered in the Caribbean while the owners who Kali worked for are organising another yacht to do more exploring.

We did our now usual trick of anchoring our tender just off the beach and swimming ashore, only to find that our bar was having a massive kitchen clean and wasn't doing food. Luckily, there was another bar nearby so we went over there for an OK lunch and then back to our favourite one for a lot of frozen fruit drink. Then it was a swim back to the tender where the exertion of getting over the sponson was nearly too much for Andrea, full as she was of fruity delight.

Maltese Falcon was still anchored up further out so that proved irresistable. We set off to see her close up even though there was a bit of swell running and we got progressively wetter. To be fair, we had been wet nearly all day anyway so it didn't make much difference. The Falcon is even more impressive close up than in the photographs I'd seen. She's not as much of a container ship as the pictures make her look. She's much finer and more detailed. Alongside the massive motor yachts out here, she's positively understated. The crew had braced the yards around so that the forward mast was to port, the mainmast to starboard and the mizzen to port again. From ahead, the yards drew a sinuous curve in the sky from bow to stern. It's just showing off but it looked amazing.

After circling the ultimate sailing machine, we headed back into the lagoon to visit Budget Marine, another chandlery mega-store. Here I found some lightweight shirts to keep the sun off and bought some thin sailing waterproof jackets for myself and Andrea as our existing ones are way too heavy for this temperature. With a few bits of chandlery as well, we set off back to the sail loft to see how they'd got on.

James had spoken to Kemps, the UK manufacturers of Saxon Blue's sails and I think they'd managed to confuse each other nicely in discussing the intricate details of aerofoils and sail fabric. It all sounds so convincing in the factory and looks great on the computer design software. It's all a lot less fantastic when you're trying to furl away a sail while the boat is pitching around in a gale and you have a broken batten sticking out the bottom threatening to bring the whole process to a sudden and dangerous halt. Anyway, we discussed it again and I'll try to ring Rob from Kemp's tomorrow and just make sure the sail isn't going to fall apart or cease to work completely if we give it a good haircut.

From there, we got completely soaked (again) on our way back home to Saxon Blue where we had to rinse all the salt out of our clothes and then off of ourselves in the shower. The wind is still brisk so the temperature is pleasant and Kali cooked us a lovely rice dish which we ate in the cockpit while discussing a job she's hoping to do in the Arctic in summer this year. She's decided to stay on with us longer than the end of January now, so that's great news. Once I finish writing this, it's Battlestar Galactica time and then the end of another full day doing not much in the Caribbean.


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