Code Zero

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Mon 12 Dec 2022 06:43

Alongside RSAYS Marina
mostly sunny and warm, windy

Sylph's Christmas project is a new sail, namely a Code Zero. A Code Zero is a cross between a genoa and an asymmetrical spinnaker that is used for sailing close to the wind in light air. The background to this new sail follows.

Some time ago I decided to change Sylph's working headsail from a 130% overlapping genoa (number one) to a smaller 110% headsail (number two). My main reason for downsizing the working headsail was that using a full genoa as the working sail meant that in winds above 12 knots, which is most of the time, it was partially rolled up. This in turn led to the sail wearing out relatively quickly due to the uneven loading (I went through some three genoas in about six or seven years). It also made for a baggy sail in stronger winds just when one needs a flatter sail.

Changing down to a number two headsail as the working sail has turned out pretty well and in general I have only missed having a lighter, larger headsail when in the horse latitudes and the doldrums where one encounters lengthy periods of light winds. On Sylph's last voyage when in these latitudes I changed the working headsail for the old number one genoa, but this meant changing the sail on the foil which is a chore and something I like to avoid if I can. Sylph has a drifter which is similar in concept to a Code Zero but it now very old and has had numerous repairs, not to mention being quite a bit smaller than a Code Zero. Also it is made of nylon and a bit on the full side so cannot be carried much closer to the wind than a beam reach, so does not fill the hole in Sylph's sail wardrobe for light upwind work.

Another issue that I had on the last voyage was worrying about the fore stay failing, as in a sloop rig when the forestay fails it is highly likely that the mast will follow, which is an unattractive proposition when a long way from land. I am confident that I have rectified the split pin problem that led to my fore stay anxiety but in reading a couple of Patrick O'Brien's novels set in the Nelsonian Navy, and in particular reading about preventer stays, it occurred to me that a second 'preventer' fore stay on long ocean passages would be a good idea. Now one problem with a conventional Code Zero is that they are normally set on a hoistable furler and these are very expensive. Combined with the cost of a new sail, we would be looking at a figure in the order of $10,000 or more. And another piece of the jigsaw puzzle fell into place when I was watching some sailing videos on 'You Tube' made by a cruising couple who go under the moniker of the "Rigging Doctor". They have made extensive use of Dyneema rope for their standing rigging and use hanked-on head sails with soft hanks.

So, after much procrastination and turning the problem over in my head for a few years, combined with the different ideas mentioned above, I have come up with what I think is workable and affordable solution. I am making a stub bowsprit out of a nice piece of timber that a marina neighbour and friend generously provided, that fits into the stainless steel pipe that was originally intended as a chain pipe for the anchor cable but which, as a concept, turned out to be a failure and is now only used for the anchor snubber line. I have made a bobstay, the line that goes from the end of the bowsprit to the stem, and the outer fore stay out of Dyneema and am having a Code Zero made with soft hanks. This means I will in effect have a preventer fore stay, reducing my fore stay anxiety, as well as a manageable close-reaching headsail for light winds.

Unfortunately due to fabric supply problems the new sail won't be ready until sometime in March so we will have to be patient to see whether it is all going to work out. In the meantime the bowsprit has been turned up and is now being varnished and painted. And as an interim measure I am having soft hanks fitted to the old genoa, so the set up should be ready to test in about a week's time. Photos will follow in due course.

Oli remains content.

All is well.