Things on hold with lack of supplies and this self-isolation but one thing was still not resolved with the boat and I thought I’d inflict it on you.
It was, for a long while, not central what actual sails I’d run but as the hull firmed into what it is, with two masts at fixed strong points, and as I think I’ll go sail rather than canal, every permutation and combination imaginable was gone into and out of it, certain hard truths became apparent.
In making these sails myself, by definition using lesser materials and with no sewing involved, that having to be disguised somewhat out in public, my choices really were limited.
It really came down to two and that’s because a full expanse of material of 270 sq ft each was simply impractical, even as a standing lug, my preferred sail[s] all else being equal.
The first real solution was the cambered junk sail, its major features being close battens separating the panels and with nip and tuck creating belly or camber in the right places between battens – a good solution which adds weight in the battens but that pays off in instant reefability or in other words – the sail comes down easily. That’s been my choice for a long time.
Those with regular boats would say ‘batt cars’ are the way to go – that is, slides on an angle-track behind the mast, the orthodox way today, and they certainly are great but @£300 each, needing about a dozen on each mast … er …
I could have made hoops to go around the mast – not a huge issue for me, I’ve the materials and tools.
There is another solution though which has one major disadvantage and then a whole lot of major advantages and it can be seen above in profile.
I’ve had it on the books for a long time and even blogged on it – the soft wing. At the start, I thought it a high tech solution, beyond me, but now I come to making the ribs, it’s a doddle.
It precludes any sewing, strong points being wrapped over ply, with two sandwich halves either side, the whole rivetted. I used it as corners when stringing a tarp over the work area and while it ripped in other places over the 600 sq ft, it never ripped at the corners in any weather. So that’s my method.
And the sail plan? The soft wing again. Dropping the sail is sorted, the weakness of the batten join in the aft third I’ve sorted after seeing how one chap had done it, there’s enough twist in a gust and better still is it’s neat – no ragged edges to fray.
It’s also strong, with exposed cloth only between battens, that cloth 200 gsm, wrap around layer in the wing two-thirds, single layer aft.
The cloth is so cheap – £28 with VAT for 20 sq m – that I can carry replacements – boxes of them. The outer battens unscrew, cloth applied, rescrew.
The disadvantage is twist. Under stress, with the top falling away as it should in a limited fashion, it does depress the nose cone and that is going to involve extra layers behind the cone at the building stage, again rivetted down the luff and unfortunately, when the sail is dropped to the lazy jacks, there’s a bit of bulge, not unlike mainsails with bolt ropes. I don’t see that as a major downer.
A huge advantage is that if I see it is not strong enough, I can run another layer under the battens [400 gsm overall] and while that seems weighty, it’s nothing compared to a regular sailboat rig on that sized boat. The two masts, by the way, are 24 feet and 22, times four inches.
Above all, it’s the only solution which looks ‘smart’ with such materials, plus it best suits the hull shape. So that’s the one I’m starting on now – waiting on the cloth.