I sailed my new-to-me Pentex square-top mainsail on Sunday… and had a blast in low wind conditions. I had the dacron jib furled on the forestay, so I just ran with that and the Whirlwind mainsail. Sail shape was smoothly curved compared to the old horizontal-cut dacron mainsail (old well-used apples compared to new less-used oranges?), with draft further forward and no hook to the battens. I’m sure some of that is the fabric and some of it is the triradial cut, but the shape was just way better. It was simple and easy to get into the groove and stay there… way more forgiving than my old sails. I experienced significantly more light air power, which is handy on inland lakes. 6mph used to be a snooze, and on Sunday, 5mph was actually pretty decent.
I was surprised there was no lower batten just above the boom… the first batten is almost 4’ up. This did not really affect sail shape -- less stretch in the sail made it simple to dial in lower sail shape with mainsheet, downhaul*, outhaul, and rotation control. Adjustments which used to be hard to see effects of on old dacron were much easier to discern on Pentex. For example, when I sheeted the old dacron sails hard, I got a lot of stretch and some leach tension, where sheeting the Pentex sail hard really stiffened up the leach (tension went into sail shape instead of stretch). Mast rotation makes more of a difference now, as well.
Other miscellaneous observations:
- Drilled battens instead of batten caps, had to dust off my knot memory from my old Spirit cat.
- Smooth/slick boltrope cover, easier to hoist, and lowering was so fast that I needed to brake the line to have any control when I flaked the sail on the tramp.
- I had to work to force the half-twist shackle over the wide/thick grommet at the headplate. I may upsize this shackle or swap with my comptip mast. Burly grommets!
- I had to spread the 5:1 ‘Power Downhaul’ bracket a bit at the bottom to work with the wide/thick grommet at the clew. Burly grommets!
- Pentex mainsail with battens is perceptibly less weight than the Dacron sail with battens
- much bigger window than factory sails; extra handy when sitting on the wings
I’ve always been pretty fussy about drying my gear inside, and I’m being much more delicate with the Pentex sails than I was with the dacron sails. That said, this isn’t that big a deal, and I’m willing to trade gentle handling for the advantages noted above. Also, I knew I was previously working with aged dacron, so I wasn’t really sweating the handling… I think some of this chalks up to newer sails, regardless of material.
- adapt to the wide/thick grommets
- try sailing with the Pentex jib
- get to know the square-top (a few wrinkles up there to work out, in addition to understanding how it handles different wind)
- plan more downhaul advantage. *Beyond just pulling most of the wrinkles out, I needed to reef on the mainsheet and THEN pull the downhaul to get anywhere at all.
Sunday was my second sail on these sails -- both main and jib this time. Again with up to 6mph average winds, a few gusts better but nothing long enough to peg the marina anemometer long enough to measure (not really sure how many minutes might be required for that). I wish I had more wind, but again, I find that stiffer sails with better shape give me enough fun to rig up even in low winds.
It surprises me how much control I have over the fathead 30’ up from the mainsheet and downhaul. My girlfriend was driving and kinda shy on the mainsheet, so even in low wind, the top was twisting off. Reefing in on the mainsheet would tension the leech and pull the fathead back into line, with a perceptible speed boost. It begs the question – is it really possibly to oversheet a fathead? I need to pay more attention to the ribbons off the leech and watch for wrap-back.
I rewound my 5:1 ‘Power Downhaul’ to build in a second line and cascade with a couple of low-friction rings… it did give more leverage, but the rings slightly fouled the stock mast-mounted downhaul fittings. There’s just not a lot of real estate to work with there… but it was nice to have more leverage on the DH. Too much friction the way I had it rigged, though, I'll keep trying variants. There are also some waves/wrinkles in the sail I haven’t been able to work out, running between the aft squarehead batten tip and diagonally down and forward towards the hounds. I think more DH should help?.
- I need to play with the jib leech line a bit, seems like it is overtight and hooking a bit. It might have been tuned for greater wind load?
- Sometimes I’m lazy and down-rig the furled jib with the forestay and wind it out at home (Dacron sails even tightly furled will coil easily in 3-foot loops) … this is no longer an option, since a tightly furled Pentex sail won’t stretch enough to bend gracefully, and I don’t want to kink the sail of the stay.
- My girlfriend fell flat onto the jib when we dumped it (intentional tip to cool off and test recovery). Thankfully there was no damage to either her or the jib!
Miscellanea: we got to watch 6-10 touch-and-go flying boat refills at close quarters – they were working on the nearby ‘French Fire.’
Apparently it only takes about 12 seconds to fill up the 1600-gallon tanks. I was wondering about right-of-way for motorized aircraft and sailing vessels, but in the end, elected to stay clear of the emergency vehicles. :p
Here’s a Youtube more up close than we were (different fire, different plane): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AT_3-ScWCQ
Yup. I definitely wasn't going to argue about ROW (though I did wonder)... we were tipped on our side when they first started scooping, and we decided to stay there until they were well clear (it didn't hurt that we were trying different ways of flipping back up). Once they got their approach figured out, they were back to refill perhaps every 10-15 minutes, and we stayed clear of that patch of lake.
I always figure that yielding to emergency vehicles is making a karmic deposit that I hope I'll never need....
That is a Canadian built waterbomber, (the newer turbine engined model), specifically designed for fire suppression vs converting an existing platform. It is operated by Aero flite, out of Arizona.
The most surprising thing about stepping into one, is that it is mostly empty space. Your first thought is, "this is an empty hull". Water is heavy, the tanks are quite small in comparison to the fuselage. The one I entered, in the NWT, the guys had a couple of bicycles bungeed into the nose.
Generally they do not drop pure water, it evaporates to quickly during the dump. As the water is boarded,(via a small door that drops down), a thickening agent is added via separate tanks. You do not want to be anywhere near the drop zone. The thickened water will snap quite large trees.
While on the water. a seaplane is governed by maritime ROW rules, BUT, when operating under fire suppression roles a Notice to Airmen,(NOTAM), & Notice to Mariners,(NOTMAR), is generally issued for the area of operation. This trumps the usual rules. There is also an Air Reg that bans all other air traffic from the designated area. You can't tool around for a look-see in your bug smasher, sort of like not being able to drive your car into a fire scene to see what's happening.
Edited by Edchris177 on Sep 20, 2017 - 10:25 AM.
Hobie 18 Magnum
Mystere 6.0XL Sold Was a handful solo
Bombardier Invitation (Now officially DEAD)
Various other Dock cluttering WaterCrap
Another quick trip out with the H18 last night... no emergency vehicles (actually on 5 boats on the lake!), but excellent wind. I get out on weeknights too infrequently!
With winds in the mid-to-high teens and gusts to just under twenty, we had a blast. I was breaking in new crew who had previously only sailed keelboats and lasers, and she got a little wetter than she expected, but still had a blast.
I rigged the jib but never unfurled it (kinda missed my regular crew!), and my arms are sore from fighting the weather rudder... that said, my face is sore from the grinning, so it was a good trade-off. I was running the mainsheet in and out and wanted a little more mechanical advantage, but damn, I can't imagine running even more yardage of sheet in and out to get it! I'm getting a better feel for how tight the mainsheet needs to be to hold shape in the lower part of the sail while still allowing the squaretop to twist off in a gust... once I get that dialed, hopefully it'll mean fewer feet of sheet through the blocks.
As noted previously, I continue to be impressed by how much more control over sail shape with these sails. I depowered with more outhaul and downhaul ... and still ended up travelling out a bit to take the edges off the gust.
Limiting mast rotation seemed to help controlling the heel, but I don't understand the mechanics of that yet, especially when running unirig. Seems like that helps more with a jib flying but still helps (just less) with only the mainsheet flying. My sense is that limiting mast rotation helps keep the sail's pull in line with the mast's major axis and that less bend keeps the sail flatter (less full).
Another quick trip out with the H18 and the Whirlwind sails on Saturday, with more winds in the mid-to-high teens and gusts not quite to twenty mph -- awesome conditions. One of my buddies who has crewed before was with me, and we had a blast with all the sails flying, driving hard.
With both of us on the leeward wing, we were pounding through the chop, keeping the leeward hull from submarining (mostly), laughing at what would have been pitchpoles on a 16. I'm getting better at trimming/depowering the top of the main while keeping the lower main driving, and dumping just a little sheet to keep driving through a gust, then pulling it back in as the boat accelerates.
I mentioned previously that I rewound my 5:1 ‘Power Downhaul’ to jerry-rig in a cascaded second line with a couple of low-friction rings… and while that improved leverage, it had too much internal friction and the rings slightly fouled the stock mast-mounted downhaul fittings. I think that was 5:1 on the bottom cascading into about 2:1 up top, and the leverage/advantage was nice, but the friction was problematic -- I rewound that to 4:1 on the bottom and minimized friction between lines, and the 8:1 result was much improved, but still had some interference with the stock 3:1 downhaul cleat and block that are riveted through the gooseneck reinforcement into the mast. I still want more though...
Here is a short video I found on "how to" tie in battens. I am new to that arrangement and found this helpful.
Edited by leeboweffect on Sep 29, 2017 - 12:01 PM.
Hobie 16 (3 formerly)
MacGregor 25 (formerly)
Chrysler Dagger 14 (formerly)
NACRA 5.0 (currently)
High Point, NC
Three more trips out in the last few month... I'm still almost giddy with these sails. The square-top was a HOOT yesterday on the water -- I was single-handing the H18 on 10-ish mph breeze, and having a blast. Good boat-speed, with heel mostly controllable by going up/down in/out from the tramps to the wings, and the gusts blew themselves out the top of the sail almost automatically with minimal effect to heel. When the gust faded, the tension in the system would pull the squaretop back in line with the leech to deliver steady power.
I'm getting the hang of the square-top, but there's (always) more to learn. Playing the downhaul against the mainsheet/traveler offers a surprising level of differential control of the top and bottom parts of the main. After putting more advantage in the downhaul, now I can run it independently of the mainsheet and/or vice versa (before, it seemed like I needed to tighten the mainsheet first and THEN pull the downhaul to get anywhere at all).
After talking briefly with Chip at Whirlwind, who characterized the sails as scaled-down F18 sails, and told me I was unlikely to hurt them with more downhaul, I re-rigged my downhaul yet again. I've played with 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, and a 10:1 system with way too much internal friction... but I'm pretty happy with the 20:1 (or so, I have a hard time differentiating between loaded legs and turning legs) I wound up with -- it has a real fluid flow through the blocks and easy adjustments. I'll put some photos up on this later, but it is three lines:
A.) a heavy chunk of doubled amsteel anchored at one end and terminating through an air block at the other end, using the tack grommet as its 2:1 pivot.
B.) a hank of 5/16 prestretched doublebraid is anchored at one end and terminates in a small double-block at the other end, using the air block from the first line as its 2:1 multiplier, with a direction change pulley on the backside bottom of the mast.
C.) a third line goes vertically from the doubleblock at the end of the second line and has 5:1 between another doubleblock shackled to the spreader bracket, with the live end of that third rope spilling out onto the tramp through the old Murray's 5:1 ‘Power Downhaul’ pivoting lead block.
This was mostly built from bits and bobs in the spares box, is useful from most anywhere on the tramp or wings, and moves freely with minimal friction. I did remove the stock mast-mounted downhaul turning block to minimize hang-ups. The result gives me more leverage than I probably need and is well-tucked against the mast... now I'm curious about eventually changing the spreader rake. Change leads to change leads to change...
- I had been inadvertently sailing with the mast unintentionally back-raked back quite a bit. Not sure when that happened, but I have it set closer to neutral (105), and it makes a surprising difference. I'll remember that on breezy days in the future that might want depowered.
- In 2 of my last 3 times out I managed to slip loose a batten and elected to partially lower the sail to re-insert and re-tie... I double-checked this time whilst raising the sail and found another line starting to loosen. I'm thinking I have non-standard line, it just doesn't cinch down too tightly. In any case, I'm looking at batten caps for better surety.