Working with the experts
We’re starting on the upgrades we have been planning for the winter. When we moved Wildling from La Grande Motte to Port Corbières in Marseille, I was very fortunate to meet Philippe Escalle, who is based in L’Estaque, and in addition to running the regional North Sails loft, also designs, manufactures and installs the rigging and custom carbon components for a number of offshore racing monohulls.
It’s quite amazing how much knowledge and talent there is in the French sailing community. These folks are seriously into sailing, and ocean racing in particular. It’s no accident that nearly all the singlehanded round the world records are held by French sailors, it seems to be part of their DNA. What’s great for me, is that although I have no interest in racing, I am learning a lot from these guys that applies to offshore cruising, and also that I have people working on our boat that have been out there testing, using and perfecting their equipment in the most challenging conditions imaginable.
Philippe has done a lot of racing himself, much of it in the Mediterranean and Atlantic, and he has a good amount of experience with multihulls, which makes him a great partner to design and install the changes we want to make to our sailplan.
In this post, I’ll summarize the modifications we are making, with links to some research info I found useful. I’ll explain each change in a more detailed post with photos and video as they are done.
Replace self tacking jib with new Genoa – We are removing the self tacking jib, and replacing it with a North 3Di Genoa. The genoa will be on a furler that is either fully furled, or fully unfurled i.e. no reefing.
New Staysail – aft of the Genoa we are installing a self tacking staysail. This will also be a North 3Di sail on a permanent 0% or 100% furler. The staysail will balance the mainsail when it’s double reefed.
New storm jib – aft of the staysail we are adding a storm jib. This sail will be on a detachable, textile stay, that is hoisted when required. The storm jib will balance the mainsail when it’s triple reefed.
New headsail furler winch – on the foredeck aft of the trampoline we are installing an electric winch with a remote control at the helm. This winch will allow single handed furling of the staysail, genoa and gennakers from the cockpit.
Running rigging changes – We have had problems with chafe and creaking on our reefing lines at the boom end, and the halyards where they exit the mast top. The lines are Dyneema, but the covers are polyester which overheats and separates due to friction under load. We are replacing the reefing lines and halyards with Dyneema core, Technora cover lines, with an extra Dyneema cover at the friction points.
Anchor replacement – Our 35 kg Spade anchor is undersized for our boat. Even in excellent holding, and plenty of scope, we are creeping backwards in gusts over 25 knots. After a lot of research and discussion we have decided to replace it with a 45 kg Ultra Anchor.
Anti-capsize and Man Overboard safety system – There are now quite a few 5X boats that are using the UpsideUp anti-capsize and man overboard recovery system from Ocean Data Systems. I’ve discussed this with other owners and also with Christophe Lassegue at ODS to better understand how it functions. The system serves three main purposes:
- Anti-capsize – monitor the rig loads and heel angle and automatically depower the sails if the load or angle exceeds safe limits
- Automatically detect a man overboard, then sound the alarm siren, release the Jon Buoy, and mark the MOB GPS position in the water
- Environmental monitoring – monitor wind speed, wind angle, water depth and traffic and alarm when safety ranges are exceeded.
While we always try and sail conservatively and anticipate bad weather, on a voyage as long as we are planning, we will run into unexpected situations, and this system might help us avoid or at least better cope with an accident at sea.
Here is a video (sorry there’s only a French version) explaining how UpsideUp was designed for offshore racing and then adapted to the cruising marketplace.
I’ll be adding more details about each of these changes, including why I think we need them in upcoming posts.