Staysail!

Our new North 3Di staysail arrived on Monday and the guys installed it on Tuesday. Another beautifully made sail from North, these guys really do produce a high quality product, not a single blemish, mark or defect, and it fits exactly on the boat.

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New staysail hoisted, tying off the halyard at the mast

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Tensioning the luff

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Staysail clewboard

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We installed a guide on the crossbeam to lead the gennaker furling line back to the winch

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The aft end of the gennaker furling line leader (left of the clutches) that positions the line correctly on the winch. The larger clutch is for the gennaker tack line and the two small ones are for the staysail furling line. The gennaker tack line is long enough to allow us to pull the tack over to either of the bows. This lets us run deeper downwind angles using the Code-D or an asymmetric spinnaker.

The only thing left to do now is to rig a tensioner for the slack section of the furling lines to keep them running smoothly when furling and unfurling the sails. We will do that next week, then go for a test sail to make sure everything is working correctly!

Last week we received two of our new headsails from North. We’re rigging the furling lines now and waiting for the self tacking staysail to arrive in the next few days. Here’s some video I took of the North 3Di Genoa and the Storm Jib.

We’re making good progress on the sailplan changes. All the winch and line handling changes are done now. Next steps are to install the stays and sails, and finish connecting the UpSide Up system.

The big news this month is that after 6 months of waiting, Incidences finally installed the broken batten fitting on the mainsail!

Here’s a video of the progress this month:

The team at Escale Rigging is making progress on the sailplan changes and the UpsideUp install. Here’s some video I took today showing the work done so far. I forgot to mention the new anchor, but you can see it in the video under the trampoline.

The team at Escale Rigging is making good progress with our sailplan modifications. Although the boat is a total construction zone right now, it’s great to see all the work getting done.

I’ve had some people ask why I have to make these changes on a brand new boat? The answer is, I don’t “have” to make any changes, but I did think it was likely that I would want to make some modifications to the headsails after I had sailed the boat for a year and that’s what this project is about. If you’ve read my earlier posts on the construction process you know that I was very happy with the advice I received from Outremer when we selected all the options we wanted to install, but there were some things that I just couldn’t decide on without spending time sailing the boat, so I asked Outremer to install the structural elements we would need for the different headsail options, and I deferred the final decisions on the sailplan until after our first year of sailing.

We had to pull the ceiling lining out to install the genoa sheet lead pad-eyes and to run power cables

The ceiling lining was removed to install the genoa sheet pad-eyes and to route power and control cables and the pneumatic lines for the UpsideUp system.

 

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The cabinets were removed to install controls for the new headsail furler winch and to convert the genoa sheet winches to electric.

 

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Stéphane from Outremer came over from La Grande Motte to show the guys how to disassemble the head lining, and to make sure we had sufficient reinforcement for the new genoa sheet padeyes. Everything is fine because Outremer added the reinforcing when they built the roof. Thanks Stéphane!

Almost all the equipment and materials have been ordered now, and everything should be delivered in the next few weeks.

The new 45 kg Ultra anchor and flip swivel are in place and fit onto the davits with no changes, which is great!

Outremer sent their electrical engineer over to replace the faulty level gauges on the water tanks. Outremer’s R&D team has done a lot of testing with different level sensors to find a model that is accurate and reliable. This was made more complicated because the sensors need to be quiet, as the water tanks are under the beds. The sensors that use a sliding magnet ring are very reliable, but are too noisy, so we needed to find a reliable capacitive sensor that has no moving parts. The new sensors and gauges are now installed and are working well.

The halyards and reefing lines have been replaced with higher performance Dyneema/Technora lines and Escale Rigging fitted extra dyneema sleeves over the friction areas of the new lines to make them even more resistant to chafing.

1st reef reefing line

The original 1st reef line uses a dyneema/polyester blend which shows significant chafe after 1 season of use where it runs through the low friction ring on the sail leech

 

New reefing lines are much higher load and have friction reducing sleeves

The new reefing lines are higher load dyneema/technora and have friction reducing dyneema sleeves

 

You can see the anti-friction sleeve on the gennaker halyard which we use to hold up the boarding bridge when we are at the dock. The sleeve protects from chafe where the halyard enters the mast.

You can see the anti-friction sleeve on the gennaker halyard (which we use to hold up the boarding bridge when we are at the dock). The sleeve protects from chafe where the halyard enters the mast.

 

New halyards

New halyards

We did have one surprise when the guys were up the mast to route the new halyards, they found the outer coating has come away from around the opening where the forestay attachment loops enter the mast,  exposing the carbon fiber edge, which could cause chafing of the dyneema loops.

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Outremer has contacted Lorima, the mast manufacturer, and they are sending us instructions on how to fix it. It’s not a structural fault, but it is something that could chafe the forestay attachment loops over time, and it serves as a reminder of the importance of doing thorough rig checks every season, even on new boats!

Mainsail batten fitting still not fixed!

I’m still waiting for a replacement for the fitting that attaches the top batten of the mainsail to the mast. The fitting broke during the Outremer cup in May, and we have been waiting since August for Incidences (the sail manufacturer) to figure out why it broke and to send us a replacement.

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Our broken fitting on the left vs the original fitting on the right. The 3 holes in a line create a weak zone which caused the fracture.

After Incidences sent me two replacements that were exactly the same as the one that broke, I pulled our broken one out of the sail and sent it to Outremer so they could work it out directly with Incidences. The response from Incidences is that the fitting broke because the attachment holes are all in a line, which creates a weak zone. They are manufacturing a replacement from a stronger material with the holes staggered. I can’t understand why this has taken 4 months to fix (so far) and we can’t use the boat without it, so I’m certainly not a fan of Incidences right now!

New headsails

Our new headsails (genoa, staysail and storm jib) are currently being manufactured by North Sails (I won’t buy sails from Incidences again after the batten fitting debacle) at the North USA factory, which is where all the new 3Di sails are made. I’m hearing really great reports from other owners about these sails having excellent durability on long distance cruising boats, so hopefully we will be happy with them also.

I’ll post an update as work progresses, and hopefully some video as well.

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.

Project List

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.

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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.

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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.

Outremer Cup 2016 Video

Here’s a really great video that pro cinematographer Christophe Nizou made of the Outremer Cup in La Grande Motte in May. We were lucky enough to have Christophe aboard for the 2nd day of the regatta, and he took some excellent video of us and Wildling!

Since we really wanted to avoid having a diesel generator on Wildling, we had to install a power generation system that would be a viable substitute. Solar panels are the central element of our charging systems, but they have their limits. During night passages, with all of our navigation, instruments, lights and radar running, followed by several days of cloudy weather, the batteries get depleted and need to be charged by other means. We have our Mastervolt 24V alternators, which are rated at 110A each at max rpm, and give us about 70-80 amps each at 1,500 rpm, so we can recharge our lithium batteries pretty quickly, but I hate running engines on a sailboat, so our supplemental plan is to use a hydro-generator.

I had no previous experience with hydro-generators before we purchased Wildling, but Outremer has been using the Watt & Sea generators for a while with good results, and a lot of the round the world race boats use them, so I decided to give one a try. These systems are very expensive, and they appear pretty fragile, so I was a bit skeptical about how well they would hold up in a long distance cruising environment.

Although we haven’t used ours extensively yet, we have used it quite a bit and so I can provide some initial feedback on how it’s going. What I can say for sure, is that it really works well on our boat. Between the solar panels and the hydro, we can keep our batteries fully charged without needing to run the engines. The downside of the hydo is that it of course won’t do anything at anchor, but we use less energy at anchor and usually don’t need any more than the solar to keep us topped up. Long periods of no sun will require running the engines though, which is still better than having a generator in my opinion.

Because of the speeds our boat reaches, we can’t use the cruising version of the Watt & Sea hydro generator. The high rpm destroys the turbine blades, and I know of at least one other 5X that had this problem. The racing version that we have is more expensive (of course!) but it has smaller, adjustable pitch blades that are continuously regulated by a hydraulic actuator depending on charging load and boat speed, so the turbine blades last longer. The downside of the racing version is that it really only produces a meaningful output above 8 knots of boat speed, and I have heard from other owners that the blades will still strip out over time, so you have to carry one or two spare blade kits. The turbine blades will not survive much of an impact either, so spare blades are a good idea no matter what.

Here’s a video that Lindsay and I made on our last trip to show how we have our hydro-gen setup. So far, I’m very happy with it, and I’ll post an update when we have done some more miles.

Sailing to Tunisia video

Here’s some video I took during our trip along the coasts of Corsica and Sardinia on the way to Tunisia. The first part of the video is with winds behind around 20 knots, and in the 2nd part we are sailing at 45 degrees upwind in winds around 7-8 knots with the Code-0. You can see from the instruments how well we do upwind in light conditions on Wildling. We can usually manage to sail about 0.5 knots under the true wind speed.

This is a video I took in May 2016 when we craned Wildling out of the water to remove the EWOL propellers that were the wrong size for our 5X and causing a huge vibration. We re-installed the original Volvo folding props, and fixed a rudder alignment problem during the liftout. We found the cause of the vibration is that the blade edges were too close to the hull surface, which creates a lot of turbulence and cavitation.  EWOL is working with Outremer to try and find the correct propeller match for the 5X. Until then, we will continue to use our Volvo propellers.

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