Plymouth Sound all to myself on Boxing Day

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I’ve been tinkering with my Halcyon 23 again recently. I’ve started putting some insulation into the forepeak behind the panels next to the v-birth. I’m hoping this will help make the boat a nicer place to be on cold days and nights. I’ve used the silvered bubble wrap sold by most DIY stores. I have used PVC glue to stick it to the fibreglass sides of the boat, as I don’t want to use a glue that’s going to be a nightmare to remove should I decide to replace it all at a later date.

I’m not sure how or if I’m going to try to insulate the curving underside of the deck/forepeak ceiling as it’s a very fluid moulding and I think it will be difficult to end up with a neat finish.

After all the tinkering I thought both myself and Floreasca (Flora for short) deserved a sail, so I struck out on Boxing Day. Remarkably I had Plymouth sound to myself for the first few hours. Only late in the afternoon did I spot two sails way over near Picklecombe. There wasn’t a lot of wind, and I seemed to be permanently against the tide, but it was a very pleasant day. The sun was warm and the great visibility and nice rolling swell outside the breakwater meant I really enjoyed the sail. I saw Gannets diving, cormorants diving and seagulls a plenty.

I did however notice another issue that needs fixing on the boat. I’ve been reading a lot about sail trim recently, and it became obvious to me that the way the genoa has been set up I can’t achieve a good sail set. Flora has roller reefing and a pretty sizeable genoa. I’m not sure what percentage the genoa is, but it overlaps the main significantly. I have found that the jib sheet angle is too steep, meaning that the sheet pulls down the leach of the sail and pulls the top of the jib too tight relative to the foot. This means that when the genoa is fully unrolled and I’m close hauled the jib is touching the spreaders up the mast.

Sail trim issues
The genoa leach is touching the spreaders.

This is a bad thing as to get the maximum drive from a sail, with minimum healing and drag you want the sail to ‘twist’ away from the wind as you go up the sail. This is because the wind is slowed down and it’s direction is changed by its passage over the sea, meaning the wind will be faster, and from a more favourable direction at the top of the mast. Sails are designed to twist towards the top to make use of this and achieve more forward force when they twist.

My sails, with their lack of twist are producing more drag and sideways force than they could be, meaning reduced speed and more heeling. The badly setting genoa also affects the main, as the air passing down the ‘slot’ between the genoa and the main can result in backwinding if the main is twisting but the genoa isn’t.

As I said earlier, the lack of twist my genoa is showing is due to the jib sheet angle. The force exerted on the sail is from too low down meaning more tension is being applied down the leach of the sail than along the foot. I can fix this in one of several ways.

Lower the Sail

Perhaps the best fix would be for me to lower the whole sail. The furling gear is mounted quite high off the deck as you can see in the picture below;


Lowering the entire furling gear so that the tack of the sail is closer to the deck will do two beneficial things; lower the clew of the genoa reducing the angle between the deck and the jib sheet, and move the centre of effort of the genoa lower. The reduced angle will allow more sail twist, and reduced heeling, and the lower centre of effort will also reduce heeling. On the downside currently I have great visibility from the cockpit as I can easily see under the genoa! Further more, when running before the wind the genoa will foul on the pulpit.

Attach a Strop to the Jib Sheet Runner

The angle between the deck and the jib sheet could be reduced by lifting the point at which the jib sheet is attached to the traveller by adding a strop. This would mean more tension along the foot of the sail and less along the leach of the sail which would allow more twist of the sail. It would also help decrease the angle at which the jib sheet meets the winches, which is also too steep at the moment. The jib sheet has a tendency to roll off the bottom of the winch. This wouldn’t have the benefit of reducing the centre of effort of the sail, but I would maintain the visibility under the sail and I wouldn’t have to mess with the furling gear and genoa halliard. The jib wouldn’t foul the pulpit when running before the wind either.

Move the Traveller track Aft

This would be a difficult job, and would also necessitate moving the winches back. I don’t like this option for those reasons.


So, what to do? I think I’m going to go for the second option. It seems like the least work, and it fixes the winch problem as well as the sail trim problem. I will still have good visibility under the genoa, and I don’t have to mess with the furling system, which is working well for me at the moment. I’ll probably experiment a little with some rope and a block to find the right length of strop that is required, and then get some wire strops made up.

Some footage showing my sail trim issues, my silly hat, and the lovely conditions out on Plymouth Sound on boxing day!

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas and you have a great New Year! – Jamie

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