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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    19

    Default Sail setting/tightness Help

    I haven't had my boat for long and have now taken it out a couple of times with both sails up. However I cannot seem to get adequate tension on the mainsail. The boat is only 22' and there are no winches available to apply more force to the halyard. TBH i'd be worried that any more force would break something, I'm a strong 90kg guy and it goes up fine to a point, then refuses to go up the last 100mm. There is space at the top of the mast but no more than 150mm. Maybe I just need more force?

    I've done a bit of research and I see some boats use a 'downhaul', my main has no specific eyelet for one but i could use a reefing hole. If I pull down on the sail it sits and fills very well but then one of the runners/carriages (not sure the correct name) come out of the opening in the mast slot and the bottom of the sail is saggy.

    It feels like the boom needs to come down to solve the problem but there are no features to allow this.

    I should have taken some pictures over the weekend but was having too much fun so forgot. If anyone can give some advice i'd be very grateful. If it's a case of needing photos I can get some next weekend when I'm out again (weather permitting)

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    On the Celtic Fringe
    Posts
    13,895

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    Does the main go up a slot in the mast? If so when was the slot last cleaned?
    Cynical Scottish almost retired engineer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Firth of Forth
    Posts
    2,604

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    Is there anything which prevents the halyard running over the sheaves at the masthead or exiting at the mast foot?
    As suggested above, is the mast track clear?
    Is there a black band (measuring band) at the masthead? Does the head of the sail reach this?
    Can the luff be tensioned by pulling the gooseneck down after raising the sail?
    Is a gate missing where the slides go into the mast? (To prevent them coming out of the slot when the sail is up.)
    Is there a reefing point about a foot up from the boom? This is intended as a "flattener" reef but could be used for a downhaul / Cunningham.

    Given the forces involved when sailing, I'm tempted to suggest that if you can break any part of the sail raising system by hand, that bit of the system wasn't up to the job and it's better to break it raising the sail than have it break while sailing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Location
    A Member State of the European Union
    Posts
    4,577

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    if there is 150mm between the head of the sail and the masthead that is probably about as far as you can reasonably expect it to go without the headboard of the sail fouling the topping lift block.

    Have you had a look at the top of the track using binoculars to see if there is a stop to prevent the top slide going any further up? If there is, and there is no provision to pull the boom down (as there is on my boat), the luff of your sail is too long. If that is the case, and to get a permanent solution, you would have to get the sail altered.
    " Brexit is like watching a library being burned down by people who can't read"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    Thanks for your advcie!

    Sandy - Yes it does, I have no idea when/if it's been cleaned. I got the boat very cheap and have no history with it at all. I need to get the mast down at some point to fix the masthead light and check the rigging (which i'm planning on swapping for Dyneema at some point)

    Thistle - As above I am unaware of what the very top of the mast is like but the rest of the sliders go up easy enough. There is every chance there is something physically stopping it near the top. That is what it feels like. That said there is no visible stop or black band around the top of the mast. The gooseneck cannot be moved down without drilling another hole in the track below it. It's a pretty simple arrangement and just has a split pin holding it from falling lower. Looks like it's been that way for a long time.

    There is no gate in the slot, actually I've just been researching these as it's a real pain. The slot is about 250mm from the boom so all but two of the sliders sit below the slot. this makes raising it a pain. I've found some pretty good solutions online, i'm an engineer by trade so can just fabricate something with relative ease.
    The first reefing point is pretty high, maybe 1m from memory, I considered doing this but it seems like a half measure rather than fixing the route problem. I think you have a point about the forces, although I would have thought most of the forces while sailing where on the slots and sliders rather than vertically on the halyard? Maybe i'm wrong though. I may try getting some mechanical advantage with some blocks/pulleys.

    Poignard - I will get some good binoculars and check. If all else fails I think like you say I will just remove the top 100mm of the sail (or try it myself), This seems like the simplest fix.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Oxfordshire
    Posts
    703

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    Get a sail slide - maybe off your current sail if they unclip. Slot it in the mast groove above the sail. Tie it with a little cord to the main halyard. Tie another long cord to it so it can be pulled down. Now hoist it up and see how far up the mast it goes.
    That might narrow down the problem.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    135

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    My 23' Pageant mainsail has the same problem and it's because the luff bolt rope has shrunk. It's only sewn in at the top and bottom so I'm going to unpick the thread at the bottom, put some tension on the sail so that the rope slides up a few inches and resew it.

    It's a common problem with old sails so worth checking for.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Clyde
    Posts
    7,282

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    For years my mainsail was a pig to raise. I discovered when my mast was down over the winter the main halyard sheave has disintegrated and the halyard was just running over the spindle. I replaced it and can't believe how easily it now goes up. It wasn't obvious from the deck as the sheave is half inside the masthead cap.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Essex
    Posts
    21,819

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    This might be an egg-sucking question but are you swigging the halyard effectively? I'm only a 10-stone weakling but I would easily be able to tighten a halyard harder than someone who is merely pulling on it.
    Far away is near at hand in images of elsewhere

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Sail setting/tightness Help

    Bobgarrett - Thanks that is a good idea. I will try that before dropping the mast.

    Elbows - The sail is pretty old so this could be the case. before i modify the sail I will take it home and spread it out to see if it seems to have shrunken. How did you notice this? did the fabric just seem a little lose/bunched up?

    Spyro - I hope it's not this but if i go as far as dropping the mast this year i guess i'll find out....It does go up ok until the last little bit so hopefully it's not this.

    Johnalison - Not an 'egg-sucking' question. I had to look up what swigging was I have seem people do this on much bigger boats and it never crossed my mind to try it. I have a feeling it won't solve the issue but it's definitely worth a shot! I was going to set up some pulleys to increase my mechanical advantage but this would be much simpler.

    Thank you all for your advice. This gives me a lot of options to try to solve the problem. I'll check back in with a solution in case anyone is reading this in the future and has the same issue.

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