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Old 13-05-2007, 06:59   #1
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Got Beat Up Today

Hi All,

Well, I just got my &ss served to me by the little, harmless Long Island Sound today. Yup...

I had seen a weather window in a NOAA forecast that didn't materialize. It called for N winds @5-10kts changing to 10-15 with gusts to 20 later today.

I was attempting to use the 5-10kts window to motor across the sound into the wind (north), then to take advantage of the 10-15kts for a nice, speedy beam reach westaward to Block Island. Also, to motor across to make some power for my batts.

Well, it didn't go down like that.

The winds went from 5 or less to 15-20 with gusts to 25 while I was motoring up. I attempted to raise a double reefed main, but ran into some issues as this was my shakedown sail of the season. (sound a little stupid yet??)

Anyway, I had the double reefed main up for a matter of 30 seconds (?) and the battens started flying out everywhere. Yup... they ripped through the pockets and landed on the deck. Being completely broke, I have a question:

I know sails are inefficient without battens due to a poor shape. Can I still make reasonable headway without battens in my main? I've never tried it.

Also, where do I set up my donation page again?
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Old 13-05-2007, 07:57   #2
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Um... make that EASTward to Block Island...
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Old 13-05-2007, 08:27   #3
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Can't ya just stick them battens back in the pockets and stitch 'em up..?

Not sure why the battens flew out with a double reefed main and 20 knots wind gusting 25...?

(Don't know about other boats, but on my ship we sail with a double reefed main in winds up to 40 knots.)


Were ya motoring into the wind while raising the sail?
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Old 13-05-2007, 08:37   #4
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"EASTWARD"....Yeah, I'm glad you said that. Obviously you've taken a concussion, report to the sick bay, you're excused from watch today.<G>

Battens are mainly for higher winds to hold the sail shape. You'll sail less efficiently without them but of course, batten pockets (the treacherous creatures!) can be repaired, even by hand. Aquaseal and Goop (which is way less expensive) seem to bond pretty well to clean sailcloth, if you just want to glue a patch over the end of the pocket without doing extensive stitching.

Reasonable headway? Probably.

But you've got to take the NOAA-Man with a grain of salt. We often call him the "Know-A-Nothing" Man because the forecasts are so often so far off. If the wx is coming east from Chicago, the predictions usually are reliable. But whenever they are talking about fronts moving up/down the east coast, or stalled fronts and other complexities...You can't rely on the forecast because just a little nudge shifts weather "lines" so far in and out off the coast. And of course as you get east toward Block, you're out of the shelter of LI Sound and exposed more to the Atlantic wx, which is often radically different.<G>

Typical ALIR race wx, you'll get beat up along the south shore, round the tip, and then becalmed in the Sound--all during the same "weather" system.
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Old 13-05-2007, 09:05   #5
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CSY Man: I know what you mean. It definitely shouldn't have happened. The sail is old, which is one reason for the weakness. Also, I had some issues with my slab reefing setup which left the sail up to flap just a little too long. I was going for a double reef because I have a good amount of sail area and a pretty large genoa. I wanted a comfortable 7 knots out to Block Island, not a heeled over "hard on the rig" blast. It was to be a 10-12 hour day. Also, I noted that the rubber batten "ends" were missing on one side on both battens that popped out. That's probably why they really ripped, not the little blow we had.

Hellosailor: Ha ha ha... yes... I was tired. Just not a great day for some reason. And now... wouldn't you know... everything has calmed down. I think we'll do as suggested and stitch up the pockets while we sit here waiting for a good window to get up to Maine.



Winds are predicted to change around and around (in direction) and kick up to 20 with gusts to 30. We like being comfortable, so we need to wait for a nice 10-15kt window. I'm not here to blow out equipment and put my rig to the test. I can't afford that. I have to baby the boat.
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Old 13-05-2007, 10:23   #6
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"the rubber batten "ends""
There's lots you can do with bicycle inner tubes, or rubber tape (eletrcial supplies),and Goop.<G>

So you're finally relocating up there?
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Old 13-05-2007, 12:44   #7
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Aloha Sean,
Those battens are stiffeners to keep the roach of your sail from flailing and provide a more efficient overall sail shape. If it is an old sail and doesn't have much roach to it you could just turn it into a cruising sail by having a sailmaker straighten the leech by cutting off the roach then resewing the leech.
I've had them fall out of sails just as I raise them. Didn't have anything to do with strong wind at all. They just wore through the pocket or slipped up and out of the pocket. Hard to count how many I've replaced.
Glad you made it ok.
Kind Regards,
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Old 13-05-2007, 13:58   #8
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Sailing with the battens out will end up doing more damage to your sail, wouldn't reccomend it unless absolutely necessary for a short time to get out of a situation. Most modern sloops will sail OK with just a headsail, I would have done that to get home. Pockets are a weak point you can loose them altogether but I couldn't stand the loss of performance, so choose to have them massively overbuilt (argument with sailmaker).
Also I hardly ever listen to weather forecasts.
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Old 13-05-2007, 23:05   #9
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Sean, can you give a little more detail. Did they just fall out, or have the torn the fabric?? And if torn, which end???
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Old 13-05-2007, 23:31   #10
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Chalk it up to stuff happens. Yes, you can continue to sail without them, but the sail shape would not be good, so I would eventually reinstall them. Of course, you do not want to sail far with ripped seams. They tend to spread very fast.
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Old 14-05-2007, 00:48   #11
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Duh, I re-read the post ands ee that you noted they ripped the pockets. Silly me. However, for them to do that, I suspect you have a sale that is waaay past it's use by date. Is this left on the boom all the time?? I suspect it has had too much sunlight and the cloth ios now too weak. The real worry would now be, if the batten can tear a pocket, then chances are you are going to blow that sail out in a good strong wind.
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Old 14-05-2007, 01:56   #12
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Yeap, sounds like a bit of the old sail syndrome. Cloth breaks down from UV and the stitching lets go. It's pretty much a downhill slide from there on.

You don't need batterns if the sail is cut that way. If it's not you just get lots of noise and reduced performance. You don't want it like that for too long it just beats the sail up badly.

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Old 14-05-2007, 04:58   #13
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Yup... the battens popped out due to an excessive amount of time flogging around while I was having an issue with my reef point.

I am mid-trip right now, having about another 300 miles or so to go. I am not keen on bringing the sail in for repair, and we do have a hand-stitching kit aboard. The batten pockets did tear and it was not the seams... it was the sailcloth that tore. I ended up with ripped pockets and a small pinhole in the sail itself inside the pocket where the sharp edge of the batten rammed into the sail.

We used fabric glue and stuck some new dacron on the pinholes. We plan to sail battenless (and to baby the sail so as not to let the roach flap) for the next few hundred miles until we are up in Maine where we can get the sails the attention and/or dumpster they deserve.

Na... the sails are in fair shape. Not horrible... not great. We certainly have taken them down each winter and keep them under wraps (sailcover) at all times. I think this is mostly a bonehead move on my part. Bad shakedown sail. If the slab reef was put in more skillfully, I wouldn't have had the problem.

Thanks for the input. Much appreciated.
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Old 14-05-2007, 09:12   #14
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Aren't the batten pockets made of the same material as the sails? If they are, I'd be conserned about the integrity of the sail also. UV definately causes the fabric to degrade over time.

Pretty easy to fix the pocket, but....

Good luck
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Old 14-05-2007, 12:06   #15
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Sully, I know how it feels. I was caught in a similar situation, will post in a new thread.
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