Originally Posted by Terra Nova
A blade is good to have. But you should be looking for a heavier storm jib
My staysail is designed to double as a storm jib, and it works extremely well for that purpose. It is made of extra heavy sailcloth and is on a heavy duty S400 Furlex furler
, the same gear
my regular yankee, which has three times the area, is on.
Two recent discoveries have greatly enhanced the usefulness of my staysail --
1. What a big effect on shape barber-hauling it has.
2. As long as heel angle is reasonable, I don't need to reef the mainsail
even at all, when sailing without the yankee.
For the sake of sail balance, I used to never let out more mainsail
than what would make the head
of the main even with the third spreaders, if I was not using the yankee. It just "looked right", to have the head
of the mainsail at the same level as the inner forestay.
Well, I have finally figured out that, on my boat, helm
balance is all about heel angle, and sail balance has little to no effect on it. With no principle headsail, I have had no choice but to sail with staysail alone, and surprisingly, it works quite well with no balance issues even with all the mainsail out.
I have managed to point at 38 to 40 degrees off the apparent wind in 20 knots of wind or so with this rig, with no excessive weather helm
, so only a couple of degrees less than I used to manage with the yankee in ideal conditions. I am very pleased with this; this is actually better performance upwind in 20+ knots than I am accustomed to. I think the staysail is sheeted further in than the yankee can be (because of shrouds), and so does better than you might expect.
The only downside is that with so much less sail area (the yankee was half the sail plan), you really need 20 knots to keep the boat moving at any kind of speed, and even with 20 knots, speed is seriously compromised -- hardly more than 7 knots when hard on the wind.
This is a fairly big knock since pointing well is all about speed.
And so I am really hoping that the new blade will give me speed upwind in strong conditions. Making progress upwind in strong conditions is my main sailing problem. Too little wind can always be solved
with a little engine
power, but when you need to go 700 miles dead upwind in 20+ knots, you are basically screwed on most normal cruising boats, because you can't make reasonable progress on engine
power against those conditions, either.
If I can keep all that new sail up in 25 knots (dare I dream of 30 knots?), and if sheeting it inside the shrouds gives me a couple degrees at least more close-windedness, this will change my upwind life. There's enough power in the wind to make 8 or 9 knots in those conditions if the sails were right and the sea were not too high. If I could get my apparent wind angle to say 35 degrees (dare I hope for 34 or even 33?), and if I could make 8 or 9 knots at that angle, then by God I think I will be tacking at not much more than 90 -- 95 degrees, if the sea is not too high, and I think I could make VMG to windward of something approaching 6 knots.
This would make all the difference in whether or not you can actually get somewhere 700 miles away upwind, or whether you have to wait in port for the wind to change. VMG to windward of 5 knots would be enough -- that would be a realistic 100 miles a day, dead upwind, or a 50 mile daysail. We shall see. If the blade doesn't get me there by itself, then maybe the laminate mainsail will.