Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sabrina's Sail Loft - Staysail Conversion

As part of a complete re-rig of sv Honey Ryder, we also decided to convert our hank-on staysail to a furling staysail.  The old hank-on set up meant that one of us had to leave the comfort and safety of the cockpit, and go forward on deck to raise and lower the sail.  This in turn meant that we didn't use it as much as we would have liked to.  Me = "Do you want to put up the staysail?"  Tom = "We could.  Do you want to go forward to do it or should I?"  Me = pause....."Nah.  Never mind."
Sabrina's Temporary Sail Loft

The current staysail is old but still has some life left.  Most people either order a new staysail or have a professional sail loft do the conversion.   To finish getting life out of that sail and save $$, I decided to take on the task of converting that sail from hank-on to a furling one.

Generally this is done by cutting off the entire luff edge of the sail and then sewing in "luff tape" that allows the sail to be feed into the slot on the furler (raising the sail) and then furl it (roll up).

Easy-peasy - NOT!  The head, tack and clew of  the sail (the corners) are very thick with hardware, webbing, luff, leech and foot lines.  These would all need to be re-sewn.  Even though I have a heavy duty Sailrite sewing machine, I would not have been able to get through thicknesses like that.

I also questioned my ability to sew luff tape in straight.

This summer Tom found an alternative on the internet.  Kiwi Slides.  I did some investigation then visited ear to ear with the USA distributor, Alfred Poor.  He was very helpful.  I also visited with the USA distributor for Profurl which is Wichard USA in Annapolis.  This seemed like the best solution for us given my sewing skills so I placed an order.  The slides arrived immediately with a personal thank you note inside the package from Alfred.  Not something you see these days.  Alfred also promptly responded to email questions I had once I got ready to start the project.    
The actual Kiwi Slide - I added the green chalk mark
This past week I officially started the project.  An internet comment gave me some concern about sail shape so we borrowed s/v Casa Blanca's (sister Caliber ship)  furling staysail to compare.  Their converted staysail and our hank-on staysail were exactly the same shape and size.  Whew!  And with that confirmed, I started the conversion.
Old hank on the staysail

The first task was to get the brass hanks off the staysail.  Tom did this for me.  Special note -  The tool below was given to Tom by his good friend Kevin Haefner.  It's a hybrid pipe wrench-channel lock-crescent wrench made by SnapOn, part #PWZ-1.  This tool is amazing and can generate incredible gripping power. 
Tom removing the hanks

I was concerned that the grommets would be tough on the sail when furled.   Tom offered to drill them out but then I would need to content with the loose luff line.  Instead I decided to simply cover them with seat belt webbing.  I borrowed a zipper foot from s/v Curare so I could sew as close as possible to the grommet.
Rough grommet

Covered grommet

The next step was to attach the Kiwi Slides.  Alfred suggested placing them just above or below the grommets.  I opted for above.  The size of Kiwi Slide and sail, determines how many, spacing and distance between sail edge and furler.  I stitched them in three horizontal places and then two vertical for extra strength.
Covered grommet and Kiwi Slide

Since this sail was a hank-on sail, it lived below deck or in a deck bag and out of the sun.  This meant it would need a sacrificial strip on the leech and foot to protect it from the UV rays when furled.  I just sort of guessed at how wide.  Actually, did a quick look at s/v Casa Blanca's staysail but accidentally reversed the leech and foot measurement.  D-Oh.  Luckily, we did a test furl after I got the Kiwi Slides on and made an adjustment to my measurements.  I had Tom triple check my calculations for fabric needed.  It doesn't seem to matter how many times I calculate fabric needed for a project, I always come up short and thus I buy extra.  Oh well.  I bought four yards and used most all of it.

Trinidad has fantastic fabric stores with all kinds of fabric at terrific prices.  This includes marine grade fabrics of all sort.  We decided to go with a fabric like Sunbrella - a knockoff, if you will.  It was $65 TT per 60 inch yard or $10.83 per yard.
Adding sacrificial UV protection material

60 inches wide is great but I found smaller panels were easier to sew into place.  When sewing on any sail, there is a lot of rolling of fabric this way and that to get it into the machine and into place so the sail can be sewn.  This project was no different.  The ultra thick corners of the sail made it tough as well.  I used double sided seamstick to help hold the panels in place but even then they wanted to move around 
Clew that will be covered when furled at anchor

Covering the thick corners with the hardware and webbing was a conundrum.  Tom and I discussed the three corners and decided that we would leave them open.  Normally these are resewn but again, my machine would not be able to do those thicknesses.  The tack will be covered when furled up.  When we are at anchor, it will be covered with a Velcro wrap that I make for the hank-on that is no longer used.  The tip top edge of the head will just be exposed.  We will keep an eye on all three areas as the season progresses.  Judge if you will but that is how we are going to roll.
Final Kiwi Slide attachment - hand stitched

Finally, I decided to hand stitch the area between the Kiwi Slide and sail edge to get right up next to the sail and add stability.

We will keep you in the loop as we start to use the new furling staysail.  


1 comment:

  1. Nice job Sabrina! I liked that you used the phrase "how we roll" for a furling sail -- fitting. :-)