Not Going Smoothly

After many years of boat ownership, I know to expect the time in the boatyard to be a lot of hard work. There are inevitably a few surprises, but with hard work, money, and the help of others (boater, boatyard workers, specialists in certain boating fields, etc.) you can almost always solve the surprises. There’s a certain flow to your time in the yard with usually an intense period of frantic hard work leading to the date you’ve selected to get back in the water. Most cruising boat owners badly want to get back in the water. Reasons include: desire to live your more normal life where all your boat systems work properly, get back to sailing, get back to anchoring in pretty places, get away from the sounds and smells of the boatyard, and because you end up spending a lot of money every day you are in the yard.

We have been working on a similar flow, dealing with various issues as they appeared and trying to work extra hard on other regular tasks when the issues took up more time than expected. But, this time things have taken a turn for the worse.

New Main Sail Problems

We lost two days when we had to take down our furling unit to fix some extrusions. But, this was more or less a “normal” thing. Once we fixed the furler, the new sail went on smoothly as said in an earlier post.

The new mainsail has been the root of our big issues the past few days. I mentioned in our last post that we got the mainsail off, but we discovered our new mainsail cover did not have the required track sliders in the bottom, or the holes where they were supposed to be attached. We ordered our new sails (back in February) from Quantum Sail Design Group in Cape Town, South Africa – they made our original sails. I had reasoned it would best to order from them because they make sails for St. Francis, and made our original sails. They did an excellent job with our new spinnaker last year. Quantum said they had all our specs from the original so I was confident they would make the sails right. The jib sail was fine, but this issue with the sail cover was troubling.

We waited until Monday, and I then took the old and the new sailcovers to a canvas and furniture shop in the nearby town. The shopworker found me a sample grommet that he could get that is non-corrosive. Later in the day, he confirmed he bought the required number and I came back with our sail covers. In a little over an hour he quickly marked off the locations for the holes and we soon had the grommets in place, and the tracksliders transferred from the old cover. I stayed and chatted with him and several young guys who I guess help him with jobs and deliveries. Soon they were done. I wanted to get a receipt from the shop so I could pass the cost to Quantum. But, the shop owner only charged me 40 RM (about $13)!

Meanwhile we had taken our mainsail boom off the boat so a metal worker could take it back to his shop to fix the metal that had worn on our mainsheet block holders. We couldn’t put up the new mainsail until that was back. The boom left Monday afternoon. We spent most of Tuesday working on other jobs while waiting for the boom to return. Late in the day (about 4:30) it came back. We spent the next hour or two getting the boom re-attached. Our first job after that was to install the new sail cover. So, before dark, we had that job completed as well (now about 8 PM).

Wednesday morning came the big day, to install the new mainsail at last. I was up at the crack of dawn and finally broke open the big package. I got the big sail unrolled and laid on the deck in a position for raising it up onto the boom (eventually). I had heard a story of another sailor who had received his new sail only to find it had the wrong type of connectors. So, I first went to check this. At first, things looked correct. Same kind of connectors. But, I then started counting. Something didn’t look right. I went back to the old sail on the ground nearby and counted. Uh oh…the new sail has more connectors than we need. There appeared to be one more connector than our original sail! I also discovered they did not provide new connector bits where the pins go into the batt cars. No problem, we have our originals. I worked on removing the metal connectors which go where the battens are inserted. Got the old ones off, but in putting them on the new sail, I found one would not screw in. It turns out the threads were not even made in that connector!

There’s a South African couple on a boat near us who are riggers. They are the ones we have hired to make new awnings for Tahina. Chris, the guy who fixed our extrusions for our jib furler, looked over our situation. He said we could just not connect the bottom connection point, and still use the sail. We could maybe add a batt car (sliders at the mast where sail connections go) later to connect it. He also said he could help me tap the plastic piece so we could put threads for the last hardware connector. But, his boat was going back in the water today. Also, he didn’t have the right size tap bit.

So, I went to the hardware store and got the right sized tap bit. I also bought the right sized bit to drill the hole. But, upon attempting it, neither of my drills could make the hole. I needed a smaller intermediate bit, but my collection of bits didn’t have it. Other projects were going on in the meantime, so I thought I would wait for Chris. But, he wasn’t around. Turns out they had gone to the beach to reward themselves for finishing in the yard.

Installing mainsail

Installing mainsail

Finally around 5:30 Chris showed up and asked if I still needed help. In about 10 minutes he had the new hole drilled and the thread tapped. Karen and I immediately started raising the mainsail, inserting one batten at a time, and connecting to the mast sliders (batt cars). This is a laborious process and each connector had to have a pin inserted and a cotter pin. It took a couple of hours.

It was near dark (about 8 PM as we got near the bottom). Suddenly I realized we had another problem, there wasn’t one extra connector, there were TWO. Oh my goodness. This was NOT good! We couldn’t leave two connectors off at the bottom, it would create a huge gap. I was flabbergasted. But, we needed to raise the rest of the sail so we could attach the foot of the sail to the boom. We raised it the rest of the way and were horrified to find that the sail is too big at the bottom. The tack connection (where the boom and the mast meet) went on ok (except the luff of the sail – top to bottom – was not tight enough), but the big concern was when we attached the clew (at the end of the boom) when we tightened the outhaul all the way the sail was still not tight. Holy moly (and other four-lettered words), our sail has really not been made right!

We also discovered our reefing points did not have the same hardware as our original. Something was really wrong here. I had already E-mailed Quantum earlier in the day about the issues we found in the morning (no reply yet), so I called them. They had me immediately talk to a manager. I *calmly* explained our new discoveries in detail, and he said they would investigate and get back to me. I suggested in the morning the next day their time as it was already late in the evening for us. I summarized our findings in an E-mail before going to bed.

These developments with the new mainsail are a little more serious than the usual project. Especially considering the money and time spent organizing these new sails and their delivery.

Meanwhile, our anti-fouling paint was put on today. That went relatively smoothly as the work was done by a paint crew we hired. We have to spend the next two days waxing our waterlines to help protect the hulls from staining above the anti-fouling line. And, a dozen other jobs will have to be done as well before we go into the water on Saturday. Not the least of which will be dealing with the sailmaker.

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2 Responses to Not Going Smoothly

  1. nanag says:

    You are making me tired just reading about this!!! How is your eye doing? Love, hugs, and kisses to you and Karen! Hope your sail problems will be solved quickly.

  2. Kerry Mettert says:

    Sail nightmare! Did you dream about it overnight? It will be interesting to hear how Quantum helps you with this issue. You spent a lot of time and money to get the same sail with the same specifications. I really hope they come through for you. It is easy to say hang in there from my desk, so I won’t. I can feel your pain through your blog.

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