Fitting the Sailspar Furler and First Sail

Firstly I should apologise for another delayed blog post. This year as they all seem to, has flown by and it seems like all work and no play. I didn’t want to wait till the boat came out of the water to fit the furler so I sacrificed one of my sailing days as a jobs day. Heading down to the boat after with the furler in the car, tool and well thumbed instructions I moved the boat off the mooring and on to the club pontoon. The next day I woke up early and removed the forestay, it’s a odd feeling being up the top of the mast solo, with no forestay. Don’t worry too much, Sundance’s keel stepped mast won’t go anywhere and I had a couple of halyards made off on deck.

I took it into the clubhouse which is long enough to lay it out and started assembling the foils, following the instructions step by step, I won’t go into the process, the instructions are clear as day but the only bit I was unsure about was how much extra forestay I needed to fit the Sta-Lok (which fitting was the worst/nerve racking part of the job). Not being able to find the information online I eyeballed it and all was well. The only other silly thing I did was put the wrong piece of cut foil on the top (the piece you cut to get the right length) and had to dismantle it all and start again (it was literally a 10 minute job to sort).

Once the furler was together, Steve and his wife Christine were lucky enough to walk in just as I needed a hand moving the furler to the boat. The three of us got it in position and I went back up the mast to attach the top fitting whilst Steve brought it up on the spinnaker halyard. Top done I had to move onto the bottom which is where I ran into a problem, not a fault of the furler but the toggle already on Sundance.

As you can see there was a bit of a issue with the two. I couldn’t miss it off as 1, I had cut the forestay to suit and 2, the drum of the furler would have been pointing out of the side of the boat rather then aft. With the tide falling and needing to get the boat back on it’s mooring with the rigging sorted I took drastic action and modified the strap toggle supplied by Sailspar. Modification sorted furler fitted including fitting the furling line on the stanchions and through the clutch, Sundance was back on her mooring I called it a day.

When I was back home I ordered a new strap toggle from Sailspar, a Petersen bar toggle to replace Sundance’s original and arranged to get my sail converted from hanks to lufftape. The next weekend sail dropped off on the way down the new bits fitted and the forestay tensioned and that was it… I couldn’t go for a sail as I didn’t have a sail! I would have to pick it up the weekend after.

I had booked a week off to go sailing which was why I wanted to get the furler fitted to give it a good shakedown. I hadn’t realised that I had club bar duty on the Tuesday which put a stop to any big adventures down channel. So I took this time to fit my AIS transponder as I had everything to do it. I had planned to get up at 4am and leave straight away. I somehow woke up at 4.20 after my alarm not going off and threw off the lines and headed into the river. Main hoisted I rolled out the genny which was such a joy and we motor sailed out of the river and into the depth of the Bristol Channel.

This was my first time sailing Sundance in the dark and it was comforting to have the AIS on, especially as ships leave the docks (Newport and Avon) at HW to catch the ebb out of the channel. Watching the sun come up and the windvane keeping a course I experienced my first dawn sailing, consequently I’ve now named the Navik, Dawn. All was good and we sailed into Cardiff tied up in our favourite Graving dock and caught up on a bit of sleep. A few hours later I locked out and caught the flood up to Portishead, another first as I hadn’t been there before or even moored up in a bona fide marina!

I made use of the time in Portishead and fitted my new 50w solar panel and controller as well and sorting a few other minor jobs. The next day a club member who lives near Portishead wanted a ride back to Newport so he hopped on late in the afternoon and we set off into a brisk F5 getting up to a 6 back down to Cardiff to stop the night. It was quite a slog, wind on the nose and not carrying enough sail, mainly because when we partially rolled out the genoa it was apparent straight away the forestay wasn’t as tight as it needed to be and I didn’t want to stress the rig when 1, the forestay was new and I had assembled the Sta-Lok and 2, Craig wanted to see the windvane (Dawn) in action so we needed to balance the sails. We got snapped by someone as we left Portishead and they uploaded the pic to Marine Traffic, you can see how bad the boat was setup with the loose forestay and baggy roller boom main.

Massively over reefed and a saggy forestay, I’m a little ashamed if I’m honest.

Bringing this post to an end, we arrived in Cardiff about 22:30 and had a cracking sail back to Newport the next day. The previous owner gave me some tips on rolling the main to help it set better when reefed. The Sailspar furler was such a joy to use, instant sail when you want it and easily reefed, I couldn’t ask for more. I’m glad I used a clutch on the furling line as it means I haven’t got to worry about cleating it on or I can stop half way though. A lot of money spent but it was all good money spent!

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