Monday, 19 May 2014

Supersized !

When the sail maker came to measure our mast and boom for the new mainsail last week, he informed us that our mast was almost 1 meter taller than the typical Dehler 34 (12.4 m instead of 11.8 m from the top of the mast to the boom).  When he told us this, I rushed home to look up what happens to a boat’s stability when a taller mast is added.  After being initially horrified, I calculated that the increased sail area was only about 1 square meter and so I decided not to worry about it (too much).  So imagine my happy surprise this afternoon when we discovered that our keel is 10 cm deeper than the typical Dehler 34 specs as well !  We’ve been supersized !

Apparently, the Dehler Top models from the early 1990s were available in standard or performance versions, although I’ve never seen it mentioned in the docs.  I have seen other Dehler 34s of this generation with a draft of 1.80 m instead of the 1.70 m mentioned in the specs, so we’re not the only ones. 

It’s a bit disturbing that we’re only just learning about all this, but I am relieved that the taller mast has been balanced by a deeper keel.  Thankfully, I always use a generous under-keel-clearance safety margin (called more simply in French “the pilot’s foot”)  of 30-50 centimeters, depending on swell conditions, so we’ve never grounded because of those additional 10 centimeters. Oh, we’ve grounded for other reasons…

Crispy new mainsail !
And now on our supersized Dehler 34 we have a crisp new mainsail!  It has 5 full battens, which are round instead of flat with tension adjusted by a simple set screw.  The sail maker told us to sail for 30 hours and then adjust the set screws and wrap them with Teflon tape.  We had to move the cleat and pulley along the boom for the third reef point because the 3rd reef on the old sail had a “non-orthodox” spacing, according to the sail maker.  Patrick is now a pro at riveting.

Battens adjusted by simple set screws along the leech.

The sail is fitted with Rutgerson mainsail cars (look like little black Volkswagen Beetles) and we followed the advice of the sail maker and put a bolt at the bottom of the mast grove to act as a stop for the mainsail cars.  The system we had before consisted of two split pins fit into holes in the mast with a small length of dyneema cord between them.  It was pretty rickety and needed to go.  

The mainsail car stop with VW Beetle traffic jam when the mainsail is furled.

We took advantage of this sail change to change the nylon washers in the boom gooseneck.  We didn't realize how necessary that was until we had a look at the old ones.

Changing the nylon washers on the gooseneck should probably be done every year, eh?

While Patrick was riveting, I occupied myself as best I could with odd jobs.  One thing we hate is loud shouting back and forth between the helmsman and the crew when trying to set the anchor.  We've worked out a series of hand signals to avoid this, but inevitably, Patrick forgets our color-scheme to indicate the length of chain going down and has to scream back to me "What's orange again??" thus destroying our silent manoeuvres.  Last year, I decided to write the instructions on the inside of the chain locker hatch, which worked beautifully.  I re-wrote the instructions and added the color codes for the anchor line as well as the chain.  Now I just have to see if the ink holds.  Curiously, white board markers seem to work better than permanent markers.
Chain instructions (in french)

We’re on a waiting list to get into the water, but we should have splash-down by the end of the week.  We’re also still waiting for our auto-pilot computer to come back from Raymarine but would be happy to head off with the more powerful replacement the electrician loaned us.  And then we’re off for a solo (well, duo) 24-hour non-stop shakedown cruise!  Weather permitting, of course…