September 5, 2008
As we get ready to cross the Atlantic we are testing sails that we have not yet used. Our gennaker, stuffed in its sock inside the sail bag had been stored in the v-berth since we left Holland. We decided the time had come to try to fly it. It worked out fine.
We also tested our cutter stay and storm jib. Until then we had never used the cutter stay but its halyard has been used for a myriad of other uses though mostly for winching up the dinghy from its home on the coachroof.
We have been experimenting with downwind sailing since the coast of Portugal last season. We don't have twin foresails like HAWK uses, just one rollerfurled 100% jib, the genny and the storm sail. Our boat seems to sail pretty well with the jib poled out and a preventer on the main but in light wind it can get a bit rolly and noisy with the sails flappering. She sails better with both sails to leeward at about 120 degrees off the wind. The experiments will continue.
We are back in Almerimar after a 3071 mile tour of the Western Mediterranean which took us to many interesting and beautiful places. It is a convenient place to provision and have work done. We know the area after having spent last winter here. The high quality of services available will help during preparation for our Atlantic crossing and the laundry lady is much appreciated.
We have quite a list of projects to complete by the end of September.
First on the list is the installation of a self-steering windvane. After researching the different types and brands we choose the Monitor, manufactured in California. It is custom made for our boat and they will ship it to Almerimar. The manual says it is not that hard to install, but the first page starts off with "Don't Panic".
A Monitor windvane installed on a Hallberg-Rassy 36
Also on our list:
Install a satellite phone, replace the current opaque fuel filter with a transparent Racor filter, modify the gas locker to hold 4 bottles of Camping Gaz as well as all the usual maintenance items such as change the oil, lubricate things, clean and polish, etc.
The hot water tank will be replaced. It started leaking in Mallorca and we had an emergency weld done. In the beginning Sigmar, the manufacturer, did not want to warranty it because we had it welded. After realizing we really had no choice they have agreed to replace it at no charge. We still have to pay to have it installed, not an easy job since the generator is in the way!
The Monitor Website explains the servopendulum principle in the following paragraphs.
The most efficient way to steer a boat is to use the boat's own rudder which was designed to steer the boat in the first place.
The servopendulum works as follows:
Imagine yourself holding an oar with its blade behind a boat that travels forward. You will do fine as long as the edge of the blade is aligned with the direction of the boat. If you twist the oar, even a fraction, the water will hit the flat surface of the blade and you will be unable to keep the oar straight - it will swing to the side. A tremendous leverage is created from the blade, through the shaft, to the end of the oar where you are holding on.
A servo pendulum gear uses this great leverage to keep the yacht on course. An oar or paddle is suspended like a pendulum from the stern of the boat. As long as the yacht is on course, the oar blade trails on the center line. The airvane is the sensor that controls the servo pendulum oar. When the boat wanders off course the airvane will sense this and rotate the oar. The flow of water hitting the blade broadface causes the pendulum oar to swing to the side with great force. The pendulum is connected through lines to the wheel or tiller and the resulting movement of the yacht's rudder brings the boat back on course.
So, for sailing across the Atlantic we like the idea of having this contraption do the steering. We have heard nothing but good things about windvanes in general and Monitor specifically. One person emailed us suggesting we add one regardless of any inconvenience we think it might cause. He loves his and couldn't say enough good things about it. John Neal of Mahina Expeditions thinks they are the best. Okay, we're sold. Ours arrives in two weeks.