Hand Cranking Across the Atlantic

In 19991 sailed a well-appointed 44-foot cruising yacht from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Azores. The yacht was equipped with electric winches, a spacious galley, a push-button flushing head, and an in-mast furling system. It was, to say the least, heavily reliant on electrical power. Three days into the passage, however, the whole charging system collapsed, and my crew and I (we were sailing doublehanded) had to rely on alternative means to manage the boat. In addition to not having electric winches, which was certainly not a problem, we lost all the food in the freezer and could not use the stove because the gas shut-off sensor relied on electricity for it to function. Worst of all, the automatic in-mast furling system did not work because it was electrically driven and all reefing and unreef-ing had to be done with a small hand-crank that was attached to the mandrel. Three hundred turns of the crank would reduce the sail area by about 20 percent. We perfected the process by making sure that there was absolutely no friction on the sail where it entered the mast cavity. We also made sure that we reduced sail well in advance of approaching wind. It was an excellent lesson in remembering that sometimes simplicity is the best solution.

Figure 7.3

In order for the mainsail to be rolled into the mast, the roach had to be eliminated because a roach needs battens to support it, and battens can't be rolled into the mast.

Figure 7.3

In order for the mainsail to be rolled into the mast, the roach had to be eliminated because a roach needs battens to support it, and battens can't be rolled into the mast.

Figure 7.4

The first solution sailmakers came up with to accommodate in-mast furling was to replace the horizontal battens with vertical ones that can be rolled up inside the mast.

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