The week before Easter we collected "Susan J"'s new sails from SKB in Penryn. The boat was facing the right way on the hard, and we were able to bend on the staysail and tried the jib, but not on the bowsprit until the boat building college residents had gone home. The jib now has a torsion rope rather than wire and a set of tell tails. The new, beige jib sheets lined up with the fixed, Tufnol" fairleads and all seemed well.
The mainsail proved less so. Instead of two, adjacent small eyelets, for the new replacement robands with parrel beads, the sailmaker had made large eyelets for lacing - "standard on Heard 28's" - we had to remind them that - "no two Heard 28's are the same"! More and more of the 91 small, original ash, parrel beads were splitting and have already been replaced, at some cost ,with a bag of 100 replacements, on new 5 m lines! To be fair, SKB fixed this within 24 hours and we now have the option of lacing or, now one extra, eight in all, robands, which have always proved satisfactory in the past, especially when reefing.
The new main sail has four battens, not three and an elegant "S j" rather than the simplistic gaffer tape "111" for a sail number. The clew is now held down to the boom with double sided Velcro, The spar lacing has reverted to spiral and is separate from the clew outhaul line. being very stiff and unwieldy I had to temporarily extend the toping lift tackles.
We returned on the after Easter, with a blustery day for Julie to antifoul the propeller with Propshield, heated over a camping stove, polish the top sides, stow most of the remaining gear including the life raft, top off the water tanks and switch on the solar panels, in lieu of shore power. Further rain on the Friday meant a wet morning launch in a strong, cold north easterly. We set just the new staysail for the reach back to our mooring at Helford Pasasge. A steady 4-5 knots meant we were back soon after lunch time and able to get ashore with the ferry, to launch our Anarth dinghy, with new wheels on it's trolley.
The next three days were ideal for stretching the new sails and Julie to have a kayak. Initially the mainsail was disappointing, with the tack to gaff end crease persisting, despite repeated tightening of the outhauls. However she was sailing well and off Manacles Buoy a gust of around 20 knots, seemed to sort it out as the pictures show.
We were delighted to find that the jib could be unfurled and furled with ease as the new "cage" on the lower Wickham Martin kept the furling line on the drum in all conditions. Some adjustments to the staysail sheet cars was necessary. After three shake down day sails to the Manacles, Gull Rock and on the Monday, St Mawes. Where we followed the SS "Shieldhall", the largest remaining steam vessel built on the Clyde in 1952 and on the National Historic Ship Register, being welcomed by the Falmouth fire boat but no spray as there is still a hosepipe ban in Cornwall! We missed Roger, who had finished his painting but "Lizzy Dripping" is in fine fettle on her mooring.
"Susan J" has been moving at 4- 5 knots in as little as 7 knots of apparent wind. While a clean bottom and relatively flat sea undoubtedly helps, these "sasil" trails bode well for the forthcoming season. In the past we would give up if the wind dropped below F3 or 12 knots. She also appears to point closer with an intact mainsail luff if we crack off to 45 degrees off the wind. That was 60 degrees before!
The spray hood is about to have some repairs, requiring a final day trip, to include more fettling, next week. Our remodelled new sail cover, commissioned 18 months ago, should be ready as well.