The Lunacy Report

NEW HEADSAIL: Code 0 or a Jibtop or a Screecher?

Sailing in the fog

We had a fine July 4th weekend aboard Lunacy, and sailed from Portland over to Popham Beach, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, to visit friends. Conditions, however, were pretty light. Sailing both west and then east back and forth across Casco Bay, we ended up mostly close-reaching in less than 10 knots of wind. These were perfect conditions for the new headsail I want to fly from Lunacy's new bowsprit. Except, of course, said sail does not exist yet. Fortunately, I had already scheduled a meeting with sailmaker Doug Pope to see about remedying this situation.

I met with Doug aboard Lunacy yesterday and together we scoped out the new sail's particulars. At least I know what I want: a large flat-cut lightweight headsail that furls on its own luff and can fly at apparent wind angles between 45 to 130 degrees. What I don't know is exactly what to call such a sail.

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DOWNWIND ADVANTAGE: The New Nose in Action

A-sail tacked to bowsprit

The bride and I spent a night and a day aboard Lunacy this past weekend, sans offspring, and (thankfully) sans mishaps. The wind Sunday, after the fog finally lifted, was light, but steady, so I was anxious to try flying our asymmetric cruising spinnaker from the new bowsprit. Previously, we'd always flown this sail with the tack held to the forestay with an ATN Tacker (essentially a plastic collar that fits around a furled headsail). With the tack four feet forward of the bow at the end of the sprit, we had a distinct advantage sailing deep angles downwind.

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VARIOUS MISHAPS: First Sail of the Season

Lunacy at Maine Yacht Center June 2011

After several delays the crew at Maine Yacht Center finally splashed Lunacy last Thursday. I then spent much of Friday and Saturday getting her ready to sail. Of course, I was very curious to see how she looks afloat with her new nose and was struck by how the angle of the deck's sheer line and that of the sprit seem a bit incongruent. When the boat was out of the water the sheer and sprit seemed to run on a single line, with the former flowing smoothly into the latter.

A minor aesthetic quibble, to be sure. On the whole I was pleased. I was also anxious to go sailing, which was accomplished Sunday, with all the family in tow.

In retrospect I can only laugh at all that went wrong:

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HEADSAIL FURLER INSTALL: Selden Furlex 300S

Selden Furlex 300S furler in box

One huge last-minute addition to Lunacy's pre-launch punch list this year has been replacing the headsail furler. Near the end of last season I noticed that her old Profurl unit, which probably dates back to the early 1990s, was getting increasingly difficult to use. When rotating the drum, the action was stiff and felt very rough, as though the bearings inside the unit had all gone "square." I had assumed this was reparable. But when Lunacy's rig came out of storage earlier this spring, I asked the guys at Maine Yacht Center to check into it, and they found the furler is in fact so antique that Profurl longer makes parts for it.

So I gave my old friend Scott Alexander at Selden Mast a call, and he hooked me up with a new Furlex 300S furler. Being the fine fellow he is, he also came up to Portland last week and helped me put it on.

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NOSE JOB: Bowsprit Completed

Welding on Lunacy's new sprit

Lunacy's new nose is now firmly attached to her face. I went up to Maine Yacht Center a while back to see the surgeon (i.e., the welder) at work and came back feeling a bit worried that maybe all this was an awful mistake. Not that the sprit wouldn't be functional; just that it would look all wrong. Lunacy isn't really a pretty boat, but she does have a certain no-nonsense aesthetic. I was afraid in the end her enhanced proboscis would make her look silly somehow.

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DRASCOMBE DABBER: Subterranean Bottom Paint Blues

Underside of Mimi

After gloating last week over how I needn't put any bottom paint on Lunacy this spring, it was only fitting that I should spend a good part of this past weekend messing around with bottom paint. Not painting Lunacy, but Mimi, our little Drascombe Dabber that we use for exploring the local backwaters here in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Now my body is all sore from crawling around under Mimi's trailer with a paintbrush clenched in my teeth. My eyes are smarting from the toxic dust unleashed during the prep work. My hands and face are speckled red with blotches of poisonous copper paint.

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SPRING PROJECTS: Masthead Halyard Leads

Lunacy's masthead

I went to visit Lunacy yesterday, ostensibly to witness the unveiling of the completed aluminum prod that hopefully will be welded on to her bow later this week. The welder who created the prod was unfortunately running late, and pressing magazine and tax deadlines prevented me from waiting too long for him to appear, so in the end I did not get to meet the new appendage. Still, I did enjoy mucking about on the boat, pondering the advent of spring.

Another thing I pondered are the halyards running off the top of Lunacy's mast, a subject I've been fretting about for some time. Having gone to the trouble to create an Almighty Sprit strong enough to support the tack of a powerful Code-0 sail, I also need a masthead halyard up to the job of holding the sail aloft. Lunacy's existing masthead arrangement, as you can see up top, is fairly conventional: two headsail halyards with exits on centerline below the tang that supports the headstay, and two spinnaker halyards running through blocks hanging from offset cranes.

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TANTON 37: Lunacy's Alter Ego

Tanton 37

To give you a clearer idea of Lunacy's provenance I thought I'd share these pix of one of her sisterships, which is currently for sale up in Montreal. This design by Yves-Marie Tanton features Lunacy's hull form, but with a perfectly flush deck and a freestanding cat-ketch rig. You'll also note that this version of the boat does not carry the two-foot scoop on the transom that makes Lunacy a 39-footer instead of a 37-footer.

My understanding is there are four other cat-ketch sisterships like this one, all built, like Lunacy, by Kingston Aluminum Yachts in Ontario during the 1980s. Lunacy is the only example with a conventional cutter rig. To get an idea of how the ketch-rigged boats sail, you can take a peek at this YouTube video.

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