The Lunacy Report

TEST SAIL: New Screecher in Action

Headsails furled

Operation Fetch and Test My New Sail (OFTMNS) officially began this past Sunday evening, when I hooked up with my old pal Loric Weymouth in Portland. He agreed at the last minute to join me as crew on Lunacy for an overnight sail to Rockland, taking the place of Scott Alexander, of Selden Mast, who had agreed several weeks ago to join me, but kicked me to the curb at the last minute in favor of some racing gig. Scott's betrayal was prescient, as the ride to Rockland was no picnic. For the first few miles we did well enough, reaching along at 7 knots in a moderate southerly, but soon the wind died and we spent the rest of the night motoring through a fierce beam sea.

By sunrise we were just west of Monhegan Island. The highlight of the passage came soon after, when we saved two lobstermen from starving in Muscle Ridge Channel. Their boat had broken down, and th ey'd been anchored all night waiting for a tow. We passed them a garbage bag full of beer, bagels, fruit, and smoked fish in homage to the Pot Warp Gods, who had refrained from wrapping themselves round our propeller as we ran blind all through the night.

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NEW BATTERY MONITOR: Mastervolt BTM-III

Master Link BTM-III battery monitor

Some of you may be wondering what happened with that battery problem I was having.  As I mentioned briefly, I was hoping the crazy readings I was getting from my battery monitor were the result of a bad connection or some corrosion somewhere.

Back in the 1990s when I was cruising full time and living aboard Crazy Horse, my electrical system was dirt simple. I had two 100-AH wet-cell batteries, a battery selector switch, and a 30-watt flexible solar panel to help keep them topped up. When I wanted to know how the batteries were doing, I whipped out my multimeter and put the leads on the battery terminals to read the surface voltage. For more sophisticated analysis, I used a big eye-dropper hydrometer to test the specific gravity of the electrolyte solution in the battery cells.

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WEEKEND CRUISE: Cundy's Harbor

An afternoon sail on Casco Bay

I thought I might simulate a mishap or two while out and about on Lunacy this past weekend, just to maintain the theme that has developed here of late, but I was enjoying myself too much to bother. The boat and its systems (thankfully) performed flawlessly, and the weather was fabulous. We enjoyed a nice light-air reach across the breadth of Casco Bay on Saturday afternoon, then pulled into Cundy's Harbor and picked up a mooring for the night.

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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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