The Sail Bag

I’m fortunate to have Schattauer Sails so close to Satori’s mooring. It’s been a couple of years of planning and execution to get Satori’s new sail plan and rigging in order. My previous post discussed the new loose footed staysail, which is a major improvement to her rigging. One of the pitfalls of having a hanked-on sail is bagging and stowing the sail. My old bag for the jib had a zipper to secure the sail once it was bagged, but it never closed easily. On occasion when a new passenger would come sailing with me, I would initiate them by asking them to bag the jib and tell the remaining crew to watch while they struggled. After about ten minutes they would simply give up, unable to figure out how to close the bag. I must warn you to stay away from zippered sail bags. When I finally had the staysail setup to fly, I contemplated on how to build a new bag. On the sea trial with the Schattauer brothers, they brought along an old cotton canvas bag that their father Franz made many years ago. I asked them to show me the proper way to bag a sail. I know, you’re probably thinking something this simple should not need instruction. I must remind you that bagging a sail in lumpy seas is downright tedious and exhausting. The technique they employed was to get a proper flake of the sail, like the mainsail. Once you have the folds and the sail is down, you can fold once or twice inwards to prepare for the bag. Then you simply stuff the sail into the bag without concerning yourself with ensuring the sail stays folded or organized in any way. Here’s the kicker… once you’ve got the sail in the bag, you then try to secure the fasteners by holding the bag together. Not as easy as it sounds. I decided to engineer a bag with compression straps to make the process much easier. I give you the SSS Bag.

Satori's StaySail Bag, a new approach to sail bagging.
Satori’s StaySail Bag, a new approach to sail bagging.

While the original design copies the Franz Schattauer sailbag, it also adds a modern approach to the design. I’ve copied some of the concepts from outdoor gear designs for backpacking and climbing. This reduces weight, makes it easier to close the sail bag, and adds durability where it matters. First, lets take a look at some of the key features of the original bag. The most important part is the shape of the bag. The bottom (furthest aft) part of the bag is a reuleaux triangle shape, meaning the sides are curved. You can see this in both images and the pattern is an exact copy.

Franz bag bottom shape
Franz bag bottom shape
SSS Bag bottom shape showing webbing tabs to secure bag to lifelines
SSS Bag bottom shape showing webbing tabs to secure bag to lifelines

To get the shape, I simply traced the original pattern. The zigzag stitching is because the entire inside of the bag on the end is reinforced with Top Gun fabric. I simply traced a smaller footprint of the pattern and sewed it into place before attaching. The inside seams use a 1″ binding to hold the seams together and protect the seam stitching from abrasion. The next modification is only slight. I use the same tabs for securing the bag to the lifelines, but instead of using canvas, I simply use webbing with a piece of binding to hold the grommet from pulling away from the hole. This only adds a little more strength to the grommet and an extra minute to sewn in the binding.

Original tab sewn into the seam of the sailbag
Original tab sewn into the seam of the sailbag
Preparing the binding
Preparing the binding
Insert the binding through the grommet
Insert the binding through the grommet
Fold the binding away from the direction of pull
Fold the binding away from the direction of pull
The tab on the end of the SSS Bag showing the extra reinforcement for the grommet sewn in place
The tab on the end of the SSS Bag showing the extra reinforcement for the grommet sewn in place

Next is the halyard connection. Franz was a sailmaker by trade so he simply used a grommet to secure the bag to a halyard to keep the bag off of the deck. I also like having the bag elevated to keep it off of the windlass. Again, I used a strip of webbing secured to both the top of the bag and the end of the bag. I also used a stainless steel D-ring for the halyard connection.

Original halyard attachment on the Franz sailbag
Original halyard attachment on the Franz sailbag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag
D ring attachement to elevate the SSS Bag

The very bottom of the bag could possibly collect with water and cause the sail to mildew, so I added a couple of grommets to allow the bag to drain. I also lined the inside bottom seam with Top Gun fabric, and used binding tape to protect the seams from abrasion. The bottom edge of the bag, which either makes contact with the stay or the tack pennant is reinforced with polyester webbing. This prevents the edge from abrasion. The top of the bag also has the same webbing edge reinforcement. Both sides of the bag opening are lined with additional fabric. The side which is in contact with the forestay is Top Gun fabric, while the outside fold has an extra layer of white Sunbrella fabric, which is a little softer and easier on the sailcloth.

SSS Bag showing the webbing edge reinforcement
SSS Bag showing the webbing edge reinforcement
Detail showing the inside bottomfold of the SSS Bag
Detail showing the inside bottom fold of the SSS Bag
SSS Bag bottom drains and seams
SSS Bag bottom drains and seams

Although the original shape is almost the same as Franz’s bag, perhaps the biggest improvement is the closure system. Most if not all sail bags seem to expect that you pull the edges together to close the bag. This is perhaps the most time consuming task, as well as frustrating as hell. I decided to add more overlap on the bottom of the SSS Bag and compression straps to make closing the bag a snap. Here are the step-by-step frames:

 Step 1, Bag the sail enough to get the top webbing strap around the forestay

Step 1, Bag the sail enough to get the top webbing strap around the forestay
Step 2, Secure the next two buckles and fold the head of the sail off to the side
Step 2, Secure the next two buckles (middle and bottom) and shove the head of the sail off to the side inside the bag
Step 3, raise the bag using the halyard to desired height. then pull straps tight until the fasteners line up.
Step 3, raise the bag using the halyard to your desired height. then pull straps tight until the fasteners line up.
Satori's StaySail Bag, a new approach to sail bagging.
Step 4, secure common sense fasteners, then tie off the top of the bag to the forestay, and finally tie the sides off to lifelines to prevent swinging
Step 4, Tie off the bag to the forestay using cross wraps to ensure that water has a proper path to drain through the bag
Step 5, Tie off the bag to the forestay using cross wraps to ensure that water has a proper path to drain through the bag
End of the bag secured to lifelines
End of the bag secured to lifelines

So there you have the SSS Bag (Satori StaySail Bag). I’m grateful for being able to copy such an awesome bag, and make it better than the original with my own enhancements. I’m very pleased with the size of the bag, the overall shape, and it should work very well when it’s time to put the sail away. Thanks Frank and Axel for loaning me the pattern and allowing me to copy it for my own use. I can tick yet another project off the list.

The Waiting Game

I have another blog post about my electrical overhaul in draft but I decided not to post it until I am finished with installing the house bank, which has not been delivered yet. Likely they will not arrive for another week or two. At least, that is what I was told. What have I been up to since the last blog post? Well things have not slowed down much. Every few days I tick away at an endless list of things to do on the boat. I’ve managed to sell the old set of tanbark sails on eBay. Some wires are still in limbo, tied up temporarily and patiently waiting for the new house bank. In the interim there has been some progress in other areas and I am starting to see the light at the end of this dreary winter. Flowers are blooming already, birds are chirping and the days are getting longer.

Beating to weather with the new jib
Beating to weather with the new jib

I managed to replace all of the lighting on the mast with new bulbs. I did not go with LED this time around because sometime this summer I plan to replace all of the lighting fixtures with LED and rewire it, adding conduit to eliminate the internal noise that happens now from wires just dangling inside. The only light that does not work is a green navigation light on the mast. I tried to replace the bulbs but the lenses are welded to the mast from indifferent metal galvanic corrosion. These navigation lights are a backup to the side lights on the pulpit so they are not entirely necessary. They will be repaired when I take the mast down this summer.

The spreader light lenses, complete with a nice coat of lichen.
The spreader light lenses, complete with a nice coat of lichen.

At some point a couple of weeks ago I stripped the hot water mixer on the galley faucet. This was something that could not wait  since the issue is that the mixer would not keep water from flowing out under pressure. I took it apart, found the problem and realized that I could fix it if I could find the right part. But these parts are not common unless you know the model of faucet.  I couldn’t find a label from the manufacturer and I could not wait until I found the part because I couldn’t use the water until the faucet was repaired. Fortunately I was able to find a replacement and get it installed in just a few hours. The new faucet has been awesome, and no longer leaks or drips. Why didn’t I replace this sooner? The replacement required a slightly larger hole, and I was able to dig around the spare parts bins and find a plug for the second hole. It also seems to keep the overspray down and it’s much easier to conserve water.

New galley faucet with an improved hot/cold mixer
New galley faucet with an improved hot/cold mixer

 

I’m adding new tracks, winches, line clutches, cheek blocks, lead cars and new sheets for the staysail as my next project. This step will put the staysail back into commission and allow for sheeting on both tacks without needing the self-tending boom. The old club setup never really worked well and I’ve heard more than one person say it wasn’t really designed to tend the staysail properly.  It cluttered the foredeck, it kites and pumps dangerously in high winds, and interfered with the windlass when was time to raise or lower the anchor. The new staysail is ready but the hardware needs to be mounted. On top of this, I cannot simply drill holes into the cabin top and through-bolt the tracks and winches. I need to drill the holes oversized, then fill the holes with epoxy, tap threads into the holes and then I can use close-threaded bolts to mount the hardware. It will take some time and in order to do this I also need to get the deck hardware so I know what holes to drill. I have fiberglass experts coming next week to give me an estimate, tracks are in possession, and I’m nailing down the rest of the hardware with Bud Taplin. Bud is the living encyclopedia of Westsails and is still helping the owners with their repairs and replacements. I’ve seen several other Westsails with the same arrangement so I am confident that this will add quite a bit of versatility to the different sailing conditions.

Brand new staysail
Brand new staysail

 

The yankee jib was also completed this week. I was unsure of the size and a bit worried that it might be too small but after unfolding it at the loft and then later raising it on the new roller furler, it turned out to be a perfect size. It’s a full-hoist jib, meaning the head of the sail goes almost entirely to the top of the mast. There is some room for halyard and shackles but it is really a perfect fit. The protective canvas along the luff is also the same burgundy that is used on the rest of the boat so it looks great. The furling line is a little challenging to pull in because of the diameter of the line and the existing friction in the fairleads, but I will probably change the fairleads to something that will cause less friction to fix the problem. I also need a dedicated cleat to free up the jib sheet cleat but these issues will be much easier to work out than the staysail. Fortunately I can take Satori out sailing, hoist just the mainsail, and unfurl the jib now, and no longer need to wait to go sailing. My time will be limited to day trips since my only battery is currently the starting battery but there isn’t anything else stopping me from sailing.

New 100% yankee taking up the entire loft floor
New 100% yankee taking up the entire loft floor
The Schattauer brothers folding up the yankee after going over the massive list of features and improvements
The Schattauer brothers folding up the yankee after going over the massive list of features and improvements

Prior to 2015 and one of two reasons why I have not been sailing much is because my headstay was converted to a roller reefing, or furling jib. There were plusses and minuses with the old hanked-on jib. The size was quite small, at likely 70 percent from full. Adding a furler enables me to manage a larger sail but the added benefit of shortening it to a better balance of the helm. I did my homework and with the help of Northwest Rigging, installed it in a matter of a couple of hours. I hoisted the Mast-Mate to the top of the mast but Dean insisted on climbing the spreaders. I am grateful for having Andy and Dean from Northwest Rigging in Anacortes come out, put it together and help me with the install. I still have the spinnaker halyard to deal with, since it’s only rigged temporarily, but it can wait until I take the mast down. I love working at height but I think most of the remaining mast projects are better suited for while its laying horizontal on a half a dozen saw horses.

Andy and Dean from Northwest Rigging installing the new jib furler
Andy and Dean from Northwest Rigging installing the new jib furler

I have also managed to finish the weather cloths. They are a simple design and add both privacy and weather protection when the winds are on the beam. The design is actually very simple. Just fold some canvas in half, sew the piping around the edge and attach snaps and grommets to secure to the lifelines. I use zip ties to secure the bottom so they can rip out if I ever get a boarding sea. I still have a few more canvas projects to complete but I’m in no hurry. The mainsail and staysail can use the old canvas for a few more months. There is one more project I would like to complete but it isn’t just a matter of sewing. The sliding hatch could use additional protection from water coming over the cabin top and into the cabin, through the front. A flap was added to help keep the wind and water out but unfortunately it isn’t exactly water tight. I will need to add a steel tube frame similar to the dodger and then make sure the canvas extends up to the dodger, maybe even attaching to it. I could fix the hatch as a turtle and then add another sliding board underneath as some have done, but I think my idea might be a better solution. Plus I can take it off in nice weather and allow the wind to enter through the opening.

Satori in her red canvas. Still have the mainsail and staysail canvas to replace.
Satori in her red canvas. Still have the mainsail and staysail canvas to replace.

In another few weeks I expect to have all of the sails ready for sea trials, a brand new battery bank, and the final cleanup of the boat wiring. Once these two milestones are completed, I can simply kick back and wait for the warm weather to come with the perfect 15 knot winds that the Salish Sea is legendary for. There are plenty of other projects to do however. I was fortunate to pick up the stern pulpit from Westsail Harbinger in Olympia. I budgeted for a custom pulpit to support a wind turbine and higher stern light but my estimate was for a brand new pulpit. The Abrains gave me a killer deal on their old one, which I can pay to have modified.  I have running backstays and lifelines to rig using Amsteel and creative splicing. I am also going to learn how to properly sail with the Aries wind vane. It may require days where the winds are no less than 15 knots but I am willing to dedicate some time to make sure I have it figured out well enough to embrace it when I know it can be used instead of the tiller pilot. The engine is still in need of some additional work to help reduce the amount of corrosion that is on the engine block and even rusting the parts I installed last summer. This will be the biggest priority and I’m hoping that I can finish it before the weather warms up and everyone is anxious to go outside. Much progress was made this winter so now it’s time to learn how to sail effectively with the new rigging and sails.

Satori back on the water after taking a six week hiatus
Satori back on the water after taking a six week hiatus

Almost summer

If you’re not from Seattle then you would probably feel a bit ripped off by the weather gods by now. The skies are cloudy, sun is lost somewhere up there and some rain is in the forecast. I’m running the Dickinson stove during the day, on a June afternoon. The pup is sleeping instead of bothering me to take her fetching. This morning I also had my forward berth measured for making a brand new foam mattress with new canvas and a breathable bottom barrier. I will take  some time after work and start cleaning the mildew stains and also do some painting to prepare the new mattress for installation. Fortunately I can still sleep comfortably in the settee while this is all happening. The lockers underneath will also be cleaned out and painted. I might have a chance to install some LED lighting to add some cool factor.

Forward Berth mildew
Forward Berth mildew

As you can see from the photo above, the forward berth has been long neglected and has an issue with moisture. I plan on making some modifications to allow for better air circulation and prevent mildew from coming back. Adding some fans will help out with both moisture and keeping the cabin cool.

Another project I have been wanting to complete is another canvas piece. The hatches are made entirely of teak with a thick piece of plexiglass to allow light into the cabin. There are two hatches on a Westsail 32, one forward and another right over the settee. The amount of light that enters the cabin from the top is great and when the hatches and companionway are open there is a lot of air circulation. The issue is when the sun is out and directly overhead with no wind. The cabin warms up considerably so I decided to make a hatch cover with a canvas insert to block sunlight to keep the cabin cool. Also, in the forward berth it’s nice to have less light so I can sleep in as needed.

Hatch Cover with Canvas insert
Hatch Cover with Canvas insert
Hatch Cover with vinyl
Hatch Cover with vinyl

I’m not entirely sure if the snaps will be all that is needed to prevent the insert from flying off but the snaps are pull-the-dot style which takes quite a bit of work to disconnect. I added a strap on the back side to snug the cover over the hatch. I may also add some way of connecting the cover to the hatch for high winds. Either way, it’s a nice improvement and addition to keeping things dark and cool down below.

Last Thursday I took Satori out on a sunset tour. The weather was great, with winds up to 15 knots and Satori was in great shape. As usual I had issues with getting her out of the marina. This time I tried walking her back but the bow line was too short so I had less control of her bow. Eventually she came around and we motored forward but another lesson learned and another collision with parked vessels avoided. Since my crew consisted of a vey pregnant woman and two disabled parents I treated this trip as a single handing cruise. Getting the sails up was a snap as was navigating through the shipping lanes. Later Strange Advice came out to join us on our crossing. We took lots of photos of each other and another J105 was also out and as we passed them from the west they also took some photos and later one of the crew members stopped at the boat to say hi and exchange info.

Satori shrouded by the sunset. Photo by Tom Muir of Seattle Sailing Club
Satori shrouded by the sunset. Photo by Tom Muir of Seattle Sailing Club
Strange Advice passing by
Strange Advice passing by
Satori in front of the sun. Photo by Stew Sowers
Satori in front of the sun. Photo by Stew Sowers