Vingilótë is specifically designed for Irene and I to cross oceans and, until we create the time for that, to cruise around the Salish Sea in the Pacific NorthWest, with an occasional run to Hawaii or Alaska.
In that vein we did not just review all her systems to be run by us, with our height difference of 14 inches (I’m 6′ 4″, Irene is 5′ 2″), and for one person to be able to bring her in.
So for the mainsail we lowered the gooseneck (the bit where the boom, the horizontal stick on the boat, attaches to the mast, the vertical stick on the boat) 8″ and went from Harken batten cars (the mechanical bits on the sail that attach to a rail on the mast, and typically have a harder thin stick in the sail to help it attain and keep its shape better) to Antal batten cars. This brought the boom at the mast down 2 1/2 feet to where Irene can handle the sail bag, clip the main halyard (the line that pulls the sail up, holds it up, and lowers it) to the bag. We angled the back up a bit so the upper helm position isn’t compromised.
The other part of that is we looked at reliability, both in terms of making systems more resilient, more durable, and in how we would function if things break or stop working.
One part of that is the sails. We went neither with Dacron nor Fibrepath sails, but a new material, in three weights, in a radial design, and with a different cut. It has a small square top with a fat roach (i.e. the line from the head – the top corner of the sail – to the clew – the corner of the sail not at the mast, but the other one – bulges out beyond the straight line between these, making the sail bigger, especially higher up where the wind produces more force). Modern, sexy “square top” sails use an anomaly headboard, a large flat piece that folds out at the top of the sail to hold up the back of that square top. It requires an extra rope to pull out, there is a hinge, and it pretty much is going to fail. So we did with out. We have a little batten, a gaff batten, at the top of the sail and shortened its square top to the length of that gaff batten. It works very well and it looks nice.
Here is a video by Phil Berman of Balance Catamarans about it: it seems they adopted this as the new standard design.