I don’t often stop to think about the forces on the rigging or the sails. But, once in a while something will make me pause in awe of Cream Puff.
During our recent jaunt to Key West, we noticed the Sunbrella covering on our genoa was looking a little shabby. The genoa is the front sail on the boat. When the sail is not in use, it is rolled up around the head stay (the wire from the bow to the top of the mast) on a furling device. The outer edge of the sail has a Sunbrella fabric sewn onto the sail canvas. Once the sail is completely wrapped around the head stay, only the Sunbrella fabric is exposed. This is supposed to protect the sail from nasty things that cause self destruction like UV rays from the sun or salty humidity. I say supposed because in a marine environment, nothing last forever (except bilge slime). Sunbrella is the fabric used for outdoor patio chair pillows and awnings. For boaters, it is one of the best inventions since boxed wine with a spigot. Rather than continue down this path at the risk of sounding like a commercial for Sunbrella, let’s move on.
Upon closer inspection of the cover, we decided to have it replaced. It was much rattier than we had thought. We try hard to do as much of our boat maintenance ourselves as possible. After all, when we go off to faraway lands, it’s not like we can depend on people to help out. We have to learn. Plus, for those of you that really know me, you know that if I can save a buck or two, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. However, sewing a new cover on the sail is too big of a job for us. No big deal really, remove the sail and take it to a sail shop. Ha!
We waited for a nice calm morning. We didn’t want this huge sail flapping around and perhaps hitting us in the face or winding up in the water. We were blessed yesterday morning with no wind at all. We pulled down the sail and folded it nice and tight. Then came the tricky part, we had to get it off the boat. This meant lifting it. Wow wee! Who would have thought canvas could weigh so much. It took both of us to lift it off the boat and into a dock cart.
So the piece that kind of impressed me and made me stop and think was; this is a big boat. It is heavy! The wind blows it. Even it a light wind, the sail will move the boat. In order for this to happen the sails are huge. I can’t really fathom the stress on the rigging and canvas in heavy winds. Only when the sail is compared to an everyday object can one comprehend the sheer size. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Here is a picture of the sail in the back of our car:
By the time we had removed, folded, lifted and transported the sail, we were both dripping with sweat thanks to the wonderful 80% Florida humidity. We arrived at the sail makers. A nice middle aged man took one look and said, “I think we’ll need a cart”. While he went looking for a cart, another young chap walked over to the car, reached in and single handedly carried our sail to the loft (about 100 yards away). Impressive, to say the least. Yeah, I probably could have done that. Or, perhaps his name was “cart”.