Topping Lift / New Sail / Boom placement

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Topping Lift / New Sail / Boom placement

Postby seandwyer » Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:58 pm

Hi Guys,

Yesterday I installed a topping lift. Pretty exciting and it worked really well, but I have one question:
The line does not completely stay out of the way of the sail - as in, it runs along side a good portion of it. Given the angle from tip of mast to the end of the boom, I'm not sure how to avoid this. It LOOKS like it gives support to the sail in one direction, but not the other. Performance didn't seem to be affected but there was only maybe 7MPH winds. Is this normal? How do you avoid having a topping lift come into contact with the sail?

So, about a month ago I had an incident while lowering the sail in an emergency when I ripped a pretty good slit into it. Since it seemed pretty baggy (It is 43 years old I think) I decided to splurge. Just received a new Intensity sail last week and so far, it looks really nice.

While using it for the first time yesterday, I noticed that in my opinion the new sail still seemed to be a little "baggy" or have too much material along the boom / foot. It occurred to me that maybe the boom has been a couple inches too high on the gooseneck side all along, but I'm not sure. Is there a method by which I should adjust the height of the gooseneck in the track on the mast or is it just trial and error? What should a new sail look like? Tight or loose? The window on the sail is not straight but rather bowed out because of the seemingly excess material, but I don't have anything to compare it to.

Any ideas?
Sean
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topping lift

Postby danamags » Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:18 pm

sean -

as far as the topping lift is concerned, be sure to uncleat (or let go slack by releasing from whatever mechanism you have installed to keep it taught) the topping lift when the sail is deployed. The mainsail halyard will keep the boom up when the sail is raised. Use the topping lift only when lowering the sail or when the sail is not raised and you want to keep the boom from hitting the deck.

i've put an extra block on the end of my boom through which i run a line into a jam cleat drilled into the boom. i have also learned to tie a knot in the end of the line once threaded through the cleat since when that line gets out of the cleat and block, and then you lower the sail....bam! right onto the deck. at least with the knot (even uncleated) you have a safety net from the boom falling completely. i'll try to take a picture and post it sometime in the near future. haven't been able to sail since the water levels around here are so low - all the ramps have been closed.

as for your other question - ive got 30+ year old sails that i'm sure are worn out, but still do the job as far as i need them to.

good luck and smooth sailing.

dm
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Postby GreenLake » Mon Aug 29, 2011 8:06 pm

Do you have wrinkles in the sail along the luff (front edge?).

My gooseneck is loose. When I raise the sail, it slides up about 4". I then pull it back down and tie it off. That still leaves a bit of bagginess at the foot of the sail, by the way.

I'm sure, Intensity sails looked at the class rules when they designed their sail. So, go at the top of this page, look under "Day Sailer Association" and then "Handbook". Chapter 3 has the measurements, and it defines the longest allowed distance between boom and top of the sail.

You could compare that to what you have and I think yours should be in the ballpark. If not, you may need to move your gooseneck fitting.
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Postby seandwyer » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:17 pm

Thanks for the replies guys,

Danamags - I assembled my topping lift opposite to what yours sounds like. I riveted an eye to the end of the mast and attached a bullet block near the top of the mast. I tied the line to the eye, then up, through the block and down to the base of the mast where I tie it off on a cleat. I can slacken the topping lift as much as I want - and do, the only thing holding the boom up when sailing is the sail - but no matter how slack or taught the topping lift line is, it still runs alongside the sail as opposed to over - as opposed to clearing it. So the question is - is this normal?

Greenlake - The luff front edge) and leach (aft edge) of the sail are both tight straight and look like I would imagine they should look. But as the eye travels, looking down the boom from the end towards the bow, the foot (edge coming in contact with the book) goes from tight, to bagged, to tighter where the grommet attaches to the gooseneck. I think the sail looks really nice, really well made, so I feel like this must be an adjustment issue on my boat.

One more question - I have a second grommet on the new sail a few inches up from the one I use on the luff, then, of course the reefing grommet up from there. What's that middle grommet used for?

Yeah - I don't know what I'm doing. I get in the boat, the wind blows and I go places, usually places I want to go and it makes me happy. :wink:
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Postby Peterw11 » Tue Aug 30, 2011 11:29 pm

@Sean:

The Intensity may be slightly taller (or shorter) than your original main, but it shouldn't be much.

I installed a boom stop in the slot (D&R has 'em), just below the gooseneck, which I adjusted with the main hoisted to full height, so when I lower my main, the boom stays at the desired height.

The topping lift should also be adjusted so that it holds the boom at the same height as the gooseneck. A loop in the topping lift halyard (if using a horn cleat) or a mark (if you have a jam cleat) will make it easy to use the same height consistantly.

When the main is hoisted, just loosen the topping lift so that it hangs slightly slack. It'll contact the sail, but won't effect the shape.

Before lowering the main, or when reefing, just recleat the TL at the same location, so your boom doesn't go any lower than the TL allows.

BTW, I've had my Intensity main for two seasons, now, and I'm quite pleased.
I also have their boom tent, which is another very good product.

One thing you might consider (and which I intend to do) is to round off the top edge of the sail slot with a file or a Dremel. Mine has a rather pointed corner on the top of the slot which can (and has, in my case) tear the sail at the bolt rope hem, unless you hoist it slowly and take care to feed it into the slot with your hand.

The stiffness of the new sail material makes it a slower process than hoisting the pliant and baggy old one.

I rushed the process one windy day, trying to get the sail hoisted between gusts, and ripped an inch long slit right along the bolt rope. It doesn't effect the sail, at all but rather annoying considering it was still fairly new at the time.
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Postby GreenLake » Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:55 am

seandwyer wrote:The luff front edge) and leach (aft edge) of the sail are both tight straight and look like I would imagine they should look. But as the eye travels, looking down the boom from the end towards the bow, the foot (edge coming in contact with the book) goes from tight, to bagged, to tighter where the grommet attaches to the gooseneck. I think the sail looks really nice, really well made, so I feel like this must be an adjustment issue on my boat.

Maybe you wrote this earlier, but what are you using as an outhaul?

Some bagginess is OK. Imagine the sail was loose footed (attached only at two points along the boom. Then the middle would curve. Some sails are cut as if they were loose footed and then fabric is added to "fill" the gap to the boom. This "shelf" may look baggy, but a few inches above the boom the sail should make a nice curve, the depth of which should be controlled / controllable by the outhaul.

seandwyer wrote:One more question - I have a second grommet on the new sail a few inches up from the one I use on the luff, then, of course the reefing grommet up from there. What's that middle grommet used for?


That would be your Cunningham. After you raise your sail, pull yourgooseneck down to its position, the Cunningham can be used to remove wrinkles along the luff.
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either way works

Postby danamags » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:54 am

sean - im sure either way works. i just decided that i didnt want another line coming down the mast since my main and jib halyards already drive me a bit crazy having all that rats nest on the deck. i do love having the topping lift, however, so i'm sure you'll appreciate it. makes taking a break and lowering the main so much easier - and your cockpit seats will thank you for it.

dm
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Postby seandwyer » Wed Aug 31, 2011 11:07 pm

PeterW11 - good to hear - so it is normal for the topping lift line to come in contact with the sail, so long as it is slack. It was slack while sailing, but I didn't know if it could be a problem - and looking back at what I wrote, I wasn't even sure of how to ask the question!

GreenLake - For the outhaul I'm just using the stock blocks and line from the end of the book. The line fastens to the sail, pulls it nice and tight in the sail track on the boom, goes through a couple of blocks for a good purchase, then forward to a boom mounted cleat. I'm pretty sure it is, as it was from the factory. In fact, the sheaves are looking a little long in the tooth. So this is all part of my confusion. The sail is nice and tight in the track on the boom, but just an inch or so upward it seems baggy, but mostly in the middle and towards the bow end of the boom.

I won't be out to the lake again until Sunday, but I think I'll mess around with lowering the gooseneck a bit. Maybe that's all I need to do - maybe that was all I needed to do with the other sail. Maybe I could have gotten another 43 years out of it. :D One thing I miss now that I keep the boat rigged at the lake - I can't just run outside and try different ideas on a moments notice.

Thanks guys.
Sean
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Topping lift

Postby Sailor Chlud » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:31 am

I rig my topping lift a bit differently - I fixed the standing end to a ring on the top of the mast, and the TL length is about 4-6 inches shorter than the distance from the mast top to the out end of the boom with the sail raised. When I step the mast and attach the boom, the next step is clip the TL into the end of the boom fitting, and done. When I raise the main, the TL is slack about 4-6 inches, and when I drop the sail, the TL takes the strain on the boom automatically. Simple as pie.

Some guys rig a TL so that they can raise the main, then shorten the TL to de-power the main (about a foot or two) for docking, launches, etc. Then they slack the TL, the main fills, and they are away.
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Postby GreenLake » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:09 pm

@seandwyer: Just so we have a point of comparison, I've posted a picture of my mainsail. (Click for larger view). There was little wind when the picture was taken, so the sail not completely filled. However, the seams are nicely visible and let you judge curves. The outhaul is essentially slack, so this should be close to the fullest shape for this sail.

[thumb=1043]

Note the visible edge of the sail near the mast. Notice how it curves down gently, and then makes an abrupt turn toward the boom? I think that is deliberate. You should look a the shape of your sail at the level of the lowest seam. Does that make a reasonable curve? If so, and if there's some bagginess below it, I wouldn't worry.
Last edited by GreenLake on Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby GreenLake » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:14 pm

@SailorChlud:What you describe is how I would picture a topping lift setup, if I ever got around to adding one. Since I don't keep my boat in the water, I try to go for the quickest to rig solutions.
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Postby seandwyer » Sun Sep 04, 2011 9:22 pm

Greenlake - this brings up something I hadn't anticipated:

How tight do you tie your outhaul when rigging? Let's say the boat is on the trailer, you bend the main on, then flake until launch. How tight should the outhaul be? Tight - guitar string, pulling the foot of the sail taught - or slack, the foot has some slack?

As for the photo - thanks. My sail would look similar except, the slack would only be in the ends, not the center as you go along the boom.

Thanks! No sailing this weekend. Just can't squeeze it in, but I will try to take a picture next week.
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Postby GreenLake » Sun Sep 04, 2011 11:58 pm

seandwyer wrote:How tight do you tie your outhaul when rigging?


When raising the sail, the outhaul is off. Only after the sail is all the way up, the boom all the way down do I apply any outhaul. I think the "neutral" or "no outhaul" setting would have the clew of the mainsail a little further aft than shown in my picture (we had just left the dock and were still sorting out things).

If you apply full outhaul you may create so much tension that you can't raise the sail all the way.

I think we'll need a photo or two of your rig before we can give any more focused advice. I at least have difficulties visualizing your description.
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Postby K.C. Walker » Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:55 am

Sean, it should be a little baggie at the foot of the sail next to the boom. If you lay your sail out on a flat surface and look at it you will see that the foot is not a straight line but an arc, the same with the luff. This is to induce camber into the sail while it is attached to, more or less, straight boom and mast.

Controlling mast bend to match the luff curve is how you power up or de-power your mainsail. That is, along with your outhaul to stretch the foot of the sail adjusting power in the lower part of the sail. A new sail requires more tension on the outhaul to stretch it than an old sail does, simply because it's stiffer fabric. Generally you want a 4" shelf in the foot of the sail in moderate conditions and tighter in high leeway conditions, that is, low wind or high wind conditions.

I think it would be helpful for you to read the North Sails tuning guide. http://www.onedesign.com/class/daysaile ... uning.html
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Postby GreenLake » Mon Sep 05, 2011 2:19 pm

K.C. Walker wrote:Generally you want a 4" shelf in the foot of the sail in moderate conditions and tighter in high leeway conditions, that is, low wind or high wind conditions.


@K.C. I hadn't made the connection before what these two conditions have in common.

One thing I found most frustrating when I was new and trying to glean things from descriptions like this (and to some extent, still do) is that so many of them take as given that every one "knows" what low and high winds are. Hardly anyone puts numbers with these terms.

My sailmaker gave this breakdown: low <5mph, mid 6-12mph, high 13+mph (in knots, the figures would be 13% less). Presumably, this is true wind speed, which would mean that upwind, the transition between low and high might be as high as 8mph of apparent wind. That would seem a bit high to me. Your thoughts?
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