'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

“Zephyrs” – the A to Z Challenge


A2Z-BADGE 2016-smaller_zpslstazvib


Today marks the last of the 26 posts for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Since every other cruiser in the challenge will be writing about their “Zodiac” inflatable dinghy, I decided to write about light-air sailing!


Sailboats are neat. They make their way from port to port with clean and quiet pride, using no resource but the wind, making no waste, no pollution, no noise…

As long as the wind blows, of course.  And there’s the rub.

What do you do when the wind drops to a breeze, and the breeze tapers to a breath, and the breath eases to a zephyr…?  Well, that depends.  If you have light-air sails, you keep adding sail area to squeeze every yard out of whatever breeze there is. If you don’t, you either wait, or you start the motor.

In reality, light wind and no wind days are pretty rare, even here in Maine. But there is a period at the end of summer – say mid-August to Mid September – when being on a sailboat AND being someone who will only use the engine if there’s a medical emergency on board (or there’s a rum-based beverage waiting)  means a certain amount of frustration.  That picture above is one I took in Blue Hill Bay, Maine, of the schooner Heritage ghosting north in less than a 3 knot puff that kept coming and going like a campaign promise.  We were motoring because we couldn’t spread enough sail area to make use of what little air movement there was, but the Heritage was moving, if only a knot or less.

And that put me in mind of getting better light air sails for Sionna when we purchased her. You see, I really like to sail.  Not motor – SAIL. And to do that when the wind gets fickle, you need to be able to put a whole lot of sail up, particularly on a boat like Sionna, which is somewhat under-rigged (designed to have less sail area than optimal for her displacement (weight).  I won’t go into the details of WHY our boat is under-rigged, so just take my word for it – she is.


Drifter, set with main sail

And so one of my winter projects this year was to find a used (because they’re cheaper) large headsail called a “Drifter”.








Asymmetrical Spinnaker 


We could have gone for the ultimate light-air sail, known as an Asymmetrical Spinnaker,but they’re much more expensive, require specialized equipment to deploy and stow, and can be a bit of a challenge for two people to handle in some conditions.


The Drifter has some limitations, but as the first light-air sail in our inventory, it seemed like a good place to start. We can upgrade later if we need to. Meanwhile we’ll have a sail with an area of 300 square feet to fly when the winds drop below 6 or 7 knots, and more options for sailing downwind.  Can it keep Sionna moving when the wind drops to a zephyr? Stay tuned to “‘Til the butter melts” to find out!

And thanks for joining us for the A to Z challenge!




Author: s/v sionna

Living the dream in 32'. We left Maine on August 18th, 2016, and have gradually worked our way south until we felt warm enough. After spending the summer in Maine, working to replenish the cruising kitty, we’re back on the boat, with plans to visit the Bahamas later in the winter. Follow our blog here, and follow our progress in map form by joining www.Farkwar.com!

13 thoughts on ““Zephyrs” – the A to Z Challenge

  1. Congrats on making it to Z! So glad you joined in the challenge. Your posts have been educational, fun and very interesting. Enjoy some much deserved rest from blogging 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trouble is, all this blogging has brought up dozens of new topics I’d like to explore – but getting Sionna ready to start cruising (just 3 1/2 months away!) has to come first… Conflicting motivations! Oh, yeah, and then thethere’s my day job!


  2. I guess misery really does love company because it’s nice to know we’re not alone in the challenge to find wind during the height of the summer — it just doesn’t blow up here and when it does, it’s on the nose.

    It’s been fun following along with you during the A to Z Challenge and I’m looking forward to your departure in a few months.

    Cheers, Stephanie



  3. It’s been fun AtoZ-ing with you! Hoping our paths cross on the water somewhere, somewhen.


    • Same here-and keep posting so we can follow along! I intend to keep the blog active throughout, though of course not nearly as often! We’ll look for you “out there”!


  4. It has been a delight to read your posts, Keith. I’ve learned so much from them. I hope you will give a few updates now and again before you set sail and maybe a few during the trip if you happen to land somewhere with wifi or an internet cafe. Enjoy yourselves! Fair winds and calm seas to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I plan to blog regularly, at least for the trip south which should offer good internet now and then. Looking forward to taking you along!


  6. We didn’t have a light air sail the first 5 years of our eight cruising years. We didn’t have the money for it and, to be honest, we never felt like we missed it. That was, until we headed west from the East Caribbean. That was a slow trip! Once in Panama, we were very lucky that a cruiser friend had a spare spinnaker he didn’t know what to do with. For an elaborate dinner out, she was ours and she fit Irie perfectly. In the Pacific, we used it a lot and were very grateful for it!

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sionna has the capacity to fly a mizzen staysail – at least in theory. However that’s a reaching sail, not running. An asymmetrical spinnaker we might consider if one crossed our path, but I think not a straight chute. Seems too much for us to play with at this time in our lives!


  7. I love a pretty light air sail! We unfortunately don’t have one…yet! It’s been fun following you A-Z, and maybe one day we’ll meet on the water. -Lucy

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d like one too – but unfortunately our drifter is plain old white, light-weight dacron. Maybe someday we’ll have an asym in a sunburst color scheme!


  8. She looks great with that sail up. Good luck with your travels and looking forward to one day getting out there with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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