I’ve mentioned before that favorite cruiser quip; “Cruising is just fixing your boat in exotic places” – and so of course, here we go again.
About 1000 miles and several months ago I mentioned having lost a fiberglass batten from Sionna’s mainsail, and my most excellent “Scotty moment” (that’s a reference to the Chief Engineer in the original Star Trek TV series, for you non-Trekies out there) as I fashioned a replacement from some wood I had aboard for another project.
That first fix actually lasted about a month, but the batten I’d made was too light, and it broke during a boisterous sail.
So the second attempt was more robust, nearly twice the width, and it lasted nearly twice as long before snapping in half at the same point. Clearly, Ash is not the wood for this particular application! So what to do? Not fixing it isn’t an option – the purpose of a batten is to control the shape of the sail for maximum efficiency, and it’s lack was obvious in Sionna’s sail ability.
The original batten (similar to the one pictured here) was a specially priced fiberglass rod, intended for a yacht. Could a similar rod NOT priced to sail be pressed into service for the same purpose? A rod from – say – Home Depot? A $1.99 version?
It’s worth a try!
Up in the north we use these for marking our lawns so that the snowplow driver knows when to stop pushing the snow. Trying to describe what I needed to the folks at Home Depot here in Florida in those terms was going pretty much nowhere until I mentioned you could also use it to mark the edge of your driveway…
So I brought it back to the boat, measured it twice, and cut it once, with excellent results, at least visually.
We won’t know until the next time we sail whether it gives the best shape to the sail, but certainly it will be better than nothing, and much stronger than the ash prototypes. (Initial attempts at a repair are always “prototypes”, not failures!). I’m hopeful that we’ve got a long-term solution to “The Case of the Missing Batten”.
Here’s to another “Scotty Moment”!