This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Time for some new sails

Ellie's original sails are 12 years old.  They were getting wrinkled, baggy, and the batten pockets are worn out.  Time for a new set of sails!

My new set of sails were made by Really Simple Sails.  They do fantastic work and I highly recommend them.

This also gave the the opportunity to make some improvements to my original sails.  I'm not a sail designer, but I do own a copy of The Sailmaker's Apprentice, which I bought at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival directly from the author Emiliano Marino himself.  He even autographed my copy.  This book is fantastic.  It contains more than anyone could ever want to know about sailmaking.  

Ellie sports the gaff yawl mainsail shown on plan sheet NV12.  This rig uses a horizontal, conventional boom.  Even though I raised the gooseneck a bit higher on the mast, the boom still hits me in the head and sometimes it appears to droop.

My first improvement was to raise the clew by about 200 mm.  That'll save my noggin, eliminate the droop, and I think it'll look more attractive when it resembles the trim of the jib and mizzen's foot. I also added a bit of a curve on the foot which I think looks nice.

Next, I changed the reef lines to run parallel to the boom.  This was done so the boom remains at the same angle with each successive reef instead of angling higher with each one.  This will improve safety by keeping the boom within reach when tying in a reef.

The biggest change on the mainsail was with the battens.  The top two battens were full length and are angled relatively horizontal.  Every time I furled and unfurled the main I would have to remove or insert these battens.  This was very annoying, unsafe, and wore out my batten pockets.  My improvement is to angle the top two battens towards the throat.  Now I can drop the main into the lazyjacks on the boom without having to remove the battens at all.  I also made all four battens the same length for convenience.  In fact, I now leave all four battens in the sail permanently.  After dropping the main, I simply bundle the gaff, sail, and boom together and slide the whole affair into a sail bag.  I leave the outhaul and reefing lines attached too.  This reduces my setup and take-down time quite a bit.

My original sails are made from 6 oz cloth.  They were heavy.  This time I'm went with lighter weight 4 oz cloth to reduce the weight and because the winds where I sail are generally mild.

As for the jib, I enlarged it just a bit.  I noticed that the dimensions for the jib, as shown on the plans, do not match the jib as drawn.  The jib as drawn is slightly larger.  It's not much of a difference, but Ellie has sufficient weather helm so why not.  The new jib will have a wire luff for roller furling, as does the current jib.  This also allows me to see the foot of the jib where it was always hidden from view behind the mainsail.

And finally, the mizzen is unchanged, except I angled the battens slightly so it looks like the main sail.

Here are my sail plan drawings in case you're interested.

You can download my new sail plans here.  (1.8 MB PDF)