Not to state the obvious, but boats in charter, especially popular models like the Helia, get used a lot by many different people. As a result, LIB has seen a good amount of traffic and has been handled by a wide variety of captains.
Frank and I did many things to “de-charterize” LIB in September, October and November last year, and we have been very happy with our efforts.
One thing we really debated about was new sails. Charter boat sails get raised and lowered very often, especially in the BVIs where a sail might be just an hour or two. We believe this high usage and variety of captains resulted in some extra stretch in LIB’s sails. While we knew we could keep our original sails, we began researching sail makers early in 2015 when we went to the Chicago Boat Show.
Rolling up the old sails.
All of the major sailmakers were represented at the show, so it was a convenient way to compare the different materials and begin to get comfortable with what we wanted if we chose to buy new sails. Since we were still more than six months away from moving on LIB, we weren’t there to make decisions, which was good because we walked away from the show dissatisfied with the information we had received.
What we definitely learned was that sails for warm weather climates and high UV exposure needed different consideration than those used in more northern areas. We decided we wanted to find a representative who knew the needs of warm weather sailing and whom we felt listened to our specific wants and needs.
Frank did a lot of reading and we spoke to a variety of sailmakers in the Caribbean. It wasn’t until we met Andrew Dove with North Sails, Antigua that we found the combination of sailmaker, sail material, service and personality that met our requirements.
New sails in the bag.
We were looking for sails that would perform a bit better than our original ones. Since sails tend to stretch and loose shape over time, we specifically wanted to find sails with a flat degradation curve i.e., sails loose shape and performance over time, we wanted to find sails that maintained performance for several years not sails that lost performance quickly initially, then maintained that reduced level of performance over the life of the sails.
We also wanted the loft representative to come on board LIB, make specific measurements for our boat, explain his sail plan model and sail with us after delivery to teach us the best way to use the new sails.
Once we met with Andrew and began discussing what we wanted and hoped for in new sails, Frank and I were immediately comfortable with the idea of having North Sails craft new cloth for LIB.
December 2015 we placed an order with North Sails and this week we have taken delivery of our new 3Di sails.
On goes the jib.
Andrew takes a close look at the main sail.
The sails look very different from our original sails both in shape, stretch and color. If yesterday’s test sail is an accurate indication, we believe we will be able to head about 7 degrees higher into the wind. During the test, the wind varied between 6 and 13 knots. It was mostly light and swirly but we managed to sail at almost half of wind speed on a 42 degree port tack. With our previous sails, in similar conditions, we would probably have sailed at 48 or 50 degrees. We are very pleased with the improved performance.
Frank and Andrew during our test sail
Using the feedback from our sail yesterday, we are making some minor adjustments so we can tighten the main halyard a bit more. I think we will be very happy with our new sails.
Taking a hint from Starry Horizons, Frank moved the lazy lines for our sail pack to the outside of our spreaders. The result is that the bag opening is wider when unzipped and our main sail can move up and down more easily without getting involved in the lazy lines.
We still have our original sail stack-pack as new ones are quite pricey and this one does an adequate job. I like the gray sail color with the cushions material I so painstakingly chose, so I would like to replace the tan stack-pack for a silver/gray one. This would make the color of the sails, stack-pack and cushions work together well. I might have to wait a bit for that change though.
Gray main and red spinnaker – not bad.
Two additional pretties for LIB were refinishing the teak on the cockpit floor and refinishing the cockpit table.
I like the rich tones of this sealer.
Our teak floor had worn down a bit and the grout was slightly more raised than the teak giving parts of it an uneven feel. We had the teak professionally sanded and the caulk replaced in a few spots. Then Frank and I applied a tinted sealer. The darker color makes the floor a bit hot on the tootsies at times, but we really like the look.
The table looks and feels much nicer.
We use our cockpit table for most meals and plenty of projects, so it gets a ton of use. TMM did a good job of keeping the table charter ready by using cetol since it is such a durable finish. We found the cetol to be a bit soft and sticky, so we wanted to have the table stripped and varnished.
Tejean, a wood worker in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, spent days sanding and varnishing the table. His effort made a huge difference and we love the way the table looks now.
Hopefully these few projects will be the end of any major ones for a while. It’s time to get some time in with our new sails before we head back to the States in a few weeks.