Sails, from left to right: mizzen, main, staysail, jib
topsail above the main
drawing Tom Gilmer
And now I'm convinced the Blue Moon was rigged all wrong!
For example, let's just look at the worst offender: the mizzen. Referring to the drawing above, the mizzen is the left-most sail -- the one hanging 8' off the Blue Moon's stern.
It looks pretty small, right? Just one of the cute little sails that give the Blue Moon it's character.
The sail itself is 50 square feet, about the same size as Vintage's mainsail. The mast is about 14' tall, the boom 8' long, and the yard 11'.
This type of sail is called a standing lug sail, which has a reputation for being powerful and easy to use.
So what's the problem? Check out the mizzen spars, which I have taken off the boat for painting.
|Mizzen spars |
From right to left: Mast (14'), Boom (8'), Yard (11')
Otherwise, the only fittings are the 'shoulders' at the top of the mast, and holes drilled at each end of the boom and yard.
I believe the Blue Moon was built by a builder named Randy Hill down in NC. I've never met Mr. Hill, though I would love to. I haven't been able to track him down, so far. But Mr. Hill knew a thing or two about wooden boats. He knew how to build them strong, and he knew how to rig them simply, without a lot of shiny geegaws screwed into the spars.
But somehow his knowledge was not passed down through all the Blue Moon's owners.
|Blue Moon's Mizzen - click for closer look|
drawing Tom Gilmer
Let's look at the halyard first. The halyard is the rope used to pull the sail to the top of the mast. To do this, the halyard is led from the cockpit, up through some sort of block at the top of the mast, and down to the top of the sail, where it is tied off. To hoist, you just pull on the loose end of the halyard.
But how was this done before the plastic cheek block was installed?
Next, lets look at the mizzen sheet. You can see from the diagram above that the Blue Moon's mizzen sheet is a simple affair. Just a rope attached to the end of the boom, led through a turning block on the boomkin, back up through another turning block on the boom, and into the cockpit. Could not be simpler.
But again, there is no hardware on the boom. No place to tie off the sheet. No turning block. How was the sheet set up before someone screwed a tiny plastic turning block into the boom?
What is my problem with these small plastic blocks? Simply put, they are unsafe. The two 1.5" screws holding the cheekblock to the top of the mast pulled out in a fairly light wind. That's how much power this 'small' sail can generate.
And thank King Neptune that they pulled out when they did. Even in a light breeze, it was a heck of a job to pull the yard, sail, and boom, plus a bunch of tangled rope, out of the water and back into the cockpit. I'd hate to think what would have happened if it pulled out on a dark night, offshore.
I screwed the cheekblock back into the mast after the first disaster, but never had the nerve to try it again.
There are other problems. Suppose the halyard was set up more securely. What happens when you let the sail down?
Think about it. The only thing holding up the yard, sail, and boom is the halyard. When you slack off on the halyard, the boom drops down onto the boomkin, the sail comes down behind it and starts to drag in the water. Finally the 11' yard comes down, swinging around, uncontrolled, threatening to drag the sail, you, and whoever happens to be hanging onto your feet, down to Davy Jones' locker.
Supposing you don't get dragged overboard, how do you get sail ties around all that stuff when it's hanging off the back of the boat, out of reach?
I have some clues: four small holes drilled into the bottom of the boom, and two small footprints in the paint.
|Mystery holes drilled into the bottom of the boom|
photo Jamestown Distributors
|Mizzen boom setup|
So what were those pad eyes for? And how did he hoist and sheet the mizzen without any hardware?
That's what puzzled me and at least one other Blue Moon owner. But I think I've finally solved the mystery...
To be continued
>>> Next Episode: Mystery solved!
|Helena standing at the bottom of an inlet in Cornwall.|
The ocean comes back and floats the boats half-hidden behind her.