With 2 of us on the boat, they call our structure “short handed” or "double handed" as there are many jobs to do for normally a larger crew. To make our operations easier and reduce the need for additional people, a lot of the heavy work is assisted by electric winches for manipulating the sails. A 60 square meter main sail is a heavy item of cloth and with some wind pressure on it, it can become unmanageable and even dangerous if not enough care is taken.
At night, the situation can be more acute as it is difficult to see everything that is going on and there may be a need to reduce the size of the mainsail if the wind becomes too strong. With one person asleep and one on watch, sail size reduction can be a difficult task when a quick reaction is important for safety.
With all this in mind, we decided to install the Selden SMF, a system of electric winch and furling motor that rolls the main sail in and out with the simple push of a button. (as demonstrated by my in-house model below). Sensors keep the tension between the ropes and motors in balance so everything is safe, simple and easy. The system is only compatible with certain masts and once we were sure that the system was compatible with ours we decided to go ahead. The cost is a little outrageous, but for the sake of ease, safety and comfort, we decided that it was the right choice for us to go ahead.
The outward appearance change is minimal – only some replacement wood to accommodate the change in the size and position of the winch. However, almost every part of the boat interior needed to be opened up as the cables run from one end of the boat to the other. In the end, we had 2 rigging experts, an electrician and a carpenter all working at the same time to do this job. For us, we were busy making coffee and feeding the hard workers with cakes to help the job go as smoothly as possible.
This was also an opportune moment to have the overall rigging checked out and to make sure the mast was correctly aligned with the correct tensions. This is something that should be done from time to time and we wanted to learn how to do this correctly ourselves.
With all the jobs done, the mainsail was once again hoisted into the mast and the new system was tested; "Roll of the drums" and applause as the sail moved in and out with ease and simplicity almost as hoped and expected. In-furling is much faster than the previous system and the out-furling needs a little technique to make it move as required. Just need to practice !
We are now ready to set sail for warmer climates – Covid permitting !
Installation work was made with Iroise Greement and Anne our local electrician. We were very pleased with their diligent work and the commissioning included a short sea trial.