Now the boat is back in the water, I can assess the changes made over the winter.
One of the tricks for a single-hander is to be able to lower the foresail and dowse it before the bulk of the sail slides under the lifelines and into the water. 99 times out of 100, there’s no problem. Occasionally everything goes wrong. It happened to me at the end of last year and it was time to do something about it.
One option would be a furler but it would mean changing the rig. I like the fractional rig, the boat sails well with it – (it was designed for it). Moreover, Blue Mistress is small enough and the decks clear enough for me to go forward easily. No, the aim is to control those moments, in a strong breeze and a moderate to rough sea, between letting the halyard go, getting forward and gathering the sail in. Once gathered in, I can either remove the sail and stow it or I usually have three short ends of shot chord on the middle forward lifeline to lash it. The time required is mostly short but not if I get caught with some problem in the cockpit and it obviously takes longer if the boat is leaping around and I am on hands and knees and tether.
The solution, as yet to be tested under stressed conditions, is to add new steel lifelines between the forward stanchions at deck level and lace Dyneema line. Dyneema line because it is strong with minimal stretch, steel lifeline at deck level because it adds another point of safety for me.
At the same time, I have added a downhaul to the foresail halyard and led it back to a stanchion cleat next to the cockpit. The foresail halyard is also led back to the cockpit.
I’m looking forward to trying it out.