Apsara is currently laid up for the winter, getting ready for a trip to the Artic next summer. The refit includes changing the standing rigging, which was thirty years old and therefore couldn’t be considered reliable for offshore sailing, as well as a new mainsail (the old one, still in good condition, will be kept as spare), and adding a reef in the working jib.
There’s also some more work to do on the electrical circuit, adding a solar panel, a second charge regulator and a wind turbine to increase redundancy in electricity production.
And finally, she’ll get a new paint job. That won’t make her go faster, nor make her a safer boat, but she’ll be (even) more pleasing to the eye.
The mast was taken down when the boat was taken out of the water in September. The old rigging is currently with Irish Mast and rigging, who are making her a new one from Hamma Pro 1×19 stainless steel wire. Hamma Pro wire consists of compacted strand and has significantly lower stretch and a breaking load around 30% higher than conventional (1×19) stainless steel wire of the same size. Sounds like a good idea for offshore sailing.
New mainsail: four reefs or trysail?
Apsara is also getting a new mainsail from Quantum sails Ireland.
After much discussion with Yannick, the (French) sail maker and owner of Quantum sails ireland, I decided that the best solution would be a very low third reef. This will reduce the sail to less than 40% of its original area (as on IMOCAs).
My original idea was to have four reefs, but Yannick (who is himself a very experienced offshore sailor) was against it and was advocating a trysail instead. I don’t fancy the idea of a trysail. With the current mainsail, the wind would have to be over 35 knots before Apsara is overpowered with three reefs. So setting a trysail would involve going on deck in over 30 knots of wind (and probably a fairly rough sea) to drop the main fully, furl it tightly, and then set the trysail. I imagine the whole operation would probably take over thirty minutes. Taking a reef usually takes me less than three minutes. Yannick couldn’t sell me the trysail idea, and we compromised with lower 2nd and 3rd reefs. The fully reefed mainsail will be no bigger than a trysail, but it will be much easier to manage sail reduction.
Latest (2022). Having sailed over 7000 miles with this new mainsail, I am now certain that this was the right decision