On the Water And In The Woods

Sea kayaking, sailing, and lightweight backpacking in the-Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic region

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Balogh Batwing 36HP Sport - First Sail

This weekend I was able to take the Balogh Batwing 36HP Sport sail out for its first sail on my Kruger Sea Wind. Weather predictions were for winds becoming south 5 knots Saturday, and 5-10 south going to small craft advisory with late thunder storms on Sunday. A little less wind on Saturday than I would have liked, but I also didn't want to much, as I needed a low key sail to give me time to start figuring out the operations of the new sail.

My favorite locations for kayak or canoe sailing are places with low key sand beaches, preferably not near boat ramps. I needed time to set up, adjust the set up, and load the boat for the weekend. I headed for the Pax Pirate's Solomons beach.

I had previously set up the kruger with its new sail in the backyard so I knew that all of the parts fit, and after about 30 some minutes of fiddling and packing I launched with sail up for the weekend.

The 36HP is just a little bit bigger than my standard cruising sail but what sets it apart in performance are two items. First, it's battened with four full sail width battens. My cruising sail only uses one batten. (Score one for th cruising sail - the 36HP is a lot more sail on deck when you've dropped sail and have to paddle.). The other difference is that the sail is very professionally designed, cut and assembled. The panel cuts and geometries give the sail much smoother lines and surfaces than my homemade cruising sail. (Score one for the 36HP). The effect of the better design and cut were evident as I gathered speed in what little wind was around Point Patience. While my light air sail might have done as well or better, the 36HP cut kept head knocking on the boom to a minimum and gave me increased visibility as I sailed my way through the sport fishing fleet.

I spent about the next nine hours sailing around, mostly between the Jefferson-Patterson and the Greenwell state park shorelines. The center of effort on the 36HP is higher than on my cruising sail, but in light winds this put more sail up in the winds that were above the surface drag of the water. I was pleased to find the sail pointed well upwind. It's not a purpose designed sailboat, but the 36HP combined with the new 48 inch leeboard (my kayak leeboard at 38 inches wasn't long enough on the Sea Wind) impressed me.

A couple of items presented themselves for further study. Most importantly, in light air when tacking (yes, the Sea Wind tacks, unlike the Vivianne, which wears) the batten hoops did not cleanly rotate to the other side of the mast. Sometimes shaking the sail helped, sometimes nothing got them to move over. I don't know if this is due to the light winds, or a sticky mast, or what. Later, I discovered that if I gave the rear sail edge a downward yank that flexed the mast the batten hoops would all move into position. I will have to try this some more, and also remember to ask Dave at BSD.

Above is a photo of my current rig. How many different part manufacturers can you identify? BSD sail, struts; Folbot amas and akas; CLC mast (strongest sectional aluminum mast I've yet found); Welker mast/aka connection, leeboard.

One other item I noted was that the downhaul on the sail kept developing slack. I have never had this occur before. The downhaul is non-stretch line, so I'm thinking either there is some initial stretch in the sail or the line that came with the sail for a halyard has some stretch to it. It doesn't appear to be a normal marine grade halyard line. This really isn't a big deal though.

Overall I am very pleased with the sail and it has alleviated my one concern that the BSD sails would not perform well in the typical late summer light airs of the Chesapeake.

Shot from the boat as I come out of the night's bivuac location into the Sunday dawn. Wind was just around the point.