Re: Full vs partial battened main
I have a fully battened loose footed main on Irish Eyes. While it does set nicely and probably gains some area from the extra roach, I am not sure I would do it again.
The battens, cars, batten pockets, and all add to the weight of the sail making it hard to raise from the cockpit. In addition to the three coach house winches and stoppers, I have two winches on the mast. I usually use the mast winches to raise the main because the extra friction makes raising the sail from the cockpit more difficult than it need be.
The battens wear on their pockets. Right now I have two that need to be repaired where they have chafed through at their heavily reinforced ends. I have also shaken apart the screwed bits on the batten cars in a storm. It is disconcerting to have little stainless steel screws and plastic parts raining down on deck when things are not going too well anyway.
The battens hook in the rigging when the main is raised off the wind. Sometimes my wife does not keep the bow perfectly into the wind when I am raising the sail. My shouted comments about the mess this makes do not contribute to maritial bliss.
The weight of the battens and the lack of slides on the boom make it difficult to keep the main balanced on the boom when the sail is down. The whole lot tends to slide off on one side or the other; sometimes even after the sail ties are on. The furled sail is just more stable hanging under the boom than being balanced on top. (I have a fix for this that I copied from a picture in a sailing magazine ad. Insert long story here.)
The batten ends and the lazy jacks are just not compatable when raising the sail. I have to pull the lazyjacks up to the mast before raising the sail to keep from hooking the batten ends in the lazyjacks. (The lazy jacks are almost a necessity when lowering the sail to put the sail atop the boom, so I can not do away with them.)
Down wind in light air, the luff roach straightens out from supporting the weight of the boom. Straightening the curve compresses the battens making them curve in lazy S-shapes. The curves put the sail in contact with the shrouds eariler than would be the case without them. And, all the wear on the sail happens in one spot on each batten rather than being spread out over the sail. (Yes, I have a hard vang and a topping lift to boot so I can stop this.)
Removing and storing the main for hurricanes, etc. is a real pain. Without a lot of work it can not be folded. Bundled up it is a really long, difficult to handle and fragile snake. The weight of the battens and cars make it a little harder to reinsert all the slides back in the mast groove when putting the sail back on the boat.
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