Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects? - SailNet Community

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Old 11-06-2013
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Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

Hello, it's my first post, and I'm a relatively new sailor. My husband and I are (possibly) buying a Willard 30 8-ton cruiser, shown here in SailboatData. We'll be doing a sea trial this weekend, and I'm trying to learn what to anticipate regarding a couple changes that the PO made.

The new boom is shorter by about 1.5 feet, maybe more, than the original boom's length. The new mainsail is fully battened, so it may have more roach (we don't know yet, haven't seen it uncovered).

Would the shorter boom and narrower mainsail cause the boat to heel more, because the center of effort would be proportionately higher up the mast?

Might it cause lee helm in a cutter rig?

Also, the main sheet no longer goes back to attach aft of the tiller (as it did in the SailboatData diagram), it now attaches only to a traveler across the cabin top. I'm concerned because I've seen some stress cracks in the gelcoat where the cabin meets the deck, on both sides. Could this attachment of the main sheet to only the cabin top traveler be causing stress that it wasn't designed to take? It's a pretty heavy boat...

Please forgive any incorrect terminology, I hope this is not too vague. Any help will be gratefully received!
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Old 11-06-2013
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

For sure you need a surveyor to look at the cabin top area.
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Old 11-06-2013
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

Could be the boat suffered from heavy weather helm and it was improved by the modifications to the mainsail. Some research here might yield some clues as to that.

As to moving the traveler/mainsheet... it does sound like perhaps the reinforcement was not adequate for those loads. But as mentioned already a surveyor could tell you more. Crazing in gelcoat isn't always a structural indicator.. sometimes it's mainly cosmetics...
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Old 11-06-2013
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

Simplify, I’m assuming that your mast height is according to the original spec. Don’t worry, a shorter boom isn’t going to give you more heeling moment. If anything, having a coach roof mounted traveler will allow you to more effectively change the angle of attack without increasing camber. In other words, you will be able to alleviate heel by easing the traveler down. The downside of a shorter boom is the center of effort is moving forward on the sail which will give you more pronounced lee helm. This is fixable by increasing mast rake (if I don’t have everything backwards). What you will be losing is sail area and drive (I doubt that this boat has a “chicken head” and max-d out roach). This, and a very heavy displacement (17,000# probably translates to near 18,000# for an “as sailed” weight) will not give you stellar performance especially in light breezes. If you go on to have the boat surveyed, make sure you record the weight off of the travel lift’s strain gauges when you haul.
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Old 11-07-2013
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

...and you'd be out of your mind to buy any boat without a test sail!
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Old 11-10-2013
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

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Originally Posted by GeorgeB View Post
Simplify, Iím assuming that your mast height is according to the original spec. Donít worry, a shorter boom isnít going to give you more heeling moment. If anything, having a coach roof mounted traveler will allow you to more effectively change the angle of attack without increasing camber. In other words, you will be able to alleviate heel by easing the traveler down. The downside of a shorter boom is the center of effort is moving forward on the sail which will give you more pronounced lee helm. This is fixable by increasing mast rake (if I donít have everything backwards). What you will be losing is sail area and drive (I doubt that this boat has a ďchicken headĒ and max-d out roach). This, and a very heavy displacement (17,000# probably translates to near 18,000# for an ďas sailedĒ weight) will not give you stellar performance especially in light breezes. If you go on to have the boat surveyed, make sure you record the weight off of the travel liftís strain gauges when you haul.
everything he said is point on. I would be concerned that hey mounted the traveler without proper structural reinforcements. they may have shortened the boom/main sail to move the center of effort forwards to counter excessive weather helm, as has been suggested, but it may just have been that they wanted to use that sail and didn't consider balance. altered, as it is, I think i'd want to sail it before I bought it, unless I didn't mind having to change it once I owned it. too much weather helm can be a pain, even making it hard to run before the wind, but any lee helm is just bad.

raking the mast towards the stern would be a cure for lee helm, but is it going to be enough? 1.5' off of the foot could drastically move the CE of that sail. it depends on how the shape of the new sail compares to the old one.
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

Today was the sea trial and I am happy to report that the boat was a dream to sail. Well-behaved, well-balanced, not too tender or too stiff, pointed *beautifully* very close to the wind, just way beyond expectations. Thank you to everyone for helping me know what to look for. The new fully-battened main does not have much roach at all, so I was concerned that the reduced area on that sail would result in lee helm...but in fact there was a very very slight weather helm if anything, but mostly it was just superbly balanced (which would seem to validate those who thought that this change might have been made by the PO to correct weather helm or some other condition). The boat was nearly effortless to sail even in light, squirrely winds. The mid-boom cabin-top sheeting was just fine, all very well-configured. Winds were very light, gusts did not get over 7-8 knots today, so no major stress test--but it all worked great and the boat surpassed our expectations especially in these light winds. The few major gusts that we had did not even faze her. If the survey goes well, this will be our new blue-water home. Thanks again to everyone who replied!
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

awesome! congratulations! I hope the survey goes well, for you.
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Re: Shortened boom & main foot on a cutter, effects?

Glad that everything worked out well for you! Sounds like you are on the path to ownership. One thing you must promise me is you will post a picture of your new baby.
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