To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Custom Tailoring

Red Ranger's yankee and stays'l date from the Reagan administration. As we noted in Stitching Failures, they've reached the end of their useful life.

Mr. Baxter, of Baxter Sailmakers, went to Red Ranger to measure her for a properly-designed set of headsails. Custom-design sails include some consultation on sail design, deck hardware, sheeting angles and related sail-handling details.

It turns out that we have some additional problems to solve.

The sheeting angles for Red Ranger's stays'l were not ideal. Indeed, they appear to not have been planned carefully at all. Yes, we know, a cutter rig is not designed to be weatherly. The Whitby (like Morgans and some other designs) was focused on downwind cruising. Ease sheets and run.


Red Ranger has a single block for the stays'l sheet. It's located aft (almost in the cockpit) and cannot be moved. As winds pick up and drop off, the angle cannot be adjusted. If we attempt to reef the stays'l, all we really do is introduce additional twist, making it less effective. And adding the risk of damage from a sail unevenly loaded because the sheeting angle couldn't be adjusted.

Baxter was very unhappy with the idea of one of his hand-made works of art being sheeted to a single block in a position that was only good for a mythical "average" wind and point of sail. For every other situation, his sail would look like a bag of crap on the front of our boat. Who wants that?

He strongly suggested that we need to add an inner track onto which we can attach a movable "Sheet Lead Block". We can then adjust it fore and aft along the track to reflect reefing and wind conditions. And he can design a stays'l that won't squeeze the slot against the yankee and will come down a hair lower to catch some of the breeze close to the deck.

The obvious place is the forward end of the cabin top. The diagram shows the stays'l sheet going uselessly far aft. Other Whitby owners have installed their tracks forward of the mast. It's good to have a community of owners with useful input and advice.

Deck Hardware

It doesn't sound like a terribly complex job to buy two 4-foot sections of track and some blocks mounted on sliding cars.

We will then need to drill 24 holes through the deck into the forward cabin. And we need to put in 24 5/16" flat-head screws. And we need to back the tracks with something. Baxter suggest a couple of long pieces of teak (or teak-stained plywood). The folks on Creola and Joie de Vivre, however, used fender washers for a similar job. Red Ranger has already had extensive deck work done because previous hardware installations leaked into the core.

We have a Charlie Noble ("chimney") that we need to work around as well as the wall for the forward head.

The work seems to include the following drill-fill-drill procedure. We're going with the fender-washer backing used by other Whitby's.

Part 1. Drill.

  1. Align the track on the cabin top. Drill two holes through the cabin top for ends of the track. This is tricky because we don't want to crack the headliner when the drill bit pops through. Generally fiberglass is pretty forgiving, but it might be best to drill a small pilot from outside in and then drill the final hole from inside to out. We can then put two bolts in place to hold the track steady.

  2. Drill the rest of the holes through the deck and core only. Not all the way into the cabin.

We could try to mark all the holes and drill them; but it's always difficult being sure that the drill bit doesn't skate around on the fiberglass. I think it will work out better to drill through the track, using it to assure each hole is positioned precisely and drilled perpendicularly through the deck.

Part 2: Fill.

Once all the holes are drilled through the deck (but not the cabin interior), we can do the following to assure that it's leak-free.

  1. We can overdrill each hole slightly. Or we can pick out some core material inside each hole using a small Dremel grinding bit. It's difficult to stay on center for the overdrilling, but the filler around each hole needs to be larger than the flat-head machine screw that will go through it.

  2. Tape the inside of four holes that we used to bolt the track down temporarily. Fill each of the 24 holes in the deck with epoxy. I think this means unthickened expoxy should be "painted" initially to wet out the exposed core material in each hole. Then we can fill each hole with West Six10 or MarineTex Gray.

  3. Wait five hours for it to become solid enough to drill.

Part 3: Drill.

Now we need to redrill each hole at the original angle.

  1. The four holes and the ends of each backing plate need to be redrilled first. This allows us to put a bolt through that will clamp the track and backing plate in place securely.

  2. With the tracks bolted down, we can redrill all the mounting holes. If we've done the job carefully, then the new holes are in the center of the original original holes. If there are any alignment issues, they should be small.

The final attachment is a matter of using BoatLife Life Caulk under the track and around each of the 5/16" machine screws. The suggested approach is to assemble everything firmly, but not completely. Wait 24 hours and then torque everything to final tightness. The caulk will have started to harden so it will act as a gasket.

The final decorative touch is to use a Dremel tool to cut the ends off the 5/16" machine screws and cap each one with a cute little acorn nut. Creola uses the less-decorative nylon core nuts. I think Creola's approach may be better.

Then we'll be ready for our new stays'l.