Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wind Vanes

rev. 4-1-2013

Warning: if you sail a mono-hull, none of this will make sense. Pointy bows and all that.

It seems with every boat it's taken several years to get a bow wind vane just right, to suit my tastes. Such a simple thing. I always have to break a few. I suppose I could be satisfied with a masthead fly, but I hate looking straight up--hard on the neck too--and I like watching the set of the jib at the same time; it's more important, after all. I should also add that I like a fly on deck primarily for jibes, more particularly when the spinnaker is up. Up-wind I watch the jib, but when jibing the chute gives no clear wind indication, and it's a help to a new helmsman; he can keep his head in the boat and not stare upwards like some disconnected mystic.

Prindle 16. I tried a few styles but settled on a Telo Cat vane that hung just below the jib bridle. It was sturdy enough to withstand trailering, was out of the way of the jib sheets, and since it was also below the bowsprit, it was protected from the spinnaker sheets.

Stiletto. The location just below the bridle was out: the jib was a hank-on and would hit it when lowered and there was no bowsprit to guard it from the spinnaker sheets. We settled on a conventional fly on the port bow; it was beyond the reach of the jib sheets, and because we did inside jibes with the chute, safe from spinnaker sheets. We did break it every 5 years or so, generally anchoring or such, since it was only a few inches from the bow cleat.

PDQ 32. I started out with the conventional fly on the port bow railing; I had 2 from yard sales and I liked the location. Unfortunately, we do outside jibes with the PDQ. Scratch 2 vanes (including a few repairs) within  a year. We even had a provision to rotate it out of the way when jibing, which of course defeated the whole purpose.

I tried yarn on the remaining stump of the vane. Better, but I broke the stump off and should have, by all rights, torn the chute several times.

So I invented the 5-minute flexible mount shown here. It's been in service for 6 years with no failures, took only 10 minutes to make 4 (2 spares), and consumed nothing but scraps.
  • The top is 8 inches of fiberglass tent pole from a wrecked tent.
  • The flex is 3 inches of polyethylene 1/4-inch ID airbrake tubing. Just a good press fit.
  • The bottom is another short bit of tent pole and some cable ties.
  • The yarn is... yarn. Acrylic stays dry and thus flies better than wool. Dark colors are best.
Just smooth all of the cuts with a grinder and  push it together. The tent poles are NOT pushed in very far; there are 2 inches of empty tubing that is free to bend. Make some extras, in case you do manage to break something.

I also keep yarn on the shrouds; it's personal tradition, not function. The airflow is messed up by the cabin and I seldom look at them.

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