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Boat of the Month

September 2023   Serenity

By Steven Dawe

In 2022 I decided to downsize, with the goal of going “all electric”.

I sold my Colvic Atlanta 26 and looked everywhere to get a junk rigged “anything 20ft + sub 1.5t” yacht. My search was in vain, so I bought a Hunter Liberty 22 and spent the winter cruising with an Epropulsion spirit 1.0 evo as my main propulsion system, supported by a massive 400w solar panel and 8.4kwh of battery storage. In the summer of 22 I sailed and motored 2500 miles and enjoyed her immensely, but the “Call of the Junk” was still there.

I started looking and realised several people had already “junked” the Liberty. I wanted something fun, funky, modern looking that would make people smile, and the JRA was my source of inspiration. I read everything I could find on the JRA site. I even bought the junk bible. I went to bed dreaming about sails! Arne Kverneland’s barrel cambered sails, Slieve McGalliard’s Split Junk Rig and Paul McKay’s Aerojunk all filled my mind every waking moment.

So I put pen to paper and came up with the design.

 I found a 9m pivotable Aluminium mast on ebay for £300, then set about choosing material for the first ever attempt at making a sail. I chose all the colours of the rainbow as my daughter is autistic and those colours are used to represent the Autistic Society. (I have had a lot of stick for my choice of colours but it is what it is). I made some paper templates and got out my scissors. Finally, I bought an old semi-industrial Singer sewing machine to attempt to put it all together.

The jibs were simple trapezium shapes with 14% camber, 7 degree cant.

The 4 lower mains were 3.5m by .95m with 7% camber.  The top panel was 3% camber and the second panel was 5% as advised in Arne’s articles. I rapidly got better at sewing, and sewed the sails together with pockets, then added webbing and loops for fastening to the battens and yard.

I set up the mast in the garden to see how it all looked. It was stunning, blowing in the breeze on a rare, beautiful, sunny day. The neighbours were impressed, so I packed it all up and set about taking my boat to the water. As I hoisted sail the tide was coming in and the sun was dropping in the sky. The staff at the boatyard just had to take photos as never before had such a colourful and unusual sail graced the slipway.

The following weekend conditions were not perfect but I took her out for her maiden voyage. There were concerns, because of the very forward position of the mast, I might suffer from the dreaded lee helm. Interestingly, in the strong winds I have sailed in, she behaves quite the opposite.

My initial thoughts are that the CE is further back than calculated on paper because the jiblets’ camber spills considerably more wind than the main, added to which, the camber in the main panels is at its greatest 35% of the distance from the mast, moving the area of maximum force rearwards. 

The balance ratio between the jibs and the main is smaller than recommended, but that was purely because of the mast position.

I guess I have been lucky, because she works! I have only sailed about 50 miles so far, in winds from 10 knots to 35 knots, all in the safety of Plymouth Sound. I have sailed her with only one panel and all the panels. I did a 12-mile windward trip down the Tamar averaging 4kts to windward on 45-50 degree tack, in an average 12 knots of wind.

On my return journey the following day I topped 8.2kts with four panels raised on a broad reach in a sustained gust, which was the fastest I had ever travelled in her.

Heeling is very easily controlled by one of two lines: the halyard to reduce sail, or the sheet to spill wind.

I have no other ropes.

The egg shaped formers eliminate the need for parrels.

There will be a few weeks, but this season I am going to see what I can do with my sail made from £100 worth of 4oz ripstop nylon and a £60 vintage singer sewing machine!

Thanks to all who have encouraged me on this very interesting journey

[Video clips: “Serenity first sail

Serenity sailing

Serenity reaching in light wind”]

Our "Boat of the Month" Archive is here, and the forum discussion for comments and candidate suggestions is here


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