A Little Something for the Light Stuff

Since we sail Bolero engineless the most import feature of our modified Shields is her sail plan and our ability to alter the amount of sail that we have up as the conditions warrant. In fact one of the main reasons we selected the Shields as our conversion candidate was her fractional rig and her abundant sail area.

Even though the standard sail plan for the Shields class sailboats has a exceptional SA/D ratio of 21, I have been on the lookout for a way to add additional sail area for really light air. So when I stumbled on a new free flying drifter/Code 0 headsail on eBay last winter for less than $300 I took a chance and snapped it up.

Prior to purchasing it, I quickly drew it up to make sure it would fit and to check the location of the sheet leads.




For this sail it looked like the proper lead location would intersect our oar lock sockets and my hope was to find a way to use these hard points as an attach point for the turning blocks. In addition, with an area of 210 sq ft and an overlap of 180%, this looks to be a very nice increase in sail area for Bolero bring her SA/D ratio to 25.

Unfortunately, I decided to over think the installation. I figured that it would be sweet if the drifter was on a furler in front of the headstay. So I picked up all the necessary hardware only to figure out after stepping the mast that there just wasn't enough room between the spinnaker halyard the forestay for the drifter to furl. At least I didn't drill any holes






As it turns out this mis-step was a blessing. I ended up flying the drifter on the jib halyard with a small pennant so it would clear the jib. This allowed us to tack which we ended up doing quite often and made this sail much versatile.








This free flying drifter quickly became my favorite sail. It was quick and easy to launch and stow from its turtle bag without any need of a furler or spinnaker sock and it made sailing in really light air very delightful. And even though we are quite spoiled short tacking into our channel with our non-overlapping working jib, It was still pretty easy to short tack with this 180% drifter.

To my way of thinking sail area is safety and piece of mind for the engineless sailor. Often the engineless sailor is presented with all the things that they can't safely do without an engine. But I feel that each boats "safe" sailing envelope is dependent on how much speed and maneuverability they can generate from their sail plan in a given wind. Obviously if you don't have enough sail area with respect to your boat's displacement then you have transition to a motorboat. And in that event your motor is your only form of propulsion and is required for safety.

My goal has always been to outfit my boats so they sail in the widest possible wind range. And with the addition of this drifter the term "no wind" has a whole new meaning.