Sailing Sooner

So at this point I’d taken Sooner out for her first big trip, but still hadn’t actually sailed her outside of the short test sail before purchase.

One of the really nice things about being on a boat this time is I’ve met a lot of younger people doing the same thing I am, which I didn’t have the first time around. One of these was Hollie, my boat neighbour from my old marina and we decided to go sailing together one weekend – the Saturday on my boat, and then the Sunday on her Columbia 36. A cultural exchange of sorts.

The weekend turned out great and we had wind both days. Getting in and out of the new marina was a lot easier compared to the old one and off we went and got the sails up. Eventually.

I was super glad to have Hollie with me as we ran into a bunch of issues, mostly due to Sooner not having been sailed for a long time andd the PO not apparently being big sailors (despite taking the boat around the pacific twice). These included

  • Added support to the gate stanchions meant that you can’t get a full 360 rotation on a winch due to them obstructing the throw
  • The jib winch cleats are located in an awful place
  • The outhaul isn’t actually an outhaul, it’s just some line tied between the clew of the sail and the boom, meaning it’s not adjustable
  • The genoa is a really small high cut yankee – it barely reaches the mast
  • Staysail has no hanks or rigging
  • The mainsheet is a weird system that runs from the cockpit traveller back along the boom and to the cabin top
  • I could not get the genoa to fly without the sheets fouling on stanchions, no matter how i moved the cars around
  • The main halyard is on the mast, not in a clutch and not on a self tailing winch meaning you have to grind, tail and cleat at the same time
  • The boat has checkstays and I am really NOT used to these. Kept getting them hung up etc.

And most disappointing of all – the main was absolutely brand new – but is woefully undersized both in the luff and the foot. What a waste.

Eventually we got the sails up and actually I was surprised at how well Sooner moved. Being an extra thicc lady I’d expected her not to be very fast, but she tracked like she was on rails and we were going over 7 knots on a close reach into around 10-14 knots of wind. Pretty much a freight train. Slow to accelerate, but she smashed through chop like it was nothing. I can’t wait to see how she does with a decent sail suite!

The next day we went sailing on Hollies boat, and the difference a decent setup for sailing makes was very noticeable. We were up and at em way faster than on Sooner and had a great sail around on her (very clean) boat.

One noticeable thing was that she had self-tailing winches. I’ve never actually used them before, and when Hollie noticed me not using the self-tailing part she quickly showed me how to use them and omg – life changing. How have I never used these before? They immediately jumped to top of the list of things to get for Sooner. Would also solve the shitty cleat placement too!

I went out on Sooner again the next weekend with another friend, Kate, and before then I had the chance to make some changes including installing a proper outhaul

I did this by running a line through the boom, through a block attached to the sail clew and then back to the end of the boom, for a 2-1 purchase. Not really adjustable by hand, but fine on a winch at the mast (right now) or cabintop (later).

One really nice thing about the boom is that it has four internal sheaves – meaning I can run the outhaul plus three reefs. Gudge only had 3, meaning I had to have the third reef rigged externally (which was a huge pain and I left it off most of the time). I also raised the foresail at the dock and spent some time making sure the sheets would run free.

With all that prep work the sail the next weekend went a lot better – less wind but still enough to get going at a pretty good clip.

So – rigging work for the winter

  • remove the extra gate stanchion support (as I’ll be getting rid of the gates anyway)
  • Replace jib winches with self-tailers
  • Run main halyard/outhaul back to cockpit (will need deck organisers/line clutches)
  • Look into new sails ($$$$$)
  • Replace mainsheet system with one that has a 6:1 purchase in the cockpit instead of feeding all the way forward to the mast and back again (will need two treble blocks)
  • Replace checkstay tackle with a fiddle block with an integrated cleat
  • Figure out staysail rigging
  • Rig the vang
  • Either inside track or block on a padeye inboard for the genoa when beating (this will probably have to wait till new sails)

Most of this stuff, especially the new winches and blocks I am going to try to pick up second hand but even so, it’s going to be a chunk of change. It’s nice however to get onto the ‘fun’ part of the refit, and I think she’s going to be quite the sailboat when done!




  1. I didn’t understand most of what you said. You’ve come along way with this sailing gig.

    • I was worried that my updates have become a bit more technical as I’ve gone on! I guess it’s hard to avoid

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