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Backstay adjusters

My Navtec (20 years young) hydraulic unit has started to leak. Repairs are estimated north of $700.
It's big and heavy but does the job. Any other solutions?
 
On every sail. It's part of the routine. Going to weather we pump it up, off the wind released. Every boat I've raced on does the same. Habit or go fast? TBD someday.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
I've considered adding one, more so back when I was racing. But I'm not convinced it makes a significant difference on our boats. If I had an expensive hydraulic unit that failed I would not replace it.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
I can see the mast tilting back aft but not bending. Can it actually bend?

Jim
Yes. It is very bendy. Just put 4 or 5 turns on the forward lowers and take an equal amount out of the aft and sight up the sail track (ok don't really) and its quite obvious.
Or raise a plumb line on your main halyard to measure it.
When my mast was on the ground on roll around saw horses i could roll one end around and it wobbled like a noodle.
 
Before Sonata, I have always sailed with fractional rigs. They need backstay adjusters for sure. I questioned why our boat didn't have one when I bought her. The previous owner just shrugged it off. I honestly haven't sailed Sonata enough to notice the difference or if it might help/ be faster.
With the split backstay it would be simple to rig a purchase system. But on our boat, the radar tower goes up and is supported by one side of the split section.
Mitchell
 

dickkilroy

Richard Kilroy
unlike Warren I feel that the Morgan original Mast is a tree trunk. I have also Owned a Catalina 38 As some of you know. It was and is the original Catalina 38, S&S design. This was designed for Ted Turner in the SORC back in the mid 70s. I kept the boat in the Caribbean for 14 years. It had a true hydraulic backstay adjuster. And it would bent the mast as you should in a racing situation, and yes the Mast on the Catalina 38 Would bend significantly and allow for headstay tension, that would significantly help in your ability to go to Windward. I have no doubt that you can somehow bend the Morgan 38 tree trunk to some extent but I don’t feel it will really do anything for your ability to do the normal things that a backstay adjuster is installed for in the first place. Also with a split backstay you are alternating your port to starboard relationship with a head stay. Depending on how it’s set up, Favoring to some degree one or the other Windward tacks. Not a good idea in either case in my opinion. And as a bunch of you know I’ve owned this boat, the Morgan for 45 years.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
I don't believe a backstay adjuster is worthwhile on a M382, which is why I asked my first question "do you use it?" I think it is worth a discussion of what it actually does, it isn't "Used for pointing" although that might be one thing that it can do.

First, an adjustable backstay needs to have sails cut for an adjustable backstay. Otherwise, you aren't making your boat sail any better. What you are doing is, when the backstay is loose, making it sail worse. In which case, just adjust it tight, with a straight mast, and leave it alone.

Now, imaging your main sail, supported at all three corners. Your outhaul is on hard, your leach line is tight, and your Cunnigham is on. Your mainsail is as flat as you can make it, but it still has shape to it that is sewn in. Now, imaging grabbing the sail in the center of the luff, and pulling it forward. You will remove some of that shape that is sewn in, and also move the draft of the sail forward. The same effect happens on the Jib, the sail gets flatter, and the draft moves forward. This is done as much because of windspeed as anything else. In high wind you want a flatter sail, in ligher wind you want more draft. And moving the draft fore/aft changes the center of effort.

But this is assuming that with the backstay tension not as high, that the sail had the correct shape to begin with. If you start with a sail that isn't made for an adjustable backstay, then when you ease the tension, the shape goes wrong. So of course, you will point higher when the tension is on. But then you should just always leave it on.

On light racing boats that are more tender and more maneuverable, the small change in shape will make a difference. On a Morgan, the difference probably isn't notable. I'm not talking about a sail with the backstay eased and thus has an incorrect shape and poor performance-you should never sail that way-and yes you would then notice a difference in performance with it on or off. I'm talking about having the correct but not adjustable backstay tension, vs. the best performance you can achieve with adjustable.

I can bend my mast, just by grabbing the split backstay and pulling them together by hand. Not much, but that is just by hand. With a block and tackle type adjuster, it will bend easily- but I don't think it benefits from it. I will also note my issues I have had in the past with my mast pumping with a crosswind in the marina. I used to have a fair amount of bend in the mast-put there by my rigger before the Pacific Cup. By fair amount, I mean that if you stood at the base of the mast and looked up, it was obvious the masthead was about 6-8 inches aft of if the mast was in column, with a significant curve in the sail track. Everything was tensioned correctly, but with 10kts of wind on the beam, I would have massive mast pumping. The whole boat would shake, my gear hammocks below decks would bounce, and if you were in the v berth you could feel yourself bouncing maybe half an inch up and down. 3 years of dealing with it, and trying without success everything possible to stop it. Guess what (almost) stopped it? Shortening my forestay by 6 inches and bringing my mast back into column. Now it will pump a tiny bit in just the right conditions, but not so severely. Just another data point, that I don't think a Morgan 382's mast should be anything but straight and in column. The rig isn't designed for mast bend, or an adjustable backstay.
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
You have thought this thru. I am surprised that a sailmaker thought a Morgan mast should have that much bend, but then, I am no expert. Do you now have sails cut for a straight mast? And did that much pressure at to sinking of the mast bucket? Mine has sunk 1/2" in 43 years, but has now stopped moving. I loosen my back stay when running downwind and also I loosen the jib halyard when not beating or at anchor. The looser halyard at anchor was recommended to me just to extend the life of the sail.
 

Warren Holybee

Active Member
It was a rigger, not a sailmaker. My sails were not cut for that much bend, and i don't think it worked.

Never more than "normal" pressure on the shrouds to get that much bend, just where its at. Shorten the forward lowers while Lengthening the aft. Lengthen forestay, shorten backstay. But tension will all remain the same.

I don't think my bucket has moved since i have owned the boat. When i had that section of sole was out, i noted tabbing had been added between the side of the bucket and the side of the hull/keel. That tabbing hasn't broken, so i don't think the bucket has moved since its been added. My sole has been replaced by a previous owner, so i imagine it was done then. The bucket is broken in a spot. As you know, the bucket doesn't rest directly on the keel. There are two beams, one fore and one aft that support it. The upper lip of the bucket that rests on the beam broke when the bucket dropped. On the starboard side, where the wire conduit enters the bucket. Cutting that hole was probably the fatal flaw. After that, the sole needed to be shimmed to be level. Anyway, i don't think the bucket will continue moving, and if it does its not structural.
 

Cliff Porter

New Member
I don't believe a backstay adjuster is worthwhile on a M382, which is why I asked my first question "do you use it?" I think it is worth a discussion of what it actually does, it isn't "Used for pointing" although that might be one thing that it can do.

First, an adjustable backstay needs to have sails cut for an adjustable backstay. Otherwise, you aren't making your boat sail any better. What you are doing is, when the backstay is loose, making it sail worse. In which case, just adjust it tight, with a straight mast, and leave it alone.

Now, imaging your main sail, supported at all three corners. Your outhaul is on hard, your leach line is tight, and your Cunnigham is on. Your mainsail is as flat as you can make it, but it still has shape to it that is sewn in. Now, imaging grabbing the sail in the center of the luff, and pulling it forward. You will remove some of that shape that is sewn in, and also move the draft of the sail forward. The same effect happens on the Jib, the sail gets flatter, and the draft moves forward. This is done as much because of windspeed as anything else. In high wind you want a flatter sail, in ligher wind you want more draft. And moving the draft fore/aft changes the center of effort.

But this is assuming that with the backstay tension not as high, that the sail had the correct shape to begin with. If you start with a sail that isn't made for an adjustable backstay, then when you ease the tension, the shape goes wrong. So of course, you will point higher when the tension is on. But then you should just always leave it on.

On light racing boats that are more tender and more maneuverable, the small change in shape will make a difference. On a Morgan, the difference probably isn't notable. I'm not talking about a sail with the backstay eased and thus has an incorrect shape and poor performance-you should never sail that way-and yes you would then notice a difference in performance with it on or off. I'm talking about having the correct but not adjustable backstay tension, vs. the best performance you can achieve with adjustable.

I can bend my mast, just by grabbing the split backstay and pulling them together by hand. Not much, but that is just by hand. With a block and tackle type adjuster, it will bend easily- but I don't think it benefits from it. I will also note my issues I have had in the past with my mast pumping with a crosswind in the marina. I used to have a fair amount of bend in the mast-put there by my rigger before the Pacific Cup. By fair amount, I mean that if you stood at the base of the mast and looked up, it was obvious the masthead was about 6-8 inches aft of if the mast was in column, with a significant curve in the sail track. Everything was tensioned correctly, but with 10kts of wind on the beam, I would have massive mast pumping. The whole boat would shake, my gear hammocks below decks would bounce, and if you were in the v berth you could feel yourself bouncing maybe half an inch up and down. 3 years of dealing with it, and trying without success everything possible to stop it. Guess what (almost) stopped it? Shortening my forestay by 6 inches and bringing my mast back into column. Now it will pump a tiny bit in just the right conditions, but not so severely. Just another data point, that I don't think a Morgan 382's mast should be anything but straight and in column. The rig isn't designed for mast bend, or an adjustable backstay.
Very good information Warren. You sound well informed and your take on things is correct from what I've seen over the years of racing. You've picked a good boat for the West Coast where it never blows under a hundred Knots! God she loves a good fresh breeze! I've been considering a split back stay. Hydraulics is great but simplicity makes more sense. Especially for a cruiser, parts could be an issue to obtain in remote areas. It's just fancy schmancy thing as far as I'm concerned. However, after reading this I would have questions to ask my sailmaker before I think about cutting my backstay. I have a new North 3Di Dacron Main Years ago when I first bought the boat, my mast broke at the point where the pin goes through the mast to hold the tangs for the lowers. (a weak and poor design) The fault was from a rotten wood spreader and me for not getting a good survey. I found a gently used Isomat spar and a Selden Boom, from a rigger who converted another boat to in-mast roller furling. The mast was from an Island Packet 38 and so the bottom had to be chopped. Also, about 3 inches on the butt ends of the spreaders. All the winches were removed from the mast and the halyards run through deck organizers and lead aft to the cabin top through rope clutches and to self-tailing 2 speed winches. We have no backstay adjuster, and I'm really pleased to how the boat performs on all points of sail. And you're spot on about fine adjustments on lighter boats. I used to sail them and I can relate. Sometimes in moderate breezes, we don't even need any weight on the rail since the boat's faster when heeled over and the waterline lengthened. A fun and delightful little boat to sail and own!
 

terry_thatcher

Terence Thatcher
Is the island packet mast a two spreader rig? Is it tapered? The Morgan would have better positive stability if the mast were tapered to remove weight aloft. But then, you would have to have a sdecond set of spreaders. At least one of our members has done that, but can't remember who.
 
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