Missing Battens in the Mainsail

The morning we arrived in Ahe at the beginning of this week we noticed the batten (flexible pipe to keep the mainsail rigid) just below the first reef line (1/3 of the way up) of our sail was missing. Kirsten said she heard a large thud a few hours earlier. I did see a loose string by the missing batten and decided we would likely have to reef all the way to Papeete where we hope to find a replacement batten.

Then today we departed from Ahe for Rangiroa. We decided to put a second reef (2/3 of the way up the mainsail) to slow us down in the 24 knot winds as we don’t want to travel too fast and arrive in the middle of the night. We only need to travel at 5 knots. As we went into irons (heading into the wind) to pull the sail down, the sail was flapping very wildly and I saw and heard a huge splash to our port side. Jaeden then noticed the batten below our second reef was missing.

I didn’t realize it but am beginning to suspect all of the battens are attached to the same clothesline size string running up the outside of the mainsail. It’s too dark and windy to do much right now but we’ll have to see things in the morning.┬áIt’s rather difficult if not impossible doing repairs to a sailboat in many of the islands we are visiting. Let’s hope we can figure this one out as Papeete is still 200 miles away!

DSC02481 (Custom)Here’s a picture as we say goodbye to Ahe

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. On our sail boat, we have secured the battons so that they can not come out. Some sails have a bungy cord that fits into a notch in the flat batton. We have a flap that goes over the batton slot to keep them in. Rh

  2. Things like that happen when traveling on a sailboat. Wish you luck to your next port, and in finding replacement battens soon. We are driving up to Sacramento tomorrow to visit Karl’s family and attend Barb’s annual Family Reunion. Will be home on 6/12. God bless all of you as you continue onward.

  3. We discovered that we are actually missing at least 4 sets of battens.

  4. Norm — You don’t need battens to keep sailing. They keep the roach from folding over on itself, allow for a better sail shape, and without them you won’t get the best performance from your sail. But sail on, hope for 15-knot winds, and don’t worry about it. If you are sailing into the wind on this leg you really won’t miss them much because the physics keep most of the important function up near the luff on the forward part of the sail — you are creating a low pressure area ahead of the sail which essentially sucks the boat forward. The reason you are losing the battens is probably chafe, very common on long blue water voyages. They are one of the many things on your boat that will need regular fixing on your long cruise.

    Good winds and easy seas. Best to you and family.


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