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adding sail rings to a sail

bhm

New Member
I just bought this Flying Fish sail designed to slide into a track on the mast (including the similarly tracked boom, which I plan not to use). I want to add sail rings, so I can raise and lower it with a halyard, and reef it along these nice full-length battens. Any thoughts or past experience on how best to do this?
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I am very much a cautious and conservative novice sailor, so it's not going to be subjected to very rough weather or high-performance sailing. Indeed, one big reason I want something I can reef or lower is so that I don't get caught out on the water in big wind with too much sail up, and no way to take it down except by unstepping the mast, as I did do once, but don't want to have to do again. That was with the Laser 4.7 sail, 14 feet tall, on an 11-foot kayak, like so:
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With the outriggers on the kayak I was able to stand up and take the mast down with the sail still sleeved onto it, but it was no picnic and I don't want to have to do it again. That's why I went back to the lateen + jib when I moved this rig to my canoe, which better handles the big waves on Cayuga lake, and that only needed a 12-foot mast.
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I don't want to go out again with the Laser sail on the big lake until I have some better way to lower it while on the water. I have plans now for a Gunter type rig that I think will probably be able to do that, but in the meantime this FF sail came up on Craig's List and I thought that would be even better, if I can get sailrings on it, because then I could reef it partway as well as lowering it all the way. It was only $100, so I figured it was worth a try. The FF sail is 18 feet tall not 14 like the laser sail, but if I reef the bottom two sections then it's 14 feet and I should be able to hang it from my same 16-foot mast, give or take. (I built it with an adjustable top section so I can tinker with the height and make it taller if I want to.) Even if I never use it full-length except maybe on super-calm days, I would still be better off because I could drop it if need be, and also reef it shorter, which I wouldn't be able to do with the Laser sail even with a Gunter rig to take it all the way up or down.

So: how to reef it is a further question, but first is the matter of adding sailrings. I repeat that this is just for recreational not high-performance sailing; the only reason for hanging extra sail at all (aside from the fact that it's fun to experiment with different rigs), is to be able to sail better on light-wind days. So I figure that probably I can get by without grommets sewn into the sail, which I presume is how sailrings are normally attached. The question is, what to do instead, and what should be the spacing of the rings? I was thinking maybe one at the end of each of the seven battens, plus one for the grommet at the base. The vertical spacing between the battens is 30 inches for the first few, then gradually decreases as you go further up. At the mast end the battens slide into these plastic fittings, which look the same on both sides, as if a self-tapping screw had been threaded into a plastic cap:

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But it can't be exactly that, because on one of them two of the screws are missing on one side, looking as if they were never there in the first place since there are no matching holes through the sail, but the corresponding caps are still present on the other side:
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I'm not sure what these plastic fittings are for; maybe to resist the compression force from the full-length battens when they are cinched up by their little outhaul ties on the outside end:

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I haven't unscrewed any of these plastic fittings, in case they are also glued and I can't get them back in. Instead, my first and maybe still best thought was to see if I could drill right through that space in the middle, while leaving the screws in place, and then treat them as the equivalent of grommets, which might be good enough attachment points for sail-rings that would hold the sail well enough for what I want to do with it. So, do you think that would work, and if so, is that is a sufficient number of rings for a sail 9 feet at the base and 18 feet tall, i.e. one every 30 inches. And if not, is there some better way to do this?

(Safety-wise, I should mention that I retrofitted additional internal flotation in both of these boats, in the form of big bundles of pool noodles wrapped in garbage bags and stuffed or tied into all possible cavities where they wouldn't be in the way, and did some capsize drills in calm shallow water to make sure I could right them and bail them out if need be, though I sail so cautiously that I'm hopeful of never having to do that for real in rough weather. For example, I don't heel the boat any further than would completely submerge the outrigger on that side. And of course both boats paddle well and I'm perfectly happy to drop all sail and paddle home at any moment, which I could not say about an ordinary sailboat like a Sunfish or a Laser.)
 
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