Page 8 - 48º North - The Sailing Magazine - December 2017
P. 8

YAGER SAILS & CANVAS Sails Built To Last
Letters
Response to the Hendersons’ Windvane Article
Hi Joe:
I read Jon Henderson’s interesting and informative article “Look Mom, No Hands” in the November 2017 issue of 48° North. Windvane steering and proper boat trimming is necessary for any ocean cruising and I see he is happy with a Monitor servo-pendulum style windvane. There are a variety of products available now, but his story brought to mind fond memories of making my own windvane steering system when I had finished building my 42’ airex-cored boat, Sky One Hundred. My wife, Heather, and I had built her from scratch over three years, and though we could not afford a manufactured windvane at the time, we were savvy builders. I had also read of failures of sophisticated parts on shop-bought vanes; if a piece broke, how could I repair it when at sea? I thought I’d share a bit with other 48° North readers about how we did it and what our experience with it was like.
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I like to keep things simple, so we made our vane based on an article by William Orgg in the May 1971 edition of SAIL magazine. I even simplified the design as shown and built it for a tenth of the cost of a store-bought vane. We called it “Goldfinger” because Heather covered the vane with some gold-colored fabric purchased at Gold’s Fabrics. “Goldfinger” was invaluable in that it consumed nothing and performed 24/7 while we sailed 15,000 miles in 14 months to the Marquesas Islands, the exotic Tuamotus atolls and Society Islands returning from Bora Bora via the Hawaiian Islands and Glacier Bay to Vancouver. It steered well since we always had the main rudder dead in line with the keel. I could also repair it.
One day it did fail when we were quartering with fairly sharp movements through a series of short waves for several hours at around 8-9 knots. There was a crack from behind us and Goldfinger lurched sideways. “Oh shoot!” was my
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