Re: David Kautz's letter about not using sail slugs.
Mon, 24 May 1999 16:15:12 -0700

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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You make some important points which I, indeed, did not mention.

The additional friction of the bolt rope does make it difficult or impossible to
raise or lower the sail when the sail is filled. I can picture the situation
that you describe and feel the panic. I want to ask you though, do you drop the
jib first? I'm sure you've observed that it can be tough to stay pointed into
the wind if the jib is filling and pulling the bow off. If the wind is gusting
first from here and then from there I can see the predicament.In all fairness,
even with slugs there can still be some problems with binding and jamming, it's
not like having ball bearings.

Regarding performance, I'd have to agree with you (I think I originally
indicated it as questionable). I've sailed several times with Jon Hunolt, who
has slugs, and the performance of the boats seems more affected by how many
people are aboard than anything else - more crew = slower boat.

I can't quite figure how slugs are speeding set-up. Loading the slugs in the
track and fitting the stop underneath seems like one more thing to do. Granted,
when you raise the sail it will go up quicker since you don't have to feed the
rope into the slot while pulling on the halyard.

Part of my bad attitude about slugs may result from the quality of the job that
was done on my sail. The slugs used were as large as I have ever seen, with a
metal bale and plastic material on both sides of the track (push and pull). With
slugs there were large creases in the sail from the mast end of the long batten
to the clew caused by the batten pocket flopping to the leeward side of the
mast. With smaller slugs these problems might be diminished to a tolerable level
though, as you have probably noticed, I am more fussy about sail shape than the
average Potter sailor.

Personally, I find discussions of this type to be helpful, educational and one
of the advantages of being on this list - If others are tiring of it, maybe the
discussion should be continued privately?

Dave Kautz
P-15 #1632 Tilly Lucy
Palo Alto, CA

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: David Kautz's letter about not using sail slugs.
Author: Non-HP-GSTahoe ( at hp-boise,mimegw7
Date: 5/24/99 11:08 AM

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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In a message dated 5/24/99 9:11:07 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

<< Slugs decrease performance (in theory, anyway) add
complexity, and lengthen set up time. >>


I disagree with part of your statement.

I bought my P-15 new from H.M.S. Marine about six years ago. It came with a
bolt rope on the main. I used it that way for about four years. Then I had
to send my sail in to Sailright for some repairs and had them install slugs
at the same time.

The motivating factor for me to install the slugs was fear. When the wind
piped up I would start getting nervous because I was overpowered. I would try
to immediately drop the sails. I found this very difficult with the bolt
rope. When the wind pipes up on a mountain lake it can come from apparently
every direction at once. It keeps shifting. This makes it very difficult to
keep the boat pointed into the wind long enough to drop the sail. When the
wind would pressure the main, the bolt rope would be pretty much be stuck in
the mast slot. There is just too much friction. I would have to pull with
all my might to get the sail down. This is not cool when the chop is
building and the pressure against the sail is causing undo heeling and

With the slugs, this is not a problem. It is easy to drop the sail in any
conditions. It is also a ton easier to raise the sail. It goes up easily
and all the way to the masthead without much effort. Another advantage I
have found, was that with the bolt rope, when I lowered the sail and wanted
to furl it on the boom, I would have to pull the rope out of the slot.
That's not super easy. That also means that when you want to raise the sail
again you must feed the bolt rope back into the slot. With the slugs (using a
stop on the mast) I do not have to remove the sail from the mast to furl it.

I do have to release the pressure on the large batten. I did find out the
hard way, that if you keep the compression on the batten and furl the sail on
the boom, and inadvertently lean or fall across the boom with your body
weight, you can tear your sail. I found that out at one of our group Tahoe
sails. Besides the cost and inconvenience of having to send the sail in for
repair, it was embarrassing as you-know-what.

In summary, if there is any cost to performance, I cannot tell. I have an
accurate knotmeter and I cannot tell any difference in speed with or without
the slugs. If there is a difference, it must be pretty insignificant.

As far as setup and take down time, the slugs make it substantially quicker,
not slower. It is easy to feed the slugs into the mast. Much easier than
feeding the bolt rope through. During takedown, I just remove the stopper in
the slot, release the halyard, and the sail will come down immediately just
by it's own weight.

With all this talk recently of the change of sail shape due to the slugs, I
experimented the other day while out on the lake with different adjustments to
the outhaul. The sail seems to hold it's shape just fine. I cannot get the
sail really flat, as you would in a stiff breeze, but before I would need to
flatten the sail that much, I would have reefed, and at that point the outhaul
is no longer effective anyway.

In a nutshell, I would, in no way, consider removing the slugs. They have
speeded up my setup, speeded up my take down and made the boat safer. I can
only imagine that those, such as yourself, that find the slugs inconvenient,
must have different slugs installed, had them installed differently or there
must be some other difference.

Oh, yeah, one last note: When Sailright installed the slugs, they put on
right at the point of the large batten pocket, not one above and one below.
Although the batten pocket does seem to flop a little, there does not seem to
be any wrinkles or problems with the shape of the sail at this point. I have
figured out a way to put really good compression on the batten in the pocket
where I can release that pressure easily when necessary.

P-15 Lollipop
No. Lake Tahoe, NV