Finishing the Solent Stay Installation
(Continued from the Solent Stay page)
This page describes the final modifications to the Solent Stay and Stay Sail on Sarah.
Re-Cutting the Staysail
Once the Solent Stay had been rigged I went to Mack Sails in Stuart, FL to make the staysail I would use with this stay.
In 2005 Mack Sails made the staysail as we agreed, but it turned out to be entirely too large a sail for what I intended.  The sail overlapped the mast by 3 or 4', which required it to be sheeted outside of the shrouds, limiting it to a down wind sail.  That might not be so bad, except the sail is so large it doesn't represent a useful area reduction from the partially furled 135% Genoa.  The Staysail is over 50% of the sail area of the Genoa.  The Genoa can be furled to about 60% and still provide an effective shape.  So the Staysail as made by Mack was nearly as large as a nominally furled Genoa.  Since there was no way reef or furl the Staysail to reduce its sail area, it did not provide an effective sail reduction for the Genoa.
Consequently for all my Atlantic Circle Cruise the Staysail was just a backup to the Genoa in case of failure.  It spent almost the entire cruise in its deck bag. 
The shortcomings of the Staysail was not due to poor workmanship on the part of Mack Sails.  Rather I had not thought this sail through and I agreed to a design that would not meet my needs.  Of course it would have been nice if Mack Sails had more experience retro-fitting Staysails on cruising yachts and could have advised me to go in a different direction. 
Click on picture to view at full resolution
Re-Cut Stay Sail
After I returned to the Chesapeake Bay in the summer of 2007 I decided to have the Staysail re-cut.
In January, 2008 I turned the sail over to Clark McKinney of Quantum Sails, Solomons, MD to have the sail re-cut such that there is no overlap of the main mast.
The picture on the left shows the re-cut Staysail.
Now that I have a sail that can be an effective Staysail I have to come up with a better way to sheet it.
Installing Sheet Track
The only problem with the re-cut staysail was that I could still only sheet the sail to a block on the cap rail, which meant it was strictly a down wind or reaching sail.  I needed an inboard sheeting point to use the staysail upwind, which is one of the primary uses for such a sail.  I thought about how to provide this sheeting point for over a year (my normal minimum period of procrastination), then finally decided to install a track and car on the edge of the coach roof. 
Several other P424s had installed padeyes on the coach roof for this purpose.  I was a little concerned about the point loading of the sheet on the roof, but I was mostly concerned about my miss-placing this sheeting point.  So I decided to go with a track on the edge of the coach roof, which  would provide some spreading of the load from the sheet and also allow me to correct for any miss--alignment of the sheeting point by moving the track car.  Consequently, at the 2009 Annapolis Boat Show I purchased two Genoa cars and two 2-foot sections of Genoa track from the Garhauer folks.
The picture on the right shows one track section and the Genoa car positioned on the port side of the cabin trunk, but not yet installed.

Garhauer Track and Car Positioned on Coach Roof

Headliner Removed From Port Side of Cabin
The first step in the installation was to remove the main cabin headliner from the area in which the track will be installed.  The picture on the left shows the port-side headliner removed.  On the outboard edge of the cabin roof is 4"x3/4" plywood stiffener for the edge of cabin trunk.  I plan to use this stiffener to provide backing for the staysail track.
First I mounted the staysail track on the cabin roof using self tapping screws that penetrated partially into the balsa-cored cabin roof.  I did drill one hole completely through the cabin roof and the plywood to get a measurement of the thickness of the material.  I used this measurement to select the length of machine screws I would use to secure the track.
After I had the measurement I temporarily sealed the bottom of this hole with marine putty.
As you will see later in this page, I must have missed something in my measurement, because the 1-1/2" machine screws I intended to use for this application are just a little bit short.

Test Hole Sealed with Putty

Holes Drilled Then Filled with Epoxy
The reason I did not drill the holes through the coach roof was to make it a little easier to fill the holes with epoxy before the final drilling.  On the left are the mounting holes for the track on the starboard side of the cabin trunk.  I am using 5/16" fasteners to secure the track, but I had drilled 1/2" holes at the mounting locations.  I then filled each hole with epoxy.
This took a lot more epoxy than I planned.  I expected the balsa core to soak up the initial injection of epoxy, but I was surprised that several more epoxy injections disappeared into many of the holes.  About 1/2 of the holes were sealed by the first injection and held the second injection until the epoxy set.  The other holes continued to absorb all of the epoxy I could inject into those holes.  Clearly there were some voids in the balsa core around those holes.  After 3 or 4 injections into those holes I mixed up a solution of epoxy and filler (Colloidal Silica) and injected that into the hole.  Even the thickened epoxy disappeared down the several of the holes, but at least when it set it sealed the walls of the holes.  The next day I injected un-thickened epoxy into those holes and the epoxy did not disappear into the core.
The only negative of this situation (other than using a lot more epoxy than I planned) was this filling of the holes took several more days than I planned.  Now the weather forecast calls for several days of rain, which put a temporary halt to this project.
The picture on the right shows one of the mounting holes filled with epoxy.
Mounting Hole Filled with Epoxy

Track Mounted with 3" Machine Screws and T-Nuts
Because the headliner fits flush against the plywood stiffener, the is no room for a washer and nut on the surface of the stiffener.  Consequently I decided to use T-Nuts to secure the through-bolts.
Here I made my second mistake (after not getting a better measurement of the roof thickness).  I didn't take into account that the wooden stiffener was sheathed in fiberglass and the T-Nuts could not penetrate the fiberglass.
I initially used over-long (3") screws to mount the T-Nuts into the stiffener.  However much I pounded on these screws the T-Nuts would not penetrate the shell of the wood stiffener.
The picture on the right shows one of the T-Nuts that would not penetrate the fiberglass.
In order to provide bare wood to the barbs on the T-Nut I used a 1-1/8" Forstner bit to cut through the glass.  In this picture I have only partially drilled out the glass.

Removing the Fiberglass Sheathing to Allow the T-Nut to Penetrate the Inside of the Cabin Trunk

T-Nut Has Penetrated the Cabin Trunk and is Nearly Flush With the Surface
In the picture on the left the T-Nut has been fully driven into the plywood stiffener.
I ruined one cheap ($3) Forstner bit drilling out the fiberglass sheathing.  Forstner bits are intended for wood, not fiberglass.
Once I had the fiberglass removed around each hole I discovered that my measurement of the hole depth was not accurate.
I had measured that the screw depth required with the track and core thickness was about 1-3/4".  Since the T-Nut barrel penetrates into the wood about 3/8" I thought 1-1/2" machine screws would be adequate.
Naturally, where I measured the roof thickness was probably the thinest portion of the coach roof, and the other holes were deeper.  Also, I could never get the T-Nuts to fully penetrate the wood.  Consequently I had great difficulty getting the 1-1/2" screws to thread into the T-Nuts.  I had to drill more into the wood with the Forstner bit to allow the T-Nut to penetrate deeper.  I was finally able to get all 7 T-Nuts on the port track to engage with the 1-1/2" screws, but in most cases only one or two threads deep.  For this application I want the screw to engage with nearly all of the T-Nut thread.
Port Track Secured

The 2" Screws and T-Nuts
Therefore I have  initially secured the track using 2" machine screws as shown on the left.
On the right you can see that the 2" screws penetrate at least 1/8" below the T-Nut.  This would prevent the headliner from securing flush with the stiffener.
I need 1-3/4" screws, but neither West Marine nor Loews's stocks them in the 5/16" machine screw.  I have ordered a box of the 1-3/4" screws from Jamestown Distributors, but they won't be here for a week.

The 2" Screws Are Too Long
This means I can't replace the headliner until the order from Jamestown Distributors arrives next week.  Of course I could cut down the 2" screws, but then I would likely have to do a lot of cleaning up of the threads with a die or nut to get those screws to engage the T-Nuts.  I have enough other projects at this time, so it's not like I will be completely idle while waiting on the JD order.

Rope Caulk Purchased at Lowe's
To bed the track I used something new for me - rope caulk, or as it is called on the package weather proofing cord.  I went this way on the recommendation of another P424 owner, Tor Pinney.  He picked up this option from a Boatwright he knows. 
The stuff appears to be similar to silly-putty.  It can be formed into any shape and it does not dry out.  The cord width is about twice the base of the Garhauer track, so I just folded a section of the caulk in two, lengthwise and pressed it to the bottom of the track. I put two machine screws on the track, one at each end and the put the track in place on the mounting holes on the cabin roof.
Then I secured the track, using the 2" machine screws. This was the least messy bedding of an item of deck hardware I have ever done.  No goop on the decks, on my hands or my clothes. 
3 years later (2013) I've had no leaks on either track; howeve I have switched to Butyl tape for subsequent deck fittings.  Butyl tape is just as easy to work with as rope caulk, but it may be a more durable product.  I purchased my Butyl tape from Compass Marine.

Track Secured to Cabin Trunk With 2" Screws
Of course I have to replace those 2" screws with 1-3/4" when they arrive.  That means re-bedding the track.

I decided to wait a bit before drilling the holes on the starboard side.  I'll wait until I have all of the right material (1-3/4" machine screws) before starting on that installation.
A few days later I learned the 1-3/4" screws I ordered through JD had been put on back-order with an anticipated ship date of 11/15.  Since I was leaving for the family Thanksgiving get together a week later and then flying to Gibraltar to crew for a crossing to the Caribbean, this did not leave a lot of time to complete the project and get the boat closed up for an extended absence.

2" Screws Shortened to 1-3/4"
I cancelled the order and then purchased a bunch of 2" machine screws and shortened them with my 24" bolt cutter.  Then I cleaned up the threads with a die.
I now had more than enough 1-3/4" machine screws.
Installing the track on the starboard side went very quickly, the result of having the correct materials and the knowledge of the mistakes I made on the port side.
Drilling out the fiberglass for the T-Nuts also went faster as I used my powered 1/2" drill rather than the cordless 3/8" drill I initially used on the port side.

Port Track Secured with 1-3/4" Screws

T-Nuts and Screws Are Flush with Wood
This time the T-Nuts were fully flush with the stiffening wood.
I  bedded the starboard track with Caulk Cord, just as I had done on the port side. 
With the port track I initially did not put any caulk on the machine screws believing they would pick up caulk on the way into the deck and provide a seal for the holes.  That works with the much less viscous sealants (silicone, polysulfide, etc.) I have used in the past.  With the putty-like rope caulk the screw just pushed the caulk it displaced under the track down to the T-Nut.  There was not a complete seal of each screw at the deck level.
When I tested the water tightness of the port track, several of the screws produced leakage into the cabin.
I solved that problem by wrapping each screw in a short section of the rope caulk and then screwed it into the T-Nut.  This appears to have provided a completely waterproof seal.  In retrospect I believe a better approach would have been to counter-sink the holes in the deck to provide a bowl in which the sealant would be trapped and seal the machine screw threads.
One other difference between this type of sealant and the others I have used is that it does not take a set.  It will pretty much remain as soft and pliable as when it comes out of the package.  So there is no need to not fully tighten the fasteners.  With the less viscous sealants fully tightening the fasteners will displace too much of the sealant.  The normal procedure is to wait 24 hours or more before fully tightening the fasteners.

Screw Wrapped With Rope Caulk
Checkin' It Out

Rainfall From Hurricane Ida
Within a few days of completing the track installation the remains of Hurricane Ida passed south of North Carolina then just stalled for about 3 days off Hatteras and dumped nearly a foot of rain on New Bern.  The drywall-type bucket in the picture on the left was in the cockpit for all of that rain.  It is nearly 3/4 full.
All that rain provided me with more confidence that the tracks are well sealed.
What happens after a few days of hard off-shore sailing is another matter, but for now I'm satisfied that the track is water tight.
Two days after the storm moved well off-shore we finally got a nice sunny day with no wind.  This was my first chance to test the sheet leads on the re-cut sail and track.
Stay Sail Sheeted to Cabin Trunk Cars

Sheeting Angle
Hard to see in this picture unless you click on it to view it at full resolution, but the track provides good sheeting positions.  The car should be a little further forward, but there is plenty of room as it is at the aft end of the track.
The one problem I wasn't able to fully solve is the sheet run from the car to the winch in the cockpit.  In the picture on the right you can see that the sheet runs down the cabin roof, then drops over the edge to the winch.  I will need to put a stainless-steel wear guard on the cabin trunk edge to prevent the sheet from wearing into the fibeglass.
Sheet Run to Cockpit Winch

Sheet Lead Over the Edge of the Cabin Trunk
On the left you can see where the sheet rubs on the edge of the cabin trunk.
The starboard side presents a couple of problems in addition to the trunk cabin edge.  In the picture on the right you can see that the sheet just barely clears the sea hood on the forward companionway.  If I move the the car fully forward on the track the sheet does make contact with the sea hood.
Starboard Sheet is Very Close to the Forward Companionway Sea Hood

Starboard Sheet Also Runs Close to Airhead Vent
Further aft on the starboard side the sheet just clears the vent for the composting head.  Moving the car doesn't affect this clearance so it may not be a big problem.  However I may add a cheek block or fairlead  to keep the sheet away from these obstacles.
One other problem is that the sheet angle to the winch is about 90º to the winch barrel.  It should be at least 20º lower than that.  There is real danger of an over-ride when sheeting the stay sail.
Sheet Lead to Cockpit Winch

Lead to Winch May Cause an Over-ride
In the picture on the left the angle of the sheet to the winch can be easily seen.
This is one of the problems that kept me agonizing over this installation for months after the stay sail was re-cut.  Finally I just decided to live with this situation until it proves itself to be un-manageable.  If necessay I may put a lead block at the forward end of the cockpit coaming to lower the sheeting angle, but that would make setting up the sheet a more tedious process.
Of course the real solution is to route the stay sheets to winches on the cabin roof, under the Dodger.  I could use the a pair of sheet stoppers to allow the main sheet winch to be shared with the port stay sail sheet, but I would still need another winch on the starboard side.  I'm not going to sink any more money into this installation until after I've used the stay sail for awhile and determined the seriousness of each of these apparent deficiencies.
So for now the Solent Stay installation is complete.  Stay tuned ...
Storing the Solent Stay
One of the problems of an inner forestay (Solent or otherwise) is that it does not co-exist easily with an overlapping Genoa.  Sarah carries a 135% Genoa.  With the Solent Stay in place it is not possible to tack the Genoa without going onto the fore deck and manually pushing the Genoa through the narrow slot between the inner and outer forestays.  My normal procedure is to furl the Genoa, and turn on the engine (in light airs).  Turn onto the new tack then unfurl and trim the Genoa and turn off the engine.
This is not a significant issue off-shore where tacks are infrequent, but for inshore sailing (such as on the Chesapeake) where tacking is common, the procedure is a PITA.
My normal solution when sailing inshore for an extended period is to remove the staysail and secure the stay to the rail.  I really didn't have any way to secure the stay, except by tying it to one of the shrouds.  I kept looking a simple and better way to secure the stay out of the way.
Then in September, 2012 I was removing the Solent Stay and stay sail for some cruising on the Chesapeake and noticed the track car slide could be used to secure the stay.
With the car moved to the forward-most position on the Genoa track the  Highfield Lever just about reached to the slide.  I added a twisted shackle and the fit was almost perfect.

Highfield Lever Secured to a Track Car Slide on the Starboard Genoa Track

Close-up of the Shackle Between the Highfield Lever and the Track Car Slide
On the left is a close-up of the shackle between the Highfield lever and the track slide.  I  used a shackle with a 90° twist to provide a fair lead for the Solent Stay.
The top of the Solent Stay does impinge on the stay sail halyard block.  The line still runs through the block, but I need to clean up this part of the arrangement.  I've wanted to use a different block (and smaller diameter rope) on this halyard.  Now I have the excuse.
The Solent Stay Pulled to the Side at the Masthead

The Solent Stay Does Make Contact with the Starboard Spreader
The stay does rest against the starboard spreader.  Over time this is likely to wear on the spreader.  It may also be noisy in high winds.
So I will have add some protection for the spreader.
At least now I have found a place for the Solent Stay when sailing inshore.  The track  car slide was used to secure a snatch block for the Spinnaker sheets.  The Genoa track is really too short for the Spinnaker sheet lead.  I normally put the snatch blocks on the base of the stern pulpit.  So this car can become a permanent part of the Solent Stay storage arrangement.