It was monster windy on Sunday, but sunny with it, so a few of us did a bit of bimbling on the fleet boat instead of risking our own boats by going sailing. I'm pleased to report that the fleet boat has come through the winter with no trouble, and still looks like a nice bit of kit.
It was clear that the perfectly good super-stretchy elastic was failing to take up the halyard because either:
a) the blocks in the system were all a bit small and a bit old and a bit rubbish
b) the halyard itself was a bit thick (4.5mm) and unyielding, and didn't like going round corners
I didn't think that the budget would run to replacing all the blocks with super-spiffy ones, so we opted to replace the halyard itself. A quick browse of the chandlery's rope section revealed a soft 3mm item going by the name of 'Swift Cord', which Badders said he'd been using with excellent results, so we had ourselves 15 metres of that. For the record, the old halyard was about 13.75m, but I figured that the extra metre or so could live happily enough in the take-up system, and then we'd have a bit spare if the top of it ever got mangled and needed cutting off. And at £2.20/m it was a lot cheaper than some of the more exotic stuff.
We were easily able to pull the new rope through the mast and all the blocks and eyes by taping it to the end of the old rope and pulling that, and the whole job was complete inside 15 minutes. We then tested it, and the results were fabulous - the kite was far easier to hoist than before, and more importantly, the elastic was easily taking the stuff away. Getting the kite down seemed easier too.
We finished off by putting a couple of cut-down plastic knitting needles onto a string on the rudder - these are used to lock the rudder down when sailing but of course are weak enough to break if the rudder hits anything unyielding, eg the bottom. An excellent system, but you do have to keep replacing them.
Meanwhile, Peter & Mike had rigged their boat, got changed, blasted out to the start, and then come back in again. Apparently it wasn't too windy, but Mike's drysuit had developed holes over the winter and he didn't like the idea of swimming round in a holey drysuit in water which is only a few degrees above zero.
Fair enough. Roll on next Sunday and something a bit more sensible.