Last summer, Barton Marine supplied avid dinghy sailor Gary Lewis with a Barton Boomstrut to fit to his Wanderer dinghy ‘Puffin'. Having put it thoroughly to the test during his cruises along the North Kent coast, here is Gary's verdict:
"When Christian Brewer of Barton Marine asked if I would like to trial their Boomstrut on my Wanderer dinghy I said ‘sure, why not'. Perhaps Christian had heard of my reputation as a keen dinghy cruiser rather than avid club racer, making me autonomous, in terms of boat adaptations that the class hierarchy may frown upon during competitions.
Most of my dinghy cruising takes place along the North Kent coast particularly in the Swale where I enjoy exploring the many creeks and skipping over mud flats by the skin of my gel coat. A good days sailing, to my mind, involves good company, a flask of fresh coffee, lunch afloat, wild life spotting (there really are seals in the Thames Estuary) and hours of fresh air afloat without the stresses of work.
How did ‘Puffin' and this ‘by the seat his wetsuit' sailor get on with this new bit of kit?
Reefing/un-reefing ashore and afloat was a doddle as the strut discourages the boom from detaching from the goose-neck and taking chunks out of the aft locker lid in the process. Also the boom cannot lift up when the reefing lines are hauled in on the quick.
I can still waz on all the kicker I want, due to the clever way that the two fibreglass rods flex, to create bend in the mast with no difference in feel/effort. The strut is still more than capable of holding the boom's weight when the kicker is eased off eased off.
Sailing on a dead run in a fair breeze seems a lot more stable and the chances of a ‘Chinese Gybe' would appear to be a lot less likely because the boom cannot spontaneously fly up.
On several occasions last season my trusty little two stroke engine got me out on the water whilst the racers gazed from the beach depressed at the mill pond conditions. This is for me when the Boomstrut really came into it's own by supporting the whole of the mainsail tied neatly on the boom ready for immediate hoisting when we found some breeze. Gently motoring without the boom on my lap and the mainsail swamping the cockpit was a pleasure. Similarly dropping the main when going ashore and leaving it totally reefed to the boom ready for setting off was a much civilised affair. Topping lift? Who needs one?
As for the Boomstrut's durability; well anyone at WYC who knows me and my foolhardy way, will tell you that I don't shy off a precious day's sailing easily. I have been out in Puffin in Force 6-7 winds with more than a little chop on the water and inevitably been knocked over more than once. I lost the bucket, sponge, first aid box, some decent sunglasses, even my sandwiches and, as usual, every rope and line managed to knit itself into the ‘knot from hell'. Curiously the Barton Boomstrut stayed right in place, faithfully keeping the boom and mast together.
All in all I like the Barton Boomstrut. It has proved to be very useful, reliable and extremely durable. It also generates a great deal of interest amongst the other dinghy sailors on Whitstable beach and makes me look a bit like a technically clued up sailor... which of course I'm not."
Gary was supplied with the Barton Boomstrut 44001, which is specifically designed for boats up to 6 metres in length
The Barton Boomstrut is great for reefing as it has a unique flexing action that responds to the movement of the boom and provides constant support to prevent the boom from falling onto the deck. It is an ideal tool for trailer sailors, cruising day boat owners, sailing and training schools and organisations, The Boomstrut range is available for boats of all sizes from dinghies and dayboats up to 12 metre cruising and racing yachts with prices starting from £85.00 ex. VAT (UK RRP).