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Old 06-07-2012, 08:12   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Outer Banks, NC
Boat: McVay Minuet
Posts: 1
Choosing the Right Spinnaker

Hey all,

I recently bought my first sailboat, a little 18' beauty and am teaching myself how to play with her. It being summertime, I've had several experiences with very light wind afternoons where getting back to the marina has been not so much fun- trying to run downwind with sails flogging everywhere in a very light breeze, especially when parasail boats are zooming past and tossing you around.

That being said, I'd like to get a spinnaker- for cruising and maybe a little racing, and I am debating between a regular and an asymmetrical. I usually sail single handed or with one "crew member," usually a young lady or a friend who almost always knows less about sailing than I do, so I'm looking for a sail that is: (somewhat) easy to hoist/strike, can be handled solo, and will give me a little boost on those light wind days when I'm at the mercy of powerboat wakes. I have a spinnaker pole already (which I use for the jib going wing on wing) but no extra block at the top of the mast for a spinnaker halyard. The boat is an 18' McVay Minuet with a full keel- she's about 1000 pounds, with 420 of lead in the keel.

I know there's a lot of experience here, so I was hoping to get y'alls thoughts and input.

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Old 06-07-2012, 12:15   #2
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Join Date: May 2012
Location: New Orleans
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Re: Choosing the Right Spinnaker

I know some of the Minuets have spinnakers, and given the age I would assume a symmetrical. For short handed sailing though an asymetrical will be much easier to handle. The problem with the asym is that you will really need to add a bowsprit of some sort to get the tack of the sail forward of the forestay. Your current pole is not likely to be stiff enough, or long enough to do this job.

Selden has a really nice bowsprit retrofit available. For your boat it would likely run around $300-350. Which is pretty comperable to the cost of a small spinnaker pole. Then you would need to add a halyard, sheets, and the sail.

If you don't have a masthead crane that can take another halyard you would need to either get a new crane, or buy a spinnaker halyard bail that bolts to the top of the crane. This will give you somewhere to attach a block to that the halyard runs through.

So in parts..

Bowsprit (asymetric only) - $300
150' line - $150
Spinnaker bail - $50
3 blocks - $80
Sail - $1000 new, decent used $300

You may be able to find a lot more out by contacting the Guys at the Minuet association The McVay Minuet Mainsheet

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Old 08-07-2012, 16:57   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: US/MX West coast
Posts: 465
Re: Choosing the Right Spinnaker

A new conventional spin will be well under $1000, probably more like 700. For $1000, you'd be getting something made with a top of the line racing cloth which is probably overkill. You could possibly find a decent used one through the class association.

If you go with an assym, you don't need a sprit but it is better to get that tack projected forward.

Given that this is your first boat and just starting out, I'd suggest a used conventional spinnaker so you can make mistakes (we all do!) and not have to worry too much about the sail. Learning to fly a conventional spinnaker is immensely satisfying and it's far better for downwind than than an assym.

If you decide you want an assym, you'll probably need to have one built as they won't be easy to find secondhand for a boat like yours. It will be a bit less money than the conventional spinnaker.

Good luck and let us know how it works out.
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