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Old 17-05-2008, 09:05   #1
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Unhappy Cruising chute/ spinnaker/ gennaker/ drifter/ reacher??.... gulp!

Hi all,

We need a sail. More specifically, we need a light air sail.

We have a main sail. We have a large genoa on roller furling. We have a staysail (although we dont use it often as we haven't figured out how to tack the genoa around the staysail.... is there an obvious trick we've missed?? )

Anyway, back to the point, we are missing a light air sail and are completely confused by what on earth we need. We dont have any poles or even know how to use them. We are not racers, and have never used anything even resembling these bits of tissue paper. There desn't seem to be any fittings on the mast or elsewhere which indicates a sail was used previously, so we will need to add a complete system.

I've read books. I've read internet sites. There is some great info on here, but Im still completely confused over what on earth we want! What is the difference between all the sails listed above? Which is best for a couple to handle offshore on a 36' heavy displacement full keel boat with absolutely no experience. We are not interested in going lightening speeds, but we would like to keep moving in light airs, especially in fairly rolly seas.

Do I need a magic lamp? Am I asking for too much from one sail? Will these thin things even pull 15 tonnes of boat? It all seems a little like black magic.

Any help, guidance, comments, opinions or general ribadry appreciated.
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Old 17-05-2008, 12:46   #2
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My boat is a 38' full-keeled cutter, and it's cruising weight is about 24,000 lbs. The genoa is a 110%, high cut sail--great for sailing in the tradewinds, but a bit small for less than 10 kts of wind. The boat sails very well in most conditions, but I wasn't happy with it's light air performance, especially off the wind.

So I bought an asymmetric spinnaker. I rigged it up so I can handle it all by myself. Well, just myself and the autopilot! Any of the good sailmakers can size the sail to your boat, and can recommend what weight nylon fabric to use. Mine is 1,208 sq. ft. in area, and made of 1.5 oz. fabric. My main, staysail and genoa combined are 885 sq. ft.

I ordered an ATN spinnaker sock with the sail (see photo below). It's a sleeve that encloses the entire spinnaker, top to bottom (see photo below). You roll up the sleeve, with the sail inside, and stuff it in a sailbag for storage. To rig it, you unroll the sleeve on deck, and attach the head to your spinnaker halyard, the tack to an ATN Tacker (more on that later), and the clew to the two spinnaker sheets. See the diagram below.

The ATN Tacker is a plastic U-shaped thingy that fits over your furled genoa. The tack of the sail is attached to it, and a tack line is also attached to it and run through stanchion blocks back to the cockpit. The sheets (I use 3/8" NER Stayset) are run outside the shrouds to snatch blocks at the cockpit, and then to winches. I installed two secondary winches for them, but you could use the primaries. Ideally, the tack line will have it's own winch, too.

To deploy the sail, once rigged up, just haul it up with the halyard, make sure the active sheet ant the tack line are secured, and haul on the sleeve's control line. It's continuous, so pulling one side raises the sock and the other lowers the sock. As the sock goes up, the sail emerges and fills with wind. Adjust the sheet, and you're all set. The tack line can be adjusted in or out. Letting it out allows the ATN Tacker to rise, which gives the sail a fuller shape and allows it to rotate forward--good for winds behind the beam. Hauling in on the tack line flattens the luff and allows you to sail closer to the wind. The Tacker keeps the tack of the sail centered as it slides up the furled genoa, which is a good thing.

To snuff it, you "blow the tack" by pulling the pin on the snap shackle that holds the tack of the sail. The sail billows out to leeward, and you pull down smartly on the sock's control line, dousing the sail. Then just lay it down of the deck by ease out the halyard. The only thing that takes any muscle is hauling the sail to and from the foredeck, and hauling it up the mast on the halyard. If you can get away with 3/4 oz fabric, that would be less of an issue. The snuffer is easy.

I can sail it between about 70 and 135 degrees apparent wind, and in winds from 5-6 kts up to maybe 20 kts, true windspeed. First time out, I had some experienced sailors with me as we figured out how to handle the sail. But after a little bit of practice, I found it pretty easy to rig, deploy, sail and snuff it all by myself. One thing I do for safety and control, is to keep my mainsail up, so I can turn downwind and blanket the spinnaker when I set it and snuff it.

Hope this helps.
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Old 17-05-2008, 13:01   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miss-m View Post
... We have a staysail (although we dont use it often as we haven't figured out how to tack the genoa around the staysail.... is there an obvious trick we've missed?? )
I've found that there is a trick to it.

I have a roller furling staysail, so when it's furled, the genoa has to drag across the fabric when it tacks. If the wind is light (6 kts or less), I have to walk forward and pull the gennie through the slot. If the staysail is unfurled, the gennie slides over the metal foil much more easily, so I don't have to go forward.

In higher winds, the trick that I use is to let out a few feet of the active sheet just as the bow comes through the eye of the wind. Then, as the genoa becomes back-winded, that bit of slack in the sheet allows the sail to form a "bubble" in the slot between the two forestays. As the tack reaches about 15-20 degrees off the wind, release the sheet entirely, and haul in on the new active sheet once the clew is clear of the staysail stay. Depending on how strong the wind is, you might have to take the tack over to 60-70 degrees off the wind or more, to force the sail through.

With a little practice, it becomes a very smooth maneuver.
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Old 17-05-2008, 14:50   #4
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Sometimes to help the genoa pass through the slot between the staysail stay and fore stay you can partially roll the genoa up , this makes it much easier for the sail to pass through.
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Old 17-05-2008, 15:09   #5
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I have just been reading about the Parasail. That sounds good, anyone used one? My first thought was, I bet that's expensive, but was pleasantly surprised when the article gave a price indication. It wasn't bad at all in my view. The thing I thought real cool though, was being able to use it in winds up to 30kts. Mate!! that must put some loads on the boat. But it takes away the fear of being caught with the kite up. That is one of several reasons why I decided Dawn and I would never be able to handle a spinniker and decided we didn't need one. But now, I am thinking, hmmmmm.
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Old 17-05-2008, 16:07   #6
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Got our Hood MPS out of its bag for the 2nd time a couple of days ago, 20 Ton full keel Motorsailor, 10kts wind, 5.5kts boatspeed, perfect, as we are due to depart Opua for Vanuatu in a week or so and with the price of fuel it was nice to know we could keep moving in conditions we would normally have been motoring in
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Old 17-05-2008, 16:45   #7
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There is hardley anything I can add to what Hud3 wrote above.

For our 40 ft, 13 ton boat our asymmetrical sail is a delight. Our experience is pretty m,ush the same, once the wind gets to 20 knots true (12 to 14 apparent) it's time to take it down. By that time, a poled out jib is all you need anyway.

We use a snuffer that we built from a kit from Sailrite, and it works like a charm. We also do not use the ATN Tacker, but something made from webbing and sailcloth that does exactly the same thing for a much lower price.

Getting the setup right and making sure we have everything led on the correct side of everything else took a bit of practice, but it goes up and comes down easily.

One trick of our set up is that we use one continuous length of line for both sheets. A short tail is permenently attached to the sails clew, and as we ready the sail for raising, it is bent to the center of the sheet with (approprietly enough) a double sheet bend.

In light winds (2 to 7 knots) you can sail surprisingly close to the wind if you are picky about your sail trim, especially keeping your luff tight. As close as 50 deg apparent. That pointing angle pretty rapidly goes up as the wind pipes up and the sail stretches.
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Old 17-05-2008, 17:42   #8
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Nauticatarcher, I was talking to Bob McDavitt last friday and asked him as to when the next weather window for heading North would be. He said there is nothing until June.
Check out yotreps a free service that he does for yachties if you havn't already.
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Old 18-05-2008, 04:09   #9
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I am in the process of setting up the exact same setup as Hud3 mentioned. I will use a spare halyard to hoist the spinaker. Hud3, did you install a crane at the mast head before setting up the spinaker halyard or did you just use a standard masthead sheeve? Since all my lines come back into the cabin to one winch the rigging will be interesting but I have it figured out. I am just not sure if I should get a little more forward using a crane at the masthead to keep the spinaker head away from jib stay.
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Old 18-05-2008, 05:42   #10
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Lancerbye,

My boat came with a crane, thankfully! There would be serious chafe to the halyard at the masthead without it. I think that would be true on most boats.
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Old 18-05-2008, 07:17   #11
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What sort of a crane are you referring to please? I also have a drifter and have not used one before. Thanks.
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Old 18-05-2008, 07:41   #12
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Patrick,

The spinnaker crane is just a flat, rectangular piece of stainless steel plate bolted to the top of the mast. It projects forward a few inches, and has two holes for attaching blocks. This keeps the spinnaker halyard clear of the genoa furler.
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Old 18-05-2008, 09:02   #13
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I am in the process of setting up the exact same setup as Hud3 mentioned. I will use a spare halyard to hoist the spinaker. Hud3, did you install a crane at the mast head before setting up the spinaker halyard or did you just use a standard masthead sheeve? Since all my lines come back into the cabin to one winch the rigging will be interesting but I have it figured out. I am just not sure if I should get a little more forward using a crane at the masthead to keep the spinaker head away from jib stay.

Like HUD3 said,

DON"T use a masthead sheeve for your spinnaker halyard. You aren't trying to protect the head of the sail from contact with the jibestay. Unlike a jibe or main, the forces on a spinnaker swing from side to side. The halyard will not last long (like hours!) rubbing on the side of the sheeve box.

Leading the spinnaker halyard back to the cockpit seems to me to be rather counter productive. After all, to launch and douse the sail you HAVE to be on the foredeck. Haveing the line terminate at the base of the mast just makes sense for shorthanded sailing. Things go so much easier if the person raising the sail can actually see it go up. From most cockpits the main will hide the spinnaker as it goes up.

On the bright side, you don't need a powerful winch for a cruising spinnaker halyard. You lift and douse the sail with it in the sock, and the luff is tensioned with the tack line, not the halyard. I have never used the winch handle to raise my halyard, and my sail is over 1000 sq feet.

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Old 19-05-2008, 03:30   #14
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What size blocks do you use on your mast head and your asym. spinnaker sheets?
Are you at the top end of the range on your sheet size or is that generous. The spinnaker I am in the process of setting up is a bit over 1300sq.ft. and I was thinking 7/16 staset, Is that overkill?
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Old 19-05-2008, 04:39   #15
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Lancerbye,

I use Garhauer 60 series snatch blocks for the sheets. They're rated at 3,500 lbs. The masthead block is a similar sized standard block, as is the tack block.

The 3/8" Sta-Set has been more than enough for my 1,200 sq ft sail. The lighter the better in light breezes. I'm sure the sail would self-destruct before the sheets parted. And the 3/8" works well in my self tailing secondary winches, and has a good "hand".

Actually, to correct myself, I believe I have Sta-Set X. Very strong stuff!
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