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Old 04-02-2010, 05:10   #1
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Location: Nth Qld, Gulf of Carpentaria
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Gaff Rig & Spinnaker . . . Solo

My new 36ft multichine, long keel, 4ft6inch draft, 12ft beam gaff rig steel yacht comes with a spinnaker.

For the first month or two i will be sailing north along the Queensland coast inside the Great Barrier Reef with a prevailing SE (well it was last time I did the trip, same time of year). The Gaff Rigg Handbook suggests sailing solo with a spinnaker is going to be hard work.

My last yacht (28ft) didnt have a spinnaker and i wasnt particularly interested in getting one, just cruising along and enjoying the trip, but it was a slow trip.

Any gaffers with spinnaker experience able to offer any advice on if i should look at it or stow it until a deckie comes along?
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:27   #2
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Can you give us a better idea of how the boat is rigged? Is there a track on the mast or does it use mast hoops and jaws on the gaff? Is there a bowsprit? Is there a topmast?

Spinnakers are often flown on some of the classic racing yachts and occasionally on more cruiser oriented gaff rigged boats. Given your rig proportions, it can often be difficult to keep a spinnaker clear of the headstay on gaff rigged boats due to the low angle that it is at. In addition, the pole can be hard to attach at the mast end if you have hoops and jaws. From a setting standpoint, a gaff sail will blanket the upper part of the spinnaker more so it can be hard to keep it filled in certain conditions. It really will depend on the proportions of your rig. Flying a spinnaker solo is never easy, make sure you try it a few times first with someone else on board. Also, do you have an autopilot?
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Old 04-02-2010, 15:26   #3
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thanks klem, felt much the same way about solo sailing and using a spinnaker on my last yacht. it had a tiller pilot and this one has autopilot which for me makes sailing solo a lot easier & safer when used sensibly.

now with cutter rig bowsprit, topmast & hoops & jaws i will pretty much find myself in the same position as last time! the spinnaker might make a good shade cover.

once the gaff is rigged would hoops & jaws make a difference to flying a spinnaker? locating spinnaker pole aside, hmm it would if i wanted to lower the mainsail... yeah that could be a nuisance on your own.

cross that bridge when it happens....
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Old 04-02-2010, 19:54   #4
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Sounds like your boat may not be the best candidate for one but it must have been done at least once since it came with a chute. Attaching the pole to the mast is going to be a bit tricky without being able to put a permanent attachment point there because of the hoops. You could use a snotter like they use for a sprit but you would have to be careful not to put a hole in your main. It also sounds like you will have to fly the spinnaker quite far ahead if you have a cutter rig with a bowsprit since those tend to have a low angle on the jibstay. I have heard of people flying one in between the headstay and jibstay but have no experience with it.

If you are looking for some adventure, you might as well try it in a nice open area with at least one other person on board. Worst case scenario you wrap it and tear it leaving it in the same state of usefullness as if you hadn't tried.
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Old 04-02-2010, 20:14   #5
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chortle-chortle looking for some adventure? i'm a yachtie, i'll try it when i want more adventure!
cheers klem, its a brand new yacht, hasnt been in the water yet. so you've got me wondering if the designner & builder knows what they are doing.

something else to look forward to.
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