In another thread U4ea32 said:
Your mainsail is necessary -- not optional -- to stabilize your mast in heavy seas when you have headstay tension. If you can't set your mainsail properly in heavy seas with headstay tension (when flying a headsail, and even more so when flying a staysail), your risk of losing your rig goes way, way up.
That statement made me wonder if I have been abusing our poor old Caliber 40 cutter
(Mirador) for the last 20 years. I frequently single
hand and will often sail the boat with just a headsail ‘cause I am too lazy to hoist the main.
I met Cecil Lange while working on our boat while she was hauled out in a La Paz
, Baja California
yard. For those of you who don’t know – Cecil was the designer
of the Cape George sailboats. By his estimate he built more than 2,000 boats over the years.
Cecil told me several times, while walking under our boat’s deep and fat bilges, that she would have “ to be led by the nose rather than pushed by the hips.” We were discussing sail plans and tactics for dealing with storm force winds when sailing a cruising boat with short handed or single
He stressed that having only a small jib
, set as far forward as possible, would ease the loads and balance the boat better than a jib
and double (very deep) reef when sailing off the wind
in more than 20 knots.
We have followed that tactic for over 15 years in winds that have been gusting over 50 knots and seas that were way over ten feet. The helm
always seems light and balanced and the rig shows no abnormal bending or movement. A couple of those 35 gusting to 50 episodes lasted over 12 hours but Mirador seemed to be enjoying the experience.
During both our trips from Seattle
to San Diego
and on to Cabo Falso we encountered many days of confused four to six foot seas and 15 knots from the stern quarter and frequently flew only a headsail or asymmetrical spinnaker
has heavy intermediate shrouds, which attach to the mast
at the same level as the inner forestay and come to the deck
over a yard behind the mast.
- Have we just been lucky we did not break or damage the rig?
- What are the force vectors that require a main to balance a small jib?
- Do the intermediate shrouds prevent damage when sailing with no main?
- Does anyone else sail with just a headsail in confused offshore