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Old 21-02-2012, 20:29   #1
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Offshore Sailing with One Headstay

Is there anyone out there (on CF) cruising off shore without a solent or cutter rig? I am just curios, it seems like every serious off shore boat I see has two head stays of some kind. Is it possible/safe to head off shore with just a roller furler with the intention of dowsing the genny and putting a storm sail in it's place on the track or over a furled up genny?

Has anyone experimented with a two storm headsail set up, ie one working jib/storm sail for 25 to 40 knot winds and one storm sail for anything above?
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Old 21-02-2012, 21:35   #2
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

A lot of boats go offshore with just a headstay. A roller furling genoa of about 135%with a foam luff will suffice in almost all conditions. If you really want a storm jib, use a Dyneema/low stretch synthetic luff on the sail and set it flying with a two part halyard.

The double headsail/cutter rig is a great rig for hank on sails. You can get by in most conditions with just 4 sails and only need to actually change a sail once from force 1 to force 8. Kind of gone out of favor with roller furling.
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Old 21-02-2012, 22:02   #3
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

This ATN Gale Sail thing is a small jib that zippers around a roller furler. I don't know if it works.

I think "off shore" is fine with just a roller furled jib, but ... I personally would not feel respectful, or prepared, for many parts of the world with just a roller furled jib. If it was a budget issue I'd sell the roller furler, add hanks to the big roller jib, and then find one or two used hanked on smaller jibs.

But I am very conservative in this area, and probably the edge of the data set.
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Old 21-02-2012, 22:30   #4
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

I have just 1 headstay. I have thought about having more than this, but it decreases tension on the headstay and ruins pointing ability. I have a backup halyard which remains slack but connected as a backup if both headstay and working halyard were to fail.
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Old 22-02-2012, 12:28   #5
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

We have a Seldon mast and rigging, 3 headstays one baby stay and one gen roller furrler and a screecher roller furrler. We like the safety of all 3 out sailing on our 33.6 ft catamaran. We also have 2 other baby stays on both sides of the deck. It's all about safety at sea.
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Old 22-02-2012, 15:32   #6
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

Plenty of people cruise with 1 headstay, though with it there is more risk of catastrophic rig failure. Several cruising friends have lost the Headstay offshore and not lost the rig because of an inner headstay and going downwind.
An inner stay reducing headstay tension, thus reducing pointing ability is true and false. Most “cruising” boats don’t point well anyway; and a slight increase in headstay sag is trivial. Depending on size/stiffness of mast, pumping can be a problem without an inner forestay and running backstay setup. Pumping causes rapid changes to headstay tension/sag and increased cycle loading and flex of stainless steel rigging. An inner forestay can easily be removable as well. Dynex Dux with a hand adjustable turnbuckle makes it easy to use or stow out of the way against the mast for those light air, upwind tacking duels we cruisers get into.
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Old 22-02-2012, 16:22   #7
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

We were just got home from Guatemala after sailing there from Houston.....all on one headstay. I am thinking about adding a solent stay but it's not because I feel fear with only one stay. Lets call it a convenience thing.
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Old 22-02-2012, 23:17   #8
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

Having a baby stay is convenient until you have to tack your big headsail. Then you have to furl up to get the sail over. Doesn't seem super convenient to me. I guess that's why you are going with the solent though and not a permanent stay.
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Old 23-02-2012, 05:18   #9
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
We were just got home from Guatemala after sailing there from Houston.....all on one headstay. I am thinking about adding a solent stay but it's not because I feel fear with only one stay. Lets call it a convenience thing.
What did you guys do in the varying conditions? Can you tell me about your sail configurations?
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Old 23-02-2012, 05:28   #10
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I was talking to a friend who has sailed circumnavigated twice and crossed the Atlantic five times. He said, if you use an inner stay sail it will help keep you from rolling over when you get knocked down.
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Old 23-02-2012, 06:09   #11
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Re: Offshore sailing with one headstay

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What did you guys do in the varying conditions? Can you tell me about your sail configurations?
We're all hanks at the moment. So The 140 is good up to about 15kt, down it comes and up goes the 110 until wind speed reaches 25ish, down it comes and up goes the reefable yankee cut 90.
The plan for next go round is to put a furler on the forestay for use with the 140 or the 110 depending on point of sail and wind, then the 90 can live on the solent stay for more wind. I'll only pull the solent forward when offshore, then the 90 will be hanked to it and tied down. Only downside is to tack the headsail must be furled.
We tacked twice heading south across the gulf, so no big deal.
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Old 23-02-2012, 07:22   #12
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Re: Offshore Sailing with One Headstay

My first three boats were all sloops, my last three were all rigged as cutters (Bayfield 32C, Carrtwright 36 Pilothouse Cutter and my current boat, a Solaris Sunstream 40). Due to difficulties in tacking a genoa, I converted by Bayfield and my Cartwright to Solent rigs with a detachable staysail stay. My Solaris, however, has a sufficient gap between the stays that I am able to tack the genoa with no difficulties - although backwinding it certainly helps. This minor inconvenience (and the increased chafe on the headsail, although that primarily effects the Sunbrella UV strip) is, in my opinion, vastly outweighted by the advantages:

1. Because it is on a permanent stay, my staysail also has roller reefing. This enables one to be able to make virtually infinite adjustments to the rig without the need to go on the foredeck in worsening conditions.
2. Unllike 'Galerider' type stormsails that slide over the furled headsail, the staysail has its own dedicated sheets, track and winches - this not only saves time and increases safety when it is deployed, it ensures proper sheeting angles.
3. Furled headsails make poor headsails as:
a) whereas my staysail/storm jib is made from 10 ounce dacron with triple stitching, the typical furling genoa must, of necessity for light air performance, be made from much lighter weight materials. As a result, they are much more apt to be blown out, or lose their shape when reefed down to the size of a storm jib and subjected to very heavy winds;
b) although some sailmakers claim that furling headsails with foam or rope luffs can maintain effective sail shape even when reefed by 80 or 90 percent, many maintain that reefing beyond 35 - 40 % will leave an inappropriate shape. Certainly my staysail maintains perfect shape when reefed by 40%, at which point it is an ideal storm jib.
c) for ideal effectiveness, a storm jib should not only be smaller and lower than a typical headsail, it should also be moved further inboard for improved balance.

The flexibility of this rig is outstanding. In light air I can use both the headsail and staysail. As wind increases, I furl up the staysail and then as it increases further (and after I have put a reef in the main), I can reef the headsail, then put another reef in the main, then further reef the the headsail up to about 40% of its total area. At this point I put the third reef in the main, furl up the headsail and redploy the staysail, reefing it as required. All of this can be done without the need to go on the fordeck in deteriorating conditions. Yes, in order to maintain proper sail shape, as I reef each sail I do need to adjust their respective sheet leads, but this requires only a quick trip to the side decks. Furthermore, since I am reefing each sail to a maximum of about 35-40%, there is much less need for adjusting the sheeting angles than when reefing by twice that amount.

The other positive is that since reefing the headsail is so easy, I am far more apt to make adjustments at the first sign that winds may have become excessive for my genoa. Put another way, easy and safe deployment of a storm jib is just as important as easy reefing for the main, and both will tend to lead to better seamanship.

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Old 23-02-2012, 11:30   #13
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Re: Offshore Sailing with One Headstay

A solent, eh? That's a word I never heard till recent years, very recent at all. I think you'll find the serious open water cruisers with more cutter rigs simply because it makes sail balance more precise and gives more control, but going offshore with "just" one forestay is normal AFAIK.

The trick is, of course, that every couple of hundred years or so you do inspect and replace the rigging. I had some idle time one morning and started wandering around peeking at rigging. Untaped a forestay shackle that had been completely covered in rig tape (never should be) and found that under the neat white tape, the clevis pin holding it all together had worked out and was looking to jump ship.

If I hadn't had some idle time and gone peeking...oopsie, someone would have gotten a nasty surprise. Memo, DO NOT wrap and hide critical parts.
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Old 23-02-2012, 13:19   #14
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Re: Offshore Sailing with One Headstay

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The trick is, of course, that every couple of hundred years or so you do inspect and replace the rigging.
sheeeesh that often!!! first i heard about this!!! if thats the case i would employ someone else to do it, i just wouldn't have the time....
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Old 23-02-2012, 13:26   #15
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Re: Offshore Sailing with One Headstay

With a single headstay, when you have ....say 2 reefs in the main, the top of the mast bends alot forward due to the loading of the furler and foresail. One advantage of a staysail stay is that the staysail counterbalances the mast with the pressure of the reefed mainsail.
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