We had our bonneted sail made for us - you can take a look at our book - the Cost Conscious Cruiser. I have pasted the text from that chapter here - but don't have the photo
Some young sailors who came to visit us recently used an old jib and added ties instead of a zipper. Liked it after sailing back to the tropics and back.
THE BONNETED JIB
had been anchored at the port of Manfredonia on Italy’s southeast coast for almost a week, while I waited for Lin to rejoin me after a 3 week break. Just after noon each day, a little pulpero (octopus boat), one of the last Italian sailing/fishing boats, would come winging through the breakwater entrance. I rowed over and asked the owners about their lateen rig. They put up with my awful Spanish-cum-Italian for a few minutes until, in polite desperation, they invited me to go out sailing at 3 the next morning. I immediately accepted.
During our return from the fishing
grounds, we had a light offshore
breeze, which gave us a reach back to port. The surprisingly weatherly lateen mainsail
had four rows of normal reef points, plus several small grommets along the foot. Since the two brothers who owned the boat were keen to get back for lunch, I wasn’t surprised to see them tie a rectangular addition to the foot of the mainsail, using the grommets as lashing points. This increased the little hooker’s speed by about a knot
. The shape of the bonnet 1 did not impress me much, as the lashings caused wrinkles to radiate out from the lacings along the foot of the sail. But the bonnet did seem like an easy, inexpensive way to add area to the sail.
Several years later, when Lin and I were sailing our new cutter (Taleisin)
, we found we were not completely satisfied with the reef points we used to transform our 100-percent lapper down to a working jib. Though this reef-point system had worked well on Seraffyn’s
257-square-foot lapper, Taleisin’s
430-square- foot reefing lapper was harder for Lin to handle. She found it difficult just to drag the heavier sail along the deck
and hank it onto the headstay.
The stiffer, heavier cloth (7 ounces compared with 5.5 ounces) was harder for both of us to roll in order to tie in a tidy reef. The reef on this larger sail left a bulky roll that sometimes came untied when we short-tacked in heavy winds. So at times, we would drop Taleisin’s
lapper and sail undercanvased, using just tire staysail and main instead of going to the trouble of reefing the lapper into the ideal working jib size.
Seraffyn we used reefing headsails. But with
Taleisin’s larger sails, we found we needed a more performance orientated solution.
. Taleisin’s two-part bonneted jib. We call this 100 percent sail our lapper, as it overlaps the mast.
After a year of sailing with our reef-pointed jib, I recalled my magic sail on that little pulpero, with its brightly painted bow eyes and its wrinkled bonnet laced onto the foot of the mainsail. If only I could get a bonneted jib to set smoothly along the connection, I felt we could have the best of all worlds. We’d have a nice, clean working jib without the inefficient, bulky reef bundle at its foot and we could store the sail in two individual parts
so it would be lighter for Lin to handle. If we could make it work, this bonneted jib would give the same advantages as the reef-pointed sail – i.e., two sails for the price
of one, a savings in storage
space below decks plus faster sail reductions and increases. In addition, the foot of the working jib minus the bonnet would not scoop up and hold water
like the bundle of the reef-pointed jib sometimes did. Nor would there be any reef points to come untied as we short-tacked.
When we discussed this problem with various sailmakers, they suggested roller reefing. But, as we’ve already discussed, we wanted to keep away from the high cost and complexity of roller furling
, even though it has the seductive lure of easy, quick sail stowing.
By good fortune, the 1986 challenge for the America’s Cup was underway when we sailed into New Zealand
. Sail design and development projects were on, full speed ahead, and one spin-off was the heavy-duty YKK zipper. This spirally interlocking, all-synthetic zipper, with its parting-strain resistance of 90 pounds per linear inch, was used successfully on the New Zealand
12-meter’s mainsail at the Fremantle heavy-weather eliminations to flatten the mainsail luff for the windward leg of each race
. This zipper looked just like the thing to solve our problem and produce a wrinkle-free connection for a bonneted jib.
With this possible solution in mind, the second (and probably most difficult) step in obtaining this two-part sail was to convince the sailmaker
to build it. The loft manager, reluctant to build “a flyer,” recommended that we stay with the well-proven reef-point jib. Lie was worried that the zipper would fill up with salt
and jam and he was concerned about how long it would last out cruising and wondered how we could hold the zipper together at the high-load areas at the tack and clew.
But with our promise to accept full responsibility for any failures, he gave the go-ahead. The sail designer
produced an excellent shape, using 6.7-ounce fabric for the bonneted lapper/working jib combination.
. The working jib – i.e., lapper without the bonnet.
Once the sail was started, the loft personnel became very interested in the project
. The crew at North Sails, New Zealand (Kent Luxton, Monica Collins, Haven Collins and Carol Tremain) had lots of positive input and suggestions at each step of the construction. The one fact we all knew was that the zipper had to be supported so that an even strain was exerted all along its length, with no undue point loading or extreme wrinkles to force open the zipper.
To accomplish this, the sail panels
were sewn together and finished without the bolt-rope or leech lines. The sail was then laid out on the floor and reef patches were put on, along with a 3-inch-wide band of Dacron running between the tack and clew patches to support the zipper. (The reef was laid out at an angle so that not only would the sheet lead remain the same when the sail was bonneted or unbonneted, but the luff would stay as long as possible on the working jib for maximum windward drive.) The leech and tack of the sail-to-bonnet connection were then joined with snap-shackles seized onto one side of the bonnet. This seizing can be adjusted to take the initial strain so that the zipper is not overstressed.
The severed bolt-rope at the tack is eyespliced around two rope
thimbles; these in turn are seized to the sewn rings on both the bonnet and the jib (Photo 6-4). To spread the strains further the clew area was fastened together using flaps sewn onto both the jib and the bonnet (Photo 6-5). The lacing line connecting the eyelets on these flaps is adjusted so the leech strains are spread evenly onto the patches, and little or no strain is exerted on the zipper in this area. To keep the working-jib part of the sail as clean and free of hardware
as possible, the leather flaps, shackles. and zipper car are on the bonnet itself.
. The lower or bonnet part of the zipper has a limiting stop sewn onto it so the zipper car cannot fall off. The snapshackle is adjusted with the seizing lanyard so it takes the intial leech strain (The zipper should take little strain at this point.) The felt pen marks on the zipper tape indicate correct fore-and-aft alignment.
The arrow points to the hand-sewn car stop on the bonnet side of the zipper.
. The leather flap covers the snapshackle so it won’t hang up on a shroud or dent the when we tack.
The severed bolt-rope inside its luff tape had to be stitched securely to the reef patches on both bonnet and jib (Photo 6-5). A separate tack thimble had to be spliced to the bolt-rope, as shown in the photo
, to produce a wrinkle-free tack on the working jib.
The working jib has a foot-line led to the port side of the tack, and a leech-control line is led to the starboard side of the tack, where there is a jam cleat on both the working-jib tack and the bonnet tack (Photo 6-4). These control lines are best led to the tack area because they are easier to reach than if they were positioned on the high-cut clew. The leech line runs up from the tack through its own luff tape and is led onto a small single
block at the head
of the sail, where the line enters the leech tape, travels down the leech, and is finally sewn to the working-jib clew patch. (Other specialized details of the construction of this sail are explained in the captions for Photos 6-4 through 6-6.)
Once the bonneted jib was completed, we tested it by going off for short cruises and also by racing
the two-handed winter series in Auckland
, New Zealand. After that, we realized we needed to add a separate leech line to the bonnet. This done, we used the first of our bonneted jibs with complete confidence and sailed with it for seven years, including a midwinter passage
across the Tasman Sea, a beat against 20-to-25-knot southeast trades inside the Great Barrier Reef
, two subsequent voyages across the Tasman and through the Cook Strait between New Zealand’s two islands, and on across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The zipper continued to work perfectly and never once jammed or became sticky from salt
. The zipper peels apart easily once the clew attachment shackle and retaining line are released.
Eventually we became curious to know just what strains the zipper would be able to take, and to find out whether it would work without the clew-reinforcing flap. So we tried the full-size sail in an 18-knot breeze and had the boat rail-down without the flap laced. The zipper held fine, even though we were bucking into a three-foot head
sea. We felt that was a good test, but we still use the clew flap to protect the high-load leech area.
We feel this jib has been a complete success, especially since it is so easy to shorten down. Reefing can be done in less than two minutes, even singlehanded, so we have less tendency to sail overcanvased. Here’s how we reef the sail:
- Drop the sail, untie the flap lacing line from the clew flaps (Photo 6-6).
- Disconnect the snapshackle.
- Peel the zipper apart right up to the tack, and disconnect the tack snapshackle.
- Unhank the bonnet from the headstay and fasten the working-jib tack in place.
- Transfer one of the sheets to the working-jib clew (leaving one of the sheets attached so that the bonnet cannot get blown overboard).
- Tie down the bonnet and remove the sheet, then attach it to the working-jib clew.
- Hoist the jib.
Though we still recommend reef points for some headsails, the following considerations might make the zipper jib a better choice than either a roller-reefing or a reef-pointed jib:
- It is faster and easier to remove the bonnet than to tie in a normal reef or to change one headsail for another, especially with large headsails such as Taleisin carries.
- By using the zipper jib, we have two sails with a smooth, fast sail shape (Photos 6-2, 6-3).
- If the zipper should pull apart, it’s probably time to reef anyway. So we would just lower the sail and remove the bonnet. It is unlikely any harm could be done to the sail, as the strong clew and tack snapshackles would hold it together until lowered.
- If the zipper or bonnet connectors do fail at sea, the worst case would be that we would have to make do with just the working jib until we reached port.
- Major repairs can be done anywhere there is a sewing machine and a person with sailmaking skills.
- The cost of a bonneted jib is much less than that of roller-furling gear with its foam luff and leech and foot UV-protection patches, but it is a bit more than a reef-pointed jib of the same size.
- In common with reef-pointed jibs, a bonneted jib damaged along its bonneted section can still be used as a working jib. On the other hand a roller-reefing jib badly damaged anywhere in its lower sections is out of business until repairs can be made.
On the negative side, it will be difficult to persuade your sailmaker
with a bonneted jib. Also, you will find it takes a bit more time to attach the bonnet to the working jib to increase sail area than it is to shake out the reef points in a reefing headsail or to unroll your furling jib. Since a replacement zipper could be hard to buy in some countries, it might be prudent to carry a spare. On racing
boats with a foil headstay, the crew would need to make one extra move: They would have to start the luff tape of the bonnet into the foil groove as the sail is hoisted.
Bearing in mind all these points, we and some of the staff at both of the sail lofts we’ve worked with feel a bonneted jib could be used to good advantage for:
- CRUISING SLOOP – storm/working jib combo, number 1 and 2 genoa combo.
- CRUISING CUTTER – working jib/lapper combo.
- RACING SLOOP – storm jib/blade combo. Working jib/number 3 combo, number 2/heavy number 1 combo. Also handy as an addition to a storm spinnaker in case all regular-sized chutes were blown out.
- SAILBOARD – medium- or heavy-weather sail combo.
These bonneted sails could be especially interesting to owners of small racers, on which both space and weight are serious considerations. To meet the racing rules, they have to carry a selection of sails that add a couple of hundred pounds of extra weight. On the other hand, bonnets are not practical or worth the expense for small sail-area reductions like we have on our working staysail. We use two rows of reef points and find it easy to tie in the three or four points that hold about 40 square feet of sail for each reef.
Like many of the best ideas in sailing, the bonneted jib is not a new system, but rather an update of an old method using modem
materials. Bonnets could come back into vogue just like slab reefing (jiffy or pennant reefing) has. And, like slab reefing, it could give performance-oriented sailors and cost-conscious cruisers durable, efficient sail shape, lower costs, and quicker sail changes.
Note: In 1996, Des MacWilliams of Crosshaven, Cork, Ireland, made our third zippered jib. Although we had found that all of the details of the first bonneted sail worked well, he added a few of his own ideas. Now, after using that sail for a summer of wooden-boat festivals and regattas in the south of England and north of France, plus a six-month voyage to Scotland and Norway, we are completely satisfied. Des cut the sail relatively flat so it would work well for the occasional races we join. Then, to save weight (and a bit of cost), he cut the bonnet from lighter fabric (5 ounces), the upper section from heavier (7 ounces) fabric. Rather than use metal hooks for the securing flaps, he created loops that link together just like the stitches of crochetwork. Lighter and easier to build, they’re what we’d use on the next bonneted jib – if and when we wear out this one.
. Laced-on sail additions, used by sailors for centuries, are called bonnets. If an additional section is attached to the bonnet, it is called a drabbler.