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Old 18-06-2013, 09:53   #1
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Whisker Poles

My mast is up, and there is now a spinnaker pole track on it

Now that I'm somewhat over the trauma of the refit and rerigging, I have turned my attention back to the question of a pole.

I wanted something like the Forespar adjustable pole, but the correct size for my boat is (16-27 feet -- my "J" dimension is 6 meters or 20 feet ) is huge and vastly expensive.

Then as I dug into it, I found more and more complaints that the adjustable poles break, slip, and otherwise prove themselves troublesome.

So my next thought was -- why not skip the complication of making it adjustable? A standard spin pole is 100% x J, which for me would be 20 feet. The correct whisker pole for me would be equal to the foot length of my yankee jib, or about 25 feet. Why not split the difference and use a regular spin pole of 22 or 23 feet? This would even work for a regular spinnaker, it seems to me -- against racing rules to be more than 100% J but, as far as I know, usable.

Non-adjustable means it could be a simple, maybe carbon pole. In this size, carbon will be a very great advantage, it seems to me.

What do y'all think?

Edit: I should have stated the purpose: poling out the yankee jib when running downwind.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:23   #2
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Re: Whisker Poles

I have a high cut yankee so no real need to pole mine out, and for downhill runs I use a drifter on that same stay (hanks) with no pole. I've been fortunate enough to not need a pole just yet. Sort of waiting for when I do.

I know a lot of sailor friends who use them constantly but I've been able to avoid it so far.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:27   #3
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Re: Whisker Poles

G'Day DH,

Don't obsess about the length of the pole too much. There may be some truly optimum length, but it surely is not critical. For many years we have used our racing type spinny pole as a whisker pole as you describe. On this boat we have a 120 % genoa, and yes, a slightly longer pole would project a bit more sail area when near DDW, but in fact it works quite well as is. The main issue is to support the clew of the sail and prevent it collapsing as the boat rolls or the apparent wind oscillates about its average angle, and the shorter pole does this just fine. We use a pole with AWA up to 100 degrees or so at times (various reasons) and will need to roll in a bit of the genoa to achieve a stable shape, but it still works pretty well.

Meanwhile, on those days when we wish to use our kite, we don't worry about collapsing an adjustable pole. And yes, having a pole slightly longer than J will work ok with a conventional kite. Our previous boat was rated with a penalty pole, yet it worked fine with a non-penalty kite size.

Cheers,

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Old 18-06-2013, 10:29   #4
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Re: Whisker Poles

We have had an adjustable pole (Forespar 13' - 24') on our Caliber 40 for 14 years and quite a few miles with about 5000 of them in the Pacific Ocean. We use the pole extensively and I am hard pressed to remember any occasion when we used it a anything less than it's full length.

We use the pole with our:
asymmetrical spinnaker
Code 0 (2 ounce 165% deep cut reacher on it's own furler)
125% heavy genoa

to hold the sail out on a deep downwind course.

We have had occasion to use it more as a whisker pole on a reach but those are very infrequent.

I was a hard core racer when I started equipping Mirador for cruising and I thought a reaching pole was essential - now I am pretty sure your non-adjustable idea is sound.

While at anchor I do use the adjustability of the pole when hanging the flopper stopper from it - that is a real benefit.

Having said all the above - we had had no problems with the big heavy Forespar 13' - 24' with UTS/UTR ends. I did once let the outboard end dip into the water at about 5 knots but retrieved it with no problem. And... the inboard pole end slipped downward rather quickly and hit me in the top of the head, knocking me silly and to the foredeck. But, that was my fault for not securing the inboard end uphaul.

I single hand frequently and have no difficulty managing the big heavy pole by myself.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:59   #5
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Re: Whisker Poles

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
So my next thought was -- why not skip the complication of making it adjustable? A standard spin pole is 100% x J, which for me would be 20 feet. The correct whisker pole for me would be equal to the foot length of my yankee jib, or about 25 feet. Why not split the difference and use a regular spin pole of 22 or 23 feet? This would even work for a regular spinnaker, it seems to me -- against racing rules to be more than 100% J but, as far as I know, usable.
I think you'll be happier with a 25' whisker. This is because of sail shape. If the clew is 3' short of full extension, your yankee will be too deep, which means it will roll constantly in a deep broad reach or DDW.

In this case, "splitting the difference" means getting it wrong. A spinnaker is cut to be at a proper shape at 100% of J extension. The yankee is not.
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Old 18-06-2013, 12:14   #6
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Re: Whisker Poles

The 12/22 pole pretzeled on the 2nd day of use on our trip to Hawaii. The boat length is at the max reccomended for the size of the pole but the boat has a relatively small 'J' (13'6") for it's overall length. Had the 135% Genoa poled out, the pole extended about 2/3rds, running DDW in Force 3-4 winds. Pole was flexing a bit, boat was not rolling, and all seemed fine till 0300 with no moon when it bent. I was solo so getting it back aboard was a major challenge till I realized all I had to do was furl the sail, duh!! Very very doubtful that the pole dipped into the water, it just bent.

Replaced the whisker pole with a 15' long spinnaker pole for the next 12 days of the run to Hilo. The sail set better with less belly using the extended whisker pole but was still fine with the slightly longer than 'J' spinnaker pole. There was no increased tendency to roll with the shorter pole. Speed may have been a litte affected but still averaged close to 6k with relative winds around 5-10k. Can't remember whether I had the best days run, 150nm vice mid 140s, with the spinnaker pole or the whisker pole.

Rebuilt the pole using slightly thicker walled tubing for the 2 1/2" section that bent. Was not impressed with the robustness of the design. The padeye for the bitter end of the control line was/is held on with pop rivets. The stamped SS padeye was deformed by the load on the line. There is a small diameter tube that supports the block to allow the pole to be extended. That had a slight bend in it and had broken free of the pop rivets that held it in place on the pole end. In use, pole could not be extended with any kind of a load on it. I'd extend the pole out then roll out or set the sail. Made it kind of hit or miss to get the extension that was optimal.

If you are going with the Forespar Line Control pole, don't press the limits of their reccomended size. Do not use it as a spinnaker pole. They are not designed to take the compression loads on a close reach with the pole parallel to the boats length. No reason not to go with a longer pole if you go with a non adjustable spinnaker pole. The pole wil be considerably lighter than a whisker pole of comparable length even out to the max extended length of the whisker pole. Big draw back is stowing the pole on deck and inability to get the o[timal length for a variety of headsails. I'd highly reccomend carrying two poles, in any case. Used poles are cheap and can give you at least two different lengths for different headsails. With two poles, you could also pole out a headsail to either side, the classic downwind rig. Can't imagine trying to run DDW or close to it without a pole of some sort on a passage. In my case, had the jib poled out for 13 of the 15 day run to Hawail.
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Old 18-06-2013, 19:31   #7
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Re: Whisker Poles

I was going to go with a slightly oversized spin pole, but I got great deal on big, used Forsespar adjustable whisker pole. You choked on the price of a large adjustable pole -- then suggest a fixed carbon spin pole. Have you looked at the price of carbon poles?? Do you not plan to use the pole also on the genoa?
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Old 19-06-2013, 16:01   #8
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Re: Whisker Poles

We use a 15.5' spinnaker pole [13.9' J] as a whisker...its stronger, lighter, and cheaper. We roll in our 135 genoa until its set right.

Matt
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Old 19-06-2013, 17:36   #9
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Re: Whisker Poles

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Used poles are cheap and can give you at least two different lengths for different headsails.
I'm not sure how the used pole market is over there in the UK, but here in California used poles are only plentiful if you're looking at poles around 13' long. In the size Dockhead wants, used poles are scarce around here.
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Old 20-06-2013, 20:48   #10
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Re: Whisker Poles

Have a 5" aluminum whisker pole that is 20' long. It came from a 52' boat with a tall rig if interested...

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Old 20-06-2013, 22:58   #11
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Have a 5" aluminum whisker pole that is 20' long. It came from a 52' boat with a tall rig if interested...

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Sure, where is it?
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Old 21-06-2013, 05:35   #12
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Re: Whisker Poles

The boat is in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. We can ship it via slow shipping (ship), it seems you are in Europe??
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Old 21-06-2013, 05:41   #13
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Re: Whisker Poles

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The boat is in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. We can ship it via slow shipping (ship), it seems you are in Europe??
In the UK. Unfortunately it would cost more to ship than it is worth
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Old 21-06-2013, 05:50   #14
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Re: Whisker Poles

Thanks everyone for the extremely useful input.

The opinions were quite conflicting, but that's often the way it is, isn't it?

I think I feel semi-confirmed in my last thought about using a regular spi pole slightly longer than J.

Problems are that carbon poles are indeed ludicrously expensive (last quote I got was 5 800 pounds ), and 22 foot poles are going to be really hard to handle.

I found a company which will make an alu pole for under a grand. I'm thinking about storing it up on the mast -- I have 33 feet to the first spreaders.

Another idea: I do have a company which will make up plain carbon tubes at a reasonable price. I originally thought about making my own line control pole. Now I am skeptical about this whole "line control" business and am wondering if a simpler telescoping mechanism might work better. Two tubes with holes at various points so that you could insert stout pins through them to lock them in various positions.

The great advantage of this is that I could collapse them for much easier storage; and I could regulate the length to suit different uses. I know symmetrical spinnakers exert a lot of compressive force on a pole, so maybe no kind of telescoping pole can be used for this, but I don't have any plans to acquire a symmetrical kite at the moment. What do you guys think?
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Old 21-06-2013, 05:50   #15
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Re: Whisker Poles

You might be right although these large poles are definitely not cheap...Let us know if cost via ship freight is at all an option

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