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Old 07-01-2014, 18:09   #16
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Another smartar*e answer maybe "You don't need them until you need them".

However if you do sail somewhere where you might expect un-forecast winds in excess of sustained 40 (or 45) kts, then in my book, it is wise to have some redundancy aboard.
So yes, I would suggest a trisail for the occasional when your deeply reefed main blows out.

That said, you will probably never ever use it.

Really depends your own risk analysis and what you are prepared to accept in that regard.
....and I'll add that if you have them, for pete's sake...try them, fit them. Don't wait until the S#*t hits the ready.

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Old 07-01-2014, 18:37   #17
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

I am pretty sure you don't need them but if you ever did need them you would be really sorry you did not have them. We carry a tiny little storm staysail (80 sq feet) and trysail that were custom made for our cutter rigged boat.

My thoughts when ordering the sails were:

- looking at the total cost of outfitting for an extended cruise the two storm sails represented less than 2% of the total cost of the boat and all it's equipment.

- that is cheap insurance

- they take up almost no space

In 14 years we have never had to use the sails we carry on Mirador!

One trip up and down the west coast of Vancouver Island (to 55 N)
Two trips from Seattle to San Diego
Three years sailing in Western Mexico

We have seen 50+ knots quite a few times but were always able to sail an off the wind course that allowed us to use a 90% RF jib or our staysail with a double reef in the main. The 2nd reef in the main takes about 35% of the area and was specifically designed to handle 45 knots upwind. North Sails in Seattle sailed with us twice in full gale conditions to determine how the main should be designed and constructed for those conditions.

The original Doyle Offshore Main that came with the boat was useless, I felt it was dangerous, in any wind above 30 knots on the bow - even with two reefs.

We do have two staysails (175 sq feet & 120 sq feet on a 40' cutter) that we can use up to 40 knots upwind and who knows what downwind.

Now - if we had had to deal with those 50+ knot winds on a upwind course we might have resorted to the storm jib and trysail but so far that has not been necessary.

I have made two other trips from Seattle to San Diego in other sailboats and found no need to deploy storm sails. The most wind we saw in those trips was 45 knots and 12' seas.

I have also sailed from Annapolis to Virgin Gorda, crossing the Gulf Stream in 35+ knots from the NW, and found no need for storm sails.

Bottom line - in lots of offshore sailing I've never thought of deploying a storm sail but would not go offshore without them.

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Old 07-01-2014, 18:40   #18
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

We have a triple-reef main and a furling headsail
We carry a storm jib and a trisail.
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Old 07-01-2014, 19:30   #19
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Before I installed my jib furling, I often pulled down my 120 and installed my storm jib when the anvil clouds started blowing my way. Never regretted it.

I mostly single hand and prefer to be overly cautious than unprepared. It's a Murphy's Law thing.

I plan to install a removable inner forestay and regain the option the next time I pull my mast.
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Old 07-01-2014, 20:04   #20
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Yes, furling jibs jam and then sails tear. I should know, mine did!

Then (whilst awaiting repair) on way down from Broughton Island the main rips at the Outhaul (yes they were all probably near end of life). Perfectly solvable with a jiffy reef on the main, but what if your 120 Genoa is too large for that setup (say 25+ knot gusts}? A staysail hanked onto the babystay (inner forestay) is the perfect answer to all these issues. You can even comfortably sail downwind with just the staysail in stronger conditions, despite all these other sail damage issues.

This is probably why cruisers often prefer a large inventory of small to medium sail choices, rather than a limited number of large sail inventory. : )

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Old 07-01-2014, 20:25   #21
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

A deeply reefable main is really nice.

When you reef any sail you want the CofE to move toward the center of the vessel and down. When you furl a headsail the CofE moves forward and up - not good. The shape also suffers, resulting in more wear.

I like a reefable staysail.
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Old 07-01-2014, 20:45   #22
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Another vote for yes on both, with the storm jib being far more critical to me than the trysail.

We have a cutter rig and fly the storm jib on the inner stay when it is too windy for the staysail (above ~35-40 upwind, a little more downwind). As Jackdale says, moving the CoE lower and closer to the center of the boat works miracles. I'd say we fly the storm jib several times a year, and are glad to have it each time we do. Flying low on the inner stay it brings the CoE well aft and down.

The trysail gets much less use. Either a deeply reefed main or no main in most conditions. However, it has seen use, and been welcome, on several occasions. We run the trysail on a separate track.

While it is not pleasant to go forward to get either of the storm sails ready and up, I prefer that to having sails that set poorly and aren't made for the conditions.
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Old 07-01-2014, 20:51   #23
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Actually i carry a storm jib, heavy staysail, 3 reef mainsail, and a Jib fitted in a profurl, the stormjib is cheap compared with the others sails, take litle space onboard, and if things get wrong you know is there to help, in my previous boat we have a separate track in the mast for a trysail to, never use it, but who know.. i will say that storm sails are a bonus in any boat sailing offshore, roller furler genoas are by purpose designed for a wide wind range conditions, but to a limit, anything more than 40knts and you can experience how hard is to reef the genoa, and with the risk to ripp off the sail, cutters got the advantage to get the center of effort close to the mast and a well balance sailplan for the conditions, sloops without a inner forestay are screwed, and rely in the genoa alone or one of this stormjibs atached to the furled genoa, actually is very easy to set a storm jib if you anticipate to the worst, the sail by design is small, easy to deal , is made of heavy cloth , and is perfect for a hove to scenario.

Sooner or later you can be caught out in a gale, storm, or just a long period of heavy winds, at least a storm jib is a useful in this conditions....
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Old 07-01-2014, 21:02   #24
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
A recent World Cruising Club survey (from Sail Mag) of it's Rally veterans with boats mostly in the 42-57 ft range (a few 38 footers) came out :
19 of 25 used a triple reefed or in mast reefed (4) mainsail in lieu of a trysail.
12 of 25 used a storm jib.
8 of 8 cutters used a staysail in lieu of storm jib.
Ketches used a mizzen and reefed headsail or staysail, no main.
5 of 25 used a reefed/furled jib in lieu of storm jib.
Of 6 trysails on board, one was used once, but not again.
take it with a grain of salt, as it's somewhat vague who had what on board vs what they used etc.
But there's the input of 25 offshore sailors.
One more for the cutter guys. That's exactly what I do on mine and I don't carry a trisail.
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Old 07-01-2014, 21:35   #25
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Agree, inner forestay with a storm jib is the previous boat had a trysail track and trysail (reqd by NZ regs). Trysail never used, but storm jib in a bag already hanked on to the forestay with halyard and sheets run ready to go WITHOUT going on the really well.
Current boat has storm jib on manual furler on inner forestay.....
Furled genoas are useless in big winds. CoE too high and forward.
As previous posters said...its only when you need it, you need it
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Old 07-01-2014, 22:04   #26
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

The difference now with the quality of sail cloth(canvas and cotton on my first big cutter)is the strength, if the sail is reefed right, I mean the right tension on all corners of the reefed sail then a 3 or 4 reefing point will do the job, especially if the reef is put in early. I don't think a furler is really good for anything over 35-40 kts.A storm jib on a inner forstay(high cut) really is a good investment, Iv rested with the sail backed and the tiller hard over for 3 days in 50kts and had a reasonable comforting time with very little lost ground.(the rum might've had something to do with the comfort)
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Old 07-01-2014, 22:17   #27
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Another possible reason for a trysail is for propulsion if you mast or boom break. I have read of quite a few people doing this.
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Old 07-01-2014, 23:03   #28
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

I am sure one can sail a life time without a trysl. I have only used one on one boat, but more than once.

Here is when a trysl can save your boat, and your life: when your mainsl fails due to any of the dozens of single point failures: halyard, battens, leech, head, reef clew or tack, gooseneck, boom, mainsheet, traveller, mast track, running backstays, ... And yet you must go in any direction that is not downwind, and its windy. Having another reef point helps not at all if your main halyard sheve fails.

If you think you can cruise around and never have that happen, go ahead and skip the trysl.

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.

Sailing for the weekend: you will never use it. Sailing inter island in the Caribbean: you will never use it. Transpac, Pacific Cup, Baja Ha Ha, ARC.... never need it.

Cape to Rio: one man dead without it. Panama to anywhere in the Caribbean, you are a fool to not have one that works well: you need to be able to set it as easily as you pull in a reef.

But set your acceptable risk level where you wish.

While its easy to say, "the Capetown to Rio death is because they were racing" but if you were cruising downwind along a coast, had passed a port a few hours ago, and blew out your main, you would head back upwind. In 20 knots and slop left over from a bigger blow, your rig on just about any boat would be at its structural limits without a mainsl.
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Old 08-01-2014, 04:56   #29
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
Probably both . . . .

MarkJ , for your definition of "For a tropical circumnavigation sailing in the correct season" do you include the cyclone season run down to NZ (Bay of islands is only 35S), or a north Atlantic crossing (USA to med), or rounding Cape Hope (only 34S)?
The tricky one is Cape of Good Hope, which I havent done as I did the Gulf of Aden run. I think people must have good on board weather and not cross the Agulhas Current in a SW gale, and then short window hop around the coast to Capetown. Further in conditions like this week when that Cape to Rio race was decimated, I would still be in port, or offshore, i would probably be hove to, not trying to make headway, or bare poles. My boat does 3.5 knots bare poles in 35 knots at 120 degrees.

The run down to NZ from Tonga can be tricky and the weather window is short, one cant lag into the Cyclone season. Coming up again is more tricky as that 1990's(?) year that lost half a dozen boats showed. But a number were abandoned due to sea sickness only. Again its hove to time.

But i dont include a Tasman crossing from NZ to Aus, or anything, anywhere out of the 'normal' cruiser season.... Which for the North Atlantic USA to Med is just 6 weeks long.

To reiterate my last post, a good deeply reefed main and a good roller furled genoa set fine! Sure one wont point overly well, but enough to prevent embayment. And using the engine too if necessary. Im not going on deck in a storm, unfurling the genoa, dropping it by myself and putting up a storm job.
Storms encountered in the correct season are shorter and more mild.

If one doesnt leave port into a storm that means one will not encounter a biggie until a few days later... And by then one will have sea room.


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Old 08-01-2014, 05:28   #30
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Re: Are Storm sails needed?

Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post


I have been happy to have storm sails in those three places (on a tropical circomnavatation). I would have survive just fine without the storm sails, but I was happy to have them.

The only clear answer to this thread is "no, you do not need them". Beyond that (for cruising sailors) it is a matter of personal preferences and priorities. We happen to like having the proper sails set, and we are comfortable working on deck to set them, so we get value and satisfaction from storm sails. Other cruisers have different priorities - and that is not better/worse or right/wrong, it is just different motivations, skills and priorities. . . . Just like we do not have a watermaker, while others think they "need" one. I think storm sails are both desirable and prudent, but I realize others do not.

I will comment that the offshore racing community pretty strongly believes that storm sails should be and are a required safety item.

Regarding Skip novak's comments . . . Do remember that he is sailing a 74' sloop, so the effort in hoisting a tri sail is rather larger (let's just say 4x harder) than on most of our more modest boats. Also that he is an ex-whitbread racing skipper. There is a lot he does, the way he rigs his boats, that makes sense for him and his pro crews, that does not make sense for most cruisers. (Just for instance, a crew goes 6' up the mast to put a strop on each time a reef is taken in or out)

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