Earlier, I used the Southern Cross 31 as our example boat. There are several reasons for this. Most important to the current
post is her cutter
rig. In boats of the size discussed here, 28-34 ft, there is no justification for the complexity of the yawl or ketch
rig, nor for their reduced performance. I will not discuss them.
I have over 20 years experience with the Cutter
rig. It has carried me across the Pacific, up and down the island chain, through the Bahamas
, up and down the Great Lakes
, in short everywhere I ever wanted to go. It has proven to be reliable, and repairable.
The only other rig I'd consider for a cruising boat would be a Cat Schooner, with Chinese Lug sails
or Fully Battened radial headed sails
. The Cat Schooner is the favorite of Annie Hill and Tom Colvin. It is a free standing rig with no standing rigging
I'd welcome a post on the Cat Schooner from a person with personal experience with it.
For now, we will discuss the cutter rig.
I suggest that you visit the SC 31 website and familiarize yourself with this rig. The summer maximum sail area is 620 sq ft, and is divided across three sails:
Full 5 oz Main 230 sq ft
110% 6 oz #1 Staysail 185 sq ft
#1 4 oz Yankee 200 sq ft
TOTAL 620 sq ft
The Winter rig is:
8 oz Main with single
reef 200 sq ft
90% 8oz #2 Staysail 144 sq ft
7oz #2 yankee 166 sq ft
TOTAL 540 sq ft.
Why a winter rig?..... Any boat benefits from a winter rig because winds are generally stronger in winter. Stronger winds call for sails with less draft
, or camber, and for heavier weight sail cloth.
The cutter rig points nearly as well as a sloop
, with the advantage that the sailplan is divided across three sails, as shown above. On the SC 31 no sail is larger than 230 sq ft, and the fore triangle is divided across the staysail and the yankee, giving headsails of managable size, even for a petit woman.
Given the onset of a sudden squall, the cutter rig comes into its own. Sail area can be quickly reduced by handing the yankee. Should a gale be encountered the main can be reefed twice and the yankee handed.
Main, two reefs
135 sq ft
#2 Staysail 144 sq ft.
TOTAL 280 sq ft.
The boat will point well with this reduced area, will be balanced and will sail upright in winds of ~ 35 knots.
Main 3 reefs
100 sq ft
#3 staysail 95 sq ft
TOTAL 195 sq ft
Under this rig the boat will point reasonably, given the sea state, will be balanced and will sail upright in winds of ~ 50 knots.
In winds of 5 - 10 knots, and down wind
, the SC 31 will benefit from a high clewed reacher sheeted to the same place as the yankee, and poled out when broad reaching to running. The reacher should be made of 1.8 oz nylon, may be of tri-radial construction, though I have had good service
from crosscut reachers too. Being of nylon, the sail stuffs into a small sack, and is easily handled.
High clewed nylon reacher.
1.8 oz nylon 350 sq ft
Given a sail inventory as follows:
230 sq ft Summer Main 5 oz dacron
230 sq ft Winter Main 8 oz dacron
#1 Yankee 200 sqft 4 oz dacron
#2 Yankee 166 sq ft 7 oz dacron
#1 Staysail 185 sq ft 6 oz dacron
#2 Staysail 144 sq ft 8 oz dacron
#3 Staysail 95 sq ft 8 oz dacron
Reacher 350 sq ft 1.8 oz nylon
a micro-budget cruiser has everything he needs to sail his boat where he wants to go, under wind
regimes from 5 - 55 knots.
How is this managed....................
Getting underway from anchor
Short stay the anchor
or prepare the mooring
Set the desired course into the wind vane
Set main with 3 reefs and staysail. If conditions are windy, set only the staysail.
Short tack up to the anchor pulling chain as you go, or use the windlass
to pull in the chain.
When aweigh, backwind the staysail to fall off on the desired bearing, then pull in the remaining cable until the anchor is in the roller.
Once you have suficient sea room, set the main, or shake out the reefs in the main, and set the yankee or reacher as desired.
Sailing up to anchor or mooring...........
Hand the yankee or reacher.
Reef the main as necessary to slow the boat to 3 knots or so...
Unlash the anchor and prepare for dropping, or rig boathook and bridle
Tack through the anchorage so as to be able to reach across to the desired spot.
Turn the boat directly into the wind and coast up to the desired spot.
Drop the anchor or fish
Once secured, drop the staysail, then the main.
A variant of the above may be used to sail into a slip.