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Old 31-05-2015, 04:54   #1
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Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

Hi All,

I've recently acquired an elderly Ruffian 23 and plan on cruising it in the Irish Sea this summer. The hull is in good condition, no osmosis, or cracks etc. Some of the deck fittings allow water in, but that is just a case of rebedding. The deck itself is solid as it the mast and rigging. The Keel will get some TLC next winter, but its fine for now.

Once I get the feel for the boat with the help of sailing friends, I can see myself doing a lot of solo sailing as racing round the cans doesn't appeal that much to me. Once I get the confidence, I'll probably mix it with the RTC racers on a Wednesday night, but venture further afield at weekends.

Now to my question.

The Ruffian No 1 sail is a mighty 150+% Genoa and really needs the boat to have the ballast of several bodies to control it. Single handed they are normally sailed on the number 2 which balances quite well with the smallish main.

Unfortunately the number 2 & 3 Jibs look like they haven't been used for a good while, the piston hanks are all seized solid and seriously crusted and corroded. After a few days lubrication with a healthy dose of WD40 and some scrubbing they look a lot better, but the pistons are done for. Most of the springs are gone and the pins have corroded through.

The sail fabric appears to be in good condition, so I'm dropping them into a local sail maker for servicing and repair. My question is do I go for pistons or something along the lines of the Wichard Snap. The Snaps look handy for single handing. Your views would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 31-05-2015, 05:16   #2
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

The answer to your question, is with zero doubt, go with the Wichard's. As unlike piston hanks, they can be operated with one hand. Leaving your other one to perform other tasks, from; holding on, to clipping/un-clipping other things, handling the halyard etc. And my answer stems from the below linked, excellent work.

BTW, to prevent damaging the pressed rings in the jib while removing old, non-operable, "knock on" (not sewn on) hanks, is to use bolt cutters/croppers (and an assistant or vice to steady things). Or barring that, a hacksaw or Dremel. - Prying them off with a screwdriver, etc. is what can damage the rings, or the sail, if force gets applied to anything but the hanks. And even then, when pried open, they can @ times be a PITA to remove.

There are a lot more answers here Single handed headsail changes - Sailing Anarchy - Sailing Anarchy Forums=

Plus a link to an E-book on single handing tips here Single handed headsail changes - Sailing Anarchy - Sailing Anarchy Forums And, the author of the E-book has a lengthier version available for purchase on Amazon.

Also, visit the San Francisco Singlehanded Society at www.SFBaySSS.org
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Old 31-05-2015, 06:23   #3
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, mcgranec.
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Old 31-05-2015, 06:43   #4
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

Definitely Wichard snaps. Much easier to hank-on and take off. I've used both, and there's no comparison!
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Old 31-05-2015, 09:46   #5
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

If the jury isn't in yet snaps!
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Old 31-05-2015, 10:15   #6
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

We may not have a full Jury yet, but the vote is 3-0, 4-0 if I'm allowed to vote. I only asked the question because snaps seemed to make more sense to me, but I had only come across pistons in my short career. Monday is a national holiday, so I don't have to decide until Tuesday. In the meantime, I now have to explore costs and balance that with how soon I can get on the water. :-)

Thanks to Uncivilised for the links. Some good reading there.


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Old 31-05-2015, 13:05   #7
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

The question I have is if the Wichard snaps are stainless steel, will they cause wear to the headstay wire. After thousands of miles, the bronze piston hanks showed considerable wear from the head stay. Would rather replace the attaching hardware on the sail than a possibly compromised headstay.
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Old 31-05-2015, 13:50   #8
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

Opening piston hanks with cold wet hands is a misery.
Snaps for sure, no worries.
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Old 31-05-2015, 14:15   #9
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

mcgranec,

Welcome aboard.

We used the Wichard snaps for our storm jib on our first Insatiable, an old IOR one tonner. They were wonderful.

The comment about the wear is interesting, and I'm not wise enough to evaluate it. I certainly have seen very worn piston hanks, so obviously the potential is there. Perhaps it would be less if your headstay is of dye formed wire, as you don't have the radii on the individual strands standing proud.

Let us know how it comes out.
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Old 31-05-2015, 14:29   #10
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
The question I have is if the Wichard snaps are stainless steel, will they cause wear to the headstay wire. After thousands of miles, the bronze piston hanks showed considerable wear from the head stay. Would rather replace the attaching hardware on the sail than a possibly compromised headstay.
I may not be know about Wichard snaps. The ones I have had where bronze and yes they wear but the stay doesn't. A one hand on or off is great in an unexpected condition. So replacement periodically is well worthwhile.
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Old 31-05-2015, 15:02   #11
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

I have Wichard snaps on all my headsails. The bronze snaps are softer than the headstay but they seem to last longer than the sails. Their only disadvantage is their sensitivity to corrosion: it is necessary to lube them from time to time, to make sure that they close easily. The stainless ones need less maintenance but could cause wear on the stay.

A few weeks ago, we had just hoisted the spinnaker and not yet taken the jib down when the helmsman lost control on a bigger wave, the boat luffed and the spinnaker luff was caught on a snap from the jib. Maybe this snap wasn't properly closed.

Alain
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:25   #12
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

I would recommend piston hanks. You can get over the problem of needing one hand for holding on if you sit on the deck with one leg hanging down each side of the bow. This lowers your centre of gravity, allows you to grip on with your legs, like on a horse, and leaves you two hands free for dealing with the hanks etc. If you have to make sail changes under way, reducing sail in deteriorating conditions, for instance, you will find this the best technique, allowing you to sit on the sail, preventing it blowing away, until it is ready to hoist.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:49   #13
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

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I would recommend piston hanks. You can get over the problem of needing one hand for holding on if you sit on the deck with one leg hanging down each side of the bow. This lowers your centre of gravity, allows you to grip on with your legs, like on a horse, and leaves you two hands free for dealing with the hanks etc. If you have to make sail changes under way, reducing sail in deteriorating conditions, for instance, you will find this the best technique, allowing you to sit on the sail, preventing it blowing away, until it is ready to hoist.
I don't want my legs straddling the bow if "needing" to strike a sail. Sitting on it, I might leave brown spots? Maybe not the green water might wash them away. It may be a good way on a day sailer.
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Old 02-06-2015, 13:16   #14
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

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I don't want my legs straddling the bow if "needing" to strike a sail. Sitting on it, I might leave brown spots? Maybe not the green water might wash them away. It may be a good way on a day sailer.
"Always reduce sail when you first think you might need to"
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Old 02-06-2015, 13:28   #15
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Re: Jib Sail Hanks - Piston vs Snaps

You will be spending some money on those hanks - have you thought about a basic fuller instead? The Schaefer Cf500 is very affordable - you can then furl/reef based on the wind and it's safer than you solo sailing and having to go to the bow to drop the headsail...
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