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Old 25-07-2014, 08:28   #31
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Re: Is there a good downwind sail that's easy to manage for 2 people?

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Snowpetrel Im certain that I made no mention of disliking drifters.

I did describe them as having limited . They do. If you sail where often ghosting along in light air or can afford cost / space of multiple downwind sails, then a drifter can be a fine addition to the inventory. Better still would be a very light weight version of a cruising code zero a hybrid of a drifter and code zero still, limited versatility though.
Hi Totem, didn't mean to misquote you, apologies, and I agree about the code zero/ drifter hybrid, I am thinking something about 100%, moderately high cut like a screecher and on a code zero furler with a torsion rope luff. probably made from heavier nylon and flat enough to sail to windward in drifting conditions. Ideally set off a prod to get more sail area, but designed so it could be set inside the furler when it suited as a 110-120%. What is your ideal size, shape and cloth?

I am interested as to why you think this type of sail would have limited versatility, If my old light hanked on dacron version was anything to go by it could be used to windward and reaching in light stuff, and downwind in most conditions. The clew was just the right height to be sheeted off the end of the eased mainboom for reaching and running, and it could be poled out as twins. It was such a docile sail, and could be set and struck in a moment and left hanked on and lashed to the rail, So it saw a lot of use in my case, more than my spinnaker or MPS.
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Old 25-07-2014, 08:49   #32
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

Just an additional point about your intended voyage. It's going to take you @ 3 weeks, and there are just two of you. It's one thing to fly a spinnaker/para/asym solo or double-handed in an ocean race that runs 5 days...you're cranking hard and really racing, and you just push through it. A three week crossing is a different animal...stuff breaks, you get tired, and you have other things to manage other than just the sail plan.

If I were in your shoes I would take along a socked asym and fly it during the day when it's clear and you have energy to manage it.

Simplest crossing I've done on that route was with a 125 genoa poled out, no main, and a wind vane. One guy on watch with sail management a simple matter of furling in the genny when the wind picked up. Running wing and wing required too much attention and was dangerous in heavy following seas, and was of only marginal benefit in the steady 15-25 knot breeze that you can expect that time of year.

If you're not set on the ARC for whatever reason, you might consider leaving a couple of weeks later when the trades have firmed up more fully. The ARC leaves when it does because many of the participants want to finish before the holidays, and because some boats are going into charter or participating in events like the Antigua race. There are a lot of boats that leave the Canaries closer to Dec. 10-15 and have quicker, more predictable crossings with the better developed trades that have kicked in.
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Old 25-07-2014, 09:14   #33
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

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(...)

If you're not set on the ARC for whatever reason, you might consider leaving a couple of weeks later when the trades have firmed up more fully. The ARC leaves when it does because many of the participants want to finish before the holidays, and because some boats are going into charter or participating in events like the Antigua race. There are a lot of boats that leave the Canaries closer to Dec. 10-15 and have quicker, more predictable crossings with the better developed trades that have kicked in.
This is not correct.

One year trades here are better another year they are weaker and anyways you have to go well down South before you get into any consistent wind flow.

Atlantic trades are best when you are normally not out there - say from June onwards.

In fact, leaving Canary Islands EARLY may help you get an 'easier' top third of the track covered - this is so because what formerly was Portuguese trades of April / June comes down to Canaries over July and August and then the belt moves further South.

Departing LATER may in fact end up with having the boat weather locked in a an otherwise nice canarian marina - it is common for December and early January depressions to form and these conditions may blow SW over our area for weeks.

But, as I have said, one yera conditions are like this and another year like that.

It counts a lot if the season is of the wet or the dry sort. Last winter was moderately wet here. Now we are likely to get some 4 to 7 dry winters.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 25-07-2014, 09:15   #34
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

Snow,

None of these sails can be partially furled. They are either all the way out, or all the way in. If you want a sta-sail that's fine, but nothing designed to be flown as a spinnaker is remotely possible to fly inside the fore triangle.

You could go with two different sails and use the same furling drum and swivel, with seperate torsion lines, but that's it.
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Old 25-07-2014, 09:45   #35
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

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This is not correct.

One year trades here are better another year they are weaker and anyways you have to go well down South before you get into any consistent wind flow.

Atlantic trades are best when you are normally not out there - say from June onwards.

In fact, leaving Canary Islands EARLY may help you get an 'easier' top third of the track covered - this is so because what formerly was Portuguese trades of April / June comes down to Canaries over July and August and then the belt moves further South.

Departing LATER may in fact end up with having the boat weather locked in a an otherwise nice canarian marina - it is common for December and early January depressions to form and these conditions may blow SW over our area for weeks.

But, as I have said, one yera conditions are like this and another year like that.

It counts a lot if the season is of the wet or the dry sort. Last winter was moderately wet here. Now we are likely to get some 4 to 7 dry winters.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Cheers,
b.
This is contrary to widely held conventional wisdom, but I defer to your local knowledge. Regarding the earlier better trades, most of us are stuck going after hurricane season ends if only for insurance purposes. I suppose I have been lucky in leaving later, targeting December 10, and making quicker passages than those that left with the ARC. Last year left on the 15th and did not even need to head south, just rumbled down the rhumb line in a straight shot.

BTW was on Santa Cruz when you had that record setting rainfall. It even made the front page of the Washington Post, I heard. El Tiede was carpeted in snow. It was remarkable sitting under palm trees and looking up at the tallest point in Spain, at 12,200 feet, around 10 miles distant.

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Old 25-07-2014, 11:35   #36
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

After the first few days on the ARC, you will be sailing near DDW in winds which can double in squalls which last from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Whether the wind range is 8 to 25k or 20k to 35k depends on the year, but you should be prepared for both, and you should have a setup which allows one person to easily and safely adjust sail area between each range. Sailing without the main will eliminate the consequences of an accidental gybe, and let you line up better with the swell for a more comfortable ride.

If you have an overlapping headsail, the choice would be easy--just buy an identical headsail, and install both on the same furler before you leave the dock in Las Palmas--one sheet to each sail. Add a pole for the windward headsail and drop the main. You now have the easy adjustment of sail area throughout your wind range, and enough power to give decent performance with lighter winds without the mainsail. Dealing with a squall is as simple as easing both sheets, rolling the furler in a bit, and resetting the sheets. The center of effort is now further forward, with less load on the autopilot, and for some reason the boat rolls less, making your wife much happier. You also have a spare genoa for future use, and a pole for wing-and-wing sailing with the main in other situations. Call it a twizzle or twin headsails, I have sailed the ARC course with this rig in 16 days, and would use it again.

If you have the self-tacking jib, you have the same problems the catamarans have going DDW--the sail area available from twin jibs is going to hurt your performance in light to moderate winds (<15k). If comfort and safety is more important to you than performance, go with the twin jibs. If you want more performance, you will have to compromise. In my opinion, too many ARC boats get into race mode, and break boats and people to shave a day or two off their crossing.

The first (and cheapest) compromise would be to go wing-and-wing with the (prevented) main and a poled out jib. You will have to head a little above DDW to minimize the risk of a gybe, and you should plan on double reefing the main at sunset, even if the wind is less than 20k. I have also done the ARC course with this rig, and its a bit more work (reefing and unreefing the main when going downind is not as easy as adjusting furling headsails), and the boat tends to roll more.

The next option would be a furling code-zero/screecher/etc, poling out the jib, and dropping the main. It would be similar to the twin jib rig in safety and comfort, but performance will decrease, because the big furling sail can't be run partially furled--some nights you will be down to a poled out jib.

Don't even think about a socked assymetric sail unless you are in the racing class and you and your partner have Volvo aspirations--and even the super hero types will wake up the off watch to set or retrieve it. Most people in this forum have never done a long passage, and have no idea how important fatigue and stress are.
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Old 25-07-2014, 19:51   #37
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

Snowpetrel – no worries. A drifter is simply made to be exceptionally light weight for very little wind only. The sail you describe isn’t a drifter (just as a cruising code 0 probably isn’t a code zero). It’s more of a hybrid of a drifter, “tweaked” for the purpose of broadening the effective range of use. What you describe sounds like an interesting sail.

Ideals and size/shape/cloth – those are the questions with sail design, and unanswerable without knowing context and variables. You sound like you’re on the right track to a sail that will work well for you – and with more versatility than a true drifter. Still you’ll need to make compromises or end up with a very limited sail.

Oh, and this type of sail CAN be tacked aft of the furler as you said. It works fine for reaching and upwind since the free flying luff sags to leeward. The headstay does cause some disturbed flow, but still works ok. Wind aft doesn’t though because of headstay interference.

Happy to help with specific questions if you want to PM me.
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Old 26-07-2014, 22:05   #38
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

+1 Don Radcliffe, nice writeup.

Totem, thanks for the reply, its going to be an interesting time as these Cruising code zeros get refined, so many variations seem possible and so little consensus at this stage on the best way to go for us cruisers or even how to name these damned sails! At this stage I have much more important things to spend my boat dollars on, so will try to reuse some of the many old light laminate no1's I have stored under the house, and maybe try cutting down one of the five spinnakers I inherited with the boat into something with a tight luff? In a few years I should have a much better idea of what will suit the new boat best. Interesting point about the distrubed airflow from the furler. I hadnt really considered that. Cheers

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Old 27-07-2014, 01:11   #39
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

I've never sailed with twin headsails but have done a fair bit of reading on the subject. Doing that I've got a feeling that two headsails on different forestays is even more stable (less roll) setup then having two headsails on the same roller. Perhaps because some wind can be spilled through the gap between the sails. Can anybody confirm that or vice versa?
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Old 27-07-2014, 01:36   #40
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

So goes the theory...I have only ever used twins without the airspace between them so I can't say if there is a difference but others claim that there is.
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Old 27-07-2014, 01:49   #41
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Hi Onno. Sounds like you have quite a collection of light air sails. Interesting to hear more about them. I guess the wind shadow problem is that often people mistakenly take down the main to reduce chafe. Then they havent got the ability to shade it. Or in a broach, with a squall may not be able to rely on getting a good lee behind the main. Assys seem worse for this than symetricals where you can pull the leeward clew right back to the mast. Big advantage of two headsails is no matter what the scenario its always comparatively easy to drop/roll away. And minimal chance of a bad wrap or other nasties a kite is renouned for. And can be used safely with or without main. Interested to hear more feedback for those using some type of cruising code zero. My setup used a solent stay and hank on drifter/reacher.
I'm a relatively inexperienced sailor and this is our (brother and I) first yacht. I made my choices on light air sails based on what I could read up on in the past two years & talking to North Sails and I decided, partially based on North Sails informative diagram, that an A2 and C1 would cover most of my needs. So far, sailing 2000 miles South to Portugal, that has proved the case. But, for instance, I had not considered your point that the main may be down to reduce chafe. We have had the main up and in those situations I've found it very easy to the snuffer down in each instance.

We have not done an Atlantic crossing and we have not yet tweaked our inventory to really fit tradewind sailing as we are not planning to for a while at least. I'm aware that the asymms are not useable in DDW situations, and the C1 is not even a broad reach sail. Our boat (a 1984 Baltic 38DP that we restored to prime condition, and ready to take on a crossing except for water tankage) came with a jockey pole, spinnaker pole and 2 spinnakers. We have not flown those yet, and even though we can get very experienced with them by practice I always feel that they will still inhibit a real risk if flying them with only two people on board on an Atlantic crossing.

The Solent stay I had installed this year (Aramid, lovely thing) has certainly seen its share of work these past two months, and so has our new hanked-on staysail. As an aside: Absolutely in love with that set-up, with a slab-reef at the foot it is really versatile and gives us options until 50kts wind or so I'm guessing (we've had up to 40 in the Bay of Biscay).

Coming back to tradewind sailing, we've got two genoas and our furler has two slots but that option has never appealed to me as the furling action must be really heavy, especially as winds are building, but more importantly there is no gap between the sails which I am told you really need to reduce rolling.

When I consider the set-up and sails we have, I think when planning for a crossing I would a) get a carbon pole that is easier to manipulate than the alu monster we have, b) get experienced with flying our traditional spinnakers, c) experiment with the A2 on the solent stay, d) experiment with the staysail poled out and then e) make a decision whether we would want to have a hank-on drifter made or perhaps a sail that is the middle between a genoa and a drifter, to be poled out. Considering our solent stay is a lot shorter than our forestay, flying the A2 there might not even be an option. An A4 that can handle heavier winds but is cut to be flown from our solent stay might be a good option.

All in all, I'm just a sailor who is trying to replace his keyboard experience with real experience. This is a very interesting thread that makes me think hard about our sail plan and what options are out there. Thanks for all the contributions!


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Old 27-07-2014, 04:50   #42
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post

This is contrary to widely held conventional wisdom,

(...)

I suppose I have been lucky in leaving later, targeting December 10, and making quicker passages than those that left with the ARC. Last year left on the 15th and did not even need to head south, just rumbled down the rhumb line in a straight shot.

(...)

BTW was on Santa Cruz when you had that record setting rainfall.

(...)
Two crossings, one early one late, plus 5 years of supporting ARC and otherwise crews on this route with wx routing gave me plenty of time and material to consider. I think careful study of Ocean Passages together with understanding of Atlantic wx cyclogenesis are most helpful.

As you said, you were lucky. Often, though not always, very soon after ARC departure a period of Southerlies arrives that may keep crews in port much longer than they had envisioned. At times, this may be a month before another gap opens. In another year this S'ly fit may not come at all though.

Cutting right across West is a common practice with the racing division of the Rally. It pays out 9/10. Makes sense as boats are reaching rather than running at the early stage in fluky conditions surrounding Canary Islands. Alas, at least once in last 5 years the first cruising rally member came ahead of the first racing division boat! So, again, no rules set in stone.

Snow on Teide is a pretty regular view, after all it is the tallest mountain in all Spain, taller than their continental peaks. Too bad we cannot ski here though! Interestingly, the Azores have the tallest peak of all Portugal too!

I was not aware of that record rainfall, possibly we were on our crossing right then.

Such an amazing part of the world here and such a pleasure to not only work with, but also live in, our mild Canarian weather ;-)

Cheers,
b.
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Old 27-07-2014, 05:22   #43
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

Thanks Onno, she sounds like a similar design to my new boat Snow Petrel II, she is also a Doug Peterson, 1979 vintage, definately an IOR design, but like the Baltics not as extreme as the worst examples. And I have found her very pleasant to sail so far, fast in light air. Responsive and stiff. To windward she is awesome, downwind she doent like to surf, but as long as I dont push her she is well behaved and comfortable. Suits me as I dont like to surf offshore, prefer reading a good book while the windvane steers.

Anyway interesting info about the sails you use, gosh those racing boys sure like all the acronyms... but those graphs are good to see, Thanks. How do you like the C1? I could see something like that being used opposite the regular headsail poled out on a long pole. I guess the key is to get the poled out headsail system sorted first and then add the light weather sail to this.

I am not sure what you mean with you solent stay, does it go almost to the masthead, or is it more like an inner forestay, going to a spot near the upper spreaders with runners to support the mast?

Poling out a staysail works well in a breeze, but it often needs a shorter pole to work, and sometimes a higher clew. I have once used the clew for the reef rather than the real clew to pole out a staysail. Worked well.

Not sure about the gap thing, never sailed with a traditional twins setup like that. I have always had them up nearly together and put up with any roll. Sheeting the staysail flat can help reduce the roll, or apparently the reefed main (HT Jim Cate).

Cheers

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Old 27-07-2014, 12:54   #44
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

Twin forestays have half the tension each, so they have bad performance to windward due to headstay sag
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Old 27-07-2014, 13:26   #45
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Re: Is there a Good Downwind Sail that's Easy to Manage for 2 People?

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Twin forestays have half the tension each, so they have bad performance to windward due to headstay sag
Think you've got your engineering wrong. A double head stay system can be set up with whatever tension on the wire you want. Having two doesn't double the tension on the wires though it does double the strength. The backstay will see whatever the maximum tension is on a single wire.

The problem with double headstay systems is they have to be set quite far apart or the wires can/will sag into each other even at high tension. It's a problem with hank on sails as the hanks can be undone and believe I heard someone say the hanks jumped from one stay to the other when the wires rubbed together.
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