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Old 18-11-2011, 11:13   #1
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Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

I cruised for several years on a Contessa 26. When I bought the boat it came equipped with a storm trysail, among lots of other cruising gear. I put it up at the dock to see how it fitted and worked. There was not a separate track for it so I had to pull the mainsail slugs from the mast and feed the trysail into the groove. All in all I thought it was a pain in the tail,even tho all of the book writers said it was an essential piece of cruising gear. I also really did not like the idea of the boom being sheeted in hard against the topping lift in heavy weather. My head is too fragile to trust a topping lift. Several years later near the end of a great cruise to Mexico,Marquesas,Tuamotus,Tahiti, and up to Hawaii, I finally found a good use for the trysail. Anchored off of an open roadstead in Hawaii we rowed ashore to shop and came back to the most violent rolling we had ever experienced . There was no wind, and the anchorage was too crowded to row out a stern anchor to put us into the swell. Getting on board the boat was scary becouse the rails were almost rolling under. On board, it was worse than our worst days at sea. I remembered a trick that I had read about years earlier and broke out the trysail that I had not looked at in 3 or 4 years. I went to the trouble of rigging it and hoisted it as far up as I could and still be able to sheet it flat with a line to the stern.HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!!! It took all of the snap out of the roll and made it livable again. Within an hour there were 4 or 5 boats with trysails or some equivalent up and they were comfortable. The ketches raised mizzins but they didnt seem to be as effective. I dont think a trysail is needed on a 26 foot boat, even for serious cruising, but finding an old mainsail to cut down and sew a bolt rope all the way around would make a good cheep roll tamer when raised high enough and sheeted flat. Funny how little things can sometimes make such a big difference.____Grant.
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Old 18-11-2011, 18:51   #2
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

Hard to argue with success. You could use it for a crash mat too - though hopefully you'll never need to.
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Old 20-11-2011, 21:40   #3
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

My next boat ( 37 foot steel boat) also came equipped with a trysail, but was a little better set up , in that it had its own track. I only used it once when I got into a hell of a blow in the Carribean. After a night of howling winds and seas I decided that if I had the chance , I would prefer a third reef in the main rather than a trysail. I could not tack the boat with the trysail up, and I didnt want to gybe even with the boom snugged down into the gallows. My next boat (Peterson 44) needed a new main, so I had it made with a third reef. I never needed to use it, but if I had I think it would have been much more useful than a trysail. In the days of cotton sails they might have been vital, but not now. Any comments from other members?_____Grant.
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Old 22-11-2011, 17:07   #4
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

I've never used my trisail or my third reef either, but Pardy argues for it's use when heaving-to and lying to a sea anchor.Center of effort does not move forward as it does when the main is reefed down thereby aiding in keeping bow into the waves in the more extreme conditions. Hope I never have to do my own experiments.
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Old 22-11-2011, 19:56   #5
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

Also it is a tougher, heavier sail with roped edges. It also does not depend on the boom which can be tied down so it isn't a danger.
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Old 22-11-2011, 21:23   #6
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

I only used the trysail once, and found it clumsy , poor setting and unable to tack the boat when I wanted. When I finally decided to give up and heave to for the rest of the blow, I had to use the engine to come about. I didnt want to gybe or grind the storm jib to windward. I had hove too several times before in my 26 footer, and my 37 foot boat under double reefed main and storm jib and found it easier to get going again if needed. As far as the boom goes, I built stout boom gallows for all three of my cruising boats so that the crew was protected if the main halyard let go. Using a trysail with the boom being held by a topping lift is a good way to split someones head open._____I envy you and your Contessa. If it sails as good as my 26, you have a superb cruising boat.____Grant.
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Old 23-11-2011, 06:02   #7
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

I have only used a storm trisail a few times.
The most memorable was many years ago. I was crewing in an offshore race and it was windy. One boat sank before the race was started.
The 32 foot Beneteau was uncontrollable with any main up, so we started the race with the storm trisail and storm jib.
All was going well and we were about to make a great start near the favored pin end ,which was marked a navy destroyer. The problem was that once we got out of the windshadow of the destroyer we broached (even the storm trisail and storm jib was too much sail) and almost wiped ourselves out the destroyers anchor chain.

I have never been a big fan of storm trisails since.
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Old 23-11-2011, 10:36   #8
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

To be fair, that wasn't the fault of the trysail, but a failure to compensate for or anticipate the effects of the wind shadow.

Must have been a hell of a race day, for all that.
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Old 23-11-2011, 11:12   #9
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Re: Proper / Improper Use of a Storm Trysail

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
To be fair, that wasn't the fault of the trysail, but a failure to compensate for or anticipate the effects of the wind shadow.

Must have been a hell of a race day, for all that.
I think it was not so much a failure of the trisail, but the crew. We practised long and hard , but had never rigged the trisail. I was young and stupid then.

We were probably the smallest boat in the fleet and it was in the days when the skipper not a safety committee, made the decision if it was safe to sail.

The irony was the owner got so seasick, that we all thought he was going to die, or at least need a hospital stay. We turned back just 12Hous into the race.
After an hour back in the marina the owner was happily eating a pizza and drinking beer, so our medical diagnostic skills matched our sailing skills.

The owner vowed never to do the race again. So of course we did the race again the next year, with better results.
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