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Old 31-08-2011, 01:00   #31
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Re: sloop vs cutter

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Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Something of a neophyte to this argument but..............my 2

There are cutters and cutters.

A cutter with no sprit is of marginal value; sloop with storm sail.

A cutter with a sprit has more value.

A cutter with a BIG sprit, now that's something. The genoa is generous for light air and the staysail is big enough to do some serious work.

So I would argue the merits based on the size of the sprit. No sprit, then there is not a big difference.
It's true that our modern crusing boats with two headsails are not really "cutters" in the classical sense. Real cutters had the mast further aft than sloops, and they usually had bowsprits to make it possible to spread out the sail plan.

But our "faux cutters" -- I guess you could call them double-headed sloops, if you really want to be precise -- are more than "sloops with storm sails". Some plusses:

1. You really do get some drive out of the staysail on a reach, at least on our boat.

2. You can use a high-cut yankee jib instead of a genoa on a "faux cutter", because you can pick up the wind at deck level -- the wind which is lost to the yankee because of the high-cut clew -- with the staysail. A yankee jib is easier to tack and trims better, than a genoa.

3. Flexibility in the sailplan. You have more options, so have a better chance of being well-trimmed for given wind conditions.

4. The built-in, ready-rigged storm jib is a huge plus. It's not just a storm jib -- it's for anything over 30 knots, and it's brilliant for that purpose, bringing the center of effort back towards the mast.


So it's a pretty good setup for cruising in my opinion, my own favorite among sloop, cutter, ketch.

My biggest gripe is that the self-tacking staysail is impossible to trim well. There's only one rope to play with. There must be a better system than this.

As to whether or not to hank-on the staysail -- on the one hand, you don't really ever need to reef a staysail, so you don't really need roller furling for that purpose. On the other hand, roller furling means you can deploy the staysail in seconds from the cockpit -- which is a big safety factor when using the staysail as a storm jib. You will tend to put up and take down the staysail more often than other sails, because you can't use it downwind, and generally don't use it while beating. So roller furling is good for that. But a hanked-on staysail is also perfectly usable; so you pays your money and takes your choice.
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Old 31-08-2011, 01:29   #32
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Re: Sloop vs Cutter

used to have a cutter, but am liking the versatility of our staysail ketch even more. Easy and smooth.
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Old 31-08-2011, 08:46   #33
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Re: sloop vs cutter

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
Something of a neophyte to this argument but..............my 2

There are cutters and cutters.

A cutter with no sprit is of marginal value; sloop with storm sail.

A cutter with a sprit has more value.

A cutter with a BIG sprit, now that's something. The genoa is generous for light air and the staysail is big enough to do some serious work.

So I would argue the merits based on the size of the sprit. No sprit, then there is not a big difference.
I agree with this. My steel cutter has a 2 foot 10 inch bowsprit made of 4 inch, thick-walled steel tubing and with a bobstay going to a half-inch steel plate at the waterline.

If it failed, I would have larger issues to deal with than discussing the virtues of cutters vs. sloops.
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Old 31-08-2011, 08:57   #34
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Re: sloop vs cutter

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Originally Posted by Ellis McKinley View Post
I also think a furling staysail rigged to handle from the cockpit is the way to go. It's easy to deal with in all conditions (well maybe not all conditions). During five years of full-time cruising, we never had a staysail furler problem.
I'm glad for that, but I come from a headspace where our first boat, a 33 footer with a long J (15 feet) was a hank-on jib sloop. Our No. 1 was and remains a lot of sail to handle, but our pointing ability and sheer "drive" out of it is better than many newer and vastly more expensive boats.

The staysail on our 41 foot cutter (with 20 feet of J to the mast, yes, like a real cutter!) is by contrast, about the size of the No. 2 on our sloop, a sail we find easy enough to handle and to bring down to the deck.

Lastly, it is simple to rig a staysail downhaul, meaning if it's very rough, we can get all sail off at the mast, even when the sail is flogging. A downhaul also allows the installation of a reefing staysail, an option not usually discussed, but one perfectly valid in the context of keeping some sail forward up in heavy conditions, or to accomplish in similar conditions a stable (more or less) attitude of heaving-to.

I agree that it's nice to have everything furling, but as part of the logic of the staysail as "last sail down in beastly weather", I prefer to omit convenient furling in favour of a bulletproof solution I can fix myself at sea. Spare hanks and a pair of pliers fit in my pocket...a replacement furler...not.
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