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Old 10-01-2006, 02:29   #1
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Fractional cutter rig

Rig threads seem to be the topic de jour (how do you say "week" in French?)
Nightcap is a fractional rig sloop with furling headsail and I have a concern in the sort of sailing we will be doing that we may need to shorten to a heavy weather or storm jib in a hurry. Is converting to a cutter rig a sensible option or are there other ways to make the sail change in a hurry without having to unfurl & remove the #2 genoa?
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Old 10-01-2006, 05:51   #2
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First of all, most fractional rigs start out with all of the advantages of a cutter rig without needing the second stay or third headsail. The problem with adding a forestay on the fractioanl rig is that you lose much of the advantages of fractional riggers advantage of easily controlled mastbend.

Offshore most Fractional riggers use a 110% or so jib offshore. Jibs that small should work through a very wide range of windspeeds. If cut as a working jib and not a storm sail you should be able to use that sail over a range of 5 knots to something well over 20 knots.

As you start getting into the higher end of the windspeed range, initially you will need to increase halyard and backstay tension, but ultimately you will need to reef the mainsail. Since most boats develop weather helm at higher windspeeds, this will result in a balanced helm rather than increasing weather helm as is the case when you simply trade down to a smaller jib or worse yet go to a jib on a removable (inner) forestastay. At some point even the 110% jib will become too large. You have a number of options depending on the design of the boat. Most fractional riggers are reasonably well balanced under mainsail alone so you can simply roll in the jib. If this is not the case with your boat, then you may want to get the jib made with a foam luff so that the sail can be reduced by 20 % with a reasonably flat sail.

Beyond that point you would end up with a double reefed mainsail or else go to a storm jib and storm trisail. Most fractional riggers use one of two extreme heavy air strategies. Typically storm jibs for frac's with roller furlers are set up to be free flying, or else are set up to use the luff groove on the furler but with safety ties that hold the storm jib attached to the boat as the sail is dropped or raised. (BTW if you think that you will be spending a lot of time offshore it is a good idea to add safety ties to the 110% jib as well which will allow the sail to be dropped to the deck without going over the side.

While this may sound like a lot more work than having an inner stay, think about trying to rig a forestay and tension it while working on a bounding deck and then you still need to attach a jib once the stay was rigged.

Jeff
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Old 10-01-2006, 06:15   #3
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P, it would help if we knew which heavy weather sailing you were referring to. Since your Whiting 31 is a smaller boat, we can assume you sail in coastal waters and for brief periods offshore, in which case you probably will know what weather to expect and therefore won't see extended periods of heavy winds. Given all of that (which may miss the mark), shortening down as Jeff describes will probably suffice.

However, a fractional rig does not eliminate the problem of eventually discovering you have too big a jib (or too ill shaped a reefed jib) for the winds - the reason you are asking the question - and especially when you might face these conditions for an extended period, you may well find a double-reefed main alone is simply not a satisfactory choice. It may be too much sail, it may not support sailing in the direction you want, and it may not support heaving to or forereaching, too common heavy weather tactics. You know your boat better than we do, and should experiment with your existing sail reduction options on a day full of stiff wind to find out what you think she needs and if its already in her capability to provide it.

Flying a storm jib on its own luff (spectra or wire) is normally not a successful approach in practice, no matter how inviting it is due to being "easy", as there typically is not enough mechanical power available to the halyard to avoid the luff's substantial sag. One doesn't discover this when trying out options on a breezy 25 kt day, but it becomes very apparent as the wind climbs from there. Another approach is to reef down the existing jib using reef points sewn into the sail; this also isn't recommended as you'll probably pick up a heavy sea in the foot of the (bundled) sail and rip out the sail.

Boats with fractional rigs that sail offshore typically have an inner stay, which is really the proper answer for almost all boats independent of their rig design in heavy weather. This becomes increasingly difficult to set up in small boats and so it might not be a desirable option for you. However, depending on the waters you sail and the length and distance of your passages, some experimenting with your existing sail plan may prove it also unnecessary.

Jack
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Old 10-01-2006, 06:34   #4
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Thanks guys,
Our initial plan is to circumnavigate New Zealand over about 6 months and use this time to assess her for possible bluewater. One of the areas that concerns me is Fiordland and the West Coast where local condition reporting & forecasting is very limited and conditions quickly changeable. This is on top of poking your head out of a Fiord in 10 knots to find 40+ knots a few boat lengths ahead. Our cruising experience is very limited and we will be taking an experienced sailor with us for a while until we become comfortable, however I can't contact the guy at the moment as he is out cruising himself. Really need to know if there are some fundamental changes/purchases I should be considering well before we set off.
I am definitely hoping I can achieve comfort & safety without any more outlay as the chequebook has already been seriously abused.
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Old 10-01-2006, 12:05   #5
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Pete, Fiordland!?! mate do I envey you. My view if you are going down there, treat it as if it was Southern Ocean. I would have most of Cat 1 requirments. And time is the essential. Just don't be in any hurry. Wait for weather windows and tides to be right. Especially if going across to Stewart Island from the Fiordland. Tide makes a massive difference to the comfort of the ride down in that stretch. You may have to sit in a Fiord for a week or two till it all comes together.
I don't think you have to worry about not enough info on weather. Quite the contrary, there is good weather advancement for down there. Besides, it is almost predictable with out a met guy. One fine day followed by a week of storm force repeated over and over. The fronts just roll in, in a ruffly even spacing, one after the other from deep under Tasmania.
Catch up when you get back. I have some gear you could borrow for the trip, like Life raft etc. if you need. Could save you some dollars.

Hmmmm, I am sure I can pack myself into that.
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Old 10-01-2006, 21:44   #6
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(how do you say "week" in French?: "semaine"
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Old 10-01-2006, 22:58   #7
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Topic de semaine (corrections welcomed)

Thanks Wheels, I have most of the cat 1 stuff now including raft but will definitely hook up with you & see if I can bludge something. I used to live on Stewart Island in the 80s and did a bit of craying around Doubtful. My main concern is the local variation in conditions. I remember hearing 3 boats within 3 miles of each other report 5, 25 & 40 knots at the same time and this isn't the sort of thing the met boys can predict. Interestingly, I have never had anything but flat calm coming round Puysegar Point but I know that will change. Interesting article about winter cruising here
http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache...sing&hl=en</a>
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Old 11-01-2006, 06:56   #8
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P, if you plan to circle the South Is. I would definitely encourage you to have a sail plan that includes a heavy weather (aka: gale force) foresail. It your headsail when reefed can't give you the right size and shape, it's probably a good idea to think about inner stay options. However, you might make do with a small headsail, subsequently reefed. You need to jump out in some stiff local stuff and see what she's capable of doing.

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Old 11-01-2006, 11:07   #9
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French corrections welcome

You forgot the article - it's 'du jour' or 'de la semaine'; du is a contraction of 'de le' which is masculine and 'la' of course is feminine.
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:40   #10
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Yeah well where us two live, Pete can certainly jump out in some stiff local stuff if he wants. Hey Pete, next 50-70knt Southerly through the straight. Give me a yell, but I am pretty sure I'm busy that day.
Thanks for the info Peter, I will be talking to you about the trip as well when you get back. It is my dream to go down there as well and all the info I have is from ones that have done it. But you can't beat someone that has lived and worked there. Mate, you have certainly got around in your life haven't you
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Old 11-01-2006, 22:52   #11
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De la, De le, Du!! All I can remember from 3 years of French lessons at school is how to say "where is my aunty's potatoe", not a classy way of picking up girls.
He He Wheels, as my parents like to say, I always seem to gravitate to places that have no law except maybe the law of the sea. Whole family calls me the rebel and can't understand why I love freedom so much.
Anyway, thanks for the advice everyone and keep it coming, I'm far from totally confused yet. I am leaning towards a removable inner forestay at the moment as at least it will give me a chance to experience a range of alternatives.
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Old 11-01-2006, 23:19   #12
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Well, from personal experiance, there are three main requirments I suggest anyone should have.
A darn good Furler/headsail, (our purchase has been invaluable) an Autopilot and an damn good Anchor winch.
The later being after I watched some poor fellow hand winching an all chain rode up. It took him ages and I thought how fortunate I was having the Maxwell 2200 on deck.
Those three things has made the boat easy enough for me to single hand her. There are other nice'ities I would love. Like Self tailing winches and roller slides on the main, but they don't stop me from handling the boat on my own. And for ruff weather, being able to do things on your own is important. The next important aspect for me, will be running all systems back to the Pilot house, so as I can controll many aspects from in there, when in seriuose weather.
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Old 12-01-2006, 19:01   #13
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I envy you guys even being there! I agree it is a huge undertaking, but you could figure out the season well in advance -- Get good piloting charts with wind rose, and follow the weather forcasts (marine) vs. actual almanach a day later, preferably some buoys offshore as well. You could do this right now from Antarctica!

Stay really clear of land down West Coast of South Island. I almost bought a place in Karamea about 15 years ago, and the locals at the pub indicated at least 100 wrecks were on the bottom between Karamea and Pancake. I have driven down that coast when it was blowing, and would sincerely prefer 3 simultaneous root canals to being out there on a blow. But last time was really flat, no water in the blowholes, so it is possible to work it out if you're on a cruiser's time clock, not constricted by schedule, as Alan suggests, sometimes waiting days, weeks.

As for sails -- a removable inner forestay would be advisable. I would look for a place inside as well, to rig a turnbuckle from the forestay to the hull bottom. It will make the vberth really crowded, but would be worth it. Then have a really small jib cut flat, have 3-4 reefs in your main, and all of this plus jib on roller should give you enough combinations, which is what you really need in my opinion.

And go in a good season -- I would plan to be doing Stewart Island to Marlborough sounds Dec-March, but this is just gut feeling. (look at wind rose)
Send pictures!

Cheers!
Eugene
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