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Old 27-07-2009, 11:12   #1
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Headsail Tacking Dilemma on Cutter!

When tacking my cutter rigged sailboat, the headsail has an inconvenient and worrying habit of hanging up on the inner forestay and setting behind the inner forestay, rather than flowing in front of it and setting in the normal fashion. This requires me to leave the helm, and manually manouevre the sail to complete the tack. When the wind is stiff, it sometimes tacks without my 'help', however the noise the sail makes as it whips over the inner forestay suggests it won't be long before tacking wears the headsail through. Does anyone experience a similar problem, and is there a solution?
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:15   #2
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remove the inner forestay
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:23   #3
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this would work if I didn't use a staysail!
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:30   #4
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Furl the headsail, all or partially, before you tack.
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:32   #5
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it's a problem that results from big roller-furled genoas where they don't really belong. and yes, removing the inner stay isn't viable with a club-footed staysail.

The proper rig for a cutter is a small yankee that passes easily through the slot in addition to the staysail. Unfortunately, that rig is a pig downwind in light air, hence the reason so many yankees have been ditched in favor of the genoa -- especially in venues such as the Chesapeake that are famous for light air.

Some people recommend a "tricing line" that goes from the clew of the genoa to a block forward and then back to the cockpit. The theory goes that you pull on the line, move the clew forward, and ease it through the slot as you complete the tack. You might want to try it, but my experience has been that it simply does not work as advertised (yes, maybe I'm doing something wrong. ). I have found the only thing that does work is to furl the genoa as it comes through. It's pretty tricky in light air to get enough speed to successfully tack while simultaneously reducing your power sail, but it can be done. It's a PITA, mind you, but possible.

Better yet (perhaps?), I have been thinking of late that I should ditch the genny, return a yankee (which I'd have to buy -- didn't come with the boat) and also a "cruising chute" or some sort of an asymetrical that I would hank on in light airs.
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:37   #6
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You'll learn to love the staysail if you plan on sailing in the Tradewinds. Also for heavy weather offshore.

I have a furling, high cut 110% jib (some call it a "yankee", but that's not an appropriate term on The Belle of Virginia. ) Here's what works for me. Come up to close-hauled and trim the sails in before tacking. Begin your tack. Just as the bow comes through the eye of the wind, let out about three feet of the loaded sheet and then stop it in order to backwind the genny. The sail should form a "bubble", or bulge through the slot with the extra slack that you gave it. After the bow has come well through the tack, release the sheet and haul in the (now) working sheet, while you keep coming around smoothly, a bit further than your intended course on the new tack. Forming the "bubble" is the key, and it will pull the sail through. Don't horse the sail through the slot with the leeward sheet, just let it come on it's own, and it will. Come back on course and trim.

Under 6 knots, you might just have to walk it through the slot.

p.s. make sure you use a single length of line for the sheets and attach it to the clew with a Lark's Head knot. Bowlines on two separate sheets tend to hang up.
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:38   #7
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I have had two boats and both cutters. The first boat I ran what looks like an extra furling line using the stanchion blocks to the end to the bow. I then attached a short lead to a block. The extra furling line goes out the block and to the clew of the jib. This is then used to pull the clew forward when it hands up.

It works well but it does become a line that can foul on about anything that is forward on the boat. So you have to deal with the line. That was on a 33 ft boat. Next boat has a longer bowsprit and is bigger. The slot is also bigger as is the jib and stay sail too. The clew can still hang up.

Best advice is backwind the sail more than perhaps you already are. You need air pressure to force the sail through the slot. In light air it is just going to happen any way. the lower the clew is on the sail the more you'll hang up too. Cutters normally were made for a higher clew to reduce sail area for offshore purposes. If you have a deck sweeper jib then you are pretty much having to deal with hangups a whole lot more.

This year I added another feature. I no longer tie jib sheets at the clew. I use a larks head knot (cow hitch by any other name) on one continuous sheet. There is less that is there to hang up. It works fine as a knot and it reduced the amount of hangs I get now. You really don't get rid of all of it and you can get better at tacking too. I didn't add the tacking line on this boat.
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:43   #8
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Thanks for the reply sneuman. My boat is a Corbin 39, so we have similar concerns about light air sailing. I think the only viable solution is, as you suggest, to roll the headsail during the first part of the tack. Sailing shorthanded makes this difficult to do without stalling the drive of the headsail and might even stop the boat in light air. I like the theory of the tricing line but your experience does suggest it was one of those 'sounds great, but...' ideas. I shall have to try rolling the sail before tacking on the water tomorrow!
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:50   #9
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Quote:
Better yet (perhaps?), I have been thinking of late that I should ditch the genny, return a Yankee (which I'd have to buy -- didn't come with the boat) and also a "cruising chute" or some sort of an asymmetrical that I would hank on in light airs.
That is exactly what the Original owner did with this boat. They sailed all over west coast Caribbean and east coast that way. For going downwind get a real down wind sail. I have to do some repair work on ours so I can use it. I've thought about having a second jib for summer sailing but summer sailing sucks pretty much any way. spring and fall the Yankee is what you really want and what the boat sails well with. With 20 knots tacking is no big deal. When its' howling the staysail earns it's keep.
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Old 27-07-2009, 11:57   #10
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Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
That is exactly what the Original owner did with this boat. They sailed all over west coast Caribbean and east coast that way. For going downwind get a real down wind sail. I have to do some repair work on ours so I can use it. I've thought about having a second jib for summer sailing but summer sailing sucks pretty much any way. spring and fall the Yankee is what you really want and what the boat sails well with. With 20 knots tacking is no big deal. When its' howling the staysail earns it's keep.
Thanks Paul! Now, I just have to come up with the $$$ for all those new sails!
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Old 27-07-2009, 12:00   #11
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Looks like it will be difficult log off the site for lunch! Thank you all for the great replies.
I do have a 'deck sweeper', and no light air sail to make sailing in under 8 knots a viable option. I shall concentrate on backwinding the genny more, and perhaps switching to a sinlge sheet with a cow hitch to avoid hanging the bowline up on the cap shroud and forward lowers. My first intention was to splice loops at the end of the jib sheets and loop each one at the clew, but a continuous sheet would do the same job. Anyway, I must leave for lunch!
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Old 28-07-2009, 00:53   #12
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Good suggestions above. If you are also flying the staysail, don't bring it across at first, let it backwind instead. It will provide a "backstop" for the genoa, and keep it from wrapping against the inner forestay. Once the genoa is through, go ahead and tack the staysail.
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Old 28-07-2009, 05:24   #13
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I'd trade in the decksweeper for a roller furling yankee with luff pads sewn in, and buy an asymmetrical spinnaker in a sock for light air. That'll give you sails for all conditions from 5 kts to 50+ kts. With a little practice, the asym can be set and doused single-handed with the autopilot or your mate steering the boat.

People that I know who have big genoas on a cutter end up removing the staysail rig and sailing the boat like a sloop because of the hassle of tacking a big foresail. That's a waste, when the solution is so simple, and the staysail is such a great sail in many conditions.
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Old 31-07-2009, 16:53   #14
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Good info reading through. I've had the same problems, part resolved by knotting the sheets more carefully and partly by trying to time things better and not being shy of using the engine to maintain steerage while I go forward to sort things.
Currently each sheet goes to the wrong side of the sail and reverses to pass through the eye and knotted as small as I can trust. It's helped. Considering binding the two together to avoid the lumps catching so readily.
My stay slides up the hard rigging on clips that seem to like damaging the genoa and snagging anything available. But I like the stay sail. Is a 120 genoa better instead of my tired 150, it'll need replacing soon anyway, I want to buy the right one then.
Wrapping the genoa around the fore stay is just bad seamanship and poor timing. I'm trying not to do it too often, it's a sod when the winds a bit fresh and I'm tacking up a busy narrow waterway. Engine ON Quick. Then sort it.
Wearing a lifevest and dog lead doesn't help either.
Last time in 20-27kts the roller reefing wouldn't roll up either, had to drop the sail and then motor back up against wide tide and swell to make up all the ground we'd lost. I've improved the line of entry since and hope that doesn't repeat too often.
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