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Old 16-05-2011, 21:32   #1
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Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole - Please

I don't know the brand. I can post pictures. It's not a twist lock style, nor a line extended style.

It has two buttons on opposite sides to press to release. These are located on the external tube section. The other end of the external tube has a series of holes spaced at even intervals to offer various working lengths.

As the internal tube extends there are a series of arrows to help the user know when a locking hole comes into proper orientation to lock at different lengths.

I understand the purpose and some things about the use of said pole. For example, to setup with the headsail furled, level from the mast, and furl the sail with pole attached and extend as needed. Downwind, wing on wing, be careful of gybes on the main boom.

Tell me if I'm correct about this. The internal section needs to be at the mast. Because when unfurling, the orientation arrows and area where the internal section enters the external tube is still over the deck where it can be twisted as needed to engage the series of holes to lock the pole.

Or maybe the pole must be extended to the desired length before the headsail is unfurled. In which case the sail may not be completely furled before attachment of the pole. And possibly the external section is attached at the mast instead.

I've only seen videos of the line extended type, so that might be confusing me. At least I'm certain I'm confused.

I started to work on this at the dock today but decided to wait and ask here first.

What's the best way for a solo sailor to get his wing on wing on with a pole?


edit,.....It just occurred to me that possibly the pole is extended to the furled sail and locked into this distanced from the mast to the clew of the furled sail. And this is the only length at which the pole is utilized. Then furl the sail and go without further adjustment to the pole length.

This seems like it may be the only way to do this solo.
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Old 17-05-2011, 00:19   #2
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

I would attach the pole after unfurling the sail. Clip it to the sheet, not the sail eye. Length will be more like the LP or foot length of the sail. Detach before furling.
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Old 17-05-2011, 03:05   #3
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

I have a line-control whisker pole so this may be bad advice, but you will probably want to figure out ahead of time how far your pole should be extended (this will depend on the headsail and the mast-to-forestay dimension). Attach the pole topping-lift and foreguy, set the pole to the proper length, and clip it to the headsail sheet. Push the pole out, easing the sheet as necessary, then attach the mast-end of the pole. This is similar to how you would do an end-for-end spinnaker gybe. Trim the sheet, fine-tune the guys, and you're done.

If you don't have a topping lift and foreguy, you might want to consider adding these. They can prevent damage, and make it easier to control a heavy pole.

If you're in a hurry you can furl with the pole still attached. It will end up lying against the furled sail, which should protect the headstay and the pole. You will need to slack the sheet with the pole on it, and tension the other sheet to get a clean furl. I do prefer to detach the pole before furling though.

The pole may very well be best setup so it is longer than the distance from the mast to the clew of the furled sail -- this will depend on the size of the sail. You generally want to pole out the sail as far as you can. Sometimes the pole isn't long enough to allow this, and in that case you use what you've got and trim as best you can. Sometimes partially furling the headsail will give you better shape and performance when using a short pole.

Does your pole have identical clips at each end, and an attachment ring on the mast? In this case I would put the larger-diameter section at the mast. If there is a different fitting at the mast, that will tell you how to orient the pole.
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Old 17-05-2011, 08:03   #4
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

Thanks for the responses.

I was considering attachment to the sheet (not clew eye) as appropriate based on a youtube video. And also considered the proper length to be whatever mast to furled sail distance measures. It seems this would be the only way to set up solo. That is, set it up and return to cockpit to unfurl and go. Then furl from cockpit when needed.

I have a 130 genoa, and I suspect I could not completely furl the sail with this length set on the pole. But I'll find out. I think at this point I will use this method first in light air to see how the geometry works out.

I do have a topping lift for this but no foreguy. I read online the foreguy wasn't needed for whisker pole use but was for spinnaker use. I've never used either.

I suppose, considering the pole is supported by the lift, I could set it up longer than mast to forestay length. The sheet would extend forward through the pole tip ahead of the forestay and when furled and would slide along the sheet as the sail furls to end up at the clew. The lift could also route to my cabin top winch for adjustment from the cockpit.

I would prefer not to attach the pole on an unfurled sail while underway unless that's the proper or safer method. I will learn to do that if so.

The ends are different. To me, it looks like the end that should be at the mast is on the smaller diameter section of tubing. But that end has what looks like the best spot for a topping lift connection.

The larger tube end has a smaller hook and two holes for lines. (lift and foreguy?)

Hence my confusion.

I just snapped some pics and will put together a collage to post in a few minutes.

Thanks for your time.
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Old 17-05-2011, 08:23   #5
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

Here's a picture. The inset shows the smaller tube diameter end. The overall shows the larger tube diameter closest to the camera.

Probably would work either way, but help me understand which end goes to the mast. The mast has a stainless steel loop about three inches diameter perpendicular to the mast and lying horizontal.

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Old 17-05-2011, 08:25   #6
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

The safest way to attach the pole is when the sail is furled/partially furled if it's not too long. I made a whisker pole that is just long enough to clip to the mast and sheet when the headsail is fully furled. It is then very easy, single-handed, to let out the sheet when I am back in the cockpit. A shorter pole gives me a little less extension but enables set-up without the sail flogging about, a dangerous situation.
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Old 17-05-2011, 08:29   #7
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

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I do have a topping lift for this but no foreguy. I read online the foreguy wasn't needed for whisker pole use but was for spinnaker use. I've never used either.
Optimally, you need a foreguy if you're going to attach the pole to the sheet. If you're going to attach to a clew, a foreguy is not needed.
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Old 17-05-2011, 08:35   #8
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

As somebody previously mentioned the appropriate length varies with sail being used. I believe them indicated LP. According to Forespar the length of the sail's foot is about right too. I would premark the pole for each sail you have so you are not guessing while underway.

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Old 17-05-2011, 09:01   #9
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

Thanks again everyone. I'll check the seminar link.

Bash, I'm thinking I need a foreguy to prevent lifting of the pole while sailing then. Correct? Or does it help control sail shape? I have some lines to rig for this I'm sure. This old boat has a little bit of everything stowed somewhere.

Just wish I could find those stuffing box wrenches I saw when I didn't know what they were. Don't want to lose track of them.


Going to the seminar.


edit,....... BTW, it looks like the big hook would be best used if one was going to hook to the clew itself. Then the stainless loop there would be for the lift. That's on the smaller internal tube as well which makes sense to me.

In this case I need to rotate the tubes 180 degrees to each other, so the big hook faces up and the small hook at the mast faces down. The small hook on the big end makes more sense to me at the mast as this would have less play and movement in use. And the big hook fits the clew eye better.

I think this pole is made to hook to the clew, not the sheet, at a fixed length.

Could it be that this pole can be used as a whisker pole and a spinnaker pole?
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Old 17-05-2011, 11:27   #10
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

The foreguy does three things:
* It keeps the pole tip from rising, which isn't usually a problem with the poled-out headsail, but *is* with a spinnaker.
* It controls the pole angle, and keeps it from hitting the shrouds. As mentioned, this isn't a problem if you clip to the headsail clew, but for several good reasons you usually want to clip to the sheet. Without the foreguy the pole will often end up somewhere in the middle of the sheet and winching in the sheet will only pull the pole into the shroud (possible breaking something).
* The combination of foreguy, topping lift, and sheet let you keep things nice and tight, reducing chafe and controlling sail shape.

The foreguy can be as simple as a spare dockline from pole tip to a cleat on the foredeck. It doesn't need to be as heavy as that, and a non-stretching line is best, but it's not super-critical.
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Old 17-05-2011, 11:34   #11
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

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And the big hook fits the clew eye better.

I think this pole is made to hook to the clew, not the sheet, at a fixed length.
The big end looks perfect for clipping to the sheet. Since the sheet can be a moving target (depending on how you work things), having a big opening makes it easier to get the sheet into the hook.

A spinnaker pole is usually not adjustable, and is stronger than a whisker pole. The spin pole sees much greater strain than a whisker pole, and a telescoping pole might very well buckle under the load of a big spinnaker. If you have a strong whisker pole, and you aren't pushing the boat too hard, it will probably work with a spinnaker, but be careful.
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Old 17-05-2011, 11:36   #12
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

Normally the larger diameter end would be at the mast. Watch your fingertips on those black pushbuttons! You will want a line to release the outboard fitting from the sail/sheet. Run this line along the pole so you can release without leaning over the side! You can usually guesstimate the length close enough prior to attaching. Do not push those black buttons with it attched to t he sail...lots of finger biting force there.
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Old 17-05-2011, 11:50   #13
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole, Please

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Normally the larger diameter end would be at the mast.
You are probably right -- I retract my earlier comment about which end goes to the sheet. My pole has a pin/socket at the mast connection.
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Old 17-05-2011, 14:56   #14
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole - Please

Just thinking out loud here. But I agree with Paul's statement (though retracted) about the big hooked end going to the clew or onto the sheet. The tubular plunger going through without chaffing the sheets.

The picture doesn't show the smaller hooked end very well. (the end with two holes adjacent to the hook) It has a flat triangular shaped retainer with an edge that could chaff the sheet. That retainer pivots inward to connect, and if attached to the mast loop can't be forced open by the SS loop. if at the clew this triangular shape wouldn't fit through the clew very well.

I'm anchored out in the bay now, but the wind picked up and I decided not to try it just yet.

I should take a close up pic of the smaller hooked end.


BTW, I have no spinnaker, so I won't get into trouble with that.

If I hook to the sheet instead of the clew, I'll use a foreguy to prevent the pole from going aft of the beam.

Cheechako, I think I should run a small line between the release loops on each end of the pole for the reasons you mention. I can hold the pole in the center and release both ends that way.
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Old 17-05-2011, 15:03   #15
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Re: Help Me Understand My Whisker Pole - Please

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