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Old 25-10-2019, 09:30   #46
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Re: Sailing without the main.

My 40Ft Morgan Giles yacht was very well balanced, no degree of heal would make her gripe. She was 3/4 rig, which may have helped.


I have crossed oceans in her on a number of occasions mostly single handed, with only one sail up. It was always to reduce speed that I had to reduce sail, as she was very easily driven, & would leap off the top of the odd wave when above 8 knots close reaching.



In moderate weather I would first drop the head sail. I could sail on any point of sailing up to about 40 degrees apparent under main.



If it got too heavy for full main I would hoist the 160 Sq Ft working jib & triple reef the main. Next I would drop either the jib or the main, but usually the main. I liked to have the main boom securely lashed down, so I could wrap my safety harness line around it to give security when taking sights.


On one occasion I made an 1100 nautical mile crossing in 6 days, averaging 7.6 knots under the working jib only. The wind was 65 degrees apparent, & the wind vane steered the boat the entire trip. It was quite rough, & I would have liked to have gone a little bit slower, but the storm jib was under too much gear to be bothered getting it out.


With a good boat designed to sail, rather than as a water born caravan, or to rate under a racing rule, sailing under any sail should be easy.
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Old 25-10-2019, 14:38   #47
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Re: Sailing without the main.

I would rather sail with a jib and a double reefed mainsail than with just a jib because if the wind continues to strengthen I can furl the jib and my boat hoves -to (fore reaches slowly at about 65 degrees into the wind) with a lashed tiller and a double reefed main. If the mainsail is already down and I have to furl the jib the best I can do is to lie at a right angle to the wind and waves.
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Old 25-10-2019, 15:36   #48
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Re: Sailing without the main.

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Originally Posted by swordds View Post
I would rather sail with a jib and a double reefed mainsail than with just a jib because if the wind continues to strengthen I can furl the jib and my boat hoves -to (fore reaches slowly at about 65 degrees into the wind) with a lashed tiller and a double reefed main. If the mainsail is already down and I have to furl the jib the best I can do is to lie at a right angle to the wind and waves.
There are more than a few sailors who, when the weather gets bad, drop all sails and turn on the motor. Motoring apparently suits them better than sailing anyhow.

Regarding mast pumping, mentioned earlier: We have a triple spreader mast with inline shrouds, (rods, actually). It has running backstays and running checkstays (sort of a 2nd running backstay). We have a baby stay tensioned hydraulically by a pump in the cockpit, as is the backstay itself. We keep proper tension on the mast at all times, which prevents pumping. We don't find that to be an onerous task and this arrangement permits excellent control of mainsail shape.

We two, now in our 70's, have sailed this boat in that way for over 30 years. I guess we are used to it.

But we do not sail around without a mainsail.
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Old 25-10-2019, 16:18   #49
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Re: Sailing without the main.

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Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
There are more than a few sailors who, when the weather gets bad, drop all sails and turn on the motor. Motoring apparently suits them better than sailing anyhow.

Regarding mast pumping, mentioned earlier: We have a triple spreader mast with inline shrouds, (rods, actually). It has running backstays and running checkstays (sort of a 2nd running backstay). We have a baby stay tensioned hydraulically by a pump in the cockpit, as is the backstay itself. We keep proper tension on the mast at all times, which prevents pumping. We don't find that to be an onerous task and this arrangement permits excellent control of mainsail shape.

We two, now in our 70's, have sailed this boat in that way for over 30 years. I guess we are used to it.

But we do not sail around without a mainsail.
Good luck convincing some of these cruisers how important the mainsail is.....

Sometimes I take my main down early before going into Little Creek with it's twin rock jetties (and strong currents from the bay and ocean at the entrance) and I always feel uncomfortable when I do because I know I won't have much control if the engine shuts down
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Old 25-10-2019, 17:42   #50
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Re: Sailing without the main.

There is some really good answers here, and I would not want to dilute anything said with my repetition, but I could summarize it from my perspective:

As a rule of thumb, if the wind is forward of the beam (reaching), you want a little weather-helm, and if the wind is aft of the beam (running) then you want a little lee helm. It helps with self steering. Weather helm also helps a little to windward because the keel rudder configuration gives a little lift.

If you need to tack into an anchorage, you should be able to do that with just the main. If you are running with a storm, you probably only need a storm jib. You could also use a trysail, but if she keeps trying to round up, you would either set a bigger jib, or take the trysail down. Happy Sailing!
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Old 25-10-2019, 18:03   #51
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Re: Sailing without the main.

Great thread with candid "not-out-of-the-book" disclosures!

When running with a multihull using a head sail alone helps reduce "wind-vane wanders" on wave crests that occur when using a main sail and that markedly compromise efficient tracking . As has been said, head sail "pulling" versus main sail "pushing" is the go.

But, a multihull usually does not support the mast with a back stay, especially if the main has a high roach. Side stays are angled back.

One measure is to attach the main halyard to the attachment of the main sheet on the boom and support the mast somewhat in that way.

Not as supportive as having the head sail and main sail heads parallel.

But, the "wanders" can be painful with the main sail hoisted.

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Old 25-10-2019, 19:51   #52
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Re: Sailing without the main.

Interesting to see the range of answers......me thinks it depends as much on the skipper as the boat!

50ft cutter rig......when we’ve got good winds (20kt+) from astern, not too far to go and am feeling lazy, we’ll just roll out the 120% genoa, and make 7-8kts. Not badly balanced, as we’re largely being pulled by the bow.

And when we’re cruising offshore, once the main is up, and it starts blowing downwind, I’ll work my way down to a double reefed main, then progressively furl the foresails, and end up running downwind under main alone. Less balanced than foresail alone.....but let’s me keep the main up. Otherwise I’d have to turn her into the wind, likely in sloppy conditions, to rehoist the main.
Steering is fine either way - have to work real hard to run out of rudder on DreamCatcher.
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