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Old 04-10-2017, 02:11   #1
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Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Do people sail across the Atlantic with just a main sail and Genoa? What is one to expect doing this with the standard rig?

How critical is it to have a downwind sail like an asymmetrical spinnaker or have a whisker pole?
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Old 04-10-2017, 02:33   #2
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Originally Posted by roberjkellogg View Post
Do people sail across the Atlantic with just a main sail and Genoa? What is one to expect doing this with the standard rig?

How critical is it to have a downwind sail like an asymmetrical spinnaker or have a whisker pole?
Sure you can do it with main sail and genoa alone. But, from East to West you will mostly sail DDW and a big spinnaker is cool for that, I have used mine a lot there. Unless you have a fast boat and prefer to tack ~150AWA with main & genoa. From West to East you will typically have less occasions to use a spinnaker, but a gennaker or asym spi can be helpful.
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Old 04-10-2017, 04:51   #3
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

You'd be well served by doing a bit of searching here on CF in order to self-educate yourself a bit. And to get the perspectives of other members here on similar topics. A good search phrase to use is "sail inventory".

Also, consider that sails needn't be new to work well, just in good condition. And that often they can be recut to fit your boat if they're close in terms of size. This applies to both heavy weather sails, & light air sails. Both of which you'd be wise to look into.

Below are a few threads covering related topics to this thread:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...st-188659.html
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rs-190237.html
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...ry-171110.html
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Old 04-10-2017, 05:57   #4
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

As always some excellent points by Uncivilized, particularly about not needing to be new. You ought to be going down wind so a second hand spinnaker or cruising chute is a cost effective sail. As are a pair of old Genoas, they don't even need to be matched. They are going to be flow for 3 -4 weeks in strong sunlight, but if they save the sun damage, wear and tear on you main plus Genoa then so much the better.

Finally have a search for Twizzle Rig on you tube and on here. The contributor Smackman is a member on CF.

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Old 04-10-2017, 06:16   #5
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Originally Posted by rom View Post
Sure you can do it with main sail and genoa alone. But, from East to West you will mostly sail DDW and a big spinnaker is cool for that, I have used mine a lot there. Unless you have a fast boat and prefer to tack ~150AWA with main & genoa. From West to East you will typically have less occasions to use a spinnaker, but a gennaker or asym spi can be helpful.
These guys did the East to West in the trades (on a Contessa 26) with main and jib poled out. Nice view of the sails around the 4:41 mark of the video.

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Old 04-10-2017, 08:30   #6
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Originally Posted by roberjkellogg View Post
Do people sail across the Atlantic with just a main sail and Genoa? What is one to expect doing this with the standard rig?

How critical is it to have a downwind sail like an asymmetrical spinnaker or have a whisker pole?
We just finished an Atlantic crossing. We had a genny, and an asym (you don't use a whisker pole with an asym, or at least not on a cat), I dearly wish I would have had a Code 0. We had two-three days when it would have been extremely useful.

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Old 04-10-2017, 08:38   #7
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Parasail (the spinnaker with a hang glider type wing in it) was popular. Pole required on a monohull but not on a cat. Read ARC reviews from 2016 for up to date thinking.
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Old 04-10-2017, 08:43   #8
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

We spent three weeks under a reefed main and partially rolled headsail coming east to west.... depends on your luck if you're able to put up a spinnaker. Heck, we weren't even able to sit in the cockpit the entire time as a cross sea kept dousing it with waves every few minutes (bigger boat would have helped this).

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Old 04-10-2017, 09:33   #9
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Did it back in 1998, tje leg from Bermuda to Azores in July, storm jib and 2nd reefed main for about 70% of the time. Would do any ocean crossing without a storm jib.
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:43   #10
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Skylark crossed the North Atlantic from St. Pierre (French colony near Canada) to Baltimore Ireland with just a #2 genoa and a main sail. When I ordered the main from Quantum, I specified that I was not a racer and wanted a "bullet-proof" main sail. We did get to fly a spinnaker on two occasions.

What is more important is where you cross and when. We chose to cross from Newfoundland rather than heading to the Azores. Skylark doesn't have vast storage for water or fuel and I didn't want to become becalmed in an Azores high...

We crossed in June as the North Atlantic pilot showed the lowest frequency of gales and the winds were from the west until we got near Ireland and the wind swung to the southeast.

In the beginning of our departure from North American, we crossed the southerly Labrador current and the water temperature was 8°C and so was the air. We didn't use the propane cabin heater as we weren't sure of its fuel consumption, so for the first week, if we weren't on watch, we were in our sleeping bags. Once out of the Labrador current, things warmed up a bit.

FYI, Baltimore Ireland is an official port of entry and one just goes to the bar and asks the barkeeper to call immigration who is also the customs agent. My crew was allowed to take showerrs at the bar and have a beer while waiting for immigration to arrive.

All in al, it was a great experience and I will do it again in a few years making a circuit from Europe to the Caribbean, up the East Coast to Canada and then back across.
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:47   #11
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

You do not want to be flying a spinnaker or cruising chute downwind westbound in the Atlantic. Especially an a shorthanded situation. The weather changes quickly and with little warning. The wind is usually too strong for such dainty sails. Wrestling these headsails down in a squall is a nightmare. Your configuration should be easily reefed or doused.

Never, ever fly them at night.
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:47   #12
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

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Originally Posted by Bluemansailor View Post
Did it back in 1998, tje leg from Bermuda to Azores in July, storm jib and 2nd reefed main for about 70% of the time. Would do any ocean crossing without a storm jib.
As per OP question we've been discussing bigger head sails but it is true that on the way back (West to East) a smaller head sail would be nice ! My geona furler broke 10 days after leaving st marteen this year. I wish I had a removable stay on my cat...
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Old 04-10-2017, 09:59   #13
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

I'd want at least one back up headsail. Doesn't have to be another genoa but at least a 100-110% jib that will work should you shred your genoa and/or main. The smaller sail might also be used in lieu of a larger headsail if you are expecting a spate of bad weather as it will furl down to storm jib size with way better shape than a large overlapping headsail. I'm not saying swapping out a genoa for a working jib in nasty conditions would be easy. I, for one, dread ever having to change a furling headsail in nasty conditions. They are a pain to change out at the dock in a flat calm but if there is a need, at least you have a back up. BTW, assume your roller furled headsail has a foam or rope luff so it will reef down with better shape.

I wouldn't leave home without a spinnaker pole or stout whisker pole, however. Have sailed almost all the way to Hawaii with the genoa poled out and it worked just fine. Had an asym and a couple of spinnakers but was averaging close to 6 knots on a 25' water line boat and didn't want to complicate my life. Tried the asym but it wouldn't stay full without a pole DDW so pulled the sleeve, stowed it away and went with the 135% genoa. I had a 2' longer than 'J' spinnaker cockroached off another boat. Glad I had it as the whisker pole pretzeled after little more than a day. The full 135% genoa set really nicely with the whisker pole extended out to about 80% of it's extended length but the pole wasn't up to the load. The spinnaker pole was a few feet shorter but, with a role or two in the genoa, worked just fine. With a reguar 'J' length spinnaker pole would almost want to downsize the jib as it wouldn't be long enough to properly pole out an overlapping headsail. The spinnaker pole was a last minute target of opportunity additon for the trip and was glad I had it. Used spinnaker poles are available fairly cheaply so would hunt up a longer than 'J' pole and carry a spare.

After rebuilding the whisker pole, I'm not impressed with the robustnes of their design. The boat was within manufacturers reccomendations for the pole but it just wasn't a large enough diameter. The pole is not new so don't know if they've beefed up the construction but I was way less than impressed with the way the pole was built. The extension control line was dead ended to a stamped stainless eye strap pop riveted to a pole end casting. If the pole hadn't bent, I'm sure the pop rivets would have given up the ghost. Hopefully the newer poles are more robustly built.
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Old 04-10-2017, 14:50   #14
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

When we crossed from The Canary Islands to the West Indies some years ago following the traditional tradewinds route, we used twin headsails as described here:
Tips for a Tradewinds Sailing Passage across an Ocean.

If we were to do it again I'd make sure that both sails were of the same shape and size.
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Old 04-10-2017, 15:13   #15
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Re: Sails for Atlantic Crossing

Sailmakers needles, sailmakers palm, speedy stitcher, waxed thread, hammer, small nails, piece of wood, adhesive backed sail cloth, adhesive backed ripstop nylon, duct tape, and the knowledge how to use them are helpful to have on any ocean crossing.
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