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A question of downwind sails

zoidberg

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I have a question to put to you, which has been nagging for attention for quite sometime.... and I invite considered opinion.

For quite a while I've been tussling with a refurb, a 'project'... although it didn't start out that way. Now I'm looking at the sails inventory linked with the rigging changes, and I'm still undecided on one aspect.....
.....whether to fit a spi-boom and a furling asymmetric spinnaker.... or to rely for downwind 'oomph' on white sails, poled out.

The boat is a Cutlass27, just a little younger than me. She's quite narrow and relatively light at around 3.5 tons. I've fitted a Seafeather windvane gear, replaced all the rigging whether it need it or not, added a lot of better this's and that's - including an inner stay. There's a diagram below.

It's intended that ALL the foresails will be mounted on furlers.... including the demountable storm jib. ( I've talked that through with sailmakers and riggers, and they agree it is practicable - probably meaning 'This is something I'd like to see!' )
I'll certainly be buying a new genoa and a new 'Solent'-type jib for brisker breeze.

The question I have which is as yet unresolved is whether to mount a retractable spi-boom ( a la Selden ) - it is not worth fitting a bobstay, due to geometry - and hang a furling asymmetric A-sail on it. I already have the hardware.

or...... rely on white sails, poled out when appropriate.

Due to age and infirmity, Alzheimers and alcoholism, I seek to reduce the cockups on the foredeck as much as guile and wit permit, for I shall more often than not be disentangling said cockups on my jack-jones.

Of course, there will be an element of 'how long is a piece of string'. But your esteemed observations are sought.


 

BlowingOldBoots

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"Due to age and infirmity, Alzheimers and alcoholism", is the key point. Stick with white sails and don't bother poling them out, furl them away and sail by main only if on a dead run.
 

capnsensible

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Personally, for long distance downwind, shorthanded, KISS with poled out white sails. One headsail, spinnaker pole, other one on boom.

On delivery yachts, they are often very basic. A prevented main is much better when balanced with some headsail. Did around 1200 miles on main only, once. Was hard yakka keeping the sail area and wind angle right for electric pilot and probably added a few days.....but better than steering by hand.
 

lw395

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Poling out sails is great for long distances in fair breeze.
If you want to make progress downwind under sail when others are resorting to the engine, then some sort of spinnaker is the answer.
Personally, I love sailing in light airs with a big asymmetric kite up.
It's real sailing, but not what everyone wants.
 

Vanquishv12

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Try a search on Simbo Rig (Ian and Jan Simpson). We used this on a transatlantic a couple of years ago And it was easily managed by my wife and I
 

Frogmogman

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FWIW, if you're not planning on using an asymmetric a lot, on a cruising boat you can quite easily fly one without a bowsprit, particularly on a boat as small as a Cutlass 27 where gybing the chute around the outside isn't going to require stupidly long sheets.
 

Stemar

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OK, I know a Snappie isn't the most responsive of boats but, of Jissel, the difference between spinnaker and goosewinged is 1/4 kt, which is why my spinnaker went up once. Once the wind's far enough aft that the main blankets the genny, you can pole out the genny to "windward" and sail goosewinged with a good long pole. I always do it that way rather than having the main to windward 'cos it's a lot less untidy if the wind gets behind the genny than if it gets behind the main. However, all this is for open water with no one else around; having to spend a few minutes taking the pole down and removing the preventer before you can change course is a recipe for some excitement in the Solent.

If it's too crowded or too windy for goosewinged, I wouldn't use the main on that boat, I'd use the genny - it's bigger and it pulls the boat along, so she's likely to be easier to helm, not trying to round up all the time plus, in a rising wind, it's easier to lose a bit if you need to. I remember leaving Newtown Creek for Ryde with the wind up my chuff and wondering if I was being lazy not putting the main up. By Cowes, it was fun and by Wooton Creek, it was a white knuckle ride and I was damned glad the genny furled without giving me any grief. If I'd had the main up, it wouldn't have been nice. That's the trouble with running in a rising wind, by the time you realise you've got too much sail up, getting it down is awkward.

One last random thought. I recall an article about assymetrics. The conclusion was that they're great, far better than a symmetrical spinnaker for cruisers, for all the Alzheimered solo reasons you mention but, for the same money you could have a feathering or folding prop which will give almost the same performance boost, but on all points of sail.
 

jac

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Another vote for the white sails only for ease.

One consideration though - what about twin foresails, goosewinged and no main. You're already talking about a solent jib, a genoa and a storm jib all on furlers - can you use two of those if just a single jib is insufficient for downwind?
 

zoidberg

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One consideration though - what about twin foresails, goosewinged and no main. You're already talking about a solent jib, a genoa and a storm jib all on furlers - can you use two of those if just a single jib is insufficient for downwind?
Yes, that's practicable.

I have a couple of whisker poles which could be pressed into service for that.
 

capnsensible

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Yes, that's practicable.

I have a couple of whisker poles which could be pressed into service for that.
As #3 on our Moody 33 we use one headsail with spinnaker pole, prevented fwd boom for other. Simple and no worry about a folded in half whisker pole!
 

AntarcticPilot

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Yes, that's practicable.

I have a couple of whisker poles which could be pressed into service for that.
Another vote for the white sails only for ease.

One consideration though - what about twin foresails, goosewinged and no main. You're already talking about a solent jib, a genoa and a storm jib all on furlers - can you use two of those if just a single jib is insufficient for downwind?
Isn't there a way of setting twin foresails with a pole between the clews with a flexible link in the middle of the pole? A twizzle rig or some such? Supposed to be a good downwind rig.
 

zoidberg

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Isn't there a way of setting twin foresails with a pole between the clews with a flexible link in the middle of the pole? A twizzle rig or some such? Supposed to be a good downwind rig.

Yes, That's the Twizzle Rig - which has twin poles clipped to the mast. Quite a few have used it, it works, but some have found it promotes 'serious' rhythmic rolling. There are variants, as I recall, and the 'flexible link' - both cobbled together from sailboard flexi-bases or using a clever but complex rope linkage - is likely the one you're thinking of. That produces little rh/rolling as there's no thrust onto the mast.

A websearch on Google Images produces a host of pics and links.

It is perhaps well suited to long-ish ocean passages....
 

Wansworth

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Talking with a jester competitor he used just a main with three reefs and a 135% furling Genoa venturing on to the foredeck in a small boat at sea is inviting problems,least visits the better,he had a 27footer
 

Sybarite

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Yes, That's the Twizzle Rig - which has twin poles clipped to the mast. Quite a few have used it, it works, but some have found it promotes 'serious' rhythmic rolling. There are variants, as I recall, and the 'flexible link' - both cobbled together from sailboard flexi-bases or using a clever but complex rope linkage - is likely the one you're thinking of. That produces little rh/rolling as there's no thrust onto the mast.

A websearch on Google Images produces a host of pics and links.

It is perhaps well suited to long-ish ocean passages....
I thought that the twizzle rig was specifically not clipped to the mast and so did not induce rolling.
 

Laminar Flow

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We inherited an old asymmetric from a larger boat that I cut down&sewed to fit our shorter mast. It nearly doubled our SA and has completely transformed our downwind sailing. Even though my avatar shows a bowsprit now, we used this sail even before installing the sprit. As Frogmogman pointed out the sprit is not really necessary nor do we use a pole with it.
From a reach on down it provides considerable drive and certainly makes the difference between drifting along lethargically or even having to motor. While we have a snuffer for it I have never bothered; having it on a de-mountable furler would of course be geriatric sailing deluxe.

Downwind I have found it best to give it a fairly long leash, both on the halyard as well as the tack. this lets the sail fly well ahead of the boat and if you get the length right the roll of the sail cancels out the roll of the boat.
We did this successfully for some seventy miles from just south of Calais to Dieppe in a rising wind and sea with just the spinnaker and the mizzen up. The ride was remarkably stable and pleasant at well over 7kts.

I have also sailed across the North Pacific on an older Robert Clark design that rolled through 100 degr., continuously, under it's symmetric chute.

Crossing the Atlantic (East-West) I boomed out the genny and vanged the staysail on our (previous) cutter. It was slow and rolly. Friends on a Hans Christian 36 made the passage in just 19 days; they flew their spinnaker the whole way. Others who made fast passages did the same.

Unless I were doing ocean passages and trade wind sailing I'm not sure I would bother with a twizzle rig or other specialty types of trade wind rigs.

For coastal cruising and even an occasional offshore passage, I think there is nothing that will give sailing a bit more pizzazz and versatility as a code zero or an asymmetric.
 

Frogmogman

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Quite so. What Stemar says may be true when you are running dead downwind, but on other points of off-wind sailing, particularly in light airs, an A sail can make the difference between sailing and motoring.
 

lw395

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Poled out white sails are great when there's enough wind to blow you along at a speed you're happy with.
Asy's are great in the light stuff and when you're happy not to go dead downwind.
A conventional spinnaker is sometimes the most effective way of making downwind progress.
 

Stemar

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Agreed, on a fully crewed boat, but

Due to age and infirmity, Alzheimers and alcoholism, I seek to reduce the cockups on the foredeck as much as guile and wit permit, for I shall more often than not be disentangling said cockups on my jack-jones.

I'd still spend the budget on a feathering prop.

If I were rich enough to have both, it'd probably be another matter, but I'd probably still go for the asymmetric and accept that I can't go quite dead downwind, though I seem to remember the asymmetric on a Sun Fast 20 I did the RTI on would go pretty deep if we flew the tack high enough.
 

capnsensible

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Poled out white sails are great when there's enough wind to blow you along at a speed you're happy with.
Asy's are great in the light stuff and when you're happy not to go dead downwind.
A conventional spinnaker is sometimes the most effective way of making downwind progress.
One or two people aboard for a long offshore passage generally go for simple and robust and take the hit on the extra time to get there.

A spinnaker in light airs on a rolly ocean needs a lot of attention and often snags on all sorts of things as it collapses and fills again. After days of this, if its not damaged/ causing damage, most folk go back to basics. Even then, white sails slatting around for days can be very uncomfortable.
 
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