Sail Without a Forestay?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Terry Farrell, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Terry Farrell
    Joined: Dec 2012
    Posts: 14
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Tampa, Florida

    Terry Farrell Junior Member

    I sail a Precision 16 non-ballasted dinghy. I always dry sail the boat (trailer it for each use). It is a fractional sloop rig (single pair of shrouds without spreaders) with a large main and 110% working jib. I will be installing a roller-furler on the jib. My jib has a wire luff of the same type and diameter as the forestay. When I set the mast up for sailing, I will always have the jib hoisted - furl it when not using it and unfurl for use. Seems to me that if I have the jib hoisted and never have to take it down that there is no need for the forestay.

    It seems so obvious to me that the original forestay is not needed, yet is seems like a rather radical idea (this will be my first roller-furler). So I pose the question - can I simply eliminate the forestay? Obviously, I will have to take appropriate precautions to make sure the jib halyard is not able to become unsecured. The roller furler I will be using winds the sail on it's own luff - doesn't need a forestay. I have no intention of trying to reef the jib on the roller-furler.

    Here is a link to specs on my boat:

    Here is info on my roller-furler:
    (Its the 5th item down on the page: RWO Endless Line Dinghy Furler)


    Terry Farrell
    Tampa Bay, Florida
  2. lewisboats
    Joined: Oct 2002
    Posts: 2,329
    Likes: 129, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1603
    Location: Iowa

    lewisboats Obsessed Member

    Ross Lillistone has an article in Duckworks about just that... I think it was Monday under February Treasure Chest. I expect that it shouldn't be an issue to remove the forestay so long as the Jib is securely on.
  3. kvsgkvng
    Joined: Jan 2012
    Posts: 212
    Likes: 8, Points: 18, Legacy Rep: 49
    Location: *

    kvsgkvng Senior Member

    I think it is possible to do. The only thing to watch out is excessive stresses in the ball bearing. When designed, the number and diameter of those small spheres may not be meant to take additional compressive force to hold the mast in place. It is one thing to have compression in the bearings from the wind loaded jib, and if you add another stress of the stay compounding on top of the sail stress, this combination may just be a bit too much over the material limits. Again, this is theory and in practice the furling ball bearings may have enough spare capacity to take additional compressive stress. If I do the same thing I would try to tension the jib as little as possible but to provide necessary tension. The worst thing which may happen is that you would have to repack your ball bearings. BTW could you do that on the unit you choose? Did you ask the same question addressing it to the engineering department of the company which manufactures these units? Best of luck.
  4. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    This is a pretty common set up. A couple things to note is that your jib halyard should have a swivel where the luff wire attaches at the top, so that furling and unfurling don't cause problems with the luff wire. The halyard should be of unstretchable material (usually wire with a rope tail). The halyard should have some type of consistent tensioning mechanism.

    When you take the jib down, the halyard is attached to the forestay attachment point so the mast is NOT unsupported and then tensioned to keep the rig stable. You never leave the rig unsupported.

    Most skiffs do this and use the trapeze lines to quickly tension the rig instead of the halyard when the jib is down. This works best with the mast in a gated partner, otherwise you have to keep the halyard under tension when lowering the sail (if you don't have trap lines).

    Given the cost of good sails no one in the skiff fleet leaves their jib up and rolled in the dry sail area.

  5. Terry Farrell
    Joined: Dec 2012
    Posts: 14
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Tampa, Florida

    Terry Farrell Junior Member

    Good point. I thought of that after I posted. The furler has a 900 lb. load breaking strength. I know my stays are not tensioned that much, but I suspect that in some unusual situation - loose stays, large swell, main flapping around - the forestay could well sustain a pretty good jolt from the mast moving around - maybe a jolt of more than 900 lbs. tension. I really have no idea, what kind of tensions a forestay might see on a small boat like mine - anyone know? But perhaps it would be best to leave the forestay in position and install the new furler and the jib a couple inches aft of the forestay.
  6. Richard Woods
    Joined: Jun 2006
    Posts: 2,209
    Likes: 175, Points: 63, Legacy Rep: 1244
    Location: Back full time in the UK

    Richard Woods Woods Designs

    No problem at all doing that, especially on such a small boat. I've done that for years on, for example, my Strider and Wizard catamarans (24 and 22ft)

    I'd recommend a good quality furler, Harken would be my choice. Something that matches the breaking strain of 3mm wire.

    Richard Woods of Woods Designs
  7. michael pierzga
    Joined: Dec 2008
    Posts: 4,862
    Likes: 116, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1180
    Location: spain

    michael pierzga Senior Member

    It shouldnt be a problem. I dont know dingy rollers but larger size units for asymetric sails carry huge loads...2 to one halyard purchase to keep the luff flat

    Do remember that if your halyard was cast off when beating to windward you would have no headstay.
  8. upchurchmr
    Joined: Feb 2011
    Posts: 3,287
    Likes: 259, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 579
    Location: Ft. Worth, Tx, USA

    upchurchmr Senior Member

    If you race your boat to a class rule it might be illegal.
  9. Terry Farrell
    Joined: Dec 2012
    Posts: 14
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Tampa, Florida

    Terry Farrell Junior Member

    Furler is the Weak Link

    Okay, I think I have made up my mind. My standing rigging is 1/8" wire. Industry standard breaking strength is 1780 lbs. The furler I am going to use has a breaking strength of 900 lbs.. If it were a small reduction in strength, I might consider it, but substituting a forestay of half the strength I don't think is too bright. No doubt it would work just fine in most conditions - but just when I do something dumb or something occurs beyond my control that puts enough strain on the mast to bust the furler, well down comes the mast. Been there, done that - no need to experience it again. Thanks to all.
  10. alan white
    Joined: Mar 2007
    Posts: 3,730
    Likes: 123, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 1404
    Location: maine

    alan white Senior Member

    I did it and it worked well. Oversize the furler if anything--- enough to assure the bearings have plenty of extra strength. I wouldn't recommend it on a larger cruiser since failure in that case isn't limited to the repair but could lead to a perilous situation.
  11. wet feet
    Joined: Nov 2004
    Posts: 1,496
    Likes: 472, Points: 83, Legacy Rep: 124
    Location: East Anglia,England

    wet feet Senior Member

    I think its about 40 years since 505's used forestays-similar size boat and similar type of loads.Just fit a Harken high load system and go sailing.How would you ever apply a 900Lb load?

  12. JumpingJax
    Joined: Sep 2012
    Posts: 6
    Likes: 0, Points: 1, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Florida

    JumpingJax Junior Member

    Karver has systems for big boats. They use an "antitorque" luff line, not wire. On larger boats particularly, torsion loading on a wire luff could be an issue.

    Attached Files:

Forum posts represent the experience, opinion, and view of individual users. Boat Design Net does not necessarily endorse nor share the view of each individual post.
When making potentially dangerous or financial decisions, always employ and consult appropriate professionals. Your circumstances or experience may be different.