Seaworthy Headsail Combinations?

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by RHough, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    I'd like to hear opinions on what is considered a seaworthy headsail combination.

    The dimensions of the boat are:
    25 ft LWL
    30 ft LOD
    32 ft LOA

    I = 41
    J1 = 11.5 (mast to stem)
    J2 = 13.2 (mast to bowsprit)
    E = 12

    I'm starting a new deck layout and don't want to drill holes for tracks for sails I'll never use. :)

    The options I'm considering are:

    Using a single stay to the bowsprit and hank on sails. I can't see having roller furling on a single forestay boat. If a working jib is on a roller the boat's light air and reaching performance is reduced. If a Genoa is on a roller, heavy air pointing and drive are reduced or non-existent. The drawbacks are having to work the foredeck in heavy air and sail storage. Not the most user friendly single/short-handed solution. :(

    Adding a second stay to the stem. This opens up the options of a Solent Rig with a roller Genoa on the bowsprit jibstay and a working jib on the headstay (roller furling or hanked on).

    Another option is a Scutter Rig with a roller Genoa on the headstay and a working jib yankee on the jibstay (roller or hanked).

    Neither of these options require running backstays.

    The Solent Rig requires rolling the Genoa on each tack, but puts the luff of the Genoa in clean air. The working jib is free to tack, but airflow is disturbed by the rolled Genoa on the jibstay.

    The Scutter Rig allows the Genoa to tack easily, but airflow is disturbed by the working jib. The working jib may not need to be rolled to tack through the slot between the stays. (The Scutter Rig is championed by Shannon Yachts). One of the features of a Scutter Rig is that the CE moves down and forward as sail area is reduced. Moving the CE forward should reduce weather helm. On a Solent Rig and traditional cutters the CE move down and aft, adding to weather helm when sail is shortened.

    It has been suggested that I put a Genoa on a furler from the bowsprit and add a stowable stay to the stem fitting. It seems to me that if I'm going forward to set a stay and a jib, I might as well just go forward to drop the Genoa and hoist a Jib. If I leave the second stay rigged with a Jib hanked on and ready to go, I'm faced with the tacking problems of a Solent rig so I might as well add a second furler for the jib.

    With any double headstay rig, getting enough stay tension doubles the load on the backstay and increases the compression load on the mast. Having two furlers also adds weight and windage so the boat will never perform as well as with a single furler or hanked on sails.

    The last option would be to add a traditional inner stay tacked somewhat aft of the stem. If the top of the stay was at headboard height with the main reefed, I might be able to get away without adding runners.

    Help! What works for you? Is the ability to control sail area from the cockpit a seaworthy solution for single-handing? Having two furlers certainly solves the sail storage problem on a small boat.

    Should I stop thinking about this and just start drilling holes and laying down track? :confused:
  2. rayk
    Joined: Nov 2006
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    rayk Senior Member

    Hi Rhough,

    You were casting about for opinions, so here is mine to start with...

    When I started cruising I had a stem/mast head sloop. It came with twin forestays about five inches apart. A roller furler was on the 'inner' fore stay. All rope led to the cock pit. A cruisers dream.

    When I finished cruising (or maybe it is just a rest?), it was hank on sails on a single forestay. For all the inconvenience, it was simpler to do a bit of work and have the exact performance and effect I desired.
    By the way, the whole fore cabin was turned into a sail bin to make it work. A big empty space for big wet sails. Brings a smile to my face now thinking about stuffing the genoa down the hatch....
  3. tri - star
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    tri - star Junior Member

    " The widow's walk began when her husband, Jack, 'twas ordered
    forward to reduce sail.
    The wind, she was gaining in strength, so all hands came on deck.
    As Jack fought with the whipping canvas, the waves also gathered
    in power. Crashing over the rail.
    They were all so busy, wasn't till - long after, that anyone noticed...
    He was gone."

  4. RHough
    Joined: Nov 2005
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Scutter Rig

    Here is a description of the Scutter and why it was developed.

    Link: Single Handed Sail Plan

    "The most important issue for long distance sailing is that one person must be able to sail the boat without assistance in all wind and sea conditions." --- Walt Schulz (Shannon)
  5. tri - star
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    tri - star Junior Member

    It's basic:
    If you are racing, or want that last bit of perfomance, you change the
    foresails all the time.

    If you are off - shore, on watch by yourself - who is on look out, or at
    the helm, while your head is down ? Fighting with various sails and
    jammed equipement.

    For me any system, that keeps me away from the bow
    - in bad weather is the one I want.
    The traditional cutter rig - is traditional for good reasons.
    Since when is weather helm a bad thing ? There are ways to reduce excessive
    weather helm, if it's a concern.
    The key to your concern's - is to get the sail plan layed out first.
    When it's right - then you make the rest of the boat fit the sail plan.

    ' Regards.
  6. rayk
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    rayk Senior Member

    Sloop was handy to me. And working the foredeck was fine in any weather.

    I was more stressed out at the start using roller furling head sails. I had to make sure I wasnt going to be over canvassed as the weather deteriorated. Getting those sails down out of the luff groove was hard work at sea. Running up the next head sail was a pain in the butt. I figured that being permanently under canvassed would be prudent, but stupidly slow.
    I never had a problem with my PRO-FURL, but I figured that the boat didnt need it. So I got rid of it.

    The boat needed the right sail at the right time. That was important to me.
    When the rig was right, I could relax. I learned how to work sails on the fore deck. In all weather. I would stay on deck to reef and change sails until the boat was balanced.

    I was happy to work my headsails. I felt safer because the whole boat was worked properly. Cowering in the cock pit tugging coloured ropes and peering through a fogged up dodger window seemed pretty pathetic to me.

    To trim the headsail, I used a mini size 3:1 block set and 4mm kevlar. Big closed hook over the sheet or through the clew, other end clipped to the deck, and apply leach tension. Foot tension is through the sheet which goes through a turning block aft.
    Try thinking of utility points on the side decks instead of tracks and hard ware in perfect positions. It is easier to experiment with your trim and sheeting angles if flexibility is built in. Different sail shapes can be accomodated too.

    Nothing is more satisfying than making the boat move properly.
  7. ukebert
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    Location: UK

    ukebert blank

    I rather like the look of the Scutter, the fact that the working jib is positioned relatively close to the genoa (relative to traditional cutters) means that the change in handling should not be too severe. The other disadvantage that I see is that with roller furling, the (admittedly short) bowsprit will be permanently out, no retractable bowsprit would be practicle I believe. A lot of windage, and added length.
  8. Crag Cay
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    This is a topic on which I have pondered endlessly over the last 40 years. Sometimes I've thought I have been close to the ideal, but usually after a few thousand miles some shortcoming emerges.

    The Shannon article is pretty good. In particular it mentions the disadvantages of the traditional cutter rig whose evolution was mainly driven by a lack of winch power and unstable sail cloth. I can see that their 'Slutter' may have several advantages, but I have only used the alternative arrangement with a full height detachable inner stay for the smaller headsails set just behind a roller. It's not too bad to set up as the sail can be all ready hanked and bagged, and if you think its use is highly likely, you can leave it set up and furl the genoa for tacking. You do have to swap sails if the storm jib is needed but having another forestay for the storm jib is pretty complex on a 30fter, and relying on the mainsail leach to maintain this stay tension removes the option of going under storm jib alone.

    But the problem I always had, was keeping the inner (despite being almost) masthead forestay tight. In wild conditions, although attached only 300mm or so below the mast head it induced a high degree of mast bend and went noticeably slack. (In-line spreaders, mast head, tall rig, 40ft LOA, very stiff hull). You needed runners to be set up. I know some sweep to the spreaders, (or the extra lay-up on the fore part of the upper mast on a carbon rig) but I like the lack of chafe with in-line spreaders down wind, even though we did use twinned out headsails on very long runs.

    One thing that has changed in the last five years, and something that may be applicable to you, is the use of a free flying Code 0c on a furler from the bowsprit. I call it a 0c as the racing Code 0's have to meet a mid height minimum girth measurement in order to count as a spinnaker. Cruisers don't have this requirement so making a sail to help you to windward in under 10 knots is much easier (cheaper). Forties degrees apparent is easily possible, and when not needed, it is down and bagged.

    You would then have something like a 115% on a Profurl on the stem taking you from ten to twenty five (ish) knots. The only problem with a mast head forestay is fouling the upper part of the Code 0 furler on the upper part of the forestay Profurl?

    You could then have a much shorter detachable inner forestay for the storm jib, but whose deck attachment point would be well forward to keep the CofE right and also to allow the underdeck tie-rod to be clear of the V-berth. This would almost certainly need a check stay, but could be set up well before a blow and would act as a baby stay in heavier winds whilst still being well clear of the 115 when tacking.
  9. MikeJohns
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    MikeJohns Senior Member


    Thanks for the PM, here are some thoughts out of the bag to go with the other posts...

    It’s a big decision, I’d recommend sailing a few combinations and feeling them out yourself. Amongst experienced sailors you will find a different opinion from each person aboard one boat, so consensus is hard to reach.

    Good furlers are reliable.

    I would opt for a “working” Genoa on a furler on the bowsprit and a hank on Yankee and a hank-on storm jib on the stem-head stay, then a generous MPS with a tape luff and no hanks. If you want to keep your demountables to the smaller lighter sails then the yankee can live in a well attached deck bag lashed to the rail. You may find the yankee is only used as a "light" storm jib anyway.

    I’ve used Profurl a lot without problems. I find a high cut on the furler is better, also the sheets can wrap from the furled clew position down and you can get a nice tight bundle this way when snugging down for a real blow.

    It is surprising just how much you can achieve sail balance in heavy going by unfurling a very small amount of the genoa to assist the storm jib and this is very useful at times.

    A furling drum should have it’s own dedicated winch.

    A masthead inner forestay works if the inner terminates close to the true mast top while the outer stay terminates at the end of a the crane, then you get enough separation to stop fouling and the mast will not flex.

    You could use a demountable head-stay aft of the furler for the hank on sails.

    I like running backstays and an inner fore-stay on the upper spreaders, in heavy weather , they really tame this section of the mast . They can be Spectra on a smaller vessel. Then this works well with a staysail position storm jib for windward work, but I usually find we hank the storm jib on the outer stay to help the helm when running.

    My two cents worth, we will all have different ideas here, but stay off that bowsprit at sea!

    Sorry if this is a bit disjointed, I am one man short and have too much work to do these days in my evenings.

    Here's a pic of one type that was supposedly fine for Antarctic exploration not sure what the mast section was.


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    FAST FRED Senior Member

    For me ,the compromises required for window shade sails just isn't worthspace aboard .

    Real sails chosen and matching the wind speed and point of sailing are always superior. The hassle is the sail bags and storage.

    NO PROBLEM , just fit a couple of lazy stays that go from the deck tack point and the bow pulpit. On a sail change , pull down the sail and simply clip it onto a lazy stay , keep the hanks in order.

    Transfer the next choice from a lazy stay , in order , switch halyard and tack and the sheets and hoist.

    A sail bag specifically made for this is OTS and when the voyage is done , the sails can be taken ashore washed and folded ,sails then take little room below.

  11. hiracer
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    hiracer Senior Member

    Very interesting comment IMO. I did not have roller furling on my first boat, 33', and loved how I could walk away from everybody else when it was blowing 18 - 25 knots.

    My current boat, 36', does have roller furling. I'm very conflicted about it. I don't think the convenience is worth the performance loss. But the sail storeage is a big deal on a small boat and it's the tipping factor in favor of roller furling--so far. Your idea is not one I've heard about and I am interested.

    Do you have any pictures of the lazy stays, and what is an OTS bag? TIA.
  12. hiracer
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    hiracer Senior Member

    I have never seen this, and must try it out ASAP. Sounds right.
  13. capnJ
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    capnJ New Member

    What points of sail does this trick work on?
    and what POSs is it ever needed on?

    I am about to buy my first cutter-rigged boat.
  14. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I completely hate halyards lead to the cockpit. In my opinion it is a very bad design. A solo sailor can't douse a sail and control it. You either handle the sail or the halyard; an impossible task for a single person. Halyards at the mast make it possible.

  15. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Ive sailed a cutter for many years. With a cutter you want a big staysail. I dont often roller reef the genoa , I strike the genoa and sail with a staysail. Full main staysail upwind 15 knots true

    The cut of the staysail is for windward work. Narrow angle track, sheeting.

    The staysail is versitile. Double headsail rig upwind and reaching, Downwind 125 awa it is poled to windward of the genoa...long pole needed.

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