Yawl mizzen for self steering

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Owly, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Owly
    Joined: Oct 2016
    Posts: 153
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    Location: Montana USA

    Owly Senior Member

    I've been wondering about the use of the mizzen sail on a yawl for sheet to tiller steering , and/or directly as a balance sail. My plan is to convert a Searunner 31 to a junk rig, with free standing keel stepped mast just forward of the main strength bulkhead in the dressing room area, and offset about 10" either to port or starboard to avoid interfering with access to the dressing room.
    There will be no head sails, just a single large junk rig sail split at the mast, with about 20% of the sail area forward of the mast. This leaves me without the ability to balance the boat using a jib, but also eliminates a LOT of vulnerabilities such as all the standing rigging and associated hardware, as well as removing the necessity of things such as travelers, vangs, winches, preventers, sail track and cars, etc, making the boat far simpler and lower in maintenance. It also greatly reduces loading on the sail, as the sail is divided into individual cambered panels with the battens carrying the loads to the mast and sheeting system, as well as removing the need for reefing points........ each batten is a reefing point, and there is no need to tie in reefs due to batten weight. It means that one can reef virtually instantly in virtually any conditions, no cars hanging in the track, etc, one just lets out the halyard, adjusts the sheet and luff hauling parrel as and if needed. It means that tacking involves merely putting the tiller over, and perhaps adjusting the sheeting, which is lightly loaded due to the balance area on the sail. It also means safety, as the forces involved in a tack or jibe are small, and the danger of being cracked on the head and injured is minimal. It also means that sailing on a run is far more efficient, and that sail flogging simply doesn't exist.

    I've toyed with thoughts of a yawl mizzen at the transom for self steering, for balancing the boat to self steer, or sheet to tiller steering, or even to use as a wind vane, as well as a maneuvering sail, riding sail, etc. A place to mount a radar, and even a mast to carry a staysail if desired. It's my thinking that a yawl mizzen sheeted tight and feathered with the wind could even function directly as a wind vane.

    What I haven't found are any accounts of a mizzen being used for self steering, except for one small sailboat where the owner found he could balance his boat on a course with his add on mizzen. I've be very interested in hearing any accounts of this sort of use. Even Slocum didn't relate using his "jigger" in this way on Spray.

    Years of experience has shown me that any idea I've thought up, someone else somewhere has also thought up, and often tried.......

  2. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    You should be able to do that. The tension of the sheet, set in opposition to a spring (bungee cords) can be used for self steering. It is not very accurate, but better than nothing. I crossed from Nicaragua to Eastern Colombia self-steering with sails. In my case I rigged a 25' Coronado as a cutter.
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