am an old-schooler when it comes to jib selection. So I guess it's
a good thing I learned to sail in the seventies when hank-on Dacron
sails were the norm. If I was born in forties I'd probably still
be using cotton sails.
same old-school attitude of mine applies to roller furling jib systems
as well. I'm sure there are many arguments to support roller furlers
on a cruising boat, but the one argument I have against them is
they are a mechanical object with many moving parts. At some point
the thing is going to break, or malfunction. I guess one of the
reasons I like hank-on jibs is they're practically foolproof. (Even
if they are more clumsy, and more work when shortening sail.) Also,
with hank-ons you have an inventory of different sized sails aboard.
Should one sail blow out, there will be others that can be used.
I've been aboard boats with roller furlers where the only head sail
is the one on the furler. For coastal sailing this is OK. For extended
cruises this is foolish. Redundancy is the operative word.
reason I distrust jib furlers is they tend to disassociate the sailor
with the boat. Instead of crew going forward of the mast in all
conditions, thus using balance and agility to change a jib on a
pitching foredeck, sails can be furled from the comfort of the cockpit.
My point is, going offshore is not a leisure cruise. Things are
going to happen out there. If agility is not tested frequently (such
as going on deck to fight down the jib) then I question the ultimate
safety of the crew. If I go forward of the mast to change jibs,
then going on deck becomes second nature. Handholds are automatic.
If there is an unexpected crisis on the bow in the dark, or during
a storm, I will get there instinctively because I have "practiced"
it many times before. Being fully in tune with the boat is a state
of mind that can tip the scales in a survival situation.
boats have gotten bigger over the last decade. Part of this expansion
is due in part to the stock market, but I also believe boats have
gotten bigger because of roller furling sails. Let's face it, taking
down a jib on the deck of a 50- or 60-foot cruising boat is not
going to be easy with a crew of two. With enough wind it might even
be impossible. Rollers make it possible to sail very big boats short
handed, but this kind of mechanical dependency makes me uncomfortable.
our 33 foot sloop DRIVER we carry 7 headsails:
60 sq ft/ 8 oz storm jib
90 sq ft/10 oz storm jib
80% 8 oz jib
110% 7 oz working jib
sail we use the most is the 110% working jib. It moves us along
in most conditions and it is easy to manhandle. The sail we use
the least is the spinnaker. In the higher latitudes, which have
been our main venue of exploration, the wind is either building
up to a gale or dying out from one. Either that, or the wind is
fluky. Combine fluky winds with a ground swell that keeps the boat
rolling and the spinnaker is a headache to fly. All it does is collapse
and wrap itself around the headstay and mast. If the boat is being
steered by a non-electronic windvane, forget it. You will have to
hand steer; every time the boat speeds up and slows down the apparent
wind is going to shift, screw up the windvane adjustment, and send
the boat off course.
of using a spinnaker I have always found success using a Genoa on
a long whisker pole. If the boat is rolling you can crank the sail
tight against the pole and stretch the sail flat. Although the advantage
of the spinnaker is its mass of sail area up high, (catching wind
that may not exist at deck level) the low center of effort of the
Genoa or jib on a whisker pole will help keep the boat more stable
and thus less prone to knockdowns if the wind suddenly increases.
I have also found a wind vane will steer a better course with a
Genoa on a whisker pole. The other alternative in light winds is
to turn on the engine.
am an advocate for simplicity. The less complicated your boat is,
the more connected you are going to feel to the adventure at hand.
Getting up on deck in a blow and dousing a jib is the stuff of excitement:
the pitching bow, the shrieking wind, and the flying spray.
people just think I'm nuts.
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