With Winter setting in and the Turkey Shoot over, it is just about time to begin making plans for the 2019 cruising season. In this article Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland provides some tips and options to make your cruising faster, safer, and more enjoyable experience – without breaking the bank.
Making sailing easy
Properly-shaped sails make cruising easy, since your boat will heel less when the breeze is up. Less heeling makes sailing more enjoyable and more relaxing for the less experienced crew members. One way to reduce heeling is to set your sails correctly for the weather you have. Tucking a reef in before the weather comes in helps build crew confidence and experience. No one cares when you will get where you're going as long as you get there comfortable.
Gennakers with Stashers
Cruising with a gennaker is often viewed as a complicated affair, especially when sailing shorthanded. However, adding a stasher to your current gennaker is an easy option – and they are simple to use! They take the complication out of flying your spinnaker while shorthanded.
A stasher is, in essence, a “sock” containing your spinnaker. After hoisting the sail in the sock simply pull the stasher to the top of the mast using the pulley system and tie it off. To douse the spinnaker simply ease the sheet and pull the stasher back down, dousing the spinnaker inside the sock. Stashers are light, reliable, simple to use even when single-handed, and can be retrofitted to any spinnaker – stashers are an inexpensive way of getting more use out of your cruising gennaker.
Note it is best to have a stasher without a hard fibreglass end – these are heavy and may scratch the inside of the boat - a soft neck stasher is best.
A stasher is also an excellent add-on for club racing using the lightweight version. It makes getting around the cans that much easier. Read more in the UK Sailmakers' Tips to Setting Up & Handing the Cruising Spinnaker in the pdf downloadable below.
A furling gennaker is a considerable upgrade over a stasher. Furling gennakers have evolved considerably over the past half decade – there are now furling gennakers with a cable in the luff of the sail, allowing the sail to furl like a furling genoa.
See the photos below as an example.
The Code D easy furl gennaker is the latest evolution in cruising gennaker design. The sail is quick and simple to furl, straight from the cockpit, and can be left hoisted until safely docked. Having this sail as a ‘top down’ furling option is even better - top down furling produces a tighter furl with no risk of unplanned openings – life couldn’t be easier.
Stashers and Furling Gennakers have completely transformed cruising for many sailors. Long gone are the days of dropping your gennaker in the water and fighting to recover them. Stashes and Furlers make launch and recovery safe, quick, and simple.
In Mast Furling Mainsail - Battens
Furling mainsails with battens can be a curse if not handled correctly. Sails with full-length battens can often jam inside the mast. It is easy to shorten these battens to prevent them jamming. Having firm halyard tension keep the luff and sail in shape when furling. It also helps to keep a little tension on the outhaul to ensure a compact furl. most new in-mast furling mainsails come with a Thimble in the clew. As they are friction free and never brake. They are also a lot lighter.
A good lazy cradle is absolutely invaluable for cruising - they are the best thing on the market. Now that winter is settling in it is a great time to ensure there are small reinforced holes to allow your cover to drain properly, and to add straps so the bag can be rolled away and stowed on the boom when sailing. (Link) the lazy cradle is an excellent way to make sailing easy. While having the roll away option keeps a clean aerodynamic flow over your mainsail,
Genoa – Outboard Lead
When broad reaching with your genoa it is best to move the car forward to ensure the sail does not over twist – even better is to set the sail on an outboard lead. This will result in a notable increase in boat speed while also unloading the helm – making the boat much easier to keep on course.
To determine where to place the outboard lead pad eye simply imagine a line from the middle of the genoa luff through the clew (when the sail is eased for broad reaching) and on to the deck – this is the point where the outboard lead needs to be set from. If in doubt – set it a little further forward. This keeps the sheet load on the leech and creates a twist profile to match an eased mainsail.
Wing on Wing Sailing
This is fun and easy way to cruise with the wind behind you. For boats with non-overlapping headsails sailing wing-on-wing can be done without a whisker pole. Just move to attach a block to the rail forward of the shrouds and run the sheet through it.
This will hold the clew of the jib outside the lifelines and give you enough leech tension to keep the top of the sail flying Having the clew “locked” outside the lifelines also makes it safer for your crew to move around the deck without the clew flop across and hitting them. On boats with overlapping genoas, you can not sail wing-on-wing without setting a whisker pole.
To protect your crew from the boom gybing accidentally, rig a preventer to the boom that will hold it out and protect you from a flying gybe. To make setting a preventer easier, make sure to have it rigged all the time. The best set up is to have a piece of line attached to the end of the boom that is long enough to reach the boom vang bail on the boom. This line should end with an eye-splice. When not in use, the preventer runs along the bottom of the boom and tied off to the boom vang bail. When you want to set it, shackle a line to the eye splice that is long enough to go to a block on the rail just aft of the bow pulpit and then runs aft to a winch.
UV Strips & Maintenance
The biggest killer of sails is UV ray damage. It breaks down the fibres or materials used in your sails making them fragile and easy to tear. Having a well-maintained UV strip on the leech and foot of your roller furling genoa is essential to ensure a long lasting sail.
Over time the stitching on the UV strip breaks down, as does the canvas fabric itself. UV strips are sacrificial. There is no stopping UV rays – it is best the replaceable canvas UV strip takes the brunt of the damage rather than your precious sail!
It is also important to check common wear points such as spreader patches, stanchion patches, and where the sail contact the radar dome/deck light if fitted.
Leech Line Cleats
Ensure your main and genoa have good leech line cleats. As the old saying goes – “a flappy sail is not a happy sail” – leech flutter breaks down sail fabric over time. It is very easy to avoid by having your leech lines correctly tensioned.
Annual servicing of your sails is essential to getting off on the right foot for the coming season. Checking over, drying, and correctly storing your sails will go a long way to ensuring you are ready to go sailing on the first nice day of spring.
Please be careful when using cleaning agents on the sail. As they may burn the sail fabric. Only use recommended cleaning products. Always add your spreader and station patches on the sail so they protect the base layer fabric.