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DON'S LOG: stories, experience and advice

Removable Staysail and Heavy Weather Staysail

Any single headsail rigged boat with headsail on a roller furling/reefing system should have a removable staysail stay and a heavy weather staysail that can be EASILY AND RAPIDLY set up when it blows up and headsail sail area has to be reduced. This is essential if it is desired to preserve the windward going ability of the boat and keep the boat in balance .

The arrival of RELIABLE roller reefing headsail gear in the middle 80’s (to editors until Harken come out with the big gear that they gave to Iolaire to test in 1986 busted up roller furling gear was lying around the rigging lofts in the Caribbean like old trees!!!Olaf offered Iolaire his new gear at a big discount, I said nuts. I said my roller furling headsails, furling on their own luff wire were working fine. Only problem with roller furling headsails furling on their own luff wire they were and all Finally to get the gear tested Olaf GAVE Iolaire the gear and a big yankee J 1 to go with it. It has stood the test of time as it is still on Iolaire working perfectly. Now there are probably almost a dozen good roller furling gears on the market) changed sailing drastically. Geriatric or almost geriatric ma and pa could go cruising on their 50’ cruising boat without the need of a couple of young tigers able and willing to battle wind and wave on the foredeck changing hanked on headsails.

The roller furling/reefing headsail is wonderful but not the be all and end all of the shortening down in heavy weather. If the sailmaker has put two stripes on the luff of the headsail parallel to the luff thus indicating how much sail should be rolled up to reduce the Number 1 to a2, and to a 3, if the skipper does his home work, the sail will preserve its shape and be and effective sail.

( to editors this idea of putting stripes on the luff of the sail was invented by DMS Jr in 86 so I knew when I had a J2, a J3 and to where to move the sheet lead).

The smart skipper goes out in moderate weather rolls the jib to the first stripe and figures the correct lead, then he reefs to the second stripe and again figures where is the proper lead and notes the position of the sheet lead so that it may be correctly re positioned when the sail is reefed to a number two then to a number three.

If this is done the big genoa can be rolled up to a useable G2 if the lead is moved forward. When it is rolled to a g3 the sail begins to bag and is ineffective unless the lead is moved not only forward but also INBOARD

.(to editors I will explain why the lead must be moved INBOARD as well as forward in order to have an effective G2, if you let me write a PROPER article on roller headsails in the future)

However in both cases the center of effort is moved forward disturbing the balance, and it is also moved upwards increasing the heeling force. This is particularly noticeable when G1 is rolled up to G3. (sketch). Also when the sail is reduced the slot between the main and the headsail is lost and tacking angle is increased. Speed through the water may be maintained but the all important VMG speed made good to windward goes down drastically.

Tacking in 90 degrees a boat sails 1.4 miles for every mile sailed to windward. Tacking in 120 degrees means a boat must sail TWO miles to make one mile to windward!!

There is an old English yachtsman’s saying ”gentlemen do not beat to windward” to which my wife of 46 years says ”I obviously did not marry a gentleman” as all too often where we want or must go is dead to windward!!!!!

How often at the end of a long weekend, the home port or port where the boat is to be left is dead to windward and the wind has increase to the point that sail must be reduced!!!!

This is the time to set up the removable staysail stay, hoist and trim the hanked on staysail that is already hanked on the stay stowed in a double zippered turtle bag with sheets attached to the staysail via a cow hitch NOT by bowlines (to editors turtle bag making and why cow hitch should be used instead of two bowlines, with sketch showing cow hitch, stowage again in the long version) , trim it in and roll up the genoa on the foil.

The staysail stay should be set up by a lever that is powerful enough to properly tension the staysail stay with no adjustments of turnbuckles or other tensioning devices needed

.(editors again long version points out that the best one ever made was a bronze one by Merriman out of business 30 years ago, a copy was fabricated out of aluminum by Nautor for the Swan 44 and 47 and is still available. For ¼” wire and under Schafer made the world best one. It was discontinued, then went back in production after an article by DMS jr appeared in CW or Sail. Then after a number of years it went out of production. I wrote another article in Sail or CW. Again it went back in production. These articles were written the first one about 30 years ago, the second one about 20 years ago!!! Hopefully my long article will force them to put it in production again. Presently except for nautor nothing on the market is worth the powder to blow it to hell!!! Long version will show how a standard davey highfield lever can be used for wire ¼”and less unless Schafer puts their perfect release lever back in production)

The staysail stay should run parallel to the head stay meeting the mast about 2/3 the hoist of the fore triangle. This means that the stay will meet the mast about the same place as the head of the reefed main. Most cruising boat masts re overbuilt enough such that the leach of the main will support the load of the staysail stay.

If it is decided that runners are needed they should be attached to the rail cap or deck about the same distance aft of the mast as the staysail stay is forward of the mast. If this is done, the runners can both be left set up when beating to windward

The staysail stay attachment point on deck must be reinforced.

(to editors long version three different methods of re enforcing attachment point, attach to forward bulkhead, or to a rod tying the on deck fitting to stem, or if bunks in the way via a wire with turnbuckle and pelican hook that can be disconnected when not needed. When rough enough to be needed no one will be sleeping in bunks in fore cabin)

The heavy weather stay sail should have no overlap. The foot should be right down to deck level. This means that anyone working on the foredeck cannot go overside. If someone is working on the foredeck and sheet starts flogging, the person is hit in the legs rather than in the face. With no overlap and clew right down to the deck, when tacking the amount of sheet between the clew and the sheet lead is so short, the sail can be re sheeted with only a short bit of the sheet to be ground in on a winch.

With a proper heavy weather staysail set on a removable staysail stay, and a reefed main the normal cruising boat should be able to work to windward in 25 kts gusting 30.

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