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  #1  
Old 02-26-2010
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How to buy a whisker pole....

My rigger just quoted me a bunch of stuff the other day and included in that was $3,000 for a whisker pole. I thought that might be a typo, but then going to forespar's site I see that poles can be pretty darn spendy.

On my last boat I used to use my boat hook jammed into the clew of the genoa to great effect. I'd like to go a step on the new boat, but not to the tune of 3K!!!!

I see defender has 1 1/4" poles that are under $150. Will my 450sqft headsail snap that like a chopstick or what? Can I just make my own with some end fittings and aluminum tube?

I feel like I'm missing something here.....

MedSailor
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Old 02-26-2010
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Old 02-26-2010
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You might be able to get away with that. If not I assume that there must be somewhere where you can buy the bronze end fittings designed specifically for this purpose, and make your own spruce pole.

Worst case scenario, you get an aluminum pole, lash a snap shackle to each end, and call it a day, this would still be under $100.

Order Aluminum Tube Alloys 2024, 6061, 6063 in Small Quantities at OnlineMetals.com

2024 T-3 is strongest
6061 T-6 is cheaper

I think that the OD for most whisker poles in your size range is about 3"

I would go ahead and call online metals and see if they can do something longer than 8 ft.

$3000 is absurd.

Last edited by tager; 02-27-2010 at 12:16 AM.
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Old 02-27-2010
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Old 02-27-2010
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You can get an aluminum 13-24 pole for about $1500, looking at west marine, a Carbon pole of the same size is listed at just over $3000! I can not look up Fisheries, as it appears they are redoing there website. Granted a Carbon pole will be half the weight of an aluminum. Not sure twice the price is worth it.

As far as sizing goes, you want something that will be equal to you J measure, ie mast to bow distance. If you have a 155 max genoa, you would want the max size to be about 80% maybe 85% of the foot measure. Much more than that, you do not gain enough speed or shape to be worth it.

I have a friend with an Islander 40, I borrowed a whisker pole from him he got from some one else, it is not going back as it is a 10/18, 2" tubing. He would bend this thing, and it would turn into a pretzal! It is also possible depending upon the head sail config you have, that a spin pole, ie a non telescoping pole would be more to your benifit. Again, use the J figure or since you are not racing etc, you could go to 80% of the big head sail you have.

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Old 02-27-2010
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You may already do this, but keep an eye on Ebay & Craigs list. If you are not in a hurry, some good deals sometimes pop up. Like anything else in life, it's 'buyer beware'. I've been lucky in a couple upgrades (including a nice whisker pole), and made a few others happy with the stuff I did not need any longer.

Mike
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sounds like you got the quote for the half al, half carbon extendible whisker pole. Very light and easy to handle, but yes...$$$$ lot'sa. Also cannot be used as a substitute for a spin pole for a symmetrical spinnaker (not designed for the loads, etc...)
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Old 02-28-2010
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We use a Forespar 13-24 LC Pole for our approximately 650SF 155% headsail, and smaller 135% headsail, to good advantage. The Pole weighs about 40 lbs and can be awkward but with a topping lift and foreguy, both of which can be easily rigged before the pole is raised, it is not difficult to deploy. The foreguy is necessary to keep the pole off the shrouds which would wear on both the pole and shrouds and introduce and unwelcome transverse load in the middle of the pole. The topping lift is necessary to keep weight off the leach of the sail. Defender lists the pole for $1353 plus tax and shipping. (See Line Control Telescoping Whisker Pole )

An alternative would be to carry a single mid-length pole--say 18' long--mounted up-and down on the front of the mast--assuming you have a track that will allow you to adjust the height of the butt of the pole at the mast. With that you could probably use a solid 3-1/2 in diameter pole, say irrigation pipe, and only buy the end fittings, which would save some money but at the expense of versatility. Some friends of ours used this approach with two home built poles on a CT-41 in San Francisco some years ago but they did have some difficulty with the fasteners for the track on the face of the mast, which was the original wooden spar delivered with the yacht in the mid-1970's.

FWIW...
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I'll be using mine on a 120% furling genoa. I was thinking along the line of a fixed length pole. Is the J dimension the correct size? What about if it's furled a little, will it still work or is that where the telescoping comes in.

3.5inch pole seems large to me. If strength is the issue why not just thicker wall diameter of, say 1 1/4 or 1 1/2inch pole? How much of a load do these puppies take anyway?

MedSailor
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Old 02-28-2010
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I just realized the in my earlier post I referred to a "solid 3-1/2" pole when I should have said "single 3-1/2" pole". With the Forespar "pole", there are actually two poles, the outer being 3-1/2" and the inner--extendable portion--3". A single 3" pole would likely do although for the little difference in cost, I'd be incline to used the larger diameter pole but you could likely get away with 3". If your sail is 120% of the J, the pole should be of that length as well or perhaps somewhat longer, considering that it will be extending from the mast. Ideally one would want to match the length from the mast to the tangent point of the clue with the sail forming a smooth flat arc about the headstay (think of the shape of the sail running nearly dead-down-wind when the leach of the sail actually is serving as its "leading edge"). So long as you are using a topping lift and foreguy, a partial furl in the sail won't matter much to the sail.

As for the loading on the pole. if you set up a vector diagram of the sail's clue with due regard for the angle and magnitude of sheet loading, you'll be (or might be) surprised at the amount of compression loading on the pole. As a strut in compression over a fairly long unbraced length, one wants as much radius of gyration as possible hence larger diameter, lighter wall, has it over smaller diameter, heavier wall, but that will likely really only become an issue in fairly strong winds when most people will be disinclined to use a pole anyway.

FWIW...
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