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  • 1 Post By sailordave
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Old 12-25-2012
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Whisker Pole details

I am looking to get a whisker pole for our 34 foot cutter with a J of 17 feet. The goal is to hold out our gennie when sailing down wind. We have a ring on the front of our mast and are kind of questioning the type of pole end fittings that will work best for us.

Forespar seems to have two that look like they will be easy to use on an extendable pole. One is a "Trigger" and the other that is available is a "Piston". The trigger is a wedge shaped locking device and the piston seems to be a rod that extends to lock the pole in place. Sorry, I have only viewed the pictures on line so have had no chance to get my hands on these components.

Can anyone help enlighten me on the advantages of these pole ends? Can you advise if one end is used inboard or outboard? How do they hold up to exposure, sitting out on deck for years? I also need to learn if a guy is used with these poles.

Thanks for your feedback and knowledge.

Hope you are enjoying a very Merry Christmas!


s/v Tango, Cabo Rico 34
Lankford Bay Marina
Chester River, MD
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Old 12-25-2012
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Re: Whisker Pole details

Well, my preference would be for the trigger type fitting. Check out this link to APS in Annapolis. The first item on the page is a FORESPAR UXP fitting which is what I think you're referring to. While not really necessary for a whisker pole they are great on spin poles when you do end for end jibes. And it really is easier to put on the pole ring on the front of your mast; just shove it up and it clicks in to place.
If you have a piston it becomes a two handed operation.
AFA flying the genny.... you are going to want a topping lift, guy and probably a foreguy, although you *can* get away w/o the foreguy. (also known as the down guy, downF***er, et)
One neat trick is to run a 3rd sheet off the genny and put that in the jaws of the pole. DON'T knot the end of this sheet. Then, IF you have to tack or jibe suddenly you just let the sheet run and use the lazy sheet that you would normally use. Leave the pole completely alone and tidy up afterwards.
You can also furl the sail this way w/o having to fool w/ the pole.

Also, NEVER put the loop from the bowline the sheet is tied on w/ in the jaws of the pole!
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Last edited by sailordave; 12-25-2012 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 12-25-2012
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Re: Whisker Pole details


The "Piston" end-fitting is the outboard end that allows for easy release of the sheet. The wedge "trigger" is at the inboard end that allows one to slap the pole end down over the mast ring or car (depending upon how your mast is outfitted). On your boat a line control 12-22 would likely work nicely. (Check Forespar's reference guide on their site at Whisker Poles). With the exception of relatively small boats, the pole needs a topping lift to keep the weight of the pole off the leach of the sail. Likewise, except in limited circumstances, one needs a fore-guy to keep the pole off the shrouds. By adding an after-guy one can position the pole and use minimal tension on the sheet which is an advantage in light air. And, with the pole "locked" in place, one can furl the sail without worrying about the pole until the sail's squared away. In re storage, ideally a pole should be stored up-and-down on the mast so that it can be lowered or raised into place easily, in which case it will be used more often by a short-handed crew. As length increases, so to does weight and awkwardness of use and having a heavy (relatively) awkward pole on deck is a dis-incentive to using it even though it can ease sail management on certain points of sail and hasten a passage.

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Re: Whisker Pole details

Hi Leslie,

Our J dimension is around 19 feet on J Lizzy. We have a Forespar line control wisker pole, model # lc13-24uts-utr I think, since not at the boat and just going from memory of something bought over 20 years ago. I'm looking at the 2011 WM catelog and don't see the inboard fitting that I have. It's not the ring and was the best design for feedom of movement and mounted on the track on the mast. I can store the pole vertical on the mast. A side note is that the track was not mounted quite high enough so that the pole is not completly vertical. This turned out to be good since the pole is off set slightly from the mast when stored allowing me to pass between the club boom and the mast which would not have been possible if the pole was completely vertical. The outboard is a trigger type fitting. I don't use a foreguy, just a topping lift. However a foreguy might be a good ideal to give more control. I really prefer sailing on a broad reach for better speed rather than wing and wing where the pole comes in handy. Sent you a message earlier this morning.

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Re: Whisker Pole details

I have the LC10-18 UXP, and it works great, but I'd have to say I wouldn't like to manhandle the sizes larger than that. A mast track would be a necessity. As it is, if you do it forespar's way (put it over furled jib sheet, then unfurl the jib), there is no need for any force beyond lifting the weight of the pole.
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Old 12-25-2012
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Re: Whisker Pole details

I feel your concern. A few months ago, while moving marinas, I was forced to drop sail, and motor for almost 20 hours, just because the (very odd cold front had changed the) wind direction so it was Dead astern. I was not prepared for this at the time, and have made sure I will not be unprepared again.
I have since played around with a few configurations. I have a 32' columbia, My whisker pole is (non-adjustable, I prfer something can never "slip") and just short of 10' in length. (I run a 140 genoa) It has a quick release piston type on each end... and is symetical, so completely reversable. It makes no difference which end is on the mast and which is out.
My boat had the option of being "cutter" rigged, but it is not, however, I do have the halyard about 80% up the mast that is rigged. I use this as a topping lift for the whisker pole.
And, there is steel rigging running the length of the whisker pole (permenantly attached) that has a RING positioned dead center, (again, symetrical rigging).
I place a block on my toe plate then from a mast cleat, through this block, up to the aforementioned RING. This prevents lifting.

Although I realize the advantages of seperate guy lines (safety), I have found that a sizeable stopper knot (figure 8 or modified surgeon) in the gib sheet, o either side of the whisker pole close to the clew, works better for me. This prevents the jib-sheet's bowline from getting tangled/caught up in the pole..... However it is important to understand, I only do this because I can take 3 steps..pull the quick release piston.... and all is dropped and de-powered....I would not do it other wise.

The only other thing is, if you want optimum speed, (and safety) you should rig up a (gybe) preventer on your boom. It is CRITICAL (at least in my mind) that you do this with the ability to controllably release the preventer line while taking up the main sheet. I use my spinnaker wench for the preventer (or the opposite jib wench).... ensuring I can release it all the way to broad reach on th opposite side if need be...(not that i can foresee me needing to do that).
I have run this set up half a dozen times now, and have become quite comfortable with it...... but, I still consider it an "open water" config, as (especially single-handed) visibility is compromised at best, and maneuverability is no where near where i like it.

I recently took some video of this "set-up" for a friend. It is at the Marina tied up, and of course no cloth flying, but u can see all the rigging and get the idea.
if you would like I could prob, flip to U-tube and show via this site. lemme know if u are interested.

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Old 12-25-2012
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Re: Whisker Pole details

OK, here is the basic, the big thing this doesn't show is the stopper knots, or guy wires, so u can control movement independent of the jib sheet. As stated earlier, since I have the quick release, I don't mind simply using the jib sheet (with stopper knots). This is a matter of personal preference, and I also NEVER run this set up around visible traffic..(other than un-moving oil rigs).

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