I sent this to Stevyboy in a PM, but then thought I'd put it here for other beginners as a guide to spinnaker handling. Apologize for its length, but it's some basic techniques we used with success flying spinnakers on boats ranging from 24 to 40 feet over the past 25 years or so. Keeping it simple.. racers will do things perhaps slightly differently, more quickly, etc, with more refinement but this should help get someone started.
The links to videos and demos will be useful.. check them out for basic techniques. The following is practices we developed flying symmetrical spinnakers on boats 24 to 40 feet over the past 25+years.
Packing the sail.
Numero Uno on the preparation scale. A poorly packed chute will fill in an hourglass that may be tough to get out, esp in a breeze.
Start at the head, and pull the sail through your hands keeping the two luff tapes together but not twisted. Pile the sail behind you, or have a crew take it out into the cockpit for now. When you get to the foot, sit on a berth, and tuck each clew either side of you under your buttock (ie you're sitting on the corners). The foot should be in front of you. gather it up in the middle and stuff as much of the foot into the bag (which is held between your knees) as you can. Then grab both luff tapes, and the "body" of the sail and start pushing it into the bag. Your crew in the cockpit should let the luff tapes run through his hands to keep them from twisting. As you pull fabric, try to gather as much body (middle) as you can until the head patch of the spinn gets to you. Now the bulk of the sail is in the bag, with the three corners out - the head, and the two clews you're sitting on. Carefully push the clew material into the bag along the sides until the clew patches hang 6" over the edge of the bag. Do the same with the head and snap the turtle bag "lid" over the hoop AND the three corners. Done properly you likely won't need to "band" the sail... often more bother than its worth.
This leaves the three attachment points outside the bag, nicely separated. The elastic in the lid keeps it all together
On a boat your size it probably makes most sense to hoist out of the pulpit. This makes last minute decisions on which gybe to hoist on easier.
Hang the bag in the pulpit (the bow railing) - there are usually hooks/straps on the bag for this purpose. Hang it so that the head patch is facing forward, and the two clews at 7 and 5 oclock or so
Run the sheet/guys from the cockpit, thru the turning block, forward outside everything and connect to the clew cringles sticking out of the bag.
Attach the halyard to the head, making sure that you have a clear run from the block above the forestay to the bag (no wraps around the forestay, not run under a shroud)
Attach the pole to the mast, and snag the guy-to-be (on the windward side-to-be) Be sure to hang the pole on the pins, so that the jaw faces upward.
Attach the pole lift and down haul, lift the pole level and cleat the downhaul with about 4-6 feet to spare if you're going onto a broad reach. This is important, as when the sail fills it wants to lift the pole and if you forget to cleat the downhaul then the pole can "sky" and it's hard to bring it back down.
Begin the hoist, and hoist it as quickly as you can. As the sail goes up, someone should pull on the guy, bringing the clew first to the pole end, and then pulling out that 6' of slack in the downhaul as the pole is drawn aft.
By the time the sail is up and the pole is back, pulling on the sheet will trim the sail and it will fill. Settle in on your course, adjust the pole to approx 90deg to apparent wind and ease/trim the sheet to settle the spinn down.
Flying the spinn.
The goal here is to fly the sail as loosely as possible without collapsing. This usually entails easing til the upper luff 'curls', and then trimming slightly to get rid of the curl. This in and out motion is constant, always keeping the trim on the edge of the curl. If you don't get a curl every 30 sec or more the sail is probably overtrimmed.>>
Another good trick to getting trim in the right zone is to watch the lower center seam of the Triradial spinn (if you have one). This center lower seam between the horizontal panels and the foot should be more or less vertical at all times. If the top of the seam is tilted to windward, the sail is too loose (but you should be curling by now anyway) or the pole's too far forward; if it is tilted to leeward then the sail is overtrimmed.
Remember, after a few tugs to get rid of a curl, try to give some back by easing the sheet to find that "edge".
This is the most feared maneuver by most beginners
First of all a good gybe starts with the helmsman. It's ironic that when gybes go bad the helmsman ends up yelling at the bowman when in most cases it's his/her own fault. Steer the boat with a smooth steady turn, coach the crew through the manuever verbally (ahead of time and during). Sometimes it helps to come out a little high to refill the sail quickly and then drop down to your course.
Second, a good gybe requires the bowman to be stable on deck and have a good view of the sail throughout. For this reason we really recommend the "tripod".. the bowman stands at the base of the mast, feet as widely spaced as possible for stability, and his back firmly against the mast. This should put the mast end of the pole just above the windward shoulder. Square up prior to the gybe, bringing the pole back to keep the sail flying, actively trim the sail too. When ready, the bowman reaches across and grabs the spinn sheet then reaches up and trips the mast end fitting. Take the pole off the mast and slip the sheet (new guy) into the jaws and release the pin. Pass the pole (never release the polelift during a gybe - it supports the pole) across the boat, swinging the pole forward towards the new "tack" as he goes. By this time the other end of the pole is near, trip it to release the old guy (if the sail is flying it should pop out on its own) and attach that end of the pole to the mast. During this time the cockpit crew should also gybe the main by whatever means is prudent for the conditions. The crew should then trim the pole and the sails on the new gybe. It often helps to put some slack into the downhaul (but again, cleat it) prior to the gybe. If for whatever reason the bowman cannot get the pole back on the mast, ease some downhaul or some guy to give him some slack to work with. NEVER LEAVE THE DOWNHAUL UNCLEATED!!
The easiest takedown is a leeward one. Ease the guy gently forward til the pole comes up (GENTLY) against the forestay, then ease the guy completely. Make sure the line is free to run. At the same time over trim the sheet until the sail is within reach behind the main. Grab the clew and then gather the whole foot till you've got both clews in your hand. By now the sail is a collapsed tube in the lee of the main. Then ease the halyard and haul cloth, stuffing the sail below (usually down the companionway on a boat under 30 feet) as quickly as you can. When opportunity arises, gently lower the pole to the deck where the bowman can stow the pole and lift and downhaul. Be sure to retrieve all the sheets and secure the halyard somewhere while cleaning up. Make sure all lines are on board before starting any engines.
Repack the chute carefully for the next go.
Again, sorry for the length, it may help someone though.
1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"
".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
Last edited by Faster; 03-19-2008 at 12:16 AM.