Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 23 Old 04-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

So it seems many cruisers take down the main entirely and run twin headsails, or a headsail and an assymetric, kite, for ddw passages.

I just learned that running under a small headsail only, no main, is a storm tactic as well, apparently the boat is far more stable downwind without the main. Some good articles here on sa: Some seamanship topics for discussion - Cruising Anarchy - Sailing Anarchy Forums (also some other good safety related topics)

But I always run downwind and blanket the bow with the main when I hoist or douse any foresail, jib or especially kite, if there is any breeze (over say 7-10 knots).

How do you raise/lower headsails without the main in breeze? Let them luff in front of the forestay by releasing the sheets all the way till its up? Can't do that to take it down tho, at least not the jib... (Assuming no furler, I don't have one nor do most race boats)

If you go upwind under jib alone you can luff the main and reef/raise/lower it no prob obviously. Is this what you must do? What if ur running in big air, you may not be able to hold onto the jib upwind without just rounding up, so then what? Just try to manhandle it?
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post #2 of 23 Old 04-20-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

It's a nasty situation and the main reason I'm not a headsail-only guy...
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post #3 of 23 Old 04-20-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

What works will depend upon conditions. Running with just a jib up puts the center of effort of the sail(s) well forward - in the direction of the boat's heading- and so can help stabilize the boat in rough conditions. If the breeze picks up too much and you need to drop the jib(s), they may need to be pulled down. The wind might keep the sail up even if the halyard is released. In such conditions, turning the boat into the wind to luff the jib (and thus help it to drop) might put the boat at dangerous angles to the waves. Cautious sailhandling would call for dropping the sails BEFORE it got too crazy to do it safely. We saw a squall coming once during a Chicago-Mackinac race. We dropped and furled all our sails well before the black cloud arrived overhead. When it hit, the Pearson 37 was pushed at 8 knots dead downwind with no sails up. We had learned, of course, from having blown the head off a spinnaker earlier in the race.
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post #4 of 23 Old 04-20-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

With a hanked-on jib/genoa, the 'best' way to do this is with a jack-line attached to near the head of the jib, then run to block at the stem and run back to at least the base of the mast.
Just 'blow' the (captured) halyard, pull hell on the jack-line (from the relative safety of the mast base or cockpit) until the sail is fully down; no need to release the jibsheet, in fact its better to fully pull-in the jibsheet before dowsing.
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post #5 of 23 Old 04-21-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

With a furled headsail, having no means of heading up to luff the sail is flirting with disaster. The luff tape on furled sails would likely be too tight to pull the halyard down manually in an emergency. The only option may be to blow the sail and hope it could be rolled up before getting wrapped- not a good situation. Not only that but if you're poled out, you may not be able to get the pole detached without extreme danger.

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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

I take it we are talking about hanked on head sails because all you would do is roll up the furler, on a roller furler. The only Hanked on sail I have is the staysail.

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post #7 of 23 Old 04-21-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post
It's a nasty situation and the main reason I'm not a headsail-only guy...
...and the main reason I'm a furling headsail-only guy... (grin)


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post #8 of 23 Old 04-21-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

+1 Jon. Agree. Safest set up for a cruising boat.

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post #9 of 23 Old 04-21-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

Maybe my 60s vintage furling is antiquated compared to newer rigs. Don't you guys have trouble rolling up when there is wind in the sail? I can only roll up effectively when the sail is luffing (or close to it). When I roll in some headsail, I always need to head up to relieve the tension. It seems like when the forestay is deflected from wind pressure, this must be the case with any furler.??

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post #10 of 23 Old 04-21-2013
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Re: Dousing headsails in breeze when the main is down?

I've been caught with just my headsail up and waiting far too long to furl it. This occurs mainly during times when I'm singlehanded, sailing downwind like a bat out of Hell, and stupidly believing the wind will lessen before I need to furl the sail - WRONG!

Each time I've been caught with my sail up and my pants down I resorted to firing up the engine, running downwind as hard as possible, and using every ounce of strength to furl the jib.

I've also turned the bow into the wind and while jib flailed wildly, furled the sail, again, using all the muscle this old man could possibly muster. Of course, this beats the sail to death while you're furling, the jib sheets are flying wildly, and the sail is furled so tight it resembles a toothpick on the bow.

There have been times when I thought to myself "What the Hell would I do if the furling line were to part?" That's why I'm going to change the 10-year-old furling line this week to a new, and larger, furling line.

Good subject,

Gary
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