I have bought a Pearson 26 that came with a whisker pole, previously used to pole out a 130-percent genoa that was hoisted with hanks. What is the best method for using it? I typically sail shorthanded, usually alone. Any suggestions or tips would be welcome.
Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for your question, and congratulations on your "new" boat. Whisker poles are used to pole out headsails for the appropriate points of sail, usually downwind and broad reaching. To deploy the pole, head the boat off the wind and ease the jib or genoa sheet. Then attach the outboard end of the pole to the clew of that headsail. If it's breezy, you may need more than one person to do this. With the sheet still eased, attach the inboard end of the pole to the mast or wherever the fitting is designated for its attachment. Now you can tension the headsail sheet so that the pole will keep the sail full and set at its optimum angle for the heading of the boat. Once you've tried this for a while, you'll easily get the hang of it and setting the whisker pole will soon become second nature. Remember, however, that you'll need to disengage the pole and temporarily stow it if you're planning to jibe, head up, or do anything else that will more than marginally alter the trim of the sail.