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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 07-31-2006
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Naturale progressions

So Im trying to decide whether to take the next level in my ASA certification (Coastal Cruising), but am wondering whether I should get in a class to familiarize myself with the spinnaker beforehand. Should I learn spinnaker before or after Coastal?
Any thoughts?
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Old 07-31-2006
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I'd do the Spinnaker afterwards.

Many cruising boats are not equipped with a full symmetrical spinnaker, as the amount of crew and training to use it properly is higher. Many cruising boats have gone to asymetrical spinnakers or screacher type sails now.

On a short-handed cruising boat, setting a spinnaker and handling it properly is probably more work than you'd want.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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Old 07-31-2006
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We have a cruising boat and rarely bother with setting a spinnaker. Alternately, when sailing downwind, it's fairly easy to sail wing 'n wing. You probably know this is done by using a whisker pole on the 150 Genoa's clew, extended perpendicular to the boat's centerline, and the main boom sheeted out on the opposite side.

I sometimes even perform this maneuver singlehanded, with the use of my autopilot of course. Reduced visibility however, does become an issue.
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Old 07-31-2006
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After. Lots of cruisers have never set a spinnaker in their lives, and have no intention of doing so.

I like them, they can make a marginal hot downwind day into an "actually sailing" day. But you can get this after Coastal Cruising. Actually, it's easiest to learn it first on a small centerboarder where the forces aren't so great, then translate that knowledge upward into the cruising boats.
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Old 07-31-2006
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TrueBlue, do you need to use a whisker pole for the Genoa? During my ASA Basic certification, we managed a wing and wing without a pole.
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Old 07-31-2006
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Trueblue...

Trueblue, I also do alot of singlehanding, and have learned that it's quite possible on light air days to raise and manage the spinnaker by myself, if I don't bother with the spinnaker pole. I just attach the spinnaker halyard to the head, and the spinnaker sheets to the clew and tack (bottom corners), run the sheets through blocks at the stern end toerail, and am all set to go. Surprisingly, I am able to get reasonable spinnaker shape, without it collapsing, and I have a great time with it. I think the only negative from the absence of the spinnaker pole is that I think the spinnaker flies a bit higher and balloons out a bit more due to not being able to pull it down the the downhaul and the weight of the spinnaker pole.
Taking it down is a bit trickier, but not bad (as long as the wind is fairly light, about 5 knots or less). I cleat off the sheets for a moment (normally I know one shouldn't cleat spinnaker sheets), keep tension on the spinnaker halyard in my hand as I go to the bow, then gradually let the sail down, gathering it on the foredeck as I do so.
You might want to give it a try. I would welcome any suggestions from others as well, if you have ideas for managing this in a better way.
Frank.
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Old 07-31-2006
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Why fly it?

A Spinnaker? What is that again???? Ha Ha.

Since this is an opinion board, I will agree with the above: You probably won't ever fly it. I know very few people that do, unless they are racing. If you are going to singlehand it, it would be a bear. I am assuming since you are taking classes right now, you do not have a lot of experience sailing, and that would not be an option.

If you want to have fun, and are dead set on flying a huge colored sail, go buy a cruising spinnaker. I have singled that and it is not really that complicated... and it is fun. More like a big Genny. I see a use for it. Be careful though. If you are flying it in a hilly or mountainous region close to the shore, the wind can take a bad shift and seriously put your rail in the water or take a knock-down on smaller boats or stronger winds. That being said...

Just run a little off dead wind. Or, if the wind is really feeling tired, may I, er, hm, suggest the Iron Ginny? I have won many races that way and never spilt my beer. (Boy, my credibility on this site has probably hit rock bottom).
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Old 07-31-2006
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We did Coastal Crusing and Navigation first, and have not yet done the spinnaker certificaton. We have an A-sail, and our dealer went out with us few for about two hours to get us started. We'd like a little more experience on our own and decide on certification later.
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You can sail wing and wing without a pole, but on a large genoa, like the 150% he mentions, it sets a lot better and resists collapsing from wave motion a lot better if it is poled out.

The spinnaker isn't impossible to work singlehanding, but it is generally more work than most are willing to do when cruising. The real problems you can get into with a spinnaker are things like a spinnaker broach, especially if you cleat the sheets off as Frank does. Two pieces of gear that make using a spinnaker much more manageable are the snuffer and the tack sleeve.

The snuffer allows you to douse the spinnaker relatively painlessly. The tack sleeve, allows you to fly it like a giant jib, with the tack sleeve wrapped about the furled headsail.

On the ocean, this is less of a problem, as the wind tends to be far steadier, but on a lakes and other smaller land-locked bodies of water, where the wind is very shifty... it can be really dangerous.

Last month, I was on a J/24 when it broached on Boston Harbor. The wind had shifted through almost 80 degrees while we were in the middle of a gybe. I was setting the spinnaker pole, and saw the broach coming, so dropped down to the lifelines and ended up sitting in the water when we went over to about 80 degrees.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 07-31-2006
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Dirty, you've got a J/24 now, right? That chute's an essential weapon for you. And unless you have one very sharp hand on board, or two fairly harp hands on board, you'd probably best not raise one. I had the pleasure to be on a J/24 (three of us) in NYC upper harbor with the chute up when we got a spinnaker wrap on the forestay. Think of it as a live game of "pinball" with us being the ball, every tanker in the harbor being the potential bumpers, and the throttle stuck wide open. What fun it was to get down that wrap! I suppose post-9/11 it must be easier, the USCG would have simply shot us out of the water.

I don't think you'll need the chute for coastal cruising, but your best bet is to call the school you are using and ask them if they think it will make any difference. Usually not, the chute would be in a racing class.

But make no mistake, if the wind has been light and you need to make the restaurant before the kitchen closes....Knowing how to race pays off!
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