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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #1  
Old 12-01-2009
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proper Sail use

Greetings all,

If you could be so kind as to clarify the following...
In my search I found where many sail using the genoa alone both in light and heavy winds. Also many state too lazy to raise main or not traveling long enough to bother as reason to go with genoa alone.
Yet I have found as many stating the stress placed on mast and riging is not good and the main is needed to add to strength or support. Also not sure where a discussion on why not to use forestay to secure a hammock.
Soooo can some one shed light on this issue ?
By the way I have a 34' Hunter sloop... roller furling

Thank you
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2009
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I like a balanced boat which means using both a main and foresail. By trimming the sails properly and reefing / furling when necessary, you can minimize weather / lee helm. I also insist on using main when flying any form of spinnaker so that I can bury the chute behind the main.

There is no reason not to use a forestay-hung hammock on your boat.

Jack
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Old 12-01-2009
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I'm not an expert...but this is what I was taught...

As far as sailing with foresail alone... It is extremely difficult to raise or strike the sails unless heading directly into the wind. This is especially true for the main as it will bind otherwise. So, the correct procedure (as I was taught) is to head into the wind, raise the main, then raise the jib/genoa. If the jib/genoa was raised first, there is a danger of having too much lee-helm to head back upwind and it might be impossible to lower the foresail and impossible to raise the main to balance the sail-plan; thus stuck on a runaway boat heading downwind.

However, a roller/furling headsail solves this problem as you are able to strike the jib/genoa quickly during any point of sail. I've seen boats sail into their slips using a roller/furling headsail alone, rolling up the headsail just before they reached the dock.

Now, as far as the stresses go, I'm not sure. Masts and rigging are designed to take specific loads. In light air, I doubt things would be overloaded.

I too have heard of many sailing a genoa in heavy airs. I guess it's your comfort zone. Also, at what point of sail were they? This is something I wouldn't do as my boat's squirly to begin with in heavy weather.

For the hammock response... I can't say I've ever seen a hammock between a forestay and mast, but I doubt you'd overstress anything. However, problems may develope when one lays in said hammock. And, once again, this isn't something I'd try under sail.

Hopefully, there are better responses to come...

Skipper, J/36 "Zero Tolerance"
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Old 12-01-2009
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the captian orders the sailchange/plan,to not heed this call is mutiny
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Old 12-01-2009
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Thank you for the responses so far.
Just to clarify, We were out this week for Thanks Giving a great sail trip in the Gulf of Mexico. On our return Saturday, after seven days at sea, the winds were variable and 3 to 4 kts gusts of 5 to 6 kts when we entered the MS Sound so I doused the main and came in with the genoa alone. On arrival one of the old salts told us that was a good way to brake the mast and this practice was detrimental to the mast and rigging.
As for the hammock I had wanted to place between forestay and mast (when docked or anchored) and again a discussion on one of the forums aluded to the negative effects on rigging. I can't see where my 130lb a$$ would compare to the forces of the wind on rig even with no sails up (I could be wrong).
So I guess my question is am I going to brake something by doing any of the above?
I understand the balance part of using both sails and that it is best practice to use both. My concern and curiousity is the damage that may or may not occur with the above scenarios.
Thanx again for the responses.
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  #6  
Old 12-01-2009
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Old Salts, like those you may come across on a dock or here, have preconceived notions that may or may not be correct. They can also enjoy pulling legs on occasion. Did you know that the crackling sound you hear down below at night is Polyestermites gnawing at your hull? Ask your local marina fiberglass guy about this and and he'll be happy to quote you a price on an eradication program. Your mast may or may not fall down after sailing with just the jib up, but if it does, why wouldn't sailing with just the main up affect it the same way? People routinely sail with only the main up, and with only the jib up. A wild gybe, which may be more likely with only one sail up because you don't get the same "by the lee" signals you would from having both sails up, might remove your rig. It wouldn't be because you only had one sail up, AFAIK. Ask more questions and see if your ol' salts start grinning.
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Old 12-01-2009
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You have to treat the boat as a system so the sail plan is part of it and the hull form and steering are another part. In moderate winds, there is nothing wrong with sailing under genoa alone. In fact, it is advisable in some scenarios where it will balance your helm better(for example running before the wind on many boats). Sometime when you have a nice steady wind around 10 knots or so, try broad reaching with just the genoa up and then try it with just the main up. With just the main up, the boat will try to round up and you will have to work hard at steering (which stresses your steering gear if taken to the extreme) whereas with the genoa up, it will likely be quite easy to steer.

The reason to not sail under genoa alone is related to stress in high winds. By concentrating all of your load on one sail, it will put greater forces on the sail fabric, sheets, halyards, blocks, winches, etc. If you put up the same sail area split between two sails, the forces would be much less. Modern equipment can take a lot of force so you don't need to worry about this until the wind really pipes up. As for the old salt telling you that you will lose your rig, that isn't necessarily the case. The force from the jib is transmitted to the forestay and sheets (your halyard will be stressed some too but it does not provide a driving or heeling force). The force that this stay applies to the mast is by definition in line with the stay because it is not a rigid body. Since this stay deflects very little, the force of the sail can greatly multiply the force transmitted to the fitting on the mast. Since the top of the most is stayed, this force is turned into compression of the mast and more tension in the backstay. It would take a tremendous force to cause the mast to buckle. On most boats, you would have to be carrying a tremendous amount of sail in really windy conditions to have to worry about this at all. However, you do have to worry about shock loading. If you accidentally gybe, you could well bring down your rig but you probably are going to anyways if you main is up. The main does provide a steady (hopefully) force that will keep the mast from pumping for and aft but most masts have large enough sections that this is not an issue.
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Old 12-03-2009
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Klem-
Thank you for your detailed reply.
I take it the gentleman (old salt) might be incorrect, he seems genuine and not the type to be teasing but then again I could be wrong.
My use of genoa alone has always been in light wind 10kts max and variable, those days you seem to go in circles chasing the wind, and running where I find the main more of a burden. Have tried wing on wing but not comfortable enough with the jibe issue.

To sum this issue up, There is no damage or undue stress caused to riging by sailing with genoa alone in light wind -say 10kts-
I hope this is correct.

Unless some one has something different to share.
and as paulk states
Old Salts, like those you may come across on a dock or here, have preconceived notions that may or may not be correct.

Thank you all again
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  #9  
Old 12-04-2009
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Hm. In light winds on a reach I will sail under drifter or spinnaker alone, because the main is just too heavy to fill, so it isn't applying any forces to the mast anyway other than its weight. In any other conditions I keep the main up because the boat just sails better, or because the wind is high enough that I want to be able to blanket the spinnaker behind the main as jackdale does.

I don't believe for a second any of the following claims:

- flying headsail-only in light winds can damage/break the mast. Light winds means less strain on everything.

- flying headsail-only means that all the loads that would have been placed on the main are now placed on the headsail. Control lines and wind place loads on the sail, and nothing else. These loads must balance. If you douse the main there's less sail area taking wind so less load; they don't magically get transferred to the jib.

- flying headsail alone in high winds is more likely to damage the mast than flying headsail and main. Well, jib and main put more or less the same kinds of forces (i.e. forward and leeward) on the mast (if they didn't, they would just be slowing us down). It's not like the jib pulls the mast forward and the main pulls it backward, keeping it balanced or some such thing.

People sail across oceans in the trades with twin headsails up. I think they usually have their main down for this, but even if they didn't, it's still one more sail forward of the mast than abaft it. You'll be fine -- but you should heed the advice that your boat will be unbalanced, slower, and harder to point and hold course.
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Old 12-04-2009
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I do have a slight disagreement with Adam's points 2 and 3. There are some circumstances where having the main up may indeed reduce force on the foresail.

1. In heavy winds with both sails up, you are likely to reef the foresail more than you would under foresail alone. Hence, reduced area = reduced force.

2. On some points of sail, the main may be shadowing the foresail somewhat.

3. When close-hauled, the tension on the main acts as an additional backstay of sorts.

Ideally, you can balance your sail plan to have just a bit of weather helm. Highly desirable if you should ever fall off your boat.

If you don't like sailing wing-on-wing, which is a very unstable point of sail (where we get the phrase "three sheets to the wind"), then don't. If you're making a course dead downwind, you can sail 10-15 degrees off the wind and actually make greater speed to your destination as this is a more efficient point of sail even when you allow for the extra distance and jibing.
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