Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
Join Date: May 2006
Thanked 124 Times in 112 Posts
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Re: why a storm jib?
I have to disagree a bit with what is being said. But first some definitions. A storm jib is not the same thing as a smaller jib. It refers to a quite small, very heavy sail meant for storm conditions, not 30 knots. So a racing boat might have a #1 (say 150% and they might have two, one with heavier and one with lighter cloth), a #2 (135%), a #3 (110%), a #4 (85%) and a storm jib which would be a much smaller still. On our cruising boat we have a 135%, a 100% both to go on the furled, along with a staysail and storm jib which are hanked and on a removable inner stay.
Now to the use. In 35,000 miles we used the storm jib zero times, the staysail a few times and the 100% once on the way to Easter Island when we damaged the 135%. The 135% was used in some nasty conditions, a few times in excess of 50 knots with perhaps 6 feet of sail unrolled. It is quite flat then and works well. It was built by North and has worked very well indeed for us. It probably has been up for 30,000 miles. Modern sail cloth if it is in good shape is remarkably strong stuff. The 135% is being replaced, not because it is shot but just because it is old and worn. It will go to Bacon and I imagine someone will find a useful, cheap sail that is OK for coastal use. We will likely use it to from the Caribbean to New England and keep the new one for later.
The vast majority of cruising is done off the wind (that is why you choose the route you do - part of the gentlemen don't go to weather approach) and sail shape then does not matter that much. Changing a furler sail when it starts getting really windy, say 35 knots+ is not any easy task on a boat of decent size since the sail really wants to go for a swim when only the three corners are attached to something and the bow is going up and down 8 or 10 feet and the ocean wants to land on deck. In most cases, changing sails happens at the dock when you know the forecast for the day. If you are on a long passage you pretty much stay with the sail you have on. One reason people are cruising with bigger boats now is that they do not change headsails like guys like Chichester and Moitessier did. Those guys were tough and resilient with the number of sail changes they did. If you have a sloop, i.e. no inner stay to put up a smaller sail, it is a problem. This is one reason why I think that Solent stay rigs make a great deal of sense.
On the Great Lakes you don't need a storm jib since you are not going to get caught by a gale that will last for a day or so. Also shelter is almost always not too far away. As someone said, the main problem is thunderstorms and these can bring a lot of wind, but they don't last long so you can roll up all or almost all of the jib if it helps with steering. You can either motor or heave-to (how to do that has been discussed here) and wait it out.
After the refit we have decided to sell Ainia. We want something smaller that would be could for the light summer winds of Lake Ontario, although we plan to spend at least a couple of winters in the Caribbean before heading north.