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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wondering after flying a spinnaker for the first time the other day. Do the cruiser type boats have/use spinnakers? If so, are they on a pole you have to take up and down, and move when gybing?

Thanks!
Nancy
 

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It depends on how the individual boat is rigged. Most small cruisers didn't come rigged for a spinnaker from the factory, but the hardware might be added afterwords.

There are two basic types of spinnaker, symmetric ones are flown from a pole and require a place to attach the pole to the mast as well as a topping lift and downhaul.

Asymmetric spinnakers are flown from a bowsprit or the stem of the boat (like a big not hanked on genoa) and don't require a pole. You would just require an additional spinnaker halyard and blocks for the sheets at the back of the boat.

The spinnakers have different uses (apparent wind angles where they work best) and I carry both of them on my boat.
 

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My Catalina 22 came with a spinnaker and pole, and is rigged with blocks for the uphaul, downhaul, and spinnaker sheets.

I haven't used it yet. I'll need to buy a bunch of line, and I'll need to work up the courage to try something as silly as flying a spinnaker on a lake that's only a mile long and is known for really flukey wind shifts. :)
 

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S2 7.9 OD uses a spinnaker (symmetrical) as part of OD rules
Capri 25 OD uses a spinnaker (symmetrical) as part of OD rules
J24 symmetrical "" """
J22 symmetrical """"
J80 asymmetrical """"
J70 asymmetrical """"

and the list goes on.
But those are common boats you'll see on the smaller side.
Any boat can be rigged with either symmetrical, or asymmetrical...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you or all this information! I need to go look at info,on asymmetric spinnakers, since I have never paid attention to them.
Thanks again,
Nancy
 

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Asymmetric spinnakers work best on boats that are rigged to fly them with a bowsprit. Look at any modern J/boat (like a J/70) for an example of how that works.

Asymmetric spinnakers that are made for cruising boats also work, but they work best over a fairly narrow wind angle and can't be flown as deeply as you can fly a symmetrical spinnaker. The advantage is that they have much simpler rigging since you don't need the pole.
 

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I would bet that 70% of cruisers don't use spinnakers, though many of that 70 do wing out their jibs on whisker poles or on the otherwise unused spinnaker pole.

But if you live or cruise in light-air land and your next port is straight downwind, an old-school symmetrical spinnaker can give you a useful sailing day on a run at (say) 4 knots, when no spinny means you are crawling along at about 2 knots under sail, or breathing your own exhaust motoring or motorsailing.

Assymmetrical "spinnakers" are really lightweight unstayed big (really big) jibs. Being tacked down on the boat's centerline, they get partially or completely blanketed by the main when you run, or even deep broad reach. And to jibing them is real work, since you have the friction of pullingl the sail around against itself while trying not to let it fill aft of the headstay instead of in front of it, which it loves to do and which you and the boat will hate. They do work nicely on a "middling" broad reach, but you're covering lots of extra real estate to do that if your destination is a dead run or nearly so, plus you're having to jibe more.

I have over-answered your question. I'm a fan of spinnys for cruisers. But I think the old-school syms are more practical.

Oh, and, uh, whichever one you use, make a point of stowing it well before that dark cloud way over there gets too much closer. Much easier that way, spinnakers are Satanic when you get into a sudden squall.
 

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Good advice.

I also find a sock on the spinnaker to be very useful for cruising. I can easily single hand jybe a spinnaker on a pole with a sock by dousing it with the sock, jybing over the main, jybing the socked spinnaker by hand, then raising it again. It takes a minute or so, but is a lot safer and easier than trying to jybe the spinnaker while it is flying singlehanded. It is easier for me than trying to jybe the asym singlehanded while it is flying too.

North Sails and ATN make the best socks. They have a big fiberglass funnel that efficiently douses the chute. Most other socks just have a wire loop sewn into the fabric and it isn't as effective.
 

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Not to hijack the original thread, but since we have all these spinnaker experts together….

The lake I'm on is tiny, it's a mile long north-south and a half mile wide east-west. Because of the way the wind comes over the trees it's not unusual to get sudden 90º wind shifts, especially near the edge of the lake.

Is it crazy of me to even think of using a spinnaker?

And how about using it without the pole? I've seen pictures of C22s running dead downwind with a spinnaker with no pole, just flying free in front of the boat. It seems like that might work in my situation where I'm not racing and will only be able to have the spinnaker up for five or ten minutes before I'd have to douse it and tack back to the other end of the lake.
 

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Well, yes, sort of crazy, but in a good way... ;-)

I wouldn't encourage flying it without the pole, though it can be a useful skill for short period just after you've removed the pole, or just before you've managed to get it hooked on. Spinnies are unstable and wobbly enough even *with* the pole.

Okay, tiny lake, windshifts. Hmmmm. Stay well away from the windward shore (that reduces your small lake to really small, can't be helped I guess). And you'll just get it up and flying when you have to take it down again before you run onto the leeward shore under full sail.

But it sure will make you a good spinnaker handler! Choose light air so you have more time, and less force.

Or get huge earth-movers and dredges to make your lake bigger? I'm out of ideas, but good luck, "flying the kite" is worth learning and it's fun to brag on later.
 

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Caveat - I'm a spinnaker whore. I love them. Thirty years racing foredeck has scarred me for life. I darn near bought a ketch specifically because I could have TWO spinnakers. *grin*

Asymmetric spinnakers work best on boats that are rigged to fly them with a bowsprit. Look at any modern J/boat (like a J/70) for an example of how that works.

Asymmetric spinnakers that are made for cruising boats also work, but they work best over a fairly narrow wind angle and can't be flown as deeply as you can fly a symmetrical spinnaker. The advantage is that they have much simpler rigging since you don't need the pole.
I agree that asymms work best with a sprit, even a small one.

With good control on a tack line the useful wind angle is pretty broad. Tighten up the luff and you can get quite high. Ease it and you can get good rotation to windward as you head well down. This is why the tack retainers like the ATN Tacker are a bad idea.

Good news - you can fly an asymm on a pole and go pretty deep. You'll likely still get better VMG gybing downwind on broad reaches.

Assymmetrical "spinnakers" are really lightweight unstayed big (really big) jibs. Being tacked down on the boat's centerline, they get partially or completely blanketed by the main when you run, or even deep broad reach.
True enough. Flying my cruising chute off our sprit I reef the main as I get deeper and may even drop the main completely. After all the chute is way bigger than the main. Downwind performance is about projected area. Mostly we pole the tack out.

I also find a sock on the spinnaker to be very useful for cruising.
Helpful but not necessary. The darn thing is heavy and storage space required goes up. *sigh* In the end I think they are worth the pain but they are not a panacea.

Is it crazy of me to even think of using a spinnaker?
It is not crazy of you.

And how about using it without the pole?
Don't do that until you don't need to ask the question. You're balancing on a razor blade. You'll get practice gybing a symmetric spinnaker either dip-pole or end-for-end. The minute or so you spend with no pole each time will build the skills you need to try this for longer periods.

It certainly isn't something to try single-handed, or even short-handed with inexperienced sailors.
 

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I think I will give it a try. I guess I need figure out how much line I'll need to rig it all.

How about this idea: On a light wind day anchor off the stern so the boat is pointing downwind, and practice putting the spinnaker up and down while anchored. Would that work?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am always amazed at how knowledgeable and generous so many of you are with that knowledge. Thank you so much!! I want to see a J70 with a spinnaker now!!!
Nancy
 

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Nancy: another option, if the boat you choose does not include a spinnaker & pole, is a drifter sail. AkA gennaker, aka screecher, aka Code Zero.... You'll hear a number of terms thrown around, some of them generic, some narrowly intended & proprietary.

Anyhoo, what it is: a middling-large nylon genoa that flies on its own luff. Figure somewhere between 135 and 150%, cut fat, positive luff round. In its Code Zero incarnation, the drifter is primarily meant for headings from, oh, just below a beam reach to a close reach (almost close hauled). Its purpose is to get the boat moving in less than 8kts true wind and to gin up apparent wind thereby. You can sail lower on it, tho it starts to fold up below 120* unless you have a block on the toe rail; and it's big, light, and deep-cut enuf to be really effective poled out to windward, wing-and-wing. They are inexpensive, easy to rig (generally using existing deck hardware), fairly easy to tack and jibe, and quick to douse. Also, they stuff into a tiny bag.

A drifter lacks the raw downwind power of a big-shouldered asym -- or the raw sail area of a symmetrical spinnaker, which is generally half again as big as main + working headsail. Drifter is better upwind (which matters on lakes!) than either, and somewhat easier to handle. I often run our nylon genoa (drifter) singlehand on our SJ21, on inland lakes with v. flukey winds. It's much less terrifying than a spinnaker! We can get as high as 55 degrees to the true wind (tacking thru 110*) with the drifter.

One other possibility -- tho here you start running into serious costs -- is a removable furler for an assym or drifter. Has the same ease of operation as a jib furler, without much foredeck work. To tack or jibe, you can roll up the nylon sail, change tacks, and unroll it on the other side. Presto.:)
 

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Minnsail – Flying a spinnaker on a C22 is a pretty easy affair. I first flew mine while tied to the dock. You will be doing end-for-end gybes which means to gybe - you will unclip the pole from the mast, reclipping it to the (soon to be) “old” spin sheet, then unclip from the old guy and reattach to the mast. Easy peasy and quick too. No after guys are required. All you will need is a topping lift and a foreguy. Your spin sheets can be 3/8 dia and 40 – 50 long. Why so long? When you douse, you will be doing a “letter box” drop right into your companionway so you need your sheets a little long. If you are fancy, you can strip off about five feet of cover (if you are using something like Warpseed line) to take some weight off the clews. Once you get proficient, you’ll be kite flying all the time. I used to fly mine while on dates (Honey, can you hold the tiller for a sec? There’s something I gotta do...)
 

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Oh yeah, I second that! My boat came with a nylon 170% drifter and I love that sail. It gets me sailing on days when the other boats stay in because "there's no wind." Also it's big and colorful.

I've experimented with running the sheets through the spinnaker blocks, because that drifter is so big it feels like I can't move the jib cars back far enough for it. I'm not really experienced enough to know if it works better that way or not.

It can be kind of a chore to tack, though.
 

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Boats with bowsprits are rigged to run asymetrical spinnakers. Running them with a bow sprit is usually much easier than a traditional rigged boat. Once up the spinnaker is just like a large jib at the front of the boat, but can be awkward to take down.

On a traditionally rigged boat with a spin pole they usually run symetrical spins, but this is not always the case. I race a traditionally rigged boat that we have and run both, using a pole. The setup is slightly different and the rigging and gybing is very different depending on which spin we are running.

Symmetrical spins do better down wind. Asymmetricals can point higher and are often sailed at tighter angles to the wind at least when racing.

I have a lot of time flying spinnakers but never on a boat I was Captain. I'd be very hesitant to fly one on a small lake unless the crew really knew what they are doing.
 

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I'd be very hesitant to fly one on a small lake unless the crew really knew what they are doing.
HA... just fly the spinnaker in 5mph or less for a while until you get the rigging, raising, and dousing down and smooth. Hey a tiller pilot helps too.

SHNOOL <--- sailing on a small lake with a masthead spinnaker, many times solo, but never in higher winds until I started to get better at it.
 

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HA... just fly the spinnaker in 5mph or less for a while until you get the rigging, raising, and dousing down and smooth. Hey a tiller pilot helps too.

SHNOOL <--- sailing on a small lake with a masthead spinnaker, many times solo, but never in higher winds until I started to get better at it.
Solo? Awesome!

I picked up a hundred feet of line so I can rig mine. I called a friend and we're going to head out on Sunday and see what sort of damage we can do.
 
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