sailing rigs

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Converting a Sloop to a Slutter

    Sophie as cutter

    I mentioned the concept of a "slutter," a sloop that is converted to a cutter by adding a removable inner forestay, in my last post on this subject and thought I should expound a bit on the process of the conversion. It is a popular upgrade, particularly on bluewater boats, and of course being able to hoist a staysail can also be handy on a coastal boat. My old Golden Hind 31 Sophie was a sloop when I bought her, and I converted her to a cutter rig with a removable inner forestay, although she became a true cutter, as I also increased the height of the mast and added a bowsprit to enlarge the foretriangle. In the photo up top you see Sophie post conversion, during her very first test sail, flying both a large genoa and her staysail, which in fact was something I rarely did, as it was difficult to tack the genoa around the staysail.

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Ketches, Yawls, and Schooners

    Yawl quarter shot

    I like to use the term "split rig" to refer to any sailplan on a boat where sail area is divided between two (or more) masts, rather than crowded all on to one mast, as with a sloop or cutter. On ketches and yawls, as I'm sure you know, the taller mainmast is forward and the shorter mizzenmast is aft. What distinguishes a yawl from a ketch is more a matter of debate, but I'm firmly in the camp that believes that a yawl has her mizzenmast abaft her rudder. Mizzens on yawls also tend be rather short. On a ketch the mizzen is forward of the rudder and is usually significantly taller. In a classic schooner rig, the taller mainmast is aft and the shorter foremast is forward. On some schooners, however, the masts may be the same height.

  • CRUISING SAILBOAT RIGS: Sloops, Cutters, and Solent Rigs

    Big sloop

    In our previous episode in this series we discussed what I like to call split rigs--ketches, yawls, and schooners--where a sailplan is divided among two or more masts. Cruising sailors once upon a time preferred such rigs, at least on larger cruising boats, because each separate sail requiring handling was smaller and thus more manageable. These days, however, by far the most popular rig for both racing and cruising sailboats is the simple sloop rig. This has a single mast supporting a single Marconi mainsail with a single headsail supported by a single headstay flying forward of it.

    Its advantages are manifest: there are only two sails for the crew to handle, each of which can be hoisted with a single halyard and trimmed with a single sheet. While sailing, there are normally only two lines--the jib sheet and mainsheet--that need to be controlled at any given moment. And because there is but one headsail flying forward of the main, tacking a sloop is easy, since the headsail, even if it is a large overlapping genoa, can pass easily through the open foretriangle.

  • ELVSTROM BLUE WATER RUNNER: Modern Interpretation of Downwind Twin Headsails

    Runner downwind

    Here’s an interesting item my neighbor and erstwhile shipmate Jeff Bolster recently pointed me at. You may recall his Valiant 40, Chanticleer, was unfortunately parked last summer in Road Town, Tortola, and was dismasted in Hurricane Irma last September. He now has the boat in Kittery, Maine, for a refit (she motored on her own bottom from Tortola to St. Thomas, traveled by ship to Florida, then by truck to Maine), and he was thinking this new headsail system from Elvstrom might be worth trying out.

    The basic concept, a symmetric pair of matching headsails for flying wing-and-wing at deep downwind angles, has been around a long time and was once considered de rigeur for bluewater cruisers running down the trades. It’s much easier to get a boat to sail itself downwind with a rig like this, and in the days before reliable self-steering gear this was an important feature. What’s new about the Elvstrom system, dubbed the Blue Water Runner, is these twins are set together on a single torque rope and are controlled with one continuous-line furler.

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