Whisker pole recommendations

Moderator: GreenLake

Whisker pole recommendations

Postby holstein » Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:36 pm

Hello All,

I am considering purchasing a whisker pole to use in conjunction with my working jib.

Do you have any recommendations for length and end hardware.

I am considering the forespar 406000, which extends from 6 to 12 feet.

Should I be looking at the model with single or double latches ??

http://www.americanriggingsupply.com/Fo ... erPole.pdf

Bill H
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Postby GreenLake » Sun Feb 06, 2011 1:30 am


I've never owned a whisker pole. For a makeshift solution, I have a nice wooden paddle. It's made from some very light-weight wood. I permanently keep a short bungee wrapped around the handle, with the two hooks sticking out. When I want to pole out the jib, I hook the clew cringle with one of the hooks and wedge the blade where the mast tabernacle would be if you have a deck stepped mast.

That solution has a certain minimalism that appeals to me, but also has the benefit of not cluttering up the boat with yet another special-purpose and difficult to stow item. (The paddle is needed anyway).

The way the jib sets with my arrangement is not ideal, but it came close enough that for many years I didn't feel like bothering with something more fancy. Recently, somebody gave me a spinnaker, and for that I needed a real pole. I made one myself, rather cheaply, and a whisker pole could be done the same way. You need to buy the spinnaker pole fittings, they are not that expensive, and then use MarineTex to glue them into a tube of the desired length.

You could use aluminum, if you can get the right diameter. You'll need 1"ID for the standard "small" size fittings. As it happens, I used a piece of bamboo, which I selected so that it had an ID of approximately 1". I gave it a few coats of varnish for extra protection, and so far it's worked fine. Cost about 1/3 of a spinnaker pole kit (like the ones made by Forespar for dinghies). Ready-made, adjustable ones like you describe must be even more expensive.

I'm not a bamboo expert, but after seeing it used for scaffolding in Asia, and reading about bicycle frames made from it, I just had to try it. At 1" ID and about 1/8" wall thickness it resisted all my attempts to bend it, and seems lighter than an aluminum pole. If you have access to a good supplier, it would be great material, but any other strong and light-weight tubular material would do.
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Postby Bob Damon » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:34 am

In case it makes a difference to you, our class rules specify a whisker pole or spinnaker pole be no longer than 74" end to end. For cruising a longer pole is a a little better but for our jib size only out another 6" or so. I have a twist lock adjustable pole made by forespar. For racing I have it marked to the 74" length but at one time I had a 150 genoa for the boat and the longer pole was great.
Bob Damon
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Whisker Poles

Postby Kevin F » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:54 pm

Well a little stumped...but I will give it a try. :D Do not know much about non " factory" type whisker poles but have had the opportunity to sail with several different Forespar types on several boats. As far as the end link hardware I prefer fittings on both ends. When I used the single end model I had to be much smarter on the sail trim and sheet tension, or use lose the outboard end connection. The twist lock type works well with preplanned adjustments, a no go with on the fly adjustments in my experience. The line control is much better for that but may not be "right" for a DS. One thing to consider is the weight of the pole in question. The lighter the better seemed to work for me. I had one boat where the pole was over sized and sail trim was affected, requiring the use of my spinnaker halyard used basically as a de facto topping lift to ease the weight and aid sail trim. Too much effort for a non spinnaker sail. With regard to length that always a crap shoot considering lots of variables must be taken into consideration, but my rule of thumb with mostly keel boats is 80% of the boom length maximum. At three pounds the 404000 or the 406000 would fit the bill. As Bob above states poles can be a lot of fun in the keep it simple context.

Oh for the stumped part. Working jib will limit the pole performance a 120% would be a bit more powerful and not be outside the keep simple context. Class rules not with standing.
DS 1 #3451
Kevin F
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Postby jdoorly » Tue Feb 08, 2011 1:02 am

What is the overlap of a DS jib? I measured 5.375 ft from stem fitting to mast and thought that would be the 100% LP, and that the foot of the sail, 7 ft, divided by 5.375 gave the jib an overlap of 130%, No?
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Postby GreenLake » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:31 pm

I always thought LP stood for "luff perpendicular", or a line from the clew to a point on the luff, such that the line is perpendicular to the luff.

The LP by that definition correlates accurately with the area of an ideal sail (one where all sides are straight), independent of how high the clew is positioned.

In this case, however, the difference appears to be rather insignificant, so indeed some value around 130% seems to be correct.
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whisker pole

Postby dannyb9 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:47 am

my whisker pole is a 5' wood spar with a 3/8" wood peg glued into one end and a 6" loop of 1/8" line through a hole in the other end. the peg is stuck into the clew of the jib, the jib is wung out till the loop on the other end can be looped around the downhaul cleat on the mast. the jib sheet is tensioned to hold the pole in place...voila! a simple, old, and effective version
ps my pole could be longer to allow the jib to be wung out to 90 deg, but my 'shortish' jib sheets wont allow it. i'd suggest making a longer pole-say,6'- and then checking it in place on the boat to get a length that works on your boat. my "spar" is a 3/4 x 1" piece of syp
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Low Tech!

Postby UCanoe_2 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:09 pm

Danny, thanks for posting a simple, low-tech solution. Could your pole also be used as a boathook?

Specialized fittings are scarce in these parts, and shipping costs $. Dowels and rope are easy to find.
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whisker pole/boathook

Postby dannyb9 » Fri Feb 11, 2011 11:22 am

thanks ucanoe, i can imagine one could use the pole's looped end to snare a cleat on a dock...
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