Changing sails while underway

Moderator: GreenLake

Changing sails while underway

Postby Solarwinds » Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:48 pm

Not really sure where to post this, but here goes.
If you have a furler, this question won't apply to you. Now that I think about it, though, for those of you that do have a furler, I'm curious whether
you have a 150% sail when fully extended that you furl in for different conditions.
Now back to the original question. I would guess that most of us have hank on sails and, also, that most of us have the standard Daysailer jib. The "relative advantage" of hank on sails is that you can change sails out for different conditions. So, do any of you actually change out your sails, ever? To me the prospect of going on to the foredeck on a DS to swap out a sail is intimidating because I can't figure how to adhere to the old rule, one hand for me one hand for the boat. I see myself or my crew going overboard very easily. Do any of you do it relatively safely?
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby Baysailer » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:38 pm

I don't change my sails underway and only have standard sails (jib and main) anyway. I do sail off a mooring and usually wait until I'm out a bit before I attach and raise the jib and take it down and remove before I come in so I'm used to being on the foredeck in all conditions. I do not use a tiller tamer or any other means to hold the tiller. If you did and fell off your boat would sail away from you, if you don't it will stop and wait for you.

Before I go up front I pull in the main pretty close to centerline. With the tiller running free the boat will rhythmically sway from a port to starboard tack. By pulling the sail to centerline reduces the arc it swings through. Try it in light to medium conditions to get used to its movement then move to the cuddy and sit in front of the mast to get used to it there. I have also hove to on main alone but that was by accident and I don't remember how I did it.

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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby GreenLake » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:38 am

Some of my crew like to spend time on the foredeck. I keep the painter attached to the bow eye and lead it from there to the foredeck cleat (one turn) and from there to a cleat on the cuddy top. Crew sits down and hooks one leg around that line.

That's good for relatively flat water with, perhaps, the occasional wake.

With a bungee as tiller tamer, I see no problem (in moderate conditions) to go forward even if by myself. (Not walking or standing up). However, as I found out, you can injure yourself without falling off the boat. I was going to fix position lights to the bow and in going forward mis-judged the position of the foredeck cleat. Ended up by "stabbing" myself with it between two fingers. Didn't have the right kit to stop the bleeding and needed to ask for a tow off the water - later had 17 stitches in the ER. (Told that story here before in more detail).

However, that type of injury is a risk with any horn cleat, so not foredeck-specific.

I've mostly gone forward for fixing lights (or turning them on) or clearing a fouled spinnaker (sheet) not changing sails. With some preparation, I can imagine this might go OK. Could be easier for times when the wind slackens and you want to raise a bigger sail, rather than the other way around.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby talbot » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:54 am

Yes, I have a cut-down (95%) jib that I use in heavy weater. I have changed it on the water.
The conditions where I need it are windy, and my wife has prevailed on me to purchase a harness for these situations, which I attach to jack lines run between the oarlocks on the combings and the main mooring cleat on the foredeck.
I don't have a good way to change hanked headsails if a person is alone. If you let the main loose, the boat broaches sideways to the seas and bucks around. It may be easier to run downwind while you are out on the deck. But I'm not sure. One way or another, I have changed a head sail. The main impression I come away with is, "I should have done this sooner."

I never owned a furling jib until we got a Precision 21 with a 150% genoa a few weeks ago. It's not pretty, reducing sail with a furler. The sail never sets right; it has an atrocious shape. But it is incomparably easier. You maintain your course and just bring in the head sail until you are comfortable. And sailing with a crappy jib seems to be better than sailing with no jib.
Last edited by talbot on Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby GreenLake » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:23 am

Last day of the season around here. Nights are getting shorter, so I had to set the position lights. (I don't put them up in advance, because I don't like to risk fouling a spinnaker on them). Flat water, going upwind, with crew tending helm. Very moderate conditions for the weight we had in the boat. Felt totally comfortable just walking about (holding onto the mast/stays). Actually felt more in control than when crawling forward, so now I need to take back that bit from my previous post.

Part of the situation included company (lots of it, a race of sorts) and warm-ish water. So not as high a risk as going solo in freshening winds perhaps offshore a bit on an outgoing tide and uphill in the snow both ways. :)

It's different with crew that you can depend on, but I was surprised to experience again how stable the DS felt. I'm not sure the DS is big enough for jacklines. The problem is you definitely don't want to end up in the water, yet suspended from some line. On a bigger boat I can see that jacklines can keep you inboard if properly rigged. On the DS, if the harness lets you go forward as far as you have to to reach the stemhead, I don't know whether I believe that it would keep you inboard.

Great discussion, by the way, so I moved it to "Seamanship and Boat Handling" where it belongs.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:14 pm

I don't know if this will be helpful. I change sails regularly and walk up on the foredeck regularly, as well. I do as Greenlake described holding onto the mast and stays and only kneel down briefly. Though, I don't change out the hanked on standard jib I just pull it down and then do a quick trip up to bungee it to keep it from blowing around. The other sail that I deploy I have rigged on a bowsprit on a furler. That one is a Doyle UPS and I only use it fully deployed. It is approximately a 165% at 120 ft.².
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby Shagbark » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:49 pm

Reviving an older thread due to GL's comment on the bungee tiller tamer. Just got back from a 7 hour sail on Lake Michigan today. I strung a bungee across the aft of the cockpit hooked to the rear cleats. I put one turn of the bungee around the tiller. I'm amazed at how well the ds tracked. There were times that I wouldn't need to touch the tiller for 15 minutes or so. If it needed a small adjustment, I could give the tiller a little nudge to put me back on course then let it return to its natural position. The tiller would move a little with the waves but always returned where I had adjusted it. Worked like a charm, cheap, and still allows me to move the tiller when I want. :D
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby talbot » Tue Oct 10, 2017 1:47 am

However well the technology worked, what I picked up on was the seven-hour sail.
I spent the afternoon in the boatyard working on trailer bunks, but I will take your story as inspiration.
Congratulations.
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby K.C. Walker » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:08 pm

Good point Talbot… Yes, a seven hour sail this time of year… Very inspirational!
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Re: Changing sails while underway

Postby GreenLake » Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:27 am

+1 on the 7hr sail!

Note on the bungee: I started out with running a bungee between the stern cleats, but upgraded this a bit by adding some fixed points (pad eyes or eye straps would do for this) so I can run a bungee across in a straight line closer to the tip of the tiller.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
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