Spinnaker Setup Notes

Following is a collection of excerpts/comments from the Bulletin Board. Descriptions below are the opinions of the person providing the comments.

Spinnaker Pole

I used 1 1/2" Forespar pole ends from West Marine at approx. $55 per end. Other ends are available (like RWO) through Defender, etc. For the pole I went to a Wire Rope supplier and ordered 1 1/2" Pike Pole tubing (which is anodized aluminum) I got 16' for about $30, and now have an extra pole in my garage. It was just as cheap to get 16' as it was to get 8'. If you have any questions let me know, It's much cheaper to make your own pole.

Greg Smith

Launching/Dousing a Spinnaker

Spinnaker is packed on the forward port hatch. You would normally have a spinnaker bag inside the boat and attached to this hatch. The popular configuration seems to be the use of continuous spinnaker sheets. Spinnaker sheets must go outside of the forestay and all shrouds. 

The spinnaker halyard is the topmost exit on the mast. This halyard is led over the shrouds to the port side to a shackle attached to the port spinnaker ratchet block. This keeps the halyard away from the jib sheets. Just before you tack on the starboard layline to the windward mark, the halyard is released from the shackle so that the spinnaker can be hoisted. Instead of using a person to unshackle this, some have used rubber bands to hold the halyard. Others have also used velcro.

When you are on the starboard layline, it is time to set the pole. The pole arrangement varies. Some have it on the boom and others lay it on the deck. Attach the pole to the afterguy, and clip the other end to the pole car on the mast. The foredeck then needs to open the hatch and begin prefeeding the spinnaker. This is done by pulling on the afterguy back and forth until the end of the spinnaker is near the pole and over the forestay. Then position the pole back towards the desired position. Topping lift and pole car height is also adjusted to the proper position. 

(By the way, the selection of type of pole arrangement - end for end, trolley system, etc. would be the subject of another topic. Also some poles have a bridle, some don't. Some use thick poles some use thinner poles. So let me know if you need help on this).

After reaching the windward mark and while bearing away, the foredeck can now hoist the spinnaker and the middle crew fine tunes the guy to the course and then begins to trim the sheet. The foredeck can now douse the genoa/jib, and place it under the bungee cord on the deck.

Twing lines (tweakers) are used instead of a foreguy on other boats. These lines are attached to the spinnaker sheets somewhere near the hatch area forward of the shrouds on the gunwale. These are trimmed during maneuvers (jibes) which keeps the spinnaker sheet/guy closer to the deck. This keeps the pole from rising and during maneuvers, chokes the spinnaker so it can be controlled. When on course, the sheet side tweaker is eased and the pole side is kept trimmed tight (almost to the deck).

On an S20, the spinnaker is always hoisted from the port hatch and the pole is stored on the starboard side. This makes a "jibe" set unlikely. To do the equivalent of a jibe set, you would have to either (a) hoist the spinnaker without a pole and attempt to balance the spinnaker in the center of the boat (a difficult manuever) or (b) jibe shortly after the bear away set.

To douse the spinnaker, hoist the genoa first. This will blanket the spinnaker so it can collapse. Then, the foredeck should release the spinnaker halyard (usually the foredeck will control the spinnaker halyard while forward) in a controlled way while grabbing the spinnaker from the port side. The foredeck will stuff the spinnaker directly into the hatch. If the spinnaker hoisted properly on the previous run, you will expect the spinnaker to come out properly again without any repacking.

In some cases, it is possible to douse the spinnaker on the starboard hatch (if this is necessary for the course) but this is usually only done if the spinnaker will no longer be used.

Roberto Cordero

Spinnaker Setup with Trolley System vs. End-for-End

My system is a lot like Robert described, it's a trolley system on a bungee around the mast. This does eliminate end-for-end jibes since the inboard end of the pole is attached to the trolley. so, you're locked into a "bayonet jibe" where the pole comes off the guy and the mast, is slid part way back along the main, then the main comes over allowing the pole to go out on the other side.

The extra lines attached to the sheet and guy are called "tweakers" or "twings" and they do provide some downward pull on the guy. (You want to have the twing on the sheet side off except in heavy air.) My spin sheets are run through blocks on the twings, but some use cunningham hooks so they can come off easily.

We've found that, in some conditions, the twings don't pull the pole down enough on a tight reach, so we have a foreguy that's rigged to the pole in heavy weather.

When the pole is stowed, we clip the forward jaw into a line at the gooseneck to keep it from bouncing around.

If you want to use end-for-end jibes, you can still stow the pole on the boom. You'll need something like a ring or cap at the aft end and something to clip it to in the front. You would rig the topping lift to the center of the pole or on a bridle. Rig the foreguy to the center; don't use a bridle here unless you want to strangle your crew. When the pole's stowed, clip the foreguy into the jaw to keep it out of the way and leave some slack in the topping lift so it doesn't destroy the shape of your main.

Where to hoist from: EVERYONE launches from the forward hatch - bags are slow. If you use a bag, you have to re-pack and re-rig before you can hoist again. with the hatch, pull the chute down into the hatch, close it and you can hoist again in a heartbeat. Don't untie any lines, or they'll be fouled when you re-tie them.

You can launch from and take down into either hatch; just remember the chute has to come out of the same hatch it went into. 

Douses are usually done on the weather side of the boat, unless you want to make your foredeck miserable.

Ralph Taylor


Spinnaker Questions

1. What is on the front part of the pole to hold it up?
2. Do the topping lift and down tension lines remain attached?
3. Is it always better to launch out of one of the hatches or use a bag?
4. What is the best method of running the bungee lines to tuck the Jenny during a spinnaker session.

... On my boat, I attached the topping lift to one end of spinnaker pole end fitting and removed the foreguy(down tension sheet). To control the spinnaker pole from rising, I've attached a stand-up block to the port and  starboard railing and about one foot in front the mast. A block is ran through each spinnaker sheet and is attached a sheet to the stand-up block and back to a camcleat by the cabin/cabinway. The spinnaker pole is a trolley system which hold one end close to the boom. The trolley line is a bungee cord attached to starboard clew of the boom the front the mast and then back to the port side clew. I stored one end of the spinnaker pole in a PVC cap near the tack of the boom. The shock tension keeps the pole  in the PVC cap until needed. 

I launch my spinnaker from the port-side hatch since majority of my spinnaker setting is for a bear-away set. I've got two bungee cords running from the bow to the shrouds/aft lowers and then a small bungee cord with hook attached.

Robert Kontra