Trusted Ally

I have come to rely on the working staysail like a trusted ally, one that has been with me on numerous passages and even around Cape Horn a few times. I cut my teeth offshore doing yacht deliveries to the Tropics. Some deliveries were done in the days before roller-furling was invented, so once the early furling systems came along I could truly appreciate that fact that they were a vast improvement over hanked-on headsails. Many of the boats I have sailed on have had a sail configuration that I have come to know and rely upon: a reefing headsail and hanked-on staysail. As you approach the Tropics night squalls become more frequent, and whenever we see one visually or on the radar, we immediately roll away the headsail and weather the squall on mainsail and staysail alone. Once the wind dies down we unroll the headsail and continue on our way. As a rule, I trust han-ked-on staysails much more than I do a reefed headsail, and many is the time that I have been grateful to know that I have a sail up that can take just about anything a squall can throw at it.

sail that is set from the masthead of the mizzen mast and tacked to a point on the deck. Usually the tack point is free floating. Once the wind is aft of 70 degrees apparent, you can set the mizzen staysail with the tack on centerline. Then, as the wind comes further aft, you can rotate the sail around by moving the tack to the windward side. This allows the plane of the sail to be more efficient. Mizzen staysails are usually a light nylon for small boats or a light laminate for larger boats.

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