What to Do When it All Goes Wrong

There will be times when, despite your best efforts, it all goes wrong and the spinnaker ends up wrapped around the headstay. Typically this happens when the sail opens early or it is allowed to wallow in the dead air behind the mainsail for too long. Often the second scenario happens right after the first. Let's look at the premature opening first. If the spinnaker is not banded properly or the stops break too soon, the spinnaker may open before it has been hoisted all the way to the masthead. In this case, you have two choices: either drop the sail and start over again, a good solution for a cruiser, or bear away to a dead run to reduce apparent wind and blanket the spinnaker behind the mainsail, and then hoist the spinnaker the rest of the way. If you choose the latter option you need to make a quick and decisive change of course making sure that the foredeck crew knows what's going on. If your effort is coordinated, a 10-second bear away is all you should need to get the sail hoisted the rest of the way. If you wait too long before bearing off, you stand the chance of the spinnaker oscillating and getting really out of control. If you linger too long with the spinnaker sucked into the lee of the mainsail you are in danger of it swinging inside the foretriangle and getting wrapped around the headstay.

The best thing for this crew to do would be to either drop the sail, run the tapes, and rehoist, or at least lower it so that a foredeck hand can grab the center seam and work his way up the seam as the sail is lowered until the wrap is out.

Should this happen you may be lucky and it may unravel itself, but I wouldn't count on it. Quick and decisive action is therefore necessary. Remain sailing downwind with the apparent wind at around 150 or 160 degrees. If you sail any lower the spinnaker will continue to oscillate and get even more wrapped. If you head up the increase in apparent wind will cause the wrap to get tighter, which will make it harder to sort out. If the helmsman sails the requisite course the fore-deck crew needs to immediately start to lower the sail, with the first person that can reach the center of the foot of the sail working his way up the center-seam of the spinnaker gathering the sail as it's lowered. By continuing to work up the center of the spinnaker the sail will eventually unfurl itself.

What you do next is largely driven by the size of your boat. If you are on a small boat, immediately try to rehoist the sail. Then, as soon as the halyard is all the way up, the helmsman should turn the boat 10 to 15 degrees toward the wind to get the sail to fill so you don't end up with a wrap again. If you are on a large boat you may be able to carry this out but chances are you might do better to stuff the spinnaker below, bring up another one, and start all over again.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

How To Have A Perfect Boating Experience

Lets start by identifying what exactly certain boats are. Sometimes the terminology can get lost on beginners, so well look at some of the most common boats and what theyre called. These boats are exactly what the name implies. They are meant to be used for fishing. Most fishing boats are powered by outboard motors, and many also have a trolling motor mounted on the bow. Bass boats can be made of aluminium or fibreglass.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment