Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tanzer 16 Spinnaker wrap -- What a mess

Tanzer 16 Spinnaker wrap  --  What a mess  --  August 23, 2016  We installed a spinnaker launching chute and retrieval sock last winter; it was a big effort.  Slowly we have been learning how to use it.  Mostly it works pretty well.  Very mixed results in last week's race.

We didn't expect to do very well.  We had three guys in the boat, and the winds were light.  But we thought at least we will get to practice a bit using the spinnaker.

The spinnaker fits nicely inside the launching chute.  It is supposed to keep
the deck clean and simplify the launch.

There are a lot of reasons why we shouldn't use the spinnaker on our races--primarily because the courses are too short.  However, if we could get it up and down quickly, the spinnaker would be useful in the light air races where our weight is such a disadvantage.  (See our page on Racing the Tanzer 16 in mixed fleets.)

The first hoist during the first race was perfect.  We were dead down wind, the sail came out of the tube in a flash and immediately started pulling us down wind toward the finish.  When the wind shifted to a beam reach the sail still worked well, we brought the sail in with no fuss.  Great!

But alas.  Our joy was short lived.  On the second hoist the sail came out twisted.  I tried to fix it.  It got worse.  I tried to fix it more--it got way worse.  Eventually it was wrapped in a tight knot around the jib furling drum.  I got frustrated.  Briefly considered taking my sharp rigging knife to the sail. Recovered my sanity.  Abandoned the  race. Cussed--including the F word and the "What a CF!" words.  I seldom swear on the water (sound carries).

It got way worse than this before it got better.

At two in the morning, I had trouble getting back to sleep and thoughts of spinnaker screw-up stalked me in the dark.  Finally fell back to sleep with the realization that the initial twist was caused because the sail head had flipped over when the halyard was reattached for the second hoist.  Further realized that we should not have attempted to use it in such a short race.  Main lesson from all this: When the spinnaker is a mess, don't spend time trying to fix it, just retrieve it and sail on with the jib and main.

The committee boat appreciated our early retirement from the race.  "If you can't be fast, at least quit early."

Adding a Catalina 22 to my little fleet next week.  We won't be racing that boat--unless of course there is another boat on the water.  Then we will be racing even if only one of us knows it.


  1. Twisting the head once or twice during the hook-up won't necessarily cause a wrap; the head should unwind as the sail fills. Maybe the sheets weren't tight enough on the hoist, or maybe it was just the spinnaker wrapping devil, he lurks around screwing up kites at random. It happens to us too. But you just get back on that horse next time.

    1. I think the biggest problem was that I kept trying to fix it and really made it worse. I think you are right, If we had just tightened the sheets-if there had been some wind-it probably would have straightened itself out. I think I wasted my youth working when I should have been sailing. jgs

  2. It looks like you have the same problem as I do when trying to launch the spinnaker from the sail buckets on my Vanguard Nomad. If the jib halyard is to the lee of the bucket, the spinnaker will tangle in the jib halyard, as it is impossible to raise the spinnaker quickly enough to tack the sail before it tangles. I've ended up raising the spinnaker when it is on the lee side of the boat, which is little use when racing.

    I notice many boats designed with a chute have the jib halyard behind the opening of the spinnaker chute, which seems to be the best means to avoid tangling, no matter which tack you are sailing.

    Maybe I need a spinnaker sock.......