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How to rig the spinnaker pole when on port tack

Hi All,

I noticed Calvin do something brilliant on Thursday night, and asked him to write it down so we can all learn.  What did he do?  He had the spinnaker pole rigged before we hit the layline so that he could get it on the mast and on the guy within seconds of tacking onto the layline.  If we can all get the hang of this, it will be a strategic advantage — we will be able to hoist quickly at the windward mark no matter how short a layline we select, which means that we can sail where there is better wind.  Often, when the wind is from the west, we want to avoid the Burlington shore at marks 1, 3, 4.  This is the magic we need!

Here’s a video clip showing the impact of Calvin’s innovation:  watch how quickly the pole is ready!

And here is how he made it happen (instructions, in Squirrel’s own hand):


Spinnaker Set

 Gold/Brown – Jib/genoa sail. (I drew this for #3 jib, but it’s exactly the same for the #1, just further aft.)

 Blue – Jib sheets

 Aqua – Spinnaker sheets (current configuration is sheets used as guys, and it doesn’t really matter until after the hoist)

 Grey – Spinnaker halyard

 Green – Pole down (I know, not the technical term, but much clearer)

 Red – Pole up (ditto)

 Purple – Pre-fed spinnaker (ran out of blues)

 Black – hull and spinnaker pole (pre lay-line its under the jib sail)

Given the position of the jib, wind is coming over the port rail <Pre lay-line>, and over starboard rail <On Lay-line>; which is the typical setup (can’t remember ever coming at the windward mark another way)


<Pre Lay-line>

Spinnaker bag on the rail, clipped in, then pushed under the bottom lifeline so that the bag is on  it’s side and halfway over the toerail. Red tag aft, green tag forward. Spinnaker sheets shackled to the clews, velcro out of the clew rings and reattached to the bag so they don’t tangle in the sheets. Spinnaker halyard clipped to head ring. Head velcro strap out of the head ring and out of the webbing loop on the bag, attached back to itself. At this point the bag is held closed only by the bag top velcro edging. De-velcro the forward 1/4 of the velcro edging, this will help pre-feed later. Spinnaker halyard needs to be quite loose, enough slack that it can wrap around the jib without affecting the shape. In the diagram <on lay-line> you can see how the halyard wraps around the jib. Obviously with the #1 genoa sail you will nee much more slack. Once you have enough slack, have Pit lock the spinnaker halyard and whip the spinnaker halyard behind the spreaders. Yes, it looks messy having the spinnaker halyard flop about near the mainsail, but it keeps the spinnaker halyard from interfering with the jib when tacking.

Next set the pole lines. This is very easy to get a tangle with, so triple check everything. We set the spinnaker pole ‘fingers up’, as seen in the bottom of the diagram. In this configuration, the spinnaker pole hoist lines (thin spectra attached to both end of the pole, with a ring in the middle) will have a black piece of electrical tape wrapped around the pole up hoist line. This is very important to get right: Before getting the pole up/down lines, trace the hoist lines along the spinnaker pole from one end to the other. Pull the pole down hoist line out onto the deck (towards port side) and ensure it goes from one end of the pole to the other without wrapping on anything. It should be outside the forward deck spinnaker pole cleat (black plastic). Then do the same with the pole up hoist line (black tape) except that it should stay behind the jib sail. It is necessary to work behind the jib sail to do the pole up, but it is possible to trace the line without letting go of it, thus ensuring it is clear. Following the diagram: grab the pole-up line off the mast, take a bit of slack, pass behind the jib sail, above everything on deck, inside the lifelines (important not to thread through the lifelines) and underneath the jib sail to your other hand. Holding the pole up with one hand, trace the pole up hoist line with the other hand, bringing it under the jib sail and visually check that it has the black tape. Clip in the pole-up line and ask Pit to take in some of the slack. It should be pulled  back underneath the jib sail and clear above the lifelines, but not taut. Take the pole down line off the mast and get a a lot of slack, enough to make it to the forward end of the pole. Remember this line has a block on it, so 1′ of slack in the Pit = 6″ of distance on the foredeck. Following the diagram: pass the pole down line behind the jib sail above the jib sheets (Important), between the jib sail and the lifelines, underneath the jib sail and attach to the pole down hoist line ring that was pulled clear. Once pulled under the jib sail, it is very difficult to get more slack. Do not take in the slack, it will be needed for maneuvering later. Yell aft that you are ready to tack. If you don’t yell, they won’t hear.


<during tack>

Typically the movement is from the high side, to middle, then up the new high side as the tack is completed. For quickly setting the pole, you need to move in half the time. Move to the low side so that as soon as the jib sheet is let out, you can access the aft end of the pole. Watch your ankles and shins for the jib sheets, very easy to get rope burn or caught&pulled.

As the boat comes onto the lay-line unclip the spinnaker pole from the base of the stanchion and lift the pole end toward the mast. Do not bother with the forward spinnaker pole clip. If you time it right, the spinnaker pole can follow the jib sail across.


<On Lay-line>

The end of the spinnaker pole has a sloped catch. This means that the pull cord does not need to be pulled to put the line in. Holding the spinnaker pole about midway, push the catch against the mast ring in a back&up motion, listen for the sound of the catch closing. Lift the to starboard and up about 12-18″ off the deck. The twist motion of setting the aft end of the pole in the mast ring usually will pop it out of the forward pole clip. While holding the pole in that position (see diagram for <on lay-line> you can reach the spinnaker guy (aqua line on the starboard bow) and clip it into the end of the pole. Then call pit to pull on the pole up line.Note that you will need to set it about 12″ higher than would be level because the pole up line stretches. Then call for the pole down line to be tightened (you will notice the pole drop a bit). Check if the aft Crew are ready for pre-feed. Pull on the spinnaker guy until the clew shackle is right up against the end of the spinnaker pole (see diagram in purple), this may be difficult depending on the pressure on the jib sail and how deep the spinnaker was packed into the bag. Remove the rest of the velcro from the top of the spinnaker bag and head to the mast to prepare to hoist the spinnaker.


Easy, right?


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