Order of things on the mast-top?

I've been given a plastic protective cap and purchased spinnaker crane. While it's obvious that the plastic cap goes on first, I'm unsure as to the order the other bits go on when you intend to use a spi.
I need advice from the racing fraternity: in which order do I put stuff on the mast top, now that I want to add a spinnaker crane?
My guess (from bottom, up): plastic cap, port shroud, starboard shroud, wire loop with jib halyard block, forestay and spinnaker crane.
This means I have to unscrew the crane to take the shrouds etc. off when transporting the boat - or is there another solution?



curlew's picture

I think this is OK. I don't think the spinnaker cares which order because it only sees the sheave in the crane. (Incidentally, traditional craft have a fixed order for putting on the shrouds).

sail_and_oar's picture

Hello Gernot,

My shrouds often don't get removed from the mast or chainplates from one year to the next. I have a spinnaker crane with a masthead light stuck on top but no spinnaker.

To drop the mast assuming the boat is fully rigged;

Remove the gaff/ boom and mainsail lacing from the mast. Remove the jib.

Put the gaff, boom and mainsail (gently!) on the ground where you won't trip over them.

Release the forestay tension and rock the mast backwards until the shrouds go slack.

Lift the mast from it's step and lower the mast foot into the bottom of the boat just in front of the centreboard case.

Rock the mast forward until you can lift the mast foot clear of the thwart.

Lay the mast gently onto the aft buoyancy tank and bow, masthead forward. Use padding as necessary.

Add other spars and tie down well. Make sure rigging cant trail on the ground or the halyards escape.

Bag the sails, tie the boat on the trailer, add the trailer board.


It's possible to drop the whole lot into the boat at anchor and get it all up again. We do this now and again for low bridges. If the rigging gets a bit tangled the Patience of a Saint will be worn thin before it all goes up again but it hasn't yet made me resolve to give up sailing (or bridges!) Sometimes it doesn't tangle and is easy.


62816inBerlin's picture

Honestly speaking, I only need to transport the boat longer distances once a year, as a rule.
During the rest of the season, I've taken to simply releasing the forestay and the tack of the jib, loosening the lacing of the main (to allow the gaff to fit into the boat) and lowering everything into the boat, then covering it with the flat tarpaulin.
That allows me to get out on the water quickly, the only problem is that occasionally the shrouds get caught on the gaff or boom, leading to some foul language when attempting to raise the mast ;-{).
I was only a bit puzzled about the spi crane, never having had one. If I were to trailer the boat, I'd probably leave it on and wrap the shrouds spirally around the mast, as someone suggested on Facebook. However, because of the curved roof of my Renault Scénic, there is not much room for the spars under the boat, so I'll remove the crane and shrouds when car-topping.
The impulse to me wanting to try a spinnaker was given by Heather Drugge's videos of her cruises along the British Columbia coasts, where the two boats set spis in very light airs. I have occasionally wished for a bit more sail area under such conditions.
Gernot H.

sail_and_oar's picture

I went down this road for a while. Lots of string and potential for multiple tangles. It was a very simple system. I always wondered how much all that weight and windage aloft was slowing me upwind and despaired at how rarely I actually used it downwind.

Anyway the entire sheet/guy got under the boat and I crossed the Solent with it wrapped around the centreboard. That was the spinnakers last cruise, good riddance to it.

A jibstick on the other hand is really useful and can be used in most wind speeds. My jibstick came from an Enterprise. It is 5 feet long and clips onto the spinnaker pole bracket on the mast. If you want to go this route and also use slab reefing then fit the spinnaker pole bracket level with the gooseneck so the luff robands don't jam on it as you pull a reef in. No other equipment is required and the jibstick is handy for sounding your way over shallow water.

If the wind gets light the oars come out. Normally the sails stay up. A boat with sails set is far more visible and has certain rights of way over some other vessels so is less likely to be run down.


62816inBerlin's picture

Never having had a spinnaker, I think it'll be an experience for me and a bit of fun messing around on the local lake (which I do most of the year, rather than actually cruising).
If I really find it too messy and complicated, I can alway leave it home when going on a cruise.
"Jibstick" is an interesting term. We used to call it a "whisker pole". I made one for my daysailer. It has a crutch similar to gaff jaws at one end to rest against the mast and doubles as a lever for lowering the mast to pass under bridges and at the end of the season.
On the Shearwater cat In crewed on in my salad days, (no one in Trinidad could afford a spinnaker in those days) we experimented with the whisker pole pushed so far forward when reaching in very light winds that the leech of the jib became the luff (jib being opposite to the main in that case) to get a very large"slot" between the sails. It proved to be impractical as the elongation of the whisker pole was my arm and I was unable to maintain the required position for longer periods ;-{) .
We owned a very heavy home-built 15' dinghy at the time and when I sailed her in regattas, I occasionally used our whisker pole as a bowsprit to rig an additional old cotton jib, turning the sloop into a cutter.
Gernot H.