The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Setting and Striking a Spinnaker Made Easy and Safe

Some of the most fun and satisfying sailing we can do is under spinnaker, particularly since the invention of the asymmetric spinnaker freed us cruisers from the complications of poles, downhauls, topping lifts, lazy guys and all the rest of the paraphernalia associated with traditional symmetrical spinnakers.

Just tack the asymmetric down at the bow, tie on a sheet, clip on a halyard, hoist, and blast off downwind fast and stable while everyone else is rolling their guts out and probably motoring. What’s not to like?

Yeah, right. There are only two of us on the boat, the sail is huge and only attached at three points, and one mistake will see the whole thing in the water.

Happens to even full-on race crews. The difference is they make disaster sound cool by swaggering around—swagger is part of basic race crew training—while saying shit like “yeah, we went shrimping”.

Whatever you call it, an asymmetric spinnaker screwup can both total a very expensive sail and put the crew at risk, and the chances of that happening go up a bunch when we are shorthanded.

Enter the spinnaker sock that makes hoisting and striking easy and safe…right?

Well, kind of, but even with a sock screwups happen, and not just to newbies. Our friend Andy Schell and his crew just totalled a brand new and expensive branded spinnaker while striking it offshore on his Swan 59 IceBear. Here’s what happened in Andy’s words:

After a perfect start, as the sock was about halfway down the collapsed sail, the boat rolled to windward and the sail filled with wind again. Kevin, who was on the sock downline, immediately let it fly — just like I told him to, to avoid rope burn — and the sail filled again, this time with the tack line super eased, but crucially still attached, so the sail was flying well to leeward and very high, completely out of control. I couldn’t see what was still attached from back at the helm, and to make a long story short, when we tried to lower the halyard, the sail wound up in the drink, ripped, then pulled the halyard and the tack line over the side with it.

Andy Schell on his blog [removed from The Quarterdeck since this article was written].

So now I have convinced you never to even consider an asymmetric spinnaker. After all, if this can happen to Andy Schell, one of the most experienced and smartest offshore sailors out there…

A Simple Hack That Makes it Easy

But it does not have to be that way. Here is one simple hack that Phyllis and I came up with on our 56-foot McCurdy and Rhodes cutter years ago that makes setting and striking a spinnaker with a sock easy and safe, even with just the two of us aboard.

Login to continue reading (scroll down)

More Articles From Online Book: Sail Handling and Rigging Made Easy:

  1. Six Reasons To Leave The Cockpit Often
  2. Don’t Forget About The Sails
  3. Your Mainsail Is Your Friend
  4. Hoisting the Mainsail Made Easy—Simplicity in Action
  5. Reefs: How Many and How Deep
  6. Reefing Made Easy
  7. Reefing From The Cockpit 2.0—Thinking Things Through
  8. Reefing Questions and Answers
  9. A Dangerous Myth about Reefing
  10. Mainsail Handling Made Easy with Lazyjacks
  11. Topping Lift Tips and a Hack
  12. 12 Reasons The Cutter Is A Great Offshore Voyaging Rig
  13. Cutter Rig—Should You Buy or Convert?
  14. Cutter Rig—Optimizing and/or Converting
  15. Cruising Rigs—Sloop, Cutter, or Solent?
  16. Sailboat Deck Layouts
  17. The Case For Roller-Furling Headsails
  18. UV Protection For Roller Furling Sails
  19. In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing—Convenience and Reliability
  20. In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing —Performance, Cost and Safety
  21. The Case For Hank On Headsails
  22. Making Life Easier—Roller Reefing/Furling
  23. Making Life Easier—Storm Jib
  24. Gennaker Furlers Come Of Age
  25. Swept-Back Spreaders—We Just Don’t Get It!
  26. Q&A: Staysail Stay: Roller Furling And Fixed Vs Hanks And Removable
  27. Rigid Vangs
  28. Rigging a Proper Preventer, Part 1
  29. Rigging a Proper Preventer—Part 2
  30. Amidships “Preventers”—A Bad Idea That Can Kill
  31. Keeping The Boom Under Control—Boom Brakes
  32. Downwind Sailing, Tips and Tricks
  33. Downwind Sailing—Poling Out The Jib
  34. Setting and Striking a Spinnaker Made Easy and Safe
  35. Ten Tips To Fix Weather Helm
  36. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1
  37. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 2
  38. Two Dangerous Rigging Mistakes
  39. Rig Tuning, Part 1—Preparation
  40. Rig Tuning, Part 2—Understanding Rake and Bend
  41. Rig Tuning, Part 3—6 Steps to a Great Tune
  42. Rig Tuning, Part 4—Mast Blocking, Stay Tension, and Spreaders
  43. Rig Tuning, Part 5—Sailing Tune
  44. 12 Great Rigging Hacks
  45. 9 Tips To Make Unstepping a Sailboat Mast Easier
  46. Cruising Sailboat Spar Inspection
  47. Cruising Sailboat Standing Rigging Inspection
  48. Cruising Sailboat Running Rigging Inspection
  49. Cruising Sailboat Rig Wiring and Lighting Inspection
  50. Cruising Sailboat Roller Furler and Track Inspection
  51. Download Cruising Sailboat Rig Checklist
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Wim Vandenbossche

I sail an older 36′ boat – I am singlehanded over 90% of the time.

I entirely agree with points 2-5 of your summary. They just seem like common sense to me.
However, I fail to see the benefit of running the sock control lines through a block. I don’t and when hoisting or striking a gennaker it is immediately clear to me which bit of the continuous loop is up and which is down. Something I fear which might not be as clear when running the control lines through a snatch block.

I also share views regarding sock v top-down furler.

Ken Ferrari

I’ve been waiting/searching for EXACTLY this article for years! Perfect! I’ve mostly pieced together this procedure through research but have had some critical holes. I’ve only flown our asymmetric a handful of times, and only once offshore. I’m always waiting for the perfect day to fly it, those rarely happen, it seems.

One giant hole now filled… don’t blow the tack. I have an ATN Tacker that came with out boat, and their procedures say to blow the tack with the quick release shackle. Glad to see this article before I tried that!


Robert Krinner

As mentioned in my other post.

I strike the spinnaker by blowing the tack line. The pull down of the sock is a matter of under a minute and easy. I sit near the mast on the foredeck. The key to be successful is to run at about 120 degrees, so the slack spinnaker blows out fed of the mast.

Mathieu Fortin

Would a low friction ring be adequate for the down control line?

Allan West

Hi John,
Another excellent article. Mathieu made a comment about friction rings and your reply re rings having to be permanently mounted was correct.
But he may have been referring to the Karver KFO Open ring which would be a perfect replacement for a snatch block; however I would qualify that by saying on smaller yachts only (up to 40′ perhaps)
The KFO ring is a cool piece of kit to replace snatch blocks.
(ps.I have no connection to Karver)
Allan West

Dave Warnock

Karver only recommend it for angles less than 90 degrees.

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Nice article. Between this article and Colin’s on using a whisker pole, I would expect that a great number of cruisers to “take the plunge” into using downwind equipment that had heretofore made them too anxious to attempt, especially offshore.
A couple of thoughts:
An asym on a cruising boat (we are also a couple and our passages are primarily as a couple), is to keep you going and going comfortably in light winds. Too many sail lofts have racers for sales-persons who promote more sail area in an asym than wise for us cruising folks, again especially for offshore. Alchemy came with a whopping big asym (1600+ sf) which scared the heck out of me coastal cruising: it was gone before we got offshore. With my sailmaker, we designed what I call my offshore asym. It is 1.5 oz (twice as heavy as normal) and is 1200 sf. We use it all the time. In really light air we can sail as close as 65-70 degrees apparent in flat seas and with the heavier cloth is far more forgiving of the errors the operator makes, especially those where I wait too long to douse.
This is an area where synthetic sheets are a blessing as, when they dip into the water, they shed water quickly instead of having dacron sheets which are like a sponge and weigh a ton after wetting. This weight really interferes with keeping the asym full in light air sailing.
The ATN sock is the best I have used.
I use an ATN Tacker which keeps the tack close to centerline by wrapping a sleeve around the rolled-up jib, but I have never been completely convinced that it is necessary.
I also am sitting for all handling.
I unroll the jib 6-8 feet and sheet it hard amidships: a poor and lazy man’s spinnaker net. This interferes with getting an asym wrap around the riolled up jib and if it does wrap, makes undoing the wrap far easier as you can work the roller furling to ease the tightness and move things around. The times I worry about a wrap is ligt air and swells where the mast swings back and forth and the asym has too little air to keep it well behaved.
Some of the following comments may differ from yours because I am dealing with a smaller sail:
The ATN sock control is a continuous loop and I do use a single ratcheting block when dousing and find it makes a difference when bring down the sail in holding onto the line. I pull up the sock without routing the control line through a deck-held block: in other words, I pull the sock straight up. This has not proved problematic.
I do have the ability to blow the tack under load with a quick pull on a string, but it is very rare to use, but I like it being there and have found it useful upon occasion.
Our mainsail is not always up when we use the asym which strikes me as breech of some sailing taboo: but so be it. Some of our most delightful days sailing with the asym is in light air along a shore without the main. With 2 sheets it is easy to gybe by having all blow forward in front of the boat and headstay and sheeting in on the other side. We have delightfully wandered through the island chains in Norway and Finland in just this fashion. These dead downwind and gybing around islands days would be quite different and far more work if the mainsail was up. Like all the time an asym is up, some degree of vigilance is a good idea and not indulging in too much of a pleasant trance.
 My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
PS. We got back into Canada (not without effort) and are cruising the wonderful North Channel in Ontario (where the water of Lake Superior meanders through gorgeous north woods islands of pink granite on their way to Lake Huron.). There is an awful lot to be said for fresh water, especially if it is warm enough to allow swimming multiple times a day.

James Greenwald

Off the subject somewhat, Maybe sometime you could speak to the practice of sailing with head sail genoa/asym alone. I am amazed at the numbers who believe this technique is the way to go. I have had discussions on design, COE, CLR and handling characteristics with a few advocates of this practice and amazed how stubborn they are. Or I am wrong?

James Greenwald


Stein Varjord

Hi James and John,

I absolutely agree that the main should be up when the downwind sail is. That’s always the case with our quite big asym. However there’s a size issue in this. If the downwind sail is small enough that hand power is enough for most operations, the risks of no main are a lot more acceptable.

We will be able to wing it if something goes wrong. For most cruising boats, that would mean a very undersized sail, but it does exist. Also, if the striking system, sock, furler or fast drop is well tested and mastered by the crew, the risks are perhaps acceptable even with a bigger sail.

The normal max risk is a big pain in the wallet. That is, if the owner of the wallet can hold his hands off and let it shred when things do go wrong. Often this ability is not found, which will add potentially much more dangerous risks. The obvious conclusion: The main should be up.

Dave Warnock

Very helpful, especially as we can’t afford a continuous line furler for an asymmetric spinnaker at the moment.
However, when we can afford a code zero I wonder if the economics change a bit.
Does a code zero require a furler? If yes, then maybe one that can do both bottom up and top down so that a lot of the cost and equipment is shared between 2 sails makes a lot of sense?

Rob Gill

Dave, the code zero was a game changer for us. We have a sail that in light airs is almost as close winded as the original 130% genoa, and sails deeper angles than our old nylon A-sail.

In 10 knots TWS we sail at 7.5 knots reaching. In 25+ knots TWS we are broad reaching to 15 knots. We often goose-wing dead-down wind (so far only tested to 15 knots TWS), and I can single-hand with the Code zero with ease. Launch and retrieval are both done from the cockpit, with the code zero rigged before leaving our berth. The sail stays on the bow hoisted and rolled-up for most of our cruise, ready to launch unless we are expecting a real blow.

The truth is it was a big outlay $$, but if we consider the amount we use the sail (my absolute favourite sail) then $ per nautical mile, I would say it would be very favourable with most nylon A-sails which spend their lives in sail lockers, waiting for the right conditions!
Br. Rob

Screen Shot 2021-08-27 at 10.26.09 PM.png
Rob Gill

A Code Zero needs a furler, our endless furler attaches to a strengthened bow-roller ahead of the forestay.

Screen Shot 2021-08-27 at 10.34.05 PM.png
Brian Chapman

That is an interesting idea for strengthening the bow roller!

Rob Gill

Ready to roll…!

Screen Shot 2021-08-27 at 10.41.56 PM.png
Rob Gill

Hi John,
7->8 knots broad-reaching in 8 knots TWS is impressive for a heavy offshore boat like MC, and very cool. Not sure you understood my reference about “15 knots” John, which is the maximum we have held the Code 0 wing-on-wing whilst running (sometimes using a pole, but more often flying free). Above that TWS, we prefer to broad-reach down-wind for a better VMG and a more relaxing ride. “Bottom of the range” for us with the Code 0 offshore is practically around 7 knots TWS from close hauled to broad-reach. Below that TWS we tend to motor-sail to keep our average speed up on passage. But when sailing coastal in light winds (as my first picture shows), we can be broad-reaching in about 6 knots of breeze doing about 4.5 -> 5 knots of boat speed which is perfectly respectable, when almost every boat around us (including the photographer’s boat) will be motoring. The best sail you have is the one you are using the most! Br. Rob

James Marins

Hi Rob! I agree with the “time use” calculator for sails. The gennaker or code zero on top down furling system can be more expensive, but also can be easily settled before you depart, from an anchorage’s ou even from a berth marina and can be easily maneuvered without another crew member. So, maybe, the time we use is very a important topic in terms of a cost-benefit mathematics.

Dave Warnock

Makes sense. The simplicity of a sock is a big advantage. So looks like an Asymmetric with sock should be our first option and then code 0 with dedicated furler when we can afford it (lots of other higher priorities at the moment).
The points about complexity of furlers that have been made emphasises that having one complex item that is required to be working for two sails is a recipe for neither sail being available when needed.

Dave Warnock

For the moment we are looking at 2nd hand sails anyway as many of our 40 year old sails don’t have a lot of life left in them.
Fortunately we do have a very good condition storm jib and reffing mizzen, so at least we are not relying on old, weak sails in stronger conditions.

Stein Varjord

Hi John,

A side note on some differences when on a cat:
There are significant benefits in this context. Since the boat doesn’t roll or heel much and has loads of deck area, it’s far easier to do the deck work. The most useful difference, however, is that the width allows two tack lines: one from each bow. That gives us 6 meters (19 feet) of tack mobility. (12,2 meter / 40 foot long and 7 meter / 23 foot wide boat).

This means that we can move the tack to windward on low angles, much like with a boom. That means an asymmetric spinnaker performs as well as a symmetric on those courses too. In the context of this article, it gives another useful tool. We almost always sail with only me and my not experienced but able girlfriend. Our asym is 160 square meters (1720 square feet), on a 6500 kilo (13300 pound) boat, when fully liveaboard loaded. We have no sock yet. As one might guess, the tool available on multihulls and described below, is crucial to us, and we’re certainly getting a sock! 🙂

The simple tool: Letting out the windward tackline while tightening the leeward one moves the whole spinnaker properly into the shadow of the main, especially when making sure the sheet is also pulled in accordingly, to get the bulk of the sail really close to the main. It gets really well shaded. And yes, the main is ALWAYS up whenever the asym is.

I’ve tested the vulnerabilities a bit by changing course both a bit past gybing (with preventer) and all the way to almost 45 degrees reach. This while the sail is fully hoisted and all control lines relatively taut. The worst I got was a lot of flapping, not much load, and it takes quite a significant change of course from the optimal for setting or striking before that happens.

This means that there is a very protected location where the bottom two corners of the sail can be kept totally in check while the halyard is being used, which is critically important for our present setup and would be as useful with a sock.

Since our present no sock setup is intrinsically vulnerable, we depend on timing and speed to avoid stress. Lowering the sail completely, 20 meters down, 65 feet, usually takes less than 5 seconds. That means it can be timed so it falls straight onto the spacious deck without any handling, even with a fair bit of wind. There we can just stuff it into the bag and then release the ropes. To make this speed possible, we have a high quality Fredriksen (Now Ronstan but still made by the same people in Denmark) needle bearing block at the mast head, no sharp angles anywhere else and a very slippery halyard with a naked Dyneema core in the part we don’t need to hold. We also flake the halyard in a bag by the mast so it flies out unhindered. This also makes it go up way faster, often with no winch needed.

I highly recommend socks over any type of furlers, by the way. I’ve used asym and Code0 furlers from 30 years ago, then on extremely fast boats, and have tried lots of variations over the years. For racing they are absolute necessities, but they typically either work great, or not at all. The reason for not at all working can be quite small details, which (mostly) get done right on finely tuned racers, but often not on cruisers. I don’t like that type of vulnerable system on a cruiser, even though I know how to do it right, especially when it can have this level of dramatic consequences when I don’t do it right.

Fred Taute

We are a cruising couple, also on a cat, and have an Asymm that was bestowed on us by the prior owners, which is a bit larger than the boat spec calls for, and they had difficulty handling the sail, and thus used it very little. Some experienced cat sailor friends of ours recommended that we acquire an expensive Wichard release under load shackle, which we call our boat jewelry, to attach to the tack. We replaced the little “pull string” with 18′ of skinny dyneema which we lead back to the foredeck area at the mast in a fashion that it does not snag and inadvertenly blow the tack. Of course this has never happened, LOL>

We have found that tripping this shackle to blow the tack once you have shadowed the sail by the main, and all the other details have been attended to, works like a charm. Before blowing the tack, we preload the down line on the sock, pull the release line, and the sail collapses, and you can then easily snuff it with no flogging. We have also had several occasions when we have doused the sail in less than ideal conditions, and so far no problems with just the two of us doing all the boat and sail handling.

When you say that blowing the tack leaves you with only two attachments to the sail is perhaps a bit off the mark. Your snuffer on the sock is a third point of control, and the sock comes down effortlessly when the tack is released. But I have to concede that being on a cat, we have more room for a “landing zone”, whereas on a mono, having the tack line attached perhaps does make more sense, but does add the likelihood of the sail being loaded up during the snuffing attempt.
Cheers and thanks for a good article!

Fred Taute

I just re-read your quote from Andy, his problem was that the tack was still attached, but eased, causing the sail to be an unmanageable beast.

Do agree that a tack line through a block is required, that is how we rig ours. Usually to the windward bow, but often on a double block setup to each bow to allow tack position adjustment, as referenced by Stein.

Rob Gill

Very interesting post on cats Stein thanks, also appreciated your observation on pro’s and con’s of socks vs furlers. We use a furler for our Code 0 as you can see from my post above, and have found it to be overall reliable and robust, and we hold this sail up to 30 knots TWS broad-reaching. I know the Vendée Globe yachts also favour furlers, and have obviously worked them up to be reliable.

We already experienced one issue offshore at night, with a squall expected where (unbeknown to us), the endless furling line had flattened out at the splice and jammed at the furling drum – so refusing to furl. We resolved this by blanketing the sail behind the main and dropping the sail on the fore-deck conventionally, which worked out thankfully but not without anxious moments. Since had a rigger re-splice the furling line in a way that this can’t happen again.

As we carry our Code-0 overnight on passage in settled weather and don’t want to be on the fore-deck again in a 30 knot squall, please would you share the “gotchas” that have put you off furlers for a cruising yacht, and the “small details” to get right that you refer to? Hope this isn’t too off-topic, John?

Many thanks, Rob

Stein Varjord

Hi Rob,

I can’t give a comprehensive list of issues with downwind sail furlers. It’s more that i’ve observed that the system has to be tuned for each boat and any situation. Compared to a sock, it’s a much more sensitive functionality with many more possible faults that it takes much less to disrupt. The system needs to be explored for each boat and crew.

Orientation of the furler drum, feed angle of the ropes to it, tension on those ropes, tension on the luff or torsion line, diameter and surface on the furling line, sheet tension during furling, other items interfering with any part of the furling system, (which surprisingly often seems to be somewhere at the top,) and much more.

The attention to detail used on serious racers like in the Vendee Globe means all these things are tested hundreds of times with any thinkable combination. The systems are known in detail so they could be done blindfolded. That level sailors are incredibly good at their job.

Even though I have been into that stuff, I have no way of keeping anywhere close to that level of focus and ability when cruising. I absolutely think furlers on downwind sails can work very well on cruisers. I just don’t feel comfortable with the many ways they might fail, and how that could cause too much hassle. That’s just my feel. I’m absolutely open for other opinions.

I also have a perhaps mostly emotional resistance to it’s technical nature, as I’m quite fanatic about simplicity. The founder of Formula 1 winning sports car company Lotus, Sir Colin Chapman, is a hero of mine. He’s famous for the quote “Simplify, then add lightness.” Love it!

Off topic:
He has several other golden quotes, by the way, like:
“ Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere” and
“Any car that holds together for a whole race, is too heavy” and
“You won’t catch me driving a race car that I have built!”
I don’t think he planned those quotes to be seen together…
and I wonder what liking those quotes says about me. 😀

Rob Gill

Hi Stein,
Thanks for your reply and insights. I really appreciate the overall observation… “The system needs to be explored for each boat and crew”.

I am still experimenting with halyard tension and sheet tension when furling to get the optimal (tight but quick) furl. But I also think the new endless-line race furlers are beautifully simple pieces of kit, and far easier to inspect and maintain than standard jib furlers that most sailors leave on their salty bows untended.

A nice quote for you that underlines I think your point, but from Ellen MacArthur… “When you spend so much time pushing, caring for, cajoling and maintaining a beautiful racing machine like this, you get very close. She’s looked after me well, and I look after her.” 

Ours isn’t a racing yacht, but as a frequent single-hander I wouldn’t go back to a nylon A-sail and sock.
Br. Rob

Peter Herrman

Is your comment about the snatch ratchets meaning they are not strong enough and will disintegrate? And if so, don’t they make bigger ones? Just not sure I understood your concern about them.

Timothy Grady

Can you include some images of your set up especially the bow area? That would be helpful for adapting to my boat.


Interesting ideas. Solo sailing requires a simple plan for sail management. While I like my Asymmetrical, learning the dance steps needed to safely deploy and retrieve the sail is paramount before I can use it. The ideas of snatch blocks on the foredeck to handle the up/down haul for the snuffer is one I will need to rig and dance with.

I like the Harken product. The traditional snatch blocks always feel bulky.

I came across this Antal block that also interests me.

A SWL load of 1300kg will serve the sail I have on my 35ft boat.


Antal Barber Block is a snatch block with low-friction-ring head.

James Greenwald

Love it great tips; smarter not harder. I have been using blow tack and letter box method, way too much work. I have a sock but have not tried to use the snatch block and have struggled with the up down lines. This is a perfect solution.

Michael Albert

I’m not as sold on the asymmetric chutes compared to symmetrical so welcome thoughts on what I’m missing. Where I live near Annapolis I got a conventional spinnaker used in great shape, used 1-2 seasons by a racer probably, at Bacon sails. There are at least 10 times more symmetric chutes listed in the consignment listings – and much cheaper. It’s not that it’s all about money, but for a sail that rarely gets used and can get ruined easily I feel better knowing I’m only out $600 if I shred it- and hence I use it more often as It doesn’t stress me out
I already have a spinnaker pole on my Tartan 40 which mostly gets used to pole out the Genoa downwind. I think every serious cruiser should have a pole right?
most of the time I use an ATN tack fitting and fly my spinnaker without the pole between 100-160 AWA. But nothing goes deep downwind in light air like a symmetric with a pole. It’s not that tough to set up short handed with autopilot.
I guess my point is that the times I most want the chute are for deep reaching or running, not close reaching where my 135% and main are plenty in almost all conditions. So maybe I don’t see why most choose an asymmetric over conventional chute which is better at deep angles?

Stein Varjord

Hi Michael,

You seem to have a good grip on the relevant issues. As I see it, most of the time with any type of downwind specific sail, getting the tack to windward and stabilised, is more efficient than having it at the centreline. Thus, use a boom (or other method). If the sail is symmetrical or not then, makes no difference. There are situations when a good asym will give significantly more driving power to the boat, but the symmetrical with a boom or such is a noticeably better overall performer than an asym with the tack on the centreline on a cruiser type of boat.

Handling is what make asyms a good choice on cruisers. Of course it’s possible to use the autopilot when shorthanded and gybe the spinnaker boom just fine, most of the time, as long as the conditions are easy. Still, there’s no way to deny that it can also sometimes be more than a handful, even with a skilled helm to balance the sail for you, which an autopilot will never do. On bigger boats, the boom is also quite heavy to manoeuvre and can cause all kinds of dangerous havoc if the boat starts doing unwanted things.

With the tack always staying at the bow, we can handle all of the gybe from the cockpit, and there are no heavy items to release, handle and reattach. Also no leaning outside of the boat to grab sheets. Doing that type of gymnastics with a spinnaker attached to it is, as you probably know, a lot more challenging than putting the boom on a genoa sheet.

The conclusion is that we all pick what we feel fits our needs. I think an asym is the better choice for most cruisers, and lead to the sail being used a lot more. If the boat is small and the owner doesn’t think the boom is a hassle, that’s totally ok too.

A maybe possible option is to run a symmetrical spinnaker as if it was an asym. Thus, attach one of its corners to a tack line from the bow and attach both sheets to the other corner. On some spinnakers that will work just fine, but often you will get the sheet corner a bit too low and perhaps the sheet block on the boat needs to go further forwards. If the tack line is let out a bit, that will help, but that will also move the luff further to leeward, which is not good.

Michael Albert

Exactly! Yes most of the time I fly my symmetric chute just like an asymmetric using an ATN tack collar on my furled genoa. The sheet leads just fine and it flies about the same as it would with the spinnaker pole all the way forward


I’ve used both asyms and symmetrical chutes. Asyms are the thing with modern racing boats, and can be a lot of fun, to put it mildly. It’s a no-brainer for a boat like the J109, or any boat designed to use asymmetric sails (eg, a fixed or retactable pole on centerline). But I prefer using symmetrical spinnakers on my Islander 36 because they are more efficient when trade wind sailing where the destination is essentially DDW. If I had to fly hotter angles, as is generally done with an asymmetric sail, I’d be off course and the speed gained would not make up for the extra distance; my boat will not easily plane. I’ve flown my spinnaker for up to 6 days straight (CA to HI), including several jibes, and through some significant squalls. Jibing a symmetric spinnaker solo can be dangerous but it doesn’t need to be. With a single pole, it is always risky – if the boat rounds up even a little during the process it can be too exciting. If that happens during an end-for-end jibe the pole can become a life-threatening battering ram. In fact, after that happened to me during a single-handed race from San Francisco to Kauai, I became very shy about flying the chute in any but calm conditions. But then, thanks to crewing in offshore races on a Cal 40 captained by a very experienced sailor I learned to use two poles. With two poles, each rigged with a topping lift and afterguy (both to pole end), jibing becomes a low-key event even when it’s windy, and can be accomplished from the cockpit. With a port and starboard pole rigged, there is no need to go forward except for setup and douse. It’s even possible to fly both poles which makes for a very stable sail even if the wind direction is not steady, and makes a wrap on the forestay pretty unlikely. 
Speaking of spinnaker wraps, isn’t that a concern with asyms when sailed shorthanded for extended durations? Seems like it would be. It certainly was on one large ketch I crewed on with the asymmetrical up continuously for a couple of days while sailing off shore (we had two of them up for a while). We had one wrap due to operator error (me), and the skipper undid it by turning the engine on and turning the boat in circles to unwrap the big sail (this doesn’t always work). Wraps are a huge concern with symmetricals unless a spinnaker net is rigged to fill the fore triangle. When I fly the spinnaker longer than I can handle the helm the spinnaker net is up to prevent wraps that occur when the chute is back winded, for example if surfing down a wave.


Hi John,
I agree regarding the relative ease of rigging and flying the asymmetric versus the symmetric, and that the former is more appropriate for many if not most cruisers. To add to your point about the relative complexity of the symmetric rig, I’ll mention the reaching strut, for which, as you know, there is no need when using an asymmetric sail.
I also agree with the methods you detail, especially the importance of staying low on the foredeck, with one tweak: I find kneeling low (butt against ankles with kneepads) to be a more powerful and flexible position than sitting. 
I also like the ATN sock and using one saved a sail for me at least once, and I think that experience applies to assymetrics: While reaching with a symmetric down the coast of Baja, with the pole close to the forestay, we were broached in a sudden wind shift and the sail filled with water (shrimped). We were pinned. I knew that if I blew the afterguy the pole would smash into the forestay, and the afterguy tension was scary big. So I released the spinnaker sheet, along with the main sheet and vang. The boat came up into the wind, and the spinnaker emptied as she rose. It was almost elegant. The spinnaker flapped of course and the sheet did too, well out of reach for a normal takedown. Luckily, I had secured the ATN control line loop inboard in a snatch block, and it was pretty simple to being down the sock and secure the sail with no damage done (except for the loss of the turtle bag that had been clipped onto the toe rail – only the snap shackles that had secured it remained). This was that sail’s last flight several years later (and you can see my spinnaker net):
The large ketch I mentioned above is Beowulf, designed and built by the Dashews. Beowulf is rigged to fly two asymmetric spinnakers, and when I was aboard both were in ATN socks and we used them often with no problems during our 11 day passage from SoCal to Oahu. During that trip we enjoyed several Nantucket sleigh rides, up to 23 kts, and when powered up like that, Beowulf throws up a high arc of water off her stern that is amazing to watch. The opposite of pole avoidance, which is a good reason to prefer the asyms, is spar envy. And one spar I have envied is Beowulf’s canting bow sprit; it can be angled into the wind which can be a big benefit to the main spinnaker tacked on the end. The mizzen tack line is on a wide arc of a track that stretches almost completely across the boat, allowing that sail to be powered up too.  

P D Squire

Most cruisers, including me, when faced with a long tradewinds passage will just go to a poled out genoa and main”

Does that work on a cutter? The Yankee and staysail seem quite different to a genoa.

Dick Stevenson

Hi PD,
I sail a cutter with a high-clewed 110% jib which works synergistically with my low-clewed staysail when the wind is forward of the beam. Not sure all of the following applies to a double headsail sloop.
I have sailed many thousands of miles with the jib poled out. An advantage of above is that the clew is high, keeping the tip of the pole high and making less likely rolling the tip of the pole into the water as a low clewed sail might be more inclined to do.
This same higher-clewed sail, when no poled out, also reefs far more symmetrically and demands far less adjustment to jib sheet lead.
As to there being less sail area, it is my experience that, on a decently easily driven hull, that it takes very little sail area going downwind wing and wing to achieve reasonably fast speeds with a good deal of comfort and great control over the sails.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Robert Krinner


My experience with our asymmetric on our 55ft is different.

1. We run the assymmetric without the main all the time.

2. We strike the soinnaker while going around 120 degrees apparent, ease the sheet according, set the autopilot then release the tack, we use a wichard shackle that can be opened under load by pulling a small line, then pull down the sock while sitting near the mast. The sock comes down easily and there is not risk the spinnaker powers again. As we are sailing at 120 degree, the sail blows out slightly forward, being free of the mast.

I fly the spinnaker even singlehanded that way.

Bte: The idea with the snatch block I will pick up, but I don’t see a reason why there is excessive power on the hoist line.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Robert,
I first put in the shackle that allows the tack to be released under load as a last resort rarely to be used, but there if I needed it. I continue to think about it that way.
I had one experience where the asym was left up overly long and getting it behind the mainsail was hit and miss as the boat was sashaying around so in the offshore swell and shifting wind direction that the asym was filling and emptying and getting the asym down (the sock down) was quite a challenge. It was after this experience that I changed shackles to one that releases under load.
I have yet to mirror that lousy experience, but have used that shackle to blow the tack in the way you describe: done as practice, and have had the same experience: the sail blows out forward and socking it was easy and, in many ways, easier. I have done this with the main up and the main down.
I also sail at times with the asym alone: without the main up, and have had very enjoyable sails. This was always coastal cruising and not offshore. I have never needed to blow the tack to sock the asym, but I know it is there if needed.
Please also note that I am flying an asym that is smaller than many being talked about in these pages and more heavily built (see previous post). I am also sailing pretty conservatively and I am clear that once the true wind gets above ~~12 knots or so, we will go almost as fast, and with the need for a lot less vigilance, by sailing wing and wing.  
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Andy Schell

Glad I was able to contribute to the ‘what not to do’ category here John! But thanks for being nice about it 😉 Picking up my new (hot pink!) spinnaker today actually here in Sweden. The snatch-block-on-the-sock-line quite naturally occurred to my foredeck crew, but only after the damage was done. We had a great debrief about all this at 0100 in the cockpit, but still lost the chute. Good stuff.

Carter Brey

This is a great article, thank you, John.

For you singlehanders out there, here is another suggestion. It probably will require installing a longer up/down sock line but I’ve found it to be a useful technique and it conforms to John’s requirement that the lines be led at all times to a cleat or winch without direct unmediated contact with the up/down lines. It keeps you in control and off the foredeck until the sail is ready to be bagged.

Run the two parts of the sock line through two snatch blocks at the mast, continuing to the cockpit where whichever part is working can be made fast to a cleat or a winch.

This way the sock can be raised or lowered from the cockpit while easing the sheet and/or tack line. It’s not difficult to check for twists or problems; one simply looks forward from around the windward side of the cockpit.

Here is a photo of the snatch block arrangement at the foot of the mast, each half of the sock control line given its own block:

Thank you,
Carter Brey

Robert Tigwell

Thank you John for some great advise. And to others here. All good stuff.

Sailing a hunter 39 with nearly no hardware aboard from factory (slowly changing that but it is hard because the design is far to passenger friendly and hardly sailerly friendly). I have two simple thing to add from a simple lake sailer experience.

1. The retrieval/launch line on my asymmetrical spin is not long enough. I didn’t realize that until reading this post. I have often put myself in questionable places because I didn’t have the line to be elsewhere or do more intelligent things with it as mentioned here.

2. The question of where to tie off the retrieval line while the sail is up has always been a problem for me. Initially I foolishly tied it off on the only cleat it reached – on the mast. Bad idea as it one day got tangled in the radar and now retrieving the sail even in a traditional way was a huge issue! Then moved to bow pulpit. Still not great. So thank you for encouraging me in this article to install the anchor locations half way between forestay and mast. This will be good.

Worth the price of admission. Thank you for bringing good value John.

I should add. A hunter. 39 is an excellent boat when tied to a dock. It would be a great topic for John to cover on the sailing performance of 2010 plus production boats of all flavours in how they move the mast forward to create a larger main and smaller fore triangle for easier sail handling. Could cover things like how you cannot heave to. How it is impossible to balance the boat and need to rely solely on your autohelm. And how to swing at anchor more than ever thought possible. Hashtag worst idea ever. Hashtag dontbuyone. Hashtag notforoffshoreever

Joseph King

I’ve been using an Asym on my 35’ cruising sailboat for several years now without a sock but find this article full of some very salient advice. Here is my technique:

The Launch (Hoist)
I stage the spinnaker in a Turtle (Launch) Bag on the forward leeward rail. The sail is packed in the bag so that the Head, Tack, and Clew are on top and the bag is positioned so they are properly oriented. The tack line, sheet, and halyard are attached and sail is ready to hoist. (Always do a 2nd check to make sure the lines are properly run BEFORE the sail is hoisted)

Bring the boat onto a broad reach (I like the ~ 150° true wind angle) so the sail fills away from the boat as its hoisted.

Hoist the sail. Adjust the tack for the angle of wind you’ll be sailing. Sheet in and off you go!

The Drop (Strike)
Bring the boat onto a deep broad reach but not so much that you might accidentally jibe. (You want to get the spinnaker into the wind shadow behind the main… and Yes, I have sometimes set just the Asym for the beauty and simplicity of it)

Ease the tack line to spill wind out of the spinnaker. If the wind is light I may “blow” the tack line. (Yes, at this point the sail will start flapping about and making noise)

Grab the sheet and as its eased, move to the base of the mast and SIT DOWN.

As the halyard is eased, pull the sail into your lap. (Having a sail tie handy to wrap around the sail once its all in your lap will help keep it under control as you tidy-up the tack line, sheet(s), and halyard)

Re-pack the sail into the Turtle (Launch) Bag and you’re ready to go again!

Additional Thoughts
Practice with the spinnaker and crew in light air. Launch-Drop-Launch-Drop… to get the process down. (many people infrequently used their spinnakers and are not proficient. This leads to poor outcomes especially as wind speed increases)

Have a crew briefing BEFORE hoisting OR dropping so that everyone understands their role and what to expect.

Know your limits and comfort zone when flying a spinnaker and keep an eye on the weather and wind. Have a pre-determined TWS (my strike point is 15 knots TWS) at which the sail is coming down. (Getting unexpectantly caught in an overpowered situation will certainly lead to an unpleasant situation)

Terence Thatcher

Thought I would seek advice and comments. My Morgan 382 has an I of 46’ and a J of 16.25. I have used an ATN spinnaker sock for 20 years, although infrequently. It has started binding, creating a big ball of sock and sail, preventing raising. Etienne at ATN has bee very helpful. He is willing, without charge, to look at the sock and recut it, perhaps shortening and removing some excess girth. Amazing customer service. In the meantime, he suggests coating the sock interior AND the spinnaker with Sailcote. I might be able to Coast the sock with many cans of Sailcote, but it would take a lot of Sailcote and a paint sprayer to coat the sail.

Terence Thatcher

Sorry, hit the wrong button. How long are most ATN sleeves compared to the sail; i.e., how much of your sail sticks out when the sock is hoisted? Has anyone coated a chute with Sailcote and how did you do it? Thanks.

Eric Klem

Hi John,

I am a relative novice with asyms offshore so this is interesting and helpful, our own boat is small enough and in protected enough water that we can get away with manhandling things a bit. It did get me thinking about a few things:

  • When you are snuffing and getting towards the bottom of the sail, if the block is not super near the tack, do you get stuck with the bottom of the sail exposed and if so, what is the next step? When I snuff ours, I slide forward at this point and fully capture the sail at the bow, then worry about unhooking the tack and bringing the whole thing back to the hatch to drop. Our snuffer goes almost all the way down to the tack so there is almost no sail sticking out.
  • In your article on your new boat, you talked about gybing, what do you do with the snuffer and its lines while doing this? I am thinking both from an interference and a twisting standpoint. Basically all of my snuffer issues can be traced to twisting so I am very vigilant about preventing it but since converting to a snuffer, we always snuff to gybe now.


Eric Klem

Thanks John, that all makes sense. I have never done an inside gybe on this boat and stopped the occasional outside one because of the mess of sheets and issues like keeping them out of the water. I have done maybe 20 inside gybes on a sprit boat and that was much better. I am a bit afraid of spinnaker wraps, it might have something to do with getting a bad one while soloing a 210 with no autopilot and darkness falling as a teenager.


Dick Stevenson

Hi all,
I see spinnaker wraps and nets have come up. It may have been lost in an earlier and longer email, but on Alchemy, when flying my asym, I always pull out the jib ~~5-8 feet and firmly fix both sheets center-lining the sail. The two sheets and the triangle of jib make a wrap less likely (but not impossible). If it happens (to me once when using this hack) being able to roll up the jib inside the wrap a bit loosened the asym cloth allowing the wrap to be teased out of the knot it was in more easily. Someone suggested this to me decades ago calling it a poor-man’s spinnaker net, but I do not believe I know of anyone else using this technique.
Our asym wraps have always been in light wind and swell (or the wake of a passing motor vessel) where the boat’s pendulum swings took the collapsing, then filling asym, and wrapped it around tightly.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy 

Dick Stevenson

Hi all,
With respect to gybing an asym: socking it and throwing the sock around the headstay and then re-flying the asym does work, but is a bit of work and demands going to the foredeck. We have had good luck releasing the sheet and letting the asym fly out in front of the boat as we slowly gybe the boat and then sheet it on the other side: a very satisfying and easy maneuver. It is especially nice when the main is up precluding going DDW with the asym drawing and you do not want to get too far off course.
We do have long enough sheets to do this (synthetic sheets which are very light-weight and do not absorb water) and the wind speed does have to be greater than the boat speed.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Pete Running Bear

Good stuff John! I used a sock for the first time only recently. I wasn’t a huge fan I have to say but can see the benefit if you are short handed. The jury is still out as I’ve only used it a couple of times, I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve tried it with a block, I have no doubt that will help.

Without a sock I usually hoist behind the genoa and then furl it away. Unfurl it again before dropping. You can hoist single handed this way but it does require a few hands to pull it down and gather it up. I have no idea why I do it that way, it just seems easy, perhaps it’s unusual or daft for some reason I’ve not considered. Do you have any views on hoisting and dropping in the shadow of a genoa?

Terence Thatcher

John, thanks for the suggestions on my sock problem. Washing the sock and sail in fresh water-no soap-then spraying SailCote on the sock—top to bottom— have resolved my sock bunching issue. When the season is over, I may spray the sail itself with Sailcote.

Stephen Wardle

Hi John,
Thanks for the great advise. I have just taken the plunge and purchased an asymmetrical spinnaker with sock – much to my wifes concern…….!

I like the idea of the snatch block on the up/down lines. We have a 40′ boat, so is there a minimum WL/BL number we should be looking at? I’m not sure what loads are likely to be going through the block – we’ll be flying it in light winds for a while!

Is something like a Ronstan RF6721 64mm Snatch Block adequate. We have 12mm double braided poly for the sheet.
Many thanks.


Dick Stevenson

Hi Stephen,
One thing about snatch blocks is they get used in for a multitude of tasks. With that in mind, I bought with sheave diameter as large as I could find: at that time, it was a Garhauer snatch block which also was significantly less expensive and has worked a peach for decades now.
With snatch blocks, it is one thing to deflect the lead: say from toe rail to winch or to another fixed turning block. But it is quite another when the angle change gets above 90 degrees, especially as it approaches 180 degrees.
This sometimes occurs when it comes time to kedge off somewhere and lines are lead here and there until they get to the primaries. Then, large sheaves really are appreciated.
My thoughts, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Stephen Wardle

Thanks Dick. Appreciate the advise.
Cheers. Steve.

Stephen Wardle

Many thanks for the thoughts. I will look into them.

Stephen Wardle

Hi guys,
So I’ve stopped whining and picked up 2 folding padeyes to fix on the foredeck for the snatchblock.

However, I’ve heard conflicting info on fixing deck hardware. My boat is GRP (deck is sandwiched PVC fibreglass polyester), so is it a case of drill holes, fix steel backing plate and seal (I was going to use butyl tape) and screw on?

I have been advised to oversize the holes and strengthen with epoxy and silica. Then do above. I wonder if this process is more for balsa/cored decks to stop water ingress?

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.


Dick Stevenson

Hi Steve,
I suggest reefing and back-filling as described in this article by Steve D’Antonio,
And I would through-bolt rather than screw on, although with you mentioning a backing plate, that might be what you meant. RC Collins has lots of good advice on the use of butyl rubber and sells good quality butyl rubber on his site (not all BR is the same).
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dave Warnock

I agree, although we are using FR4 rather than G10 (FR4 is basically a Fire Resistant version of G10 with otherwise similar properties).
When there is a choice it seems sensible to always pick something that is more fire resistant.
Also we use thickened epoxy on the backing plate to avoid any point loadings due to an uneven surface.

Stein Varjord

Hi Stephen,
I agree with the advice given by others here, definitely through bolts (as you had probably already planned), absolutely do remove core, refill and drill, and preferably use thickened epoxy or such to make the backing plate spread the loads well.

I’ve had some experience with butyl tape and it’s become my only option for mounting hardware. On our now 23 year old cat I’ve reseated everything. When first put there butyl was used many places, but two different types. I don’t know what types. One of them was still flexible and had zero leaks. The other type had dried out significantly and had very little flexibility left. It still didn’t leak too bad, but some. All normal hardening sealant types (silicone etc) had the leaks they would have had if no sealant was used. Completely useless. The work quality was clearly amateur level on all of it. No countersinking, and often no core removal.

Conclusion: Butyl tape is the winner by a huge margin, but use a good one and good methods. I use the product sold by Rod Collins on his brilliant site You can probably find good versions other places too, but at the moment I don’t know where. I also recommend reading this article there, which is useful also if using other products:

Stephen Wardle

Thanks for all the advise. I did mean bolt rather than screw!

It doesn’t look like G10 is readily available though in Australia – would 5mm thickness suffice?

It looks like Rod Collins has had a significant stroke sadly – and as a result the shop is closed.

Kind regards.


Eric Klem

His “Bed-It Butyl” used to be available at Hamilton Marine as well but I unfortunately don’t see it listed on their site anymore.


Ee Kiat Goh

Dear John, A very enlightening write up and comments from other sailors. I am new to asymmetric spinnaker and recently have had a bad experience with about 8 kts wind (Apparent) from 160 degrees. When the wind suddenly became unpredictable (shifts with varying wind speed between 6 to 10 knots). With 2 man on board ( the other one in the head down below!), i had to engage the autopilot (Raymarine) to tend to the asymmetric spinnaker sheet as it was filling and collapsing and flogging the clew. The autopilot could not adjust to a shifting wind well and that made sheet adjustment hopeless. The flogging clew whipped the turning block and the winch so hard that it was frightening. As the wind was not too high, I did not put up my main sail. After reading this book, that could be a mistake. When my other crew emerged, we blew the tack and pulled down the sock and and wondered how could we handle a flogging asymmetric spinnaker clew in unpredictable wind conditions especially on watch singlehandly. What would you do differently apart from putting up the main sail with the asymmetric spinnaker?

Ee Kiat Goh

Thank you John. I will remember the mainsail as my friend in future!

Ee Kiat Goh

Hi John, when you are sailing with the asymmetrical spinnaker with the mailsail, do you set up an anti jib system for the main sail?

Huw Morgan

After having fun with a choice of spinnakers, pole and jockey etc and two Wichard opening blocks on my 8 metre Ecume, I thought that my luck may run out as I’m always short handed and so the 9.5 Winner was my time to see sense and save my wife and I from shouting at each other. So a local sail maker made me a lovely asymmetrical that is cut well to give me plenty of scope from a broad reach to fairly shallow angles. I just use a 14mm braid under the bow roller with no tack around the furled jib and always have 2 sheets attached for outside gybing. So far no problems as I go forward to ensure the lazy line stays inside the pulpit. My sailmaker offered the Harken furler but pushed his simple sock – which works fine. The winner has a tall fractional rig and I would never fly any big sail without the main up! I always pull the sock downhaul under a cleat so I can’t get airborne in a gust, but prefer your option. I just need to fit some more deck hardware carefully as the deck is cored. When gybing I just try to get the sail back on the same tack that I hoisted on, only made that mistake once😉. Haven’t tried this in strong winds yet – wondered if you had any concerns over my set up so far?

Denis Foster

Hello John and fellow cruisers.

I am adapting your technique for asymmetric setting and striking on our cutter rigged HR46. Sailed by a retired couple.

Concerning the sheet set up we will use the snuff gybe like you suggested.

What length of sheet should we use since we will not do outside gybing?

Is it a good idea to use a polypropylen dyneema that is light and doesn’t absorb water?

What do you think of attaching the sheet at the clew and storing it like that? Or alternatively attach a 2 m strop to the clew that way you can attach the sheet while the asymmetric is securely stored in the sock?

Thank you for your so good AAC site and your comments.

Best regards.


Dick Stevenson

Hi Denis,
I have a bit of a different take for my asym sheets.
Before switching to HM sheets, in light air, the sheets would dip into the water, soak up water like a sponge and come out weighing enough so that filling the sail (and keeping it filled) was compromised. It was very annoying. This does not happen with HM sheets which shake off water quickly and easily and maintain their original much lighter weight.
I have 2 sets of sheets for my asym, both HM. The smaller one is probably good for all conditions where I tend to carry an asym (being HM), but I like the bigger one for moderate winds as it is much easier in the hand.
I appreciate having stretch in the system as I do not like to have to pay the price for my errors. Forgiveness comes from my halyard being Dacron/polyester and from my asym being nylon (although it is 1.5 oz) rather than from stretchier sheets.
And, although I know it is a no-no, I do tie on with bowlines and have for decades now and never had a knot slip. This may be because I do not carry the asym above 12-15kn TW (and, usually, much less apparent wind) as somewhere in that range I go just as fast, with more control, wing and wing with the jib. I also pay attention to the down side: were the knot to creep free, the sail would fly out I would sock it, but experience says this is unlikely in the ranges where I stress my HM sheets.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Denis Foster

Thank you John and Dick for your comments and advice.

I have now received the dedicated running rigging :
A 10mm 10 m tack line that goes through a low friction ring.

A 12 mm HM made of polypropylene / Dyneema core and a polyester braid. That will go to a 2m Dyneema spliced strop. That way I can attach the sheet while the sail is in the sock in the sail bag. This is to keep the sail completely snuffed just above the tack while hoisting before deploying.

To keep the sheet out of the water when not tension loaded I will use a clever dedicated flexible shroud horn. I thought a barber hauler with a snatch block could also serve the same purpose.(Tried to attach picture…)

The sock lines will go through snatch blocks fixed on the foredeck on each side just behind our cutter stay.

I like the idea of Dick of unfurling about 2m of genoa, well center sheeted on both sides to prevent forestay wraps of the spinnaker.

Dick do you this all the time or just in weak winds sailing deep downwind ?

Great help thank you again.


Denis Foster

The shroud sheet horn

Shroud Sheet horn.jpg
Dick Stevenson

Hi Denis,
Yes, pulling the jib out like that was called by my friend a “poor man’s spinnaker net”: could also be a lazy man’s spinny net. I do pull out the jib for this purpose most of the time, but I never forget going DDW in swell and light air. And if you do get a wrap, I can attest, it is unlikely to be a bad one and tweaking the jib in and out when playing with my asym sheets made undoing the wrap a doddle.
Good luck with it, My best, Dick

Brian Chapman

Hey all – I’ve learned a lot from this site over the last few years, so thanks! I’m still struggling with, while using the ATN tacker (which is similar to what is pictured wrapped around the furled headsail in the photos), without modifying the boat (which may be an option in the future but isn’t now), how would you attach the tack line for the asym? In the article photo it appears it’s led to a fixed spot on the bow (tacked to the bow as the article mentions), and not led back to the cockpit. But I am having trouble finding a clear spot on the bow to attach it.

I’ve been attaching a block to #2 and running the tack line from there up to the ATN tacker, which does work but it rubs on the drum as well as requires detaching and reattaching the tack line after each gybe in order to prevent it rubbing on the furled sail. For example, launch it on port, the line rubs on the drum but is otherwise clear, gybe to starboard, the tack line wraps from port to starboard on the outside when you flip the sail around (we snuff to gybe as described). This option does let me lead the line back to the cockpit to adjust, but I never do because it rubs, we just try for the middle ground and leave it.

#1 is an option I just thought about, a fixed line from the shackle where the genoa tack is attached to the furler to the ATN tacker, would be quick to attach with a soft shackle and wouldn’t need to be adjusted to gybe. But there would be limited ability to adjust the line, and definitely not from the cockpit.

#3 is also an option I just thought about. The previous owner flew the spinnaker off the bow roller, but it’s way too far levered out (no bobstay) for me to risk it, and Tartan (this is a Tartan 3700) said don’t do it when I asked them about it. But a strop of some kind around the bow roller close to the bow would minimize the leverage and would have a clear shot up to the ATN tacker. I likely wouldn’t be able to adjust it (same as #1).

So what do you all think? Is there some configuration option I’m not thinking about? I’m trying to minimize the number of things that need to be done to gybe it and reduce the number of things that can get tangled, etc. I’d be perfectly happy with a fixed length line to #1 or #3 of either of those are sufficient. Or maybe what I’m doing with #2 is fine, I just don’t adjust the line at all and it won’t rub against the furled sail.

The other question, is there any scenario in a cruising setup where I would ever “blow the tack line”? I can’t think of one unless we were cutting things loose because we screwed up so bad we couldn’t recover it…but I don’t think that’s likely either!

Brian Chapman

Thanks John. The unintended consequences are what I’m concerned about, we only fly it in 10 kts or under most of the time as a result.

Why do you say “solid bob stay” vs say one of the dyneema ones? Just to beef up the whole bow roller?

Brian Chapman

Cool, thanks. Makes sense. Solid would provide some more support for downward pull as well.

Dick Stevenson

Hi Brian,
I have bow sprit/anchor platform that is very solidly built and movement in both the upwards direction from the jib or asym or downwards from the anchor is further restrained by a fairly large diameter piece of rod going from platform end to the waterline.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy