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How to Choose Furlers for Reaching Sails on Cruising Sailboats

Reaching Sail Furler Options for Cruising Sailboats Sails built for the sole purpose of reaching, or sailing off the wind, offer a range of powered up sailing for cruisers. Paired with a furler, these sails are easy to handle and maximize your boat speed (especially in light air). The two types of furlers for cruising reaching sails are: Bottom up furlers for straight luffed Cruising Code 0 sails Top down furlers for free flying a-symmetrical spinnakers SHOP ALL FURLERS Advantages […]

Reaching Sail Furler Options for Cruising Sailboats

Sails built for the sole purpose of reaching, or sailing off the wind, offer a range of powered up sailing for cruisers. Paired with a furler, these sails are easy to handle and maximize your boat speed (especially in light air).

The two types of furlers for cruising reaching sails are:

  • Bottom up furlers for straight luffed Cruising Code 0 sails
  • Top down furlers for free flying a-symmetrical spinnakers

SHOP ALL FURLERS

Advantages of Furling Reaching Sails

Furling reaching sails allow you to store sails rolled on their flexible furlers below decks.  They can be easily and quickly rigged on deck, have continuous furling drums/lines for trouble-free furling and unfurling once they are hoisted on the halyard, and they afford easy sail handling for a crew of two or a single handed crew with an autohelm.

Where do Reaching Sails and Furlers Fit into the Sail Inventory?

We get this question often at APS from sailors who are confused by what furler works with which type of reaching sail.  In this post, we will broadly review the types of sails available for cruising, including sails you may already have on board like a genoa and symmetrical spinnaker.  We will classify reaching sails as cruising code zero and asymmetrical spinnakers.  Know that each sailmaker will have different ‘in-house’ names for reaching cruising sails and that they can all be designed to be optimal performers for a specific range of wind angles that you and your sailmaker would discuss and agree on.  We will then discuss the two types of furling options for reaching sails and their advantages when cruising, especially when sailing with a crew of one or two.

optimal apparent wind angles by sail type

As you can see in the above diagram, different sails perform better within different ranges of wind angles. First, we will discuss the headsail and the spinnakers often found on cruising sailboats, and their wind angle ranges.

Roller Furling Headsails

Headsails on roller furlers offer upwind performance, ease of handling, the safety of furling from the cockpit, and space-saving sail storage on the furler.

Most new cruising boats over 30’ come with a ridged forestay furling system and a 130% genoa as standard equipment.  This combination is ideal for sailing close hauled and offers respectable performance on a tight reach.  Head off the wind some more and the sail is pretty small and flat for a beam reach (90 degrees apparent wind angle). This is especially true in lighter air (under 10 knots).  Any angle deeper than a beam reach in a medium-light air and you may as well furl the sail because the mainsail begins to blanket it while its flat and relatively small size does not perform well.  On light air days, the dreaded ‘iron genny’, motor sailing, typically comes in to play when reaching which is not what you went sailing to do.

Symmetrical Spinnakers

What about the symmetrical spinnaker you may already have onboard?  For true downwind running, the symmetrical spinnaker is a classic way of sailing your boat when your apparent wind angle is in the 110 – 180 degrees range. Although, this includes using a spinnaker pole and sheets and guys, plus the challenges of jibing the sail and pole.  Not ideal for a shorthanded crew.  Using a spinnaker sock helps to better control the douse, but they are not as easy to use or as space saving as a furled sail.

For dead downwind sailing the symmetrical spinnaker is your best and most stable sail choice, but for reaching angles there are easier and more efficient options to get you there faster. Enter reaching sails.

Reaching Sails & Furlers

For all the reaching points where a furling 130% genoa and the symmetrical spinnaker are not efficient in light air, there is the temptation to turn on the engine when the wind drops.  But don’t start the engine.  Enter reaching sails. These are the sails and furling options which make sail changes easy for a crew of one or two and keeps your boat quietly moving.

There are two types of sail furlers that are matched to distinctively different types of sails.  First, we will discuss the sails.

Cruising Code Zero

code zero sail

Code Zero Sail

For close reaching a cruising Code Zero sail offers outstanding power to drive the boat in medium to light air.  These are large genoa-like sails made with a straight luff and a mid-girth that is less than 75% of the foot length.  This type of sail will typically be designed within a range for sailing 60 – 130 degrees of apparent wind, and you would target a smaller range with your sailmaker based on your needs and existing sail inventory.  These sails excel at close reaching, with performance falling off as the reaching angle increases, but all the while generating substantially more power than the 130% genoa.  They also will generally have a higher cut clew that allows for more flexibility in sheeting position and angle.  The key factor in terms of furlers choices is that it is an upwind sail with a straight luff.

Image courtesy of Selden

Asymmetrical Spinnakers

asymmetrical spinnaker

Asymmetrical Spinnaker

For broader sailing angles of 90 – 150 degrees you will want to switch to an a-symmetrical spinnaker which will be bigger, wider (especially at the top) and much deeper than a Code Zero.  The luff is curved and is designed to project more sail area forward.  The power and ease of trimming an a-symmetrical may keep your engine quiet in all but a drifter-wind-day.  The key factor in terms of furlers is that the sail had a positive curve in the luff.

Image courtesy of Selden

 

 

Bottom Up (Code Zero) Furlers

 

code zero furlers

Code Zero Furlers Brands from left to right: ProFurl, Selden, Harken, Ronstan, Karver

Bottom up (or code zero) furlers are specifically designed for Code Zero sails. The sail has a torsion cable (anti twist) sewn directly into the straight luff of the sail with thimbles at either end.  The thimble tack eye connects directly to the furling drum at deck level and the thimble head eye to the top swivel.  In order to keep the luff as straight as possible when sailing upwind, the halyard must be extremely tight and highly loaded.  To achieve this without overloading the mast, a 2:1 halyard is recommended.  This also requires the torsion cable in the luff to be extremely strong and low stretch.  The furling drum will be attached to a fixed or retractable bowsprit that is reinforced to handle the halyard tension loads.

SHOP CODE ZERO FURLERS

To deploy the code zero: The furling drum is attached to the sprit and the continuous furling line is lead aft.  The furled sail is hoisted, the furling line is released, begin sheeting in, and the sail immediately rolls out and is sheeted the rest of the way in.

To furl the code zero: The sheet is eased and the continuous furling line is pulled which rotates the furling drum.  This rotation is immediately transferred to the torsion cable in the sail.  As the bottom of the torsion cables rotates, this travels up the length of the cable and the middle and top, and immediately begin to also rotate and furl the sail – furling the sail from the bottom up.

parts of code zero furler

Image courtesy of Ronstan

The key to these sail furlers working effectively is that the sail has a straight luff, has a mid-girth <75% of the foot length, has a torsion cable is permanently sewn into the luff of the sail, and that torsion cable is highly tensioned by the halyard when in use.

Top Down Furlers

top down furlers

Top Down Furlers Brands from left to right: Selden, Ronstan, Harken, ProFurl, Karver

For asymmetrical spinnakers, there is the top down sail furler. Here we are dealing with a top swivel and continuous furling drum, plus a torsion cable. Asymmetrical spinnakers, unlike code zeros, are free flying and the torsion cable is not sewn into the sail but is part of the furler system.

The tack of the sail is attached to a swivel on the furling drum so that as the drum is rotated/furled, the sail does not furl at the tack. The torsion cable runs from the top swivel directly to the drum. The head of the sail is attached to the swivel at the same point that the torsion cable is attached.

SHOP TOP DOWN FURLERS

To deploy the asymmetrical spinnaker: Follow the same steps as a code zero sail. The furling drum is attached to the sprit and the continuous furling line is lead aft.  The furled sail is hoisted, the furling line is released, begin sheeting in, and the sail immediately rolls out and is sheeted the rest of the way in.

To furl the sail: Bring the boat heading to a broad reach.  The continuous furling line is pulled as the sheet is let out just shy of allowing the sail to flog, the drum rotates, the torsion cable rotates, and the top of the sail begins to furl around the torsion cable; while the tack does not due to the swivel it is attached to on the top of the drum.  As the sail continues to be furled, this action will work its way down the sail to the tack, and eventually, the whole sail is quickly furled around the torsion cable.

Furling and unfurling of the sail are all done from the safety of the cockpit, with a crew of two, or one with an autohelm.

The furling drum is in some cases identical to the code zero version, other than a ball bear swivel has been added to the top of the drum to attach the tack of the spinnaker.  The top swivel will usually be the same for both bottom up and top down furlers.

Many of the furler drums can be used for both bottom up and top down furling, as the fitting (swiveling/non-swiveling) on the top of the drum can be quickly changed out.  This allows you to use one furler for both code zero sails and asymmetrical spinnakers.  If you have questions about this, just give our team at APS a call.

Top down furling units usually include the torsion line or cable and will need to be cut and fitted to length.  Finishing the ends is done with mechanical fittings or sleeves allowing boat owners to do it themselves.  For those furlers that do not include the torsion cable/line, APS can supply you with either a Harken cable kit or a Ronstan line kit, which both come with cable/line clamps so you can make them up yourself.

parts of a top down furler

Image courtesy of Ronstan

FAQs and Tips for Top Down Furlers
  • Old sails can be used on a new furler, but check with your sailmaker to be sure the existing cut of the sail will successfully furl.
  • Soft webbing loops on the head of the sail rather than a stainless steel ring will help the head of the sail to start furling more easily.
  • If your furler has an adjustable tack swivel (the swivel can slide up and down the torsion line) with a downhaul, be sure it is properly tensioned before furling and unfurling the sail.
  • A stiff head patch may interfere with furling at the beginning.  As the head patch softens, the sail will begin furling more easily.
  • If you have an option to use a larger diameter torsion line/cable, do it. The thicker this is, the better it will translate the rotation of the drum through its entire length, and the better your sail will furl on the slightly larger line circumference.
  • Be sure to only use thimbles that are from the manufacture of your furler to ensure a proper fit. Any movement of an improperly sized thimble can lead to deformation of the aluminum thimble over time.
  • Ensure your torsion cable/line is the exact length you need for your sail and rig. Follow the manufactures instructions carefully, as they are all different.  Doing the initial set up correctly will pay big dividends.
  • Because the twist of the furling drum needs to be transferred from the bottom drum to the top swivel, high halyard tension is critical to ensure the torsion line is effective in accomplishing this. Torsion cables, like Harken’s, require less halyard tension.
  • When furling, sail the boat down to a broad reach without letting the sail collapse, initially give the sheet a big east which will unload the sail, maintaining a slight tension on the sheet as you furl the sail. Practicing and mastering this smooth maneuver is key to trouble-free furling.  Single-handed sailors (with an autohelm) may struggle initially but will master it with just a bit of practice.
  • Avoid furling the sail if it is luffing excessively.
  • Having the torsion line tight is critical. If the torsion line is not appropriately tight it may not always translate the rotation of the drum to the head of the spinnaker.  If you keep rotating the torsion line without the top spinning/furling, the torsion line stores this energy.  Now if the furling line is allowed to run backward freely, the line will backspin the torsion line and furling drum.  The bottom swivel where the tack is attached can’t keep up and begins to swivel and the foot of the sail now partially furls in the opposite direction around the line.  This is called “back twist” and if it occurs, you will have the sail partially furled in two directions – top and bottom.  When “back twist” happens, and it will, everyone wants to pull hard on the spin sheet to get the wrap out.  All that does is compound the issue and make it harder to untwist.  We recommend pulling the furling line in the same direction as the sail was originally furled.  Look up and if the top of the sail is wrapped clockwise pull the right side furling line to start re-furling the sail the same way.   Once the bottom is flying free from the lower section of the cable you can then either continue to furl the sail or pull the spin sheet to unfurl the sail.   If this is not successful, the sail would have to be lowered to the deck unfurled and sorted.  Not fun.
  • Always watch that the top of the sail is rotating and furling as you pull on the continuous furling line.  If it stops, carefully, and slowly ease the furling line back out.  If the torsion line is tight enough, the sail is not being sheeted too much, and there is nothing caught at the head of the sail, begin furling again.
When a Top Down Furler is Not Appropriate

If you are dealing with a full-size asymmetrical sail for broad reaching, with mid girths approaching 100% of the foot length, with a deep cut, top down furlers may not be a good option, as the sail may not furl completely.  Problems begin with sails having a mid-girth greater than say 90% of the foot length.  So be sure to talk with your sailmaker to ensure your sail is designed for top down furling.  Otherwise, these larger sails will require a spinnaker sock, which is a good option but is not as easy to use or and space saving as a furler.

Remember to always consult with your sailmaker to ensure your sail, new or existing, is optimized for furling, and the apparent wind angles you will be sailing most often.  Call our team at APS if you have questions on the different features in bottom up or top down furler.  Proper planning will lead to trouble-free, and more enjoyable sailing.

SHOP ALL FURLERS

Basic Sailboat Cleats Explained | Expert Advice

Cleats are fittings to which a line is secured, either temporarily or permanently.  We are going to explain the seven main cleat types found on sailboats, and some of their uses: Horn Cleats Self-Jamming Horn Cleats Cam Cleats Double Cam Cam Cleats Clam Cleats V Cleats Lance Cleats SHOP ALL CLEATS Horn Cleats Primary Uses: Anchoring, mooring and docking a boat.  Also classically use on the mast to secure halyards. Sizes: Line diameters: 3/32” – 2”+ Horn cleats are most […]

Cleats are fittings to which a line is secured, either temporarily or permanently.  We are going to explain the seven main cleat types found on sailboats, and some of their uses:

  • Horn Cleats
  • Self-Jamming Horn Cleats
  • Cam Cleats
  • Double Cam Cam Cleats
  • Clam Cleats
  • V Cleats
  • Lance Cleats

SHOP ALL CLEATS

Horn Cleats

Primary Uses: Anchoring, mooring and docking a boat.  Also classically use on the mast to secure halyards.

Sizes: Line diameters: 3/32” – 2”+

Horn cleats are most commonly your deck cleats.  They are the strongest type of cleat, and the only type you should use for anchoring, mooring and docking a boat.

horn cleat

Typically they are through bolted to the boat’s deck with two bolts running through the cleat, then through the deck and secured with lock nuts below.  Given the huge loads these can be expected to take, reinforcing the deck where they are mounted and using backing plates where applicable is expected.

horn cleat

For cleats used for the heavy loads of mooring or anchoring’s, cleats that use four fasteners plate will better spread the load to the deck.

The majority of horn cleats will be open bases which allows you to pass a loop of line through the throat of the cleat.  Some specialty, low profile or utility cleats may have closed bases.

Horn cleats are made from many different materials.  For lighter loads, wood and nylon can be used for utility, but for heavy loads on the boat such as anchoring, mooring, and docking, aluminum or stainless steel is needed.

Galvanized steel is another material option, and used almost exclusively on docks and wharves.

In general terms, to choose the cleat length, it should be 1” (tip to tip) for every 1/16” of line diameter; and dock lines should be 1/8” in diameter for every 9 feet of boat length.  For example, if a boat is 45’ in length, it would require 5/8” dock lines.  Using 5/8” dock lines means the boat should have 10” cleats.  These sizing guidelines are the minimum, and upsizing line diameter and cleat sizes add an additional margin of safety.  Also, chocks and cleats need to be large enough to accommodate chafe gear and the doubling of lines for extreme weather events.  Also, if a cleat is dramatically too big for the line diameter, the line will not hold as well on the cleat and could slip, so don’t supersize your cleats.horn cleat

SHOP HORN CLEATS

Self-Jamming Horn Cleats

Primary Uses: Loaded lines requiring quick cleating when adjusting.

Sizes: Line diameters: 1/4” – 1/2”

self jamming horn cleat

Self-jamming horn cleats work well with genoa sheets, topping lifts and reefing lines – loaded lines requiring quick cleating when adjusting.  One side of the base has a “V” or jamming shape to it that “locks” the line more quickly.  The cleat is mounted such that the line under load is lead the side without the “V” jam, then to the side with the “V” jam.  This single wrap around the base of the cleat locks the load of the line more quickly and makes completing the cleat hitch easier with the now much less loaded tail.  The cleat needs to be mounted such that the side without the “V” jam faces away from the loaded line (farthest away from the source of the load).  These will be made of aluminum or stainless steel.

SHOP SELF JAMMING HORN CLEATS

Cam Cleats

Primary Uses: Frequently adjusted control lines and sheets with loads that can be handheld.  Also used on some higher loaded lines, as larger cam cleats can accommodate loads approaching 1000 lbs breaking strength.

Sizes: line diameters 3/32” – 5/8”

cam cleats

Ronstan Cam Cleats- 3 Sizes

Cam cleats make cleating and uncleating an easy single fluid motion.  The spring-loaded cams will automatically open and allow the line slide in between them as you pull a loaded line between them.  To uncleat, tension the line by hand while pulling it up and away from the cleat, and it will simply slide out of the cams.

Harken Cam Cleats – 3 Sizes

Cam cleats generally come in three sizes – not surprisingly, small, medium and large.  Each size has a small range of diameters it will works with, which will differ slightly from each manufacturer.  They will offer cleating for line diameters from 1/12” all the way up to 5/8”.

composite cam

Composite Cam Cleat

aluminum cam

Aluminum Cam

stainless cam

Stainless Steel Cam Cleat

Cam cleats are made from three types materials: composite, aluminum and stainless.  Composites (think reinforced high tech plastics) offer good long lasting performance.  Aluminum generally offers greater resistance to UV degradation over time and can be rebuilt (new ball bearings and plastic components), but they will be a little bit more expensive.  Stainless steel cam cleats are long-lasting and capable of holding high loads, but are much more expensive, and are more often found on superyachts.

SHOP CAM CLEATS

The different accessories that can be added to cam cleats allow you to optimize them for a dedicated task.

rear fairlead

Rear fairleads can be metal or composite construction, and allow you to pull and cleat a line different angles.

saddles

Saddles can be metal or composite construction, and keep the line associated with the cleat when it is uncleated, and makes for fast recleating.

rope guides

Rope Guides will consist of a stainless steel wire held in place by an under cleat composite plate and redirect a line that is not fairly lead into the center of the cams.  It is meant for use with only light to moderately loaded lines.

wedges

Wedges allow you to adjust the angle of the cleat on a flat surface either backward or forward to better align the cam cleat with the loaded line, and create a fairlead.

risers

Riser and Curved Surface Adapters either allow you to either mount a cam cleat to a curved surface or raise the cleat off of a flat surface to create better access or clearance.

*Illustrations courtesy of Ronstan

SHOP CAM CLEATS & ACCESSORIES

Double Cam Cam Cleat

Primary Uses: Two-speed mainsheet systems or where two lines need to be cleated in an area of minimal space.

Sizes: One size, for line diameters of 5/16” – 3/18”

double cam cleat

This is a unique solution when you want the convenience and performance of a cam cleat, but don’t have enough room to mount two separate cam cleats.  This is a space saver.  The center post has line gripping ridges, but is stationary, while one outside spring-loaded cams engage separately lead lines.

SHOP CAM CLEATS & ACCESSORIES

Clam Cleats

Primary Uses: Small control lines, hanging fenders, securing a lee cloth, utility applications.

Sizes: Generally four sizes of cleats, covering a line diameter range of 3/32” – 5/8”

A clam cleat holds line fast (cleated) between two stationary checks which have ridges.  The ridges face downward and towards the source of the load on the line.  The two checks and the ridges on them progressively get closer together the farther down you go from the top.  To cleat, the loaded line is pulled back and down into the cheeks, then released.  The load on the line will pull it into the cleat, thus cleating the line.  The more load on the line, the deeper the line is pulled into the cleat, and the more securely it is cleated.  Simple design, easy to use, but not as easy to uncleat a loaded line as with a cam cleat.

SHOP CLAM CLEATS

Below are some of the most popular cam cleats, with other, more specialized styles available.

Open clam cleats are easy to use and don’t keep the line captive when it is uncleated.

Side entry clam cleats are available either open on the right or left and in smaller sizes.  These cleats allow lines that are not fairly lead to be redirected into the cleat by the integral fairlead, and the ease of line remove out the side when it is uncleated.

Captive clam cleats are available either open on the right or left and in smaller sizes.  These cleats allow lines that are not fairly lead to be redirected into the cleat by the integral fairlead and keeps the line captive when it is uncleated, and ready to cleat again.

The closed becket clam cleat has a ‘tunnel’ under the body of the cleat that allows you to run the line under the cleat and dead-end with a knot when creating a 2:1 purchase.

Top roller fairlead clam cleats allow lines to enter from above, and redirects them into the cleat with a plain bearing sheave.

Bottom roller clam cleats allow lines to enter from below, and redirect them into the cleat with a plain bearing sheave.

Inline clam cleats are clam cleats mounted to a composite line brake.  They allow for adjustment without the use of tools and provide a 2:1 purchase anywhere along a line.

*Illustrations courtesy of Clamcleat

SHOP CLAM CLEATS

V Cleats

Primary Uses: Cleating small control or utility lines

Size: Generally available in one or two sizes, covering line diameters 1/8” – 1/4”

 

 

 

 

These are an old and simple design where the line is run permanently through the cleat.  They work well with soft small diameter line that can be pulled deep into the ‘V’ portion of the cleat line for good holding.  A firm line can be problematic, as it does not always get deep enough into the ‘V’ to create enough friction and can sometimes fall free.

SHOP V CLEATS

Lance Cleats

Primary Uses: ‘Parking’ (cleating) a line temporarily.

Size: Available in two sizes, covering line diameters of 1/8” – 7/16”

lance cleat

This cleat has a single spring-loaded cam on one side, and a roller on the other.  They are available with the cam on either the right or left side.  The line is lead through the line permanently and can be pulled over into the cam and held until it can be secured with a cleat in another location on the boat.  Some small raced boats may mount on the mast with the spinnaker halyard run through it.  When the spinnaker is hoisted the bow person can pull the halyard over and into the cam until the line is cleated in the cockpit (tensioning the line from the cockpit will pull it free of the Lance cleat cam).

SHOP LANCE CLEATS

How to Coil & Stow Braided Lines & Ropes | Expert Advice

Hi, this is Kyle from APS. I’m here to show you how to coil braided line the correct way and the incorrect way. The Incorrect Way to Coil Line I’ve got a piece of 3/8” double braid here. This would be ideal for a halyard. I’m simulating a shackle on the end. Always start with the working end, where the hardware is or where the jacket is stripped. I’m going to do what I think most people typically think is […]

Hi, this is Kyle from APS. I’m here to show you how to coil braided line the correct way and the incorrect way.

The Incorrect Way to Coil Line

I’ve got a piece of 3/8” double braid here. This would be ideal for a halyard. I’m simulating a shackle on the end. Always start with the working end, where the hardware is or where the jacket is stripped. I’m going to do what I think most people typically think is the best way to coil, and certainly the prettiest way to coil. I’m going to start off with the open left hand here. I’m going to do full draws, and in order to get this coil to look perfect I’m having to rotate my right hand to get that coil. I’m going to do another full length and I’m rotating my right hand to get another perfect loop. Each time I do that, I get a pretty-looking loop, but I’m introducing twist into the line. You can already start to see the kinks that it’s creating. I’ll just keep working this. Now I’m having to work the kinks out just to make these pretty loops.

How to coil line 1

The Performance of Incorrectly Coiled Line

I finished coiling this by introducing twists to get these beautiful, perfect coils. Now let’s see how this performs. I’m just going to throw this down. I’m going to run the line through this block. Imagine me running a main sheet, a sheet, a halyard through the mast. I’m just going to start to do a straight pull and you can see all the twists that I’ve put in the line is now starting to get introduced back into it as I try and pull it straight. Now we’re having issues. I’m going to have to manually deal with this.

how to coil line 2

The Correct Way to Coil Line

Now that I’ve shown you why you don’t want the pretty, perfect loops and the performance issues they cause, I’m going to show you the correct way to coil this line. Now before I could start this I had to go in the other room and run this the length of the building and work out all those kinks that I put into the line. I wanted to get it right back to the condition it was in coming off the spool: balanced, no twist. I think I’ve achieved that. If you are on the boat and you’ve got a line with a lot of twist, as long as there are no other boats around, the easy way to do this is if you’re underway is, just take the line, tie it off and throw it overboard and it will just unravel behind the boat. Of course, you’re going to pull in a wet line, but you’ll have a balanced line.

The correct way to do this is, again, open left hand palm, working in to start with. I take a full arm length. What I was doing before was I was introducing twist with my right hand. Now there will be no twist. I’m just going to do a straight hand-off – right hand to left hand. You’ll notice the line has figure eight and that’s what I want. That’s a healthy-looking coil. I’m just going to do this time and again. I’m just going to stack them one on top of the other.

How to coil line 3

The Performance of Correctly Coiled Line

I’ve finished coiling this line with the no twist added, figure eight design, very healthy. I’m going to show you the performance difference. I’m just going to toss this down, run the same line through the same block. You’ll notice there’s no hockling. There’s no twist. The line just runs smoothly through the block, all the way to its end.

How to coil line 4

How to Hang Coiled Line

Now I’m back to this healthy, figure eight coil. Now I need to secure it, cinch it down for storage. Storing is either hanging it by tying it off to something or cinching it down and just throwing it into a storage locker. I’m going to show you the hanging one. I’m going to take at least a loop and a half or two loops worth of length. Do not start with too short a piece. You’re not going to be happy at the end of this. Good, long loop length, and I’m basically going to take it in my hand and I’m going to come about a third of the way down and I’m going to cinch it with this finger. I’m going to start to wrap the line. I’m doing this tightly. I usually like to get a minimum of five in place. I’m going to run my hand through. For the hanging I’m just going to pull this and pull the tail through. That’s it. This isn’t going to go anywhere. Now I have the ability to do a half-hitch on a rail or on a hook or wherever and I can store it.

how to coil line 5

How to Stow Coiled Line

Now if I was putting this in a locker, I really wouldn’t need a tail. I’m going to undo this. I don’t need quite this length. I’m going to put a couple extra wraps on this. In this case, I’m going to run the loop through but I’m going to run it back over the line and cinch it down. Now I’ve got a very sturdy piece for storage. If I had dock lines or a bunch of extra halyards or sheets, I could throw a whole bunch of these into a storage locker and they’re going to stay nice and secure and not get mixed up and knotted together, and I’ve retained the non-twist figure eight coil.

How to coil line 6

The Incorrect Way to Coil Lines on Winches

I’ve shown you how to properly coil a line using the figure eight when you’re going to hang it or throw it into a storage locker. Now imagine your halyard tail’s around your cabin top winches and you’re done for the day and you want to coil these up. What’s the common thing that we see? We see people doing these really beautiful loops. As I’m doing this, just as before when I do perfect loops, I’m introducing twist so when I go to release this I’m going to introduce hockles and twist and I’m going to be pulling at it, trying to get this line to run free.

How to coil line 7

The Correct Way to Coil Lines on Winches

Now the proper way to store halyard tails. Open hand and you’re just going to repeat a figure eight back and forth. I’m introducing no twist. I’m not having to rotate my wrist. Then when you’re ready to use this, just drop it in the cabin. No twist, everything just zings right through the blocks. How to coil line 8

How to Coil Large Diameter Line

I’ve shown you how to properly coil lines on boats, say, under 50 feet. Imagine you find yourself out sailing on a 50, 60, 70, 80 foot boat. We’re going to get in some large line diameters. This is 5/8”. Maybe it’s 1” or even larger. Because of the length of the boat we’re talking about a long length of line. It’s heavy to begin with. This is all polyester. If this was water sodden it’s going to be double the weight. Unless you’re a bodybuilder with amazing stamina you’re not going to be able to stand up and do arm coils with this. It’s just too heavy. How do I coil this and not introduce kinks into it? I’m sitting Indian style here. Say this is the deck of the boat. I’m going to keep my knees fairly high. I’m going to be doing full arm length grabs of this line and I’ll be laying it out in a figure eight.

Again, if this was something that had hardware on it I would start with the working end first and just lay that across my leg. I’m going to take this over here. I’m going to do a full arm grab and then I’m going to lay it down. I’m going to do the same thing and I’m going to lay it down. You can see with each time I do this I just build my figure eight, and because I’m doing full arm lengths it’s a consistent lay.

How to coil lines 9

I’ve finished coiling this line, sitting criss-cross. I extracted myself from it. In many cases this could be twice this amount of line, even more. You’re talking about a considerable amount of weight. Now what I’m going to do is get it ready for storage. You can see I’ve got nice, clean figure eights. I want to preserve that. I may want to just throw this in a locker or I may want to hang it. Now, dealing with this length it’s just too much to work with one end so what I’m going to do is I’m going to halve this. I’m going to grab it right here in the middle at the transition. I’m just going to lift it up. I’m going to load this line across so I’ve got it in my hand, right here, and bring this down just a little bit more.

How to coil line 10

How to Stow Large Diameter Lines

I’d like to go about a half way down instead of a third. I’m going to start my loops, all the way around. I’m going to pull it tight and I’m going to hold it with my hand here. I’m going to take another one and I’m going to pull this very tight. There’s my third. There’s my fourth. Again, I like to do a minimum of five. There’s my fifth. Now I’m going to just snake my hand right back through here and I’ve got options. There we go. Pulling this through. I could run the tail through here and we could tie it off or I could take that back out, go back to the cradle or I could just bring the loop around it. Bring a little more. Pull that off. Now I could just throw it into a locker.

How to coil line 12

All right. Now you know how to coil lines like a pro, whether it’s boats under 50 feet or over 50 feet.

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Guide to Choosing Foul Weather Gear | Expert Advice

Choosing Foul Weather Gear for Sailing Selecting the correct foul weather gear is essential to remain dry and comfortable in just about any weather and sailing conditions.  With so many options available it is key to match the type and duration of sailing you will be doing and the conditions you will encounter to the gear you choose so that you are not over or under protected.   Information covered in this article: What is foul weather gear? What is […]

Choosing Foul Weather Gear for Sailing

Selecting the correct foul weather gear is essential to remain dry and comfortable in just about any weather and sailing conditions.  With so many options available it is key to match the type and duration of sailing you will be doing and the conditions you will encounter to the gear you choose so that you are not over or under protected.

 

Information covered in this article:

 

How to Choose Foul Weather Gear

What is Foul Weather Gear?

Foul weather gear is all about water management.  The gear consists of jackets, trousers and smocks, and in essence they are a shell designed to keep the water out (waterproof) and move moisture on the inside to the outside (breathability).  Foul weather gear is a high tech, uninsulated, outermost layer designed to keep you dry, while maximizing comfort and ease of movement.  Foul weather gear is not insulated – warmth will be determined by how you layer beneath it with wicking base and mid layers.

 

 

What is Foul Weather?

The four components that make up foul weather are: rain, seas, wind and duration.

Rain: The volume of water falling from the sky and may be described as light, medium or heavy.

Seas: The spray and water over the decks that will be encountered while sailing.  Spray is random in amounts and direction as the boat contacts waves coming from different directions.  Water over the deck will vary between simple wet decks all the way up to significant rushes of water.  Seas may be described as light, medium or heavy.

Wind:  On a windless rainy day, seas can be flat and the rain may be coming straight down.  In high winds, both sea spray and rain can be driven at you horizontally.  Wind strength may be described as calm, light, moderate, and strong.

Duration: How long will you be exposed to poor weather?  Hours, days or a week?

The more severe the rain, seas, and wind, and the longer the duration, the more effective and substantial foul weather gear must be in order to keep you dry.

 

 

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant

We call fabric “waterproof” when its water resistance is sufficient to keep out water under pressure.  Manufacturers use different test standards, but you can trust that any gear that a major foul weather brand designates as “waterproof” will not let water through the material.

Waterproof/Breathable: All foul weather gear at APS is waterproof and breathable.  Expect the gear to keep water/rain from getting through the materials, while also transporting moisture/sweat out through the material.

Water-Resistant: Not considered foul weather gear, but it can keep you dry in light rain for a brief time.  Found in windbreakers and lightweight on-shore casual gear.

Waterproof/Nonbreathable: Remember the heavy PVC foul weather gear of the 1970’s – usually yellow.  Any athletic activity done while wearing these quickly lead to a build up or moisture (sweat) inside the gear.  Once you rested and cooled down, you would be left wet inside your gear (and chilled, if the outside temperature was low).  At APS we don’t recommend nor sell nonbreathable foul weather gear.

 

 

What Breathability Means

Breathability in waterproof/breathable foul weather gear has been a game changer. No one wants to be sailing in a wearable sauna. The key to avoiding this is “moisture vapor transfer,” which is what we’re really talking about when we say “breathability.”

Transferring sweat vapor through foul weather gear (a shell) happens in part because the warm, moist air inside is attracted to colder, relatively drier air outside. The efficiency of that vapor transfer process helps determine how dry or clammy you feel.  You will hear all sorts of brands touting competing claims about their material’s performance.  Your first choice will be to choose either a coated or laminated waterproof breathable fabric.

 

 

Waterproof Breathable Fabric Choices

The key component of your foul weather gear fabric is a coating or membrane that does the technological trick of blocking water out while also allowing water vapor (sweat) to escape.

Coated: Hydrophilic Fabrics

These are made from a solid hydrophilic (water-loving) polyurethane (PU) coating that is applied (think of it as paint spread on a wall) to the inside surface of the material (outer shell).  Moisture on the inside of gear is attracted to the coating.  The moisture vapor transport occurs by ‘molecular wicking’: the water molecules are first absorbed to the surface of the hydrophilic coating, then they move to the next molecule, and so on. This process continues through the coating until the water molecules emerge on the other side (outside).  The water molecules are drawn from the moist, higher temperature of the inside of the gear to the relatively cooler and dryer outside.

Jackets will usually have an inner hanging liner (nylon and/or mesh) to protect the coating from abrasion.  Dinghy smocks generally do not.

Coated fabrics work well, but do not pass as much water vapor as laminates and can wear away in areas of high chafe/wear over time.  Advantages are solid performance at a lower price.

Gore-TEx Fabric

Laminate: Microporous Fabrics

The core of a waterproof breathable laminate is its membrane.  These membranes are made from polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) – widely know by its DuPont brand name: Teflon.  These membranes are amazingly thin, and estimated to have 9 billion pores per square inch.  Water vapor (perspiration) is drawn through these pours from the moist, higher temperature of the inside of the gear to the relatively cooler and dryer outside.  Water on the outside of the material do not pass through the membrane due to the membrane’s ‘surface tension’ which cause water to bead up into drops too large to pass through the pores.  Think of how a drop of water beads up when dropped into a Teflon pan – stays round and does not spread apart.  Which is different than the common misconception that the pores are too small for liquid water to pass through.

The thin membrane is laminated between a durable outer material and a thinner inner scrim material (three layer laminate) so that it is protected from abrasion giving it the best durability of any waterproof breathable material.  Laminates are the most effective at moisture transport, and carry a higher price tag to go along with the higher performance.  Gore-Tex dominates this category and is widely held as the best.  Over the years other fabric manufactures have been developing similar fabrics that come very close to Gore-Tex’s performance (some say a few are just as good in some circumstances).

 

 

Fabric Finishes – Durable Water Repellent (DWR)

All foul weather gear has a durable water repellent (DWR) finish on the outside of the material.  This ‘water repellent’ finish causes water to bead up and roll off the outer fabric.

Maintaining the DWR finish of your gear is critical if you want to maintain the maximum breathability. When the DWR wears off, the surface fabric will ‘wet out’ (saturate). The underlying waterproof membrane or coating will still keep water out, but the saturated surface fabric slows the movement of sweat vapor to the outside.  This reduced breathability can lead to moisture build up inside your gear, even making it feel as though it is leaking.  Additionally, as water evaporates from the wet fabric, it cools, which can draw away body heat and leave you less warm or chilled.

The more environmentally friendly DWR finishes now in use wear off faster than older DWR products. Thus, regularly reapplying a DWR treatment should be part of your foul weather gear maintenance routine. When water stops beading up on your gear, its time to reapply more DWR.  See our post on DWR care.

Shop DWR and gear care products at APS.

 

 

How Should Foul Weather Gear Fit?

Coastal and more so, offshore and ocean gear is full cut throughout to provide you freedom of movement and room for multiple under layers that will keep you warm.  This is to say that you may feel they are a bit too loose when you first try them on, but that is the fit you generally want.  Sleeve lengths will be long in order to allow you to raise and move your arms unrestricted when fully geared up with multiple layers.  Sleeves will generally cover a portion (or most) of your palms when your arms are at your sides.  Tighten the external Velcro adjustments on the sleeves if you desire they stay up at the wrists.  Trouser leg lengths will be longer too.  This is to ensure you can bend and crouch unrestricted when geared up.  If you are not wearing your deck boots with your trousers, you will probably need to tighten the Velcro adjustments at the ankles to keep the trousers from sliding under foot.

Inshore, keelboat racing and dinghy racing gear is roomy but with a more athletic fit.  They are not too loose or baggy, but do offer enough material in the cut for you to have unrestricted movement when geared up with an under layer.  Sleeve and trouser lengths are longer than street clothes (not as long as coastal, offshore or ocean gear) and may require the use of the outside Velcro wrist and ankle cinches to keep them off the hands and from under your heel.

Inshore Light gear will be more of athletic shore wear cut.  Sleeve and pants lengths do not generally require Velcro cinches to keep them in place.

Dinghy racing gear needs to be long enough in the arms and legs so that you can raise your arms and squat with the seals cinched.  Be sure that the seals cinch snuggly around your neck and wrists.  If not water will leak in.

 

 

Foul Weather Gear Categories

At APS we define foul weather gear by the following categories:

Below we explain each category of gear so you can best match the type and duration of sailing you will be doing and the conditions you will encounter.

 

 

Ocean

Ideal for extended and extreme ocean use over consecutive days and weeks in the harshest weather and boat abrasion conditions, and built to stand up to these abuses again and again.  This is THE gear relied upon by professional sailors for events like the Vendee Globe or Volvo Ocean Race.

Hoods: Maximum coverage and adjustments able to mold to your head/face and cinch down to keep water out.  Fluorescent colored and significant reflective tapes.

Collars: The highest collars of any jackets with the most effective front storm flap coverage with multiple Velcro adjustments for varied configurations depending on the protection required.

Cut/Fit: Lengths are longer in the jacket and higher in the bibs to maximize protective coverage and overlap of the jacket and trousers (more than any other gear).  They are extra full cut (roomy) to allow for ease of movement and varied thicknesses of under layers worn for warmth.

Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Laminates only.

Shop Ocean foul weather gear at APS.

 

 

Offshore

Similar to ocean gear, offshore is for ocean sailing over consecutive days and weeks.  The materials and features offer great protection in extreme conditions but are slightly less robust making for a better price point for the recreational offshore sailor who still requires excellent protection.

  • Hoods: Full coverage and adjustments to be able to mold to your head/face and cinch down to keep water out.  Fluorescent colored and significant reflective tapes.
  • Collars: High collars with the substantial front storm flap with multiple Velcro adjustments.
  • Cut/Fit: Lengths are a bit longer in the jacket and higher in the bibs to maximize protective coverage and overlap of the jacket and trousers.  They are full cut (roomy) to allow for ease of movement and varied thicknesses of under layers worn for warmth.

Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Most are laminates, with some coated.

Shop Men’s Offshore and Women’s Offshore foul weather gear at APS.

 

 

Coastal

Appropriate for medium distance passage making, and every day near shore/harbor sailing.  Coastal gear is designed to be worn for days on end while providing you good protection and comfort.

  • Hoods: Fully adjustable fluorescent colored with reflective tapes.
  • Collars: Medium height collars with Velcro adjustable front storm flaps.
  • Cut/Fit: Extra room in the cut to allow for ease of movement and for varied thicknesses of underlays worn underneath for warmth.
  • Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Most are coated, with some laminates.

Watch our video to review key features and learn How to Choose Coastal Foul Weather Gear.

Shop Men’s Coastal and Women’s Coastal foul weather gear at APS.

 

 

Inshore

A good choice for near shore/harbor sailing, and will keep you dry all day long in poor weather, but not designed to protect against extreme weather conditions.  This foul weather gear is also great for onshore wear on rainy and blustery days.

  • Hoods: Adjustable hood.  Some are fluorescent and may have reflective tapes.
  • Collars: Short, but protective collars with simple Velcro front closures.
  • Cut/Fit: Extra room for an under layer, with a more traditional on-shore jacket cut.
  • Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Predominantly coated, with some laminates.

Watch our video to review key features and learn How to Choose Inshore Foul Weather Gear.

Shop Men’s Inshore and Women’s Inshore foul weather gear at APS.

 

 

Light Inshore

These jackets and waist pants (no trousers with suspenders here) are perfect for keeping you dry in the poor weather as you seek a protected harbor.  Popular on and off the boat, and are great to always have in your day bag in case of a passing squall.

  • Hoods: Basic adjustable hood on most jackets.
  • Collars: Short with full zipper closure.
  • Cut/Fit: More traditional on-shore jacket cut.
  • Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Predominantly coated, with some laminates.

Watch our video to review key features and learn How to Choose Light Inshore Foul Weather Gear.

Shop Men’s Light Inshore and Women’s Light Inshore foul weather gear at APS.

 

 

Buoy Racing

This gear is designed for day racing on keelboats around 22’ and longer.  It is constructed around keeping the gear lightweight, with unrestricted and easy movement, waterproof and reduce wearer fatigue.  Jackets are short waisted so you don’t end up sitting on the ‘tails’ (which restricts you from bending forward freely).  Hoods are minimal for ease of head movement and unobstructed line of sight.  Smocks with adjustable neck, wrist and waist seals are often desired over a jacket for their ability to better seal out water in very wet sailing conditions (a favorite of crew towards the bow of the boat taking waves).  Salopettes (contoured fit over the back, chest and shoulders – no need for suspenders) are generally favored over trousers for their high protective cut, more comfortable fit (less material and bagging), and the ease of movement they offer (they can make going to the head more difficult).

  • Hoods: Basic adjustable fluorescent hoods – many are removable.
  • Collars: Short with full zipper closure.
  • Cut/Fit: Full cut and extra lengths where needed for athletic sailing, but form fitting where appropriate.  Some pieces have waterproof panels that stretch with your movement.
  • Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Coated or laminates.

Watch our video to review key features and learn How to Choose Buoy Sailing Foul Weather Gear.

Shop Men’s Buoy Racing and Women’s Buoy Racing foul weather gear at APS.

 

 

Dinghy Racing

Note:  Not included here are dry suits and wet gear (wet suits) that are designed for protection if submersed in the water.

Dinghy racing foul weather gear is waterproof and breathable and designed to keep you dry from rain and spray when sailing (not if you capsize/fall into the water), and designed for day sailing.  Dinghy smock tops are popular on all dinghies and even small keel boats.  They are lightweight and easy to move in.  The neck, wrists, and waist all have adjustable seals to keep water/spray out (some less expensive smocks have an elastic waist and not an adjustable waist seal).  Trousers have adjustable ankle closures or seals that can be cinched around dinghy boots.

  • Hoods: n/a
  • Collars: n/a
  • Cut/Fit: Full cut and extra lengths where needed for athletic sailing, but form fitting where appropriate.
  • Waterproof breathable Fabrics: Predominantly coated, with some laminates.

Watch our video and to review key features and learn How to Choose Dinghy Sailing Foul Weather Gear.

Shop Men’s Dinghy Racing and Women’s Dinghy Racing foul weather gear at APS.