During Mark and Ali’s visit to Rode Trip, although we didn’t have much opportunity to sail, we did put our spinnaker poles to good use. We ran a spare halyard through the end of the port side pole. Ta-da! A homemade rope swing! Not only did the rope provide hours of entertainment for us, but also for our neighbors and passers by from whom we received several whistles and cheers.
Check out some of our first swing attempts on video! We’ve been having a blast playing with our new GoPro…
The night went smoothly and we managed to get some sleep between watches after taking down the ever-flogging main sail. Rode Trip was making minimal headway by mid-morning; the wind remained shifty at 0-5 knots although with the main down we were somehow moving 1-2.3 knots. It was time to bring out the big guns! We let down the jib and secured it on deck while still hanked onto the stay. Out came our new, lightweight genoa which we hanked onto the stay above the jib. This way if we needed to swap sails in a pinch (which nobody predicted) we’d have our jib ready to go. We fastened the starboard genoa sheet to the spinnaker pole and set the pole. Then, hoisted the genoa. This big, beautiful sail caught any loose wind and powered us forward. It was glorious!
We took down the staysail; providing BMac with a good lesson at flaking.
Within the hour after hoisting the new genoa, the wind increased to 10-15 knots and we had a fantastic downwind sail. Rode Trip cruised at 5.5 knots for approximately two hours. Alas, this was not the direction of our course. We’d been eyeing ports along the Georgia coastline and this downwind track would take us much farther into southern Florida. Down came the spinnaker pole. BMac sheeted in the genoa. We hoisted the staysail and full main and reset our course.
The wind dwindled a bit once again but we were able to maintain 2.8 knots through the afternoon. While we sailed along, Brian and BMac developed a storyline for a cloud crab that BMac had spotted. The crab’s name was Jermaine and “Oh!” was he a most adventurous cloud crab! I enjoyed the tale while filing my nails; can’t neglect grooming even though I’m in the middle of the ocean!
As night fell, so did the wind. We had plenty of time to admire the brilliantly shining stars in the cloudless sky. BMac counted 10 shooting stars; I hope all his wishes come true!
Rode Trip has been receiving Brian’s undivided attention lately. While I’m daydreaming about sunshine, crystal clear water, and swaying palm trees Brian is busy scrambling about Rode Trip tending to every need; completing projects that entail both repairs and improvements while supplies are still readily available. Every now and again I’m called upon to provide encouragement or act as gopher or cleaner-upper. (Seriously, we do collaborate on each and every project from beginning to end but Brian is the workhorse that keeps our boat afloat.) Brian and Rode Trip are simply inseparable! It seems, however, that this extra tender loving care from her owner/captain is just not enough for the ‘ol girl. Now Rode Trip has four new guys aboard! And let me tell you, these guys will really get her moving!
Let me explain how the relationship with these four guys became a reality. As our cruising plans evolved, and our conversations with experienced sailors expanded, it became obvious that Rode Trip’s sailing rig needed an upgrade in order to improve downwind sailing. One spinnaker pole would be an improvement, but a twin pole rig would make her fully capable of crossing oceans with ease. But how do we install twin poles? To design a twin pole rig for Rode Trip, Brian consulted the experts (in this case fellow OCC’ers with tens of thousands of miles of offshore cruising experience). We’d like to thank Scott Kuhner for sharing his twin pole design with us; thus making this project possible. Scott not only gave us a demonstration of his twin pole rig aboard s/v Tamure, but he also shared his detailed article as a reference. Scott’s article explains it best – you can read it here.
Initially, “Woah!” was this project going to be expensive! Brian was persistent, however, and after months of researching and planning we were finally able to obtain all the necessary pieces to complete Scott’s twin pole design. Thank goodness for consignment shops! Cruisers and racers, please continue to upgrade your boats with the latest, most technologically advanced materials so we can continue to reuse your old stuff! Consigned parts (plus Brian’s jury-rigged engineering) enabled us to complete this project for less than $1,000. Here is a breakdown of the necessary parts:
Two aluminum spinnaker poles; ideally these should both be the length of the boat’s J-dimension. Rode Trip requires an 18-ft pole at least 3-inches in diameter. At consignment (Hurricane Jack’s in New Bern, NC is our new favorite shop) we acquired one 18-ft pole and one 16-ft pole. The outboard end of each pole has a jaw type fitting, the inboard end of each pole has a vertical eye fitting.
Two aluminum tracks; at consignment we acquired one 14-ft length of track. We purchased a second 12-ft length of track new at West Marine. Of course, all the installment pieces were also necessary for the tracks; drill, tap, screws, teflon lubricant, and a good ‘ol bosun’s chair with a capable line handler.
Two track cars; these were both acquired at consignment and both required a bit of customizing in order to adapt to the pole ends. The cars should enable the poles to pivot both up and down and side to side; Scott describes this connection as a ‘universal joint’. The cars do not require a stopper, in fact a stopper knot will be incorporated into the haul line for each pole. Pertaining to the track and car positioning on the mast, the track should be forward enough on the mast that when the cars pivot side to side they enable the poles to face directly forward.
Lines and cleats; here is where we meet those four new guys. After rifling through our own lines we had about half of what we needed. Two topping-lift lines; installed on the outboard end of each pole and run through a block on the mast above the top of the track. Two haul lines; installed on the inboard end of each pole and run through a block on the mast at the top of the track down to a cleat on the mast at the bottom of the track. The haul lines have a very important stopper knot through the cleat to prevent the pole from dropping lower than the clew of the jib when in use. Two cleats we had were installed on the mast, one at the bottom of each track. To complete the line set up, we bought new lines for the fore-guys and aft-guys; these are lines that will enable us to maneuver the poles. The fore-guy is installed on the outboard end of each pole, runs forward through a block on deck and back to a cleat (or tie-off in our case at the sampson post though a cam-cleat would be ideal here). The aft-guy is installed on the outboard end of each pole, runs aft through a block on deck and back to a cleat.
Blocks; Brian had previously installed two blocks aft which were intended for spinnaker sheets and will now be used for the aft-guys. On the fore deck, Brian installed two blocks extending from the bowsprit that will be used for the fore-guys. On the mast, a triple-block was installed atop at center of the two tracks. The topping-lift for each pole runs through this triple-block as well as the topping-lift for the staysail boom. The haul lines for each pole run through a block at the top of each track. Honestly, I’m not certain which blocks we had and which were found in consignment shops but getting them all was a mix-match between these and those.
The poles are easily stored along the lifelines and out of the way. We can’t wait to let these poles loose in a good breeze!