Loose Footed Main and Sail Covers (35-3)

Hagar2sail

Member III
Our boat came with a Doyle stack pack sail. We have enjoyed the ease of raising and lowering with the stack pack, normal issues like having to be directly in the wind non withstanding. However the cover itself is in very poor shape from mostly UV damage and some of the zippers are not functioning very well.

When we bought the boat last year a local sailmaker had to make some repairs to the sail and restich some of the cover just to get us started. It was expensive having them remove and then restich the cover back onto the sail which was required for access. My understanding is this is one of the known issues with having a stackpack.

We talked to our local North Sails rep about getting a quote for a new main which will probably happen in the next few years and he suggested that we go with a traditional sail and sail cover. I have no interest in going back to where we have to flake the sail and tie it then cover it and all the other nonsense. When I expressed that to him his next suggestion was a loose footed main and then they would create the sailcover separately and that would slot in the boom track and have the usual batten and lazyjacks like our current setup and the sail would drop into this cover then be zipped up.

I had a couple of musings on this that I would love input on.

1. Our boom’s outhaul is a simple 1:1 where the wire goes from the car holding the end of the sail, into the boom where it becomes a line, then out the side where there is a cleat on the boom. The line is not long enough to be led aft and there isn’t a sheave on the boom by the gooseneck for this anyway. It seems to me for a loose footed arrangement I would need to be able to present some kind of mechanical advantage to the outhaul.
2. Are there better cover designs that don’t cause the amount of stitching and unstiching that our current stackpack does?
3. Am I totally missing something?
 

Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
I turned my captive-foot main into a loose-footed main when I took my sails down for measurements...I just didn't put the sliders back in. I think this has actually made it easier for me to operate the outhaul (mine is also a 1:1 purchase, I think [edit: actually it's probably 3-1 per Christian below.]) because there isn't the friction from the boom track sliders.
 
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debonAir

Member III
Three things that make the main way better on my 35-3

1 - full battens. less noise, less flapping, better shape, and helps make flaking easy

2 - tides marine track. main drops itself, and raising is easy, no friction

3 - dutchman system. nylon monofilament weaves into the main vertically up to the topping left. works like lazy jacks to contain the main over the boom, but also the main self-flakes as it drops.

Then you just need a few slots in a regular style cover for the lines.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
The factory outhaul on the 32-3 was 3:1 (I made it 4:1). It's 3:1 on the E381.

And as an off-topic aside--

Personally, I prefer a trad sailcover, with lazyjacks. Just because I don;t like seeing stuff on the boom while sailing.

However, I have grown to hate my slotted sailcover, which allows the lazyjacks to remain in place at the dock (rather than pulling the lazy jacks close to the mast to permit a standard sail cover).

The slotted sail cover has about 50 fasteners. Ugh.
 

steven

Member III
I also rig the main loose-footed by just not inserting the slides. works fine. Much easier for me to get the the main on and off alone.

I connect each the port and starb lazy jack pair under the boom with shock cord, which takes up the slack, but allows a conventional sail cover to tuck inside the lazy jacks easily. Also, I have found that lazy jacks that drop vertically are less prone to catch a batten when hoisting. To do this each of the jacks drops independently from a mast-to-boom carrier line, rather than using the cascading block approach as in off-the-shelf products. I don't have to pull the jacks out of the way to get the sail up. I sail with them in place. When short handed it's nice to have them deployed I find they help control the main when reefing.

Tides system has been without a doubt the best investment I have made. They work like a charm. Except: when the sail is down the stack is too high to reach easily. So I leave the bottom-most slide out of the main track.

--Steve
 

debonAir

Member III
Yes, the slots aren't "the best".

Mine are velcro with a single snap on the bottom, which makes it easy and a bit adjustable. I do like the idea of stack-packs, just not the look.

My main is loose footed, and the dutchman lines attach to the foot of the sail, not the boom, so technically there are no lines to the boom (beside the topping lift and outhaul) when sailing, and the slotted cover gets removed and stored below when not doing its job. The dutchman lines stay flat against the main when sailing and you don't even know they're there really.

Having a better purchase on your outhaul makes a big difference in how often you'll use it. On the race boat (J105) we used to struggle getting the outhaul in when rounding leeward marks, even before rounding if it was windy. It got to the point where it was better to not let it out downwind and not risk having it too loose later. Installing a 12:1 (105's have large loose foot mains) made a huge difference and we adjust to conditions now as needed.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Our (similar concept) UK Lazycradle does *not* attach to the foot of the sail. The sail is removed separately.
I agree with Christian that the split cover on the sides of the boom lacks esthetics, but I do like the system in use.

As to battens, in my opinion (and I am unanimous in that...) the idea of full battens has been oversold. You get 90% of the "quiet and flap-less goodness" of that system with two full battens at the top and just have the two lower ones longer than traditional. Also, the slugs at the luff batten pocket for those two upper ones are longer and have not had a jamming problem on our boat.
That said, we only sail a fraction as much as more active sailors like Christian. :)
 
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Hagar2sail

Member III
Our (similar concept) UK Lazycradle does *not* attach to the foot of the sail. The sail is removed separately.
I agree with Christian that the split cover on the sides of the boom lacks esthetics, but I do like the system in use.
Just went to the site and checked out the lazycradle. That looks like a really nice compromise.
 
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Hagar2sail

Member III
The factory outhaul on the 32-3 was 3:1 (I made it 4:1). It's 3:1 on the E381.
This is my concern. I mean my only experience with adjusting an outhaul is dinghy sailing, but I would think the outhaul on our 35-3 would have enough tension on it that I wouldn’t be able to work it at 1:1. Could the P.O. Have removed this functionality?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
It might have been changed, or who knows--might be the original setup. In my case it doesn't matter much, since I rarely bother with the outhaul while sailing. I leave it suitable for windward work. I know, I know--I am missing a potential .013 speed increase.

If the wind comes up I reef anyhow, which makes the outhaul irrelevant.

Not racing. Three-bladed prop. Got tired of pulling the lesser strings long ago.
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
I think I’ve been convinced not to try to fly the bolt-rope footed main free, on the grounds of 1- designed sail shape and 2- path of least resistance.

However this has sort of contributed to the stalling-out of the stack pack project. The Sail-Rite design is secured below the sail with straps. For a fixed-foot, they recommend cutting slots in the sail - not loving that idea. The UK design, with separate bolt-rope tracks looks better, but I’m also not in love with screwing more tracks onto my relatively thin boom. There must be some in-between solution that hasn’t yet become clear. And then there’s the cheap EBay fake-sunbrella that I bought for the project that turns out to be not at all UV resistant. I guess I will have to find interior uses for it. Anyway, stack pack is not on the direct path to re-launch, except for securing hardware for the lazy jacks.

FWIW, my boat seems to have an original 1:1 outhaul that seems to be pretty much useless with the fixed-foot main. It wouldn’t be too hard to add a cascading arrangement to get more advantage, but when you ease the outhaul, the sail doesn’t really move back anyway. The boat came with a very old (original?) main that had a zipper to open up the belly of the sail when needed. I was always afraid that if I managed to get that old thing open, I’d never get it closed again.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Degrees of Laziness...

I think I’ve been convinced not to try to fly the bolt-rope footed main free, on the grounds of 1- designed sail shape and 2- path of least resistance.

However this has sort of contributed to the stalling-out of the stack pack project. The Sail-Rite design is secured below the sail with straps. For a fixed-foot, they recommend cutting slots in the sail - not loving that idea. The UK design, with separate bolt-rope tracks looks better, but I’m also not in love with screwing more tracks onto my relatively thin boom. There must be some in-between solution that hasn’t yet become clear. And then there’s the cheap EBay fake-sunbrella that I bought for the project that turns out to be not at all UV resistant. I guess I will have to find interior uses for it. Anyway, stack pack is not on the direct path to re-launch, except for securing hardware for the lazy jacks.

FWIW, my boat seems to have an original 1:1 outhaul that seems to be pretty much useless with the fixed-foot main. It wouldn’t be too hard to add a cascading arrangement to get more advantage, but when you ease the outhaul, the sail doesn’t really move back anyway. The boat came with a very old (original?) main that had a zipper to open up the belly of the sail when needed. I was always afraid that if I managed to get that old thing open, I’d never get it closed again.
I was puzzled by the reference to "tracks" for bolt ropes, but after viewing their video I see what you mean. This never came up with us as we have had a loose foot main since 1995.
Also, our cover uses slugs that feed into the top of the standard boom extrusion and these hold the bottom of the "cradle". I see that there are some other changes since ours was built in 2014 -- all of the external plastic clips are now black and more UV-resistant. I had our clips replaced last fall when many of them broke - they were white.

I can verify that if you do not roll up the sides while sailing it will look kind of unsightly. Putting the front piece back on does partly streamline it, tho, if you are in a hurry to sail.
(FWIW, a lot of us around here leave up the jack lines when out for a short sail... it's a choice to sacrifice a few nano-knots in the name of convenience...)
:rolleyes:

Edit: if your original sail has a zipper "shelf" foot, that was a Real Thing in the 70's to add some 'hoped for' end plate effect. By the 80's most 'performance' mains were being built with a lighter-cloth shelf foot and also a Flattening Reef grommet just above the gooseneck area about a foot. This added cost to building the sail, with a dubious payoff in speed, IMHO.
If you have an old-but-serviceable main with foot slugs... consider just removing the slugs. The whole concept dates to an earlier era when weaker cotton sails needed the extra attachment to another side of the triangle. Yup, that's an opinion. :)
 
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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
How effective is an outhaul draft adjustment on a mainsail footed with slides? That's what that zippered belly was for.

On loose-footed mains, the effect is instant--you can tweak the draft like a Laser sail.

Actively playing the draft requires a purchase outhaul on most of our boats. But with slides on the foot, would it work?
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
The sailmaker kind of hinted that I ought to switch to loose-foot, but I didn't want to make any big changes before I understood better how the boat was supposed to work in the first place. Maybe the next sail.
For the cover, I suppose it might not be too invasive to cut out small sections of the bolt rope where the slugs from cover straps go and just sort of zip them together when bending it on. Or something like that. I'll have to pull the sail out and take a look.

At first, I wasn't too concerned about lazy jacks and such. At my previous marina, there was at least half an hour of motoring up a quiet back channel to get "home." With the tiller-pilot steering, there was plenty of time to leisurely flake and tie the sail. In Hood River, you sail right into the basin, and during high season it's like a three-ring circus in there. Boats coming and going from the moorage on one side, fishermen coming and going from the boat ramp on the other. Kids dinghy teams drilling in the middle. A few RC boats zinging around. 12 knot cross wind. Then a cruise ship or a float plane steams into the middle of it all. There's rarely room for a single-handed boat to drift and deal with sails. I think I'll probably leave everything rigged to drop quickly during a day sail! (Sail-right-in slips on the upwind side of the moorage have a looong waiting list. And cost more, too.)
 

Hagar2sail

Member III
Currently we just pull the outhaul tight when we install the sail, cleat it and sail. Even if we had a loose footed sail I would probably continue to do that but I would be concerned that to get the right upwind sail shape would require more pull then I could initially put on the sail with the 1:1.

To restate I guess I was hoping someone would have this case and would be able to inform me that this is a good method.
 
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bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
Currently we just pull the outhaul tight when we install the sail, cleat it and sail.
That's pretty much what I do.

A couple of random notes....

1) whatever force it takes to pull the outhaul tight, it will take LESS force with a loose-footed main because you won't be fighting the friction of slugs or bolt-rope in the boom. And

2), you don't have to fight a full sail to tighten the outhaul. If there's too much load for your 1:1 system, ease the mainsheet until the mainsail luffs. Pulling the outhaul is easy when there's no load on it. (When racing, we often-times tightened the outhaul in the middle of a tack, to take advantage of the no-load moment as the sail luffed head-to-wind)

Bruce
 

toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
Hmm... Just about a year ago, you guys had the answer to this old puzzle, (posts 12-15) but it took this long for the penny to drop. (That and dragging out the old shelf-foot sail while cleaning out the garage.) The bolt-rope stopped about 18" short of the clew, so moving the outhaul in and out would have opened and closed the shelf, if the zipper was open. Without the shelf, or with the zipper closed, the outhaul has little effect.
Now I'm having the same thoughts as the OP.
 

HerbertFriedman

Member III
The PO of my '87E34 had a loose footed main with full battens, lazy jacks and a sail cover with zippered slots for the lazy jacks. But the sail was so heavy (9oz material for the windy SF bay) that it was a bear to flake the sails neatly even with the lazy jacks in place,. And putting on the sail cover with the lazy jack slots was another pain. I made the Sailrite stack pack and it was the best addition ever.

According to the Sailrite design, the stack pack ties underneath the loose foot of the mail sail with straps and twist fasteners. So when I had to remove the stack pack to re stitch the zipper (once I forgot to pull the zipper all the way to the rear and I tore in out when I tried to raise the sail, I wont do that again) all I had to do was undo the straps, untie the line at the front and rear of the stack pack, undo the lazy jacks and the whole stack pack came free.

The only regret I have is that I did not use that goretex thread, so that the polyester thread degrades from the UV. But the sail drops very quickly when you release the halyard (dead into the wind) and there is little to do at the dock to neatly flake the sail inside the stack pack. I dont have the Tides system so raising the sail takes a winch once the sail is much above the lower spreader so there is lots of friction. But the sail does drop very quickly so I live with that until I am ready to spring $$ for the Tides system.

If you have any boat larger than 30' , the stack pack is the way to go.
 

JSM

Member III
I installed a Mack Sails Mack Pack with lazy jacks and a Tides Marine Strong Track on my last boat and never looked back. The first thing we bought for our E34-2 was a Mack Pack. Super simple design and eazy to use. No way would I ever go back to a traditional sailcover.

 
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