To Knot or Not to Knot?

That is the question!

We we had a great sail last night on the first race of the Oborns Nautical Twilight Series. The evening started with a light southerly which died away to nothing as we crossed the line sideways with the incoming tide.image

Then a lovely light Easterly filled in and we confidently set, gybed and dropped our beautiful big bright pink spinnaker perfectly a number of times.

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(an old photo of Wildwood showing off her gorgeous pink spinnaker!)

Then the breeze filled in even more and events combined to a result of the spinnaker flying along from the top of the mast behind the boat like a big pink handkerchief!

I don’t normally put knots in the end of the spinnaker sheets, as once on a yacht I used to crew with when we broached and dumped the sheets the knot flew through a block and blew it apart.

However now as the kite was flying with sheets flailing behind I wondered how we would ever get it down! Easing the halyard just meant it was still flying sky high but just a bit further behind! Thankfully one of the sheets was stuck in the pole so we managed to haul it in from there. But had that not happened then I have no idea what we would have done!

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(here is a nice pic of a yacht demonstrating the manoeuvre we did last night)

Our friends on Flying Machine reckon knots are the way to go – with a knife handy should it all get too crazy…

So what do you think? Knot or No Knot?

24 thoughts on “To Knot or Not to Knot?

  1. Don’t really know about knot or no knot, my instinct says knot, but the image of those billowing sheets blows me away! I love Wildwood’s colorful sheets! Simply beautiful!

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  2. Hi Viki – Sounds like fun and games. Was the tack secured to the deck somehow?
    Our spinnaker has a sock, which we have found an excellent way of dousing and have once pulled the the sail down in 26 knots true wind! If the wind is really too strong, then we can let the sheet go – no knot – and let the sail flag; the spinnaker is held by the tack and head and the sock then pulls down easily over the flailing sail.

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    • That sounds like a good system! We just have the two sheets clipped at either clew – one to trim it and the other on the pole. The pole end was the one that got stuck thankfully!
      A sock sounds like a handy thing to have! I presume it has its own set of ropes to control it going up and down?

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  3. We too have the same sock system as svtakeiteasy for our symmetrical spinnaker although the tack is not secured to deck. … we also have set our asymmetrical set up with a “code zero” furler which can be furled very quickly when needed. My vote definitely goes to no knots.

    I would suggest you go and see Josh at North Sails in Auckland and say that the Norries sent you and he can fix you up with whatever you need (sock for the sym spinnaker and/or code zero furler!). He is an amazing sailmaker and is a treasure trove of information about sails and sailing πŸ™‚

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  4. Not to knot! We never knotted our spin sheets when racing so that if something fouled it was easy to clear. I’m not sure how we would have gotten it down had it ever done what you describe, though, maybe heading up?
    When cruising we love our asymmetrical spinnaker—it’s always attached at the tack so if something like that happens we can still get it down. (In fact that did happen to us outside Ketchikan this summer!)
    I’m going to be the black sheep here, but I don’t much like socks… Our asymmetrical came with one and we ditched it—looks funny all bunched up there (pretty important to us being photographers…), sometimes fouls when setting the ‘chute, and means we don’t get the last oomph out of the very head of the sail (also important being ex-racers!) Lots of people love them, though, so like I said, we’re the black sheep on this one πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks for your feedback Ellen! No one else seems to have one out racing here in Lyttelton. We haven’t had a problem before but with a racing crew of 7 we usually have it under control. Still if there was just the 2 of us it might be a bit different. We like the look of a furling asymmetrical for the cruising boat. Also glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t been knotting! πŸ™‚

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      • Big symmetricals definitely make good sense racing, of course, but are a lot to handle cruising short-handed, like you say. We had a symmetrical on our old boat (the one we went ’round the world on) and liked flying it (being racer kids) until the day in mid-Pacific when we got it so badly fouled around the forestay that I had to winch Seth up to undo it… He was pretty seasick and bruised when he got down. No fun. Only flew it in calm water after that (like the Bay of Islands or inside the GBR.)

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  5. One knot in one of the sheets at least. Maybe make it a slip knot so that you can release it if needed, but try and come up with another solution, i.e. change of course.

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  6. Knot!!!! Always knot!! we had this situation in a strong southerly on Legacy out by whistling bouy but our halyard got jammed at the top of the mast so we had to cut it free, but that’s besides the point. If you don’t knot your sheets you’ll have to either cut or untie the halyard and let it float in the water or send someone up the rig (very dangerous if in strong winds and heeling over big time)… If the winds aren’t too strong then you could bear away and chase it down but then you run the risk of it going under the bow and that’s just a nightmare for us bowmen. We always knot our sheets and have never had a problem that we cant get ourselves out of.

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