Friday, October 26, 2012

Convertin' to a Cutter...or is it a Slutter?

One thing Scott and I dreamed of on Rasmus was having an inner forestay or "baby stay" that would house a small jib or stays'l for heavy weather.  While we were pretty diligent about checking weather and only moving in good windows, we were caught in a few nasty squalls that left us wishing for more options (and less sail area).  We were never comfortable rolling in our genoa to "reef" it, and furling it completely while sailing with only a reefed main was not ideal either.  Enter the 'cutter rig'.

While I'm not sure if our Brewer 44 is a "true" cutter rig, we know that a) it is already set up for a baby stay b) the mast is farther aft than on other Brewer 44's and c) there is an extra set of shrouds that add strength to the mast, eliminating (or at least reducing) the need for running backstays (if you look at the diagram of our boat at the bottom of this page, you will see it's designed with an inner stay).   Knowing these three things, we - after consulting with our sailmaker buddy and a professional rigger -  have made the decision to add a baby stay.  This seemingly small change will thus turn our sloop into a cutter, or, if you want to get really technical - a slutter.  Yes, that is a real term.  Which means when people ask us what kind of rig we have we can say in all seriousness, "She's a slutter".  Pretty awesome.

Like anything on a boat, there are plusses and minuses to having two headsails and, for us, obviously the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.  The main advantages we see are having more sail options, particularly in a blow.  To be able to roll in our genoa and roll out our storm sail when conditions call for it will make our lives much easier and safer.  In addition, the dual headsails will provide us with more options in almost all points of sail and opportunity to better balance the helm of our boat in various conditions.  The overwhelming negative of this configuration is the fact that tacking the genoa becomes difficult at best because the inner stay gets in the way.  To that we say:  good thing we're cruisers who don't tack much!

To solve the tacking issue, some people install a "quick-release" baby stay that can be removed and stowed at the mast when not in use.  We strongly considered this but have opted to rig our baby stay permanently on a roller furling.  Our foredeck has PLENTY of room for this, and the whole point of the inner stay - for us, anyway - is to have a stays'l ready for action at a moment's notice.  If you're interested in learning more about cutters and staysl's, here's a thourough article on the subject.

Do we have any fellow cutters or slutters out there?  Care to weigh in?  What's your optimal sail plan/configuration?


Kent in Kansas City said...

One method to make tacking easier, on the rare occasions when you need to is to tack like the AC45s jibe their gennakers. They furl and unfurl. That would get the jib around in front of the baby stay as you tack and then unfurl it as you trim it. But . . . that might be more work and more wear and tear on the furler.

Robert Salnick said...

I commented earlier about the tacking difficulties of the cutter rig, but I failed to mention this (I think).

To make tacking easier, fly both the jib and the staysail. That way the staysail serves as a platform to contain the jib from going so far past the inner forestay.

s/v Eolian
(staysail ketch)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gang! I read your blog but haven't commented. Earlier this year I converted my 50' Beneteau Sense to a "Slutter" for the same reasons you mention. I made a smilar decision on the furling staysail also for the same reasons you mention. Over the past few months I have had no regrets on the tacking issue. My staysail is self tacking so in tight quarters I'm slower but VERY easy to manage.

Happy to share resources/ideas if you are still making decisions.



Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have it all in hand, but I just thought I'd mention that, in my experience, Ted Brewer is very interested/responsive to e-mails about boat design. I just figured you might like to know in case you wanted to contact him to get his thoughts. (You may already have done so, but I couldn't tell.)

Maisis said...

Personnaly, I've always thought that term was a bit too judgemental. Just because the lady likes a bit more sheet does not automatically make her a slutter. I'm just saying... double standards!

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