Jibs - Are They Worth The Bother? (RoyB)
Following on from the reported discussion of jibs in last month's GOSSIP, the editor has had a word with a couple of members who have used them.
Jenny and KevinL used to sail a Grumman with Bermudan main and a jib of about 12 sq. ft. Kevin said that the sail did give significant power but was limited, however, by the narrow beam of the canoe. The jib would have been more effective had the fairlead through which the sheet ran been further away from the boat's centreline. As it was the sail was almost always close-hauled apart from when running, when Jenny used a whisker pole to push out the tack, enabling them to goosewing very successfully. Otherwise it was pretty useless on a run but when backed assisted going about. The sail was attached by rope to the prow and mast. The mizzen of the ketch rig, which they now have, has proved to be more useful.
KeithM has brought the sheet of his jib back to the leeboard thwart at the widest part of the canoe to minimize Kevin's problem. Furthermore the tack is attached to the boat 18" astern of the prow. His mast is 'sturdy', enabling him to tighten the built in Kevlar cord; but if it's very tight the canoe itself flexes! Kevin's Grumman was metal, perhaps better suited to being 'jibbed'. Of course, Keith's rig includes Bermudan main and a mizzen (some 70 sq. ft. all told) so he can 'reef by dispensing with the main, giving him a very low aspect rig with reduced heeling moment. In order to stiffen the mast he can then use the main halyard as a backstay. And that's not all - he has two foresails: a genoa (25 sq. ft. I think he said) and a more modest 12 sq. ft. jib. It all works, although visibility is a problem, so be careful if you find yourself to leeward of him!
To work in anything but the lightest wind a jib has to be set on a stayed mast otherwise it pulls the top of the mast forward and it loses its luff tension. It also affects the shape of the main. It's an unnecessary complication to put shrouds on a canoe. If nothing else, rigging and unrigging the boat is going to take longer. Also it isn't clear that a plastic boat is stiff enough to stay a mast effectively. I'm sure this could be got round but its unlikely that the benefits, if any, would outweigh the complication and hence cost.