Do I Need a Whisker Pole?

When we bought our 1985 Passport 37, Winterlude, there was no whisker pole – go figure, there was a cruising spinnaker but no whisker pole?  Being one design racers with boats that sail wing on wing downwind, we thought having a spinnaker but no whisker pole to be odd priorities.  But the prior owner of our boat, was not a racer, although he was a single hander,  he apparently wanted a cruising spinnaker!

But back to the whisker pole.  While we love our spinnaker and have decided to keep it aboard, one of our very first additions to the boat was a whisker pole.  We wouldn’t be without our whisker pole and the ability to sail wing on wing downwind. Sailing “wing on wing” means using the whisker pole to wing the jib out when sailing downwind.  This allows you to maximize the wind potential to speed the boat along.  When the mainsail completely blocks air to the jib, the jib or genoa will simply flop around because the air is directly behind you and no air is getting past the main.

Sunrise sailing Wing on WIng off the Cuba Coast sailing from the Dry Tortugas to Isla Mujeres, MX on our first extended crossing.

Sunrise sailing Wing on WIng off the Cuba Coast sailing from the Dry Tortugas to Isla Mujeres, MX on our first extended crossing.

There are so many times the wind is dead behind us – almost like the old adage “no matter where you want to go, the wind will be directly on the nose”?  In 12 years and 15,000 miles of cruising, the wind is always astern if not on the nose.  There are very few “lucky” times when the wind fills as predicted from a close beam reach or a real reach, even slightly astern.

Sailing wing on wing from the Rio Dulce, Guatemala to Monkey River, Belize.  Ahhh, what a great sail!

Sailing wing on wing from the Rio Dulce, Guatemala to Monkey River, Belize. Ahhh, what a great sail!

Our whisker pole is a Forespar, sized one up for our size of boat, as is most of our equipment.  Click here for a Forespar’s information on how to select the correct whisker pole for your boat.   We did our research and talked to Forespar, then bought our whisker pole from West Marine.  The local West Marine didn’t have it in stock, but they special ordered it and we were able to pick it up locally with no shipping charges — a very nice cost savings over paying shipping on something as cumbersome as a whisker pole!

Look closely, you can see the pole mounted on the mast -- it's so out of the way, it's almost invisible!

Look closely, you can see the pole mounted on the mast — it’s so out of the way, it’s almost invisible!

Once you have a whisker pole, the problem is where to store the thing out of the way so you’re not tripping over it all the time.  We opted to mount ours on the mast so it’s already attached and ready to go anytime we want to deploy it.

IMG_2109We did ours ourselves, but Carolyn over at The Boat Galley has excellent step by step instructions on mounting your whisker pole on your mast, for ease of use as well as out of the way storage, read Carolyn’s (TheBoatGalley.com) article, originally published in Cruising World Magazine, here:

Installing a Whisker Pole on a Boat

We love our whisker pole and use it extensively while we’re out cruising, as well as for a pleasant daysail on Charlotte Harbor.  It’s a critical piece of equipment that we would not be without and there’s never any thought about it taking up too much space since it’s mounted to the mast, out of the way.IMG_1980

Comments or additions to the whisker pole discussion?  Please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan

 

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