Spinnaker Mistakes


Look familiar? Siren made the same mistake. The halyard was dropped after finishing the hoist, spilling the head to leeward!

Here is a list of mistakes made by the captain and the crew. Hopefully, by reading through this list and thinking through the situations we will never make the same mistake twice!

  1. When dousing, the halyard was secured to the lifeline inside the jib sheet, fouling the jib. The halyard should be led fair down the mast and secured to the mast’s base.
  2. When the starboard halyard is hoisted on the port side, the halyard was led inside the forestay triangle (jamming the furling jib). Remember to look up for potential fouling when leading lines.
  3. When dousing, Cockpit dropped the halyard sending the spinnaker off to leeward. Spent 20 minutes cranking it back up so we could douse it properly.
  4. When dousing, Foredeck should help bag the sail before securing the topping lift. (Can still tack the jib between the forestay and the topping lift, so prioritize the spinnaker sail first.)
  5. When hoisting, Foredeck forgot to call “made!”
  6. Lines aloft led foul. Look up when running lines from the mast.
  7. When preparing the spinnaker bag for hoisting, leading the spinnaker sheets and guys inside the jib sheet. When sitting in the foredeck with the bag between your legs, push the lazy jib sheet behind your butt to prevent fouling the jib while connecting the sheets and guys.
  8. Acting before the command. Listen for “prepare to…” And get ready. Wait for the command (“hoist the…” “release the…” etc) before acting. i.e:
    1. CA: “Prepare to hoist the main!”
      Mast: “Prepare to hoist the main, aye!”
      Ca: “Hoist the main!”
      Mast: “Hoisting!” …… “Made!”
  9. Forgetting terms. Topping lift, downhaul, lazy sheet, working guy, pole, release, slack, haul, take in, belay, sheet in, sheet out, traveler up/down, bear off, bear up, head, tack, clew.
  10. Using improper words when calling commands. “Release the jib halyard! –No! I mean the spinnaker halyard!”
  11. When dousing, forgetting to release pressure on the sail with the spinnaker sheet so Foredeck can release the tack.
  12. Slow hoist due to being unprepared. When able, have the spinnaker packed, on deck, sheets/guys/halyard secured with some time to spare. Then ready the pole and have the guy pre-fed 60 seconds prior to the turn downwind.
  13. Slow douse because of bad communication. Foredeck and Cockpit have to work together and communicate for a fast douse.
  14. After the douse, Cockpit dropped the topping lift too fast so the pole’s tip fell into the water! Gently lower the pole to the deck while Foredeck guides it into place.
  15. When gybing, the jib sheet gets stuck in the jaw of the spinnaker pole. To prevent this, the jib trimmer has to put some tension on the jib sheet to ride it up the topping lift, out of the way of the pole’s jaw.
  16. Unfamiliar with the steps required to hoist, douse and gybe. Try to predict the commands before they happen. This will speed up the execution and decrease confusion.
  17. Missed commands due to a loud cockpit or lack of attention. During high workload times, limit unrelated conversation.
  18. Winches wrapped the wrong way. Remember: Always wrap clockwise!