Setting the Pole

I’ve shared this tip with many a cruiser, and several have told me that I need to mention it here. It has to do with using your whisker pole. I use my pole a lot, probably more than others do. I do not carry a “cruising chute” because I simply do not want to sacrifice the huge amount of storage space needed for it when out cruising. I also tend to turn on the motor in real light wind unless I’m on a very long passage. And to me, setting the cruising chute takes a fair amount of effort. The whisker pole on the other hand, goes up quick and easy, can be stored out of the way on deck or on the mast, and can be used in light winds or heavy air.

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I use my pole from 135 degrees apparent wind off the quarter, to dead downwind. For the 135 degrees , I extend the pole as long as I can make it, and run it out forward of the boat. This way, it’s always out in clear air, and pulling.
The tip I want to share here is on setting the pole in moderate to heavy air. Furl the jib, set the pole, turn down to course, unfurl the jib. This eliminates the flogging you’ll take when the wind is whipping the jib all over the place. You will be totally in control, and there will not be any damage to you or the boat. To do this, you will need a topping lift on the pole when setting it.
In heavy air (20 plus knots on my boat), I will not extend the pole, I’ll leave it shorter, about like a spinnaker pole, and I will then only ease the jib out about two-thirds. In other words, the jib is poled out, and reefed. Once again, everything is well controlled. If it really picks up, you can further reduce the jib, just furl it in some.
I use the lazy sheet to act as a foreguy to hold down the outboard end of the pole and tighten up the leech. I tie this to a cleat up at the bow. This keeps the pole from “skying” and closes the top of the jib.

Furl the jib, set the pole, unfurl the jib. It’s an easy way to do it.

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