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June 2016 Cruising Tip

Posted by on June 3, 2016

An Affordable Fitting so you can Adding a Removable Staysail Stay

Gerry’s lever in use

Gerry’s lever in use

There are many reasons to have a staysail stay or babystay, even if your boat is not cutter rigged, even if you don’t need the extra sail power of a staysail. As winds get heavier, a babystay will help ensure your mast stays straight.  If your roller furling set up fails, it gives you a stay on which to set a hanked on sail, it will let you set a storm sail inboard where it can be more effective, and if your boat does not heave to with just a heavily reefed mainsail or trysail, the storm sail can be backed to help achieve the balance you need to keep your boat laying properly. But a permanently attached staysail stay can be a hassle. To make it work it’s best you need some type of release mechanism which, in lighter winds, lets you unhook the stay and lash it back near the mast. On both Taleisin and Seraffyn, we used a bronze hy-field lever on our staysail stay, one which we were able to purchase relatively reasonably. But over the years removable stays went out of fashion and prices sky rocketed for these levers. In our book, The Capable Cruiser we showed drawings for making your own release lever or what we labeled a J-hook.

The removable staysail stay on Taleisin really helped when we were racing in light winds by letting us clear away the staysail stay so we can easily tack the big jib.

The removable staysail stay on Taleisin really helped when we were racing in light winds by letting us clear away the staysail stay so we can easily tack the big jib.

Recently, I came across a short article, written by Alvah Simon about a strong and elegant looking, locally made (New Zealand) lever that is well worth considering. Gerry Jacobs, a keen sailor produces these in quality stainless steel for wire sizes from ¼ to 5/6th inch and with a certified breaking load of 6 tons. The price, with freight to most parts of the world is half that of other, more industrial looking levers. Take a look at

This is the hooklever made by Gerry Jacobs

This is the hooklever made by Gerry Jacobs

3 Responses to June 2016 Cruising Tip

  1. RichC

    I’ve been wanting to replace our current turnbuckle with something like this on our babystay. The J-hook by Gerry Jacobs is a thing of beauty … but an expensive piece of hardware to put on our old boat. I remember reading about it years ago in a “beloved” book … oh that’s right, Capable Cruiser! 😉

  2. Calypso32

    Lin & Larry,

    Hope this email finds you both well. We are certain that you would both prefer living aboard & cruising but as we all realize, life happens!

    My wife and I have lived aboard & cruised our Westsail 32, Calypso, for many years. In your wake, we have tried to keep her as traditional as possible.

    This includes oil running lights which we had custom made by Den Haan long ago. The port & starboard lights sit in light boards attached to our lower shrouds. The stern light, however, has been in a variety of positions of which none seem to work well.

    In your videos we can see Taliesin’s stern light attached to the boom gallows in some type of mount. Would you have any sketches or could you describe your back stay mount?

    We appreciate any help you could give us and we wish you both well.

    Jeff & Wendy

    • Lin & Larry

      We simply secured a small bronze clip on each side of the boom-gallows (through the handhold loop) Then we had a loop of shock cord around the upright for the boom-gallows. According to which tack we were on, we clipped the stern light in place and used the shock cord loop around it’s lower edge to hold it steady. Reason we choose to move it dependant on which tack we were on is, we found the wind coming off the self sterring windvane when we were broad reaching or running tended to make the light flicker if the lamp was downwind of the wind as it flowed across the vane.

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