Spinnaker sailing


Aegea came with a decent sail inventory. Older working sails: a main and 95% jib. A 120% genoa for light-air sailing. A storm jib and storm trysail we’re unlikely to ever use. The most exciting sail was in a giant orange sail bag with “SABRE 38” stamped on the outside. It was a big purple spinnaker.

I love spinnaker sailing. I’ve flown the kite on E scows in Wisconsin, J-105s in San Francisco, and a Sunfast 3200 during the Newport-to-Cabo race. (The latter was a real sleigh ride. During the final night of the race, we hit 18 knots — in a 32-foot boat — while surfing a wave and actively trimming the kite.)

But until last week, we never flew Aegea’s spinnaker. Last summer, we hired South Beach Riggers to outfit us with proper sheets, guys, and all other necessary rigging. This was in preparation for a weeklong cruise down the coast (to Monterey and back). But we faced unusual headwinds during the part of our cruise that should have been downwind, and the spinnaker remained stowed.

Last Tuesday, the SoCal Ta-Ta fleet sailed from Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard. It was a beautiful beam reach in 8–12 knots of breeze. We hadn’t planned to fly the chute for the short 18-mile crossing. One by one, boats began to hoist spinnakers, and the fleet lit up with color.

I got quiet. I became dissatisfied. I was jealous. Michelle noticed.

“What do you think will make you feel better?” Michelle asked.

“Flying the spinnaker.”

“OK. Fine.”

I ran around the boat getting everything setup. Michelle made sure I wore a life-jacket while working on deck. I hauled the sail up the companionway and onto the foredeck. Michelle helped me lead the sheets aft. I dug out the tack line and tied it on. I connected the halyard and hoisted the furled spinnaker to the masthead. (It’s contained in a white “snuffer” tube until ready.)

Everything looked normal, nothing was wrapped or twisted, so I pulled back the snuffer and the spinnaker began to fill.

It was glorious.

We only got to fly the chute for an hour that day, but it was worth the effort. The next day we sailed under that big purple spinnaker for several hours on our way to Paradise Cove off Malibu.

I’m not sure when my next opportunity to fly Aegea’s spinnaker will arise. But as Michelle can tell you, if the conditions are right, I’ll be chomping at the bit.

— JZ

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Hi John… I’m another Zeratsky that loves the thrill of sailing under a nice full spinnaker, just rolling along with the waves. I have a smaller S2 7.9 with the old symmetric spinnaker like yours. Gotta love the boost you get when it fills without wraps/twists. More often though I’m flying asymmetric spinnaker on a J109 that I race on. I can relate to the spinnaker jealousy commentary. You have a great wife to be out gybing spinnakers on the Pacific. My wife likes to sail as well but is still learning. I’ll be out sailing my boat tomorrow… You’ve got me thinking I’ll throw up the spinnaker.

Via your Aunt Gretchen connecting with me on Facebook, I’ve connected a bit with your family a bit, lots of similarities beyond just a last name. It would be nice to meet up some time, maybe even go for a sail.

Jim Zeratsky , “JZ ” as well

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