SJ23 Tech Tip F36, (Updated 2019-06-02) Bob Schimmel


Staysail Set on a Solent Stay - Panache.
INDEX - Deploy the Staysail, Specs, Design Ideas, Reinforce Deck to Install Pad Eye, Mast Fitting. - Baby Stay.

While not a "go fast" gadget, a storm sail or a staysail set on a removable inner forestay can keep you going in rough weather by maintaining a more balanced sail plan with your reefed mainsail.  Think of the sail plan as a small jib with a double reefed main centered over the hull.  (IE: The center of effort over the center of resistance).  Many sailors prefer a staysail over a deeply reefed roller furling jib since it results in less heel with more speed that is easier to manage in heavy weather.  This is the way I intend to use it to save the lighter cloth of the furled jib.   By the way, there is no pretext here to convert an SJ23 into a heavy air passage maker.  This removable staysail is an alternative to a deep furled jib or a storm jib slipped over a furled jib.  The staysail with double reefed main combo can go faster than a furled jib if you bear off a bit and can point higher.  I'll test this to confirm if its true for an SJ23 as well.

STAYS on a SLOOP - By definition a Solent stay connects to the mast slightly below the backstay connection and to the deck just aft of the forestay.  As such the mast requires no additional support.  A staysail stay or inner forestay usually connects to the mast where the top of a double reefed mainsail sits and the tack connects to the deck quite a bit further aft than a Solent, so it parallels the forestay.  The mast requires running backstays for support.  Either stay is usually removable and can support a staysail or storm jib. 

DEPLOY THE STAYSAIL - A staysail can be deployed easier and safer on the wider foredeck closer to the mast.  Having the sheets permanently tied to the clew with a cow knot speeds up the job and prevents them from being lost overboard.  This staysail has a high clew for visibility forward with the sheets having a fair lead to the same lead block position on the deck track as the 110% jib.  How convenient is that?  Although it should be hoisted in advance of worsening weather so you know where to position the deck blocks.  I marked my deck tracks for this.  I chose this calm day for exactly this reason.  Its a good idea to use a red or day glow orange jib or at least attach (glue, sew) a triangle of coloured nylon to the head of the jib.  Anything to improve visibility during lousy weather.  This one is applied to a Dacron panel with sticky backed double rip stop nylon.  The same stuff that is used for sail numbers, etc.  The triangle has since been expanded.  The tell tales are; starboard green high and port red low, separated vertically by about 3" to more easily determine port from starboard in difficult light conditions.  The bottom tell tale is just visible from the helm for trimming the jib and steering. 

STAYSAIL SPECS - This stay sail is 10 Oz Dacron with a wire luff.  40 ft2 - (luff 11' 1/2") (foot 6' 8") (leech 12').  I once sailed a close reach into 4' waves and felt quite comfortable with it.  At the time it was hanked to the forestay and a double reefed main.

DESIGN IDEAS - When Panache had hanked jibs this sail was hanked to the forestay during really rough weather.  Now that she has roller furling I developed the following technique around the storm jib and an extra deck fitting I had. 

  1. SOLENT STAY - The simplest method may be to use a small heavy jib equipped with a wire luff and no hanks.  No mast fitting or additional halyard to install and no piston hanks to fiddle with. 
    - Clip the tack to a deck mounted pad eye, the head to a spare halyard and run the sheets through the deck blocks to the winches.  Then quickly hoist the jib, tension the halyard and sheet in the jib to quiet the beast.  It is by far the simplest method to install and is the system I installed.  The loose end of my spare jib halyard is now stored at the mast head with a light messenger line to the base.  Less weight aloft.  Its actually quite easy to pull it down, ready for the stay sail. 

There are other ways a staysail can be rigged with a furled jib. 

  1. INNER FORESTAY - A removable inner forestay with hanked staysail.  The top of the removable stay would be permanently attached to the front of the mast at the hoist height of a double reefed mainsail where the forces on the front and back sides of the mast counter balance each other, somewhat. 
    - The bottom of the removable stay would be detached from its storage (a lower shroud, toe rail or pad eye just in front of the mast) and transferred to a deck mounted pad eye using a very strong adjustable pelican hook (or equivalent).  Then the staysail is hanked on, halyard attached and the sheets run through the blocks to the winches.  This system requires additional support aft of the mast.

  2. A STORM JIB SLIPPED OVER THE FURLED JIB - Search the web for various systems of this type.

On a cutter the inner stay is usually parallel to the forestay, especially if you want to fly the staysail with a rolled out working jib.  This one on Panache becomes sort of parallel when the wind blows.  I haven't tried flying both jibs yet because that is not the intention.  Its surprisingly quick and easy to roll up the jib and hoist the stay sail.


I chose a day with strong winds to test this sail and scooted around at 4 knots with double reefed main and furled jib.  Hove to with double reefed main also worked well.  It was good while the wind lasted and confirmed the staysail can do the job in 20 knots of wind.  Unfortunately the wind had subsided during these photos but an hour later it returned and I sailed at 6 knots with full mainsail.  The jib sleeve presented no problem but I wouldn't be sailing with it hoisted.

The tack fitting works amazingly well with the swivel hook.  It does not interfere when folded down.  Note jib sheets laying on deck.

I didn't intend to run the staysail and the working jib sheets through the same deck block but it worked just fine for the sea trial.  Tape marks the 110% jib block location.

Great view looking forward under double reefed mainsail.

Taken from the chase boat!  Its too bad we didn't take any photos when the winds were stronger.  The water was anything but calm an hour previous.

To take this stay sail down I use a standard technique for a hanked on jib.  Point boat upwind, sheet in tight and drop the sail on the leeward side deck.  You have to time it right so the sail drops on the deck, not in the drink.  Its a good thing this jib is small and fits easily on the side deck.  The guys on the chase boat said Panache sailed very steady with little extra heeling in the puffs, which I felt as well.

PAD EYE INSTALLED on REINFORCED DECK - A pad eye must be installed on the deck to attach the staysail to.  Since the deck was never designed to hold this force it MUST be reinforced.  To that end I installed a folding pad eye above the anchor locker bulkhead and reinforced it below deck with aluminum angle through bolted to the fibreglass anchor locker bulkhead.  As you can see from the diagram at right and the photos below, I included the teak bulkhead for strength. 
"Prior to dry fitting the assembly I realized the difficulty of aligning four loose pieces with any degree of accuracy.  I only have two hands and knew it would end up cockeyed!  So I removed the teak bulkhead (anchor locker door frame) and fastened the three aluminum reinforcing plates to the top of the frame using my Workmate.  This is a very useful tool for this job.  The aluminum plates were previously formed and mounting holes drilled through them.  The assembled door frame, with aluminum plates mounted on top, slipped into place perfectly.  With the door frame screwed into its original place, pilot holes were drilled through the deck.  The balsa core was bone dry so I drilled the holes oversize and sealed them with SYSTEMTHREE Cold Cure epoxy epoxy.  The epoxy cured well in the overnight 00C temperature.  Later I drilled them out to the correct size.  The pad eye was sealed with butyl rubber to the deck and fasteners tightened.  I also thought it prudent to add wood reinforcing members, left and right, inside the locker bulkhead to straddle the door frame joints.  In the completed installation at right the anchor locker fibreglass bulkhead is sandwiched between the teak door frame and the wood reinforcing members shown as the dotted line in the diagram.  The completed assembly is very rigid.  In Spring I reinforced the sides of the bulkhead to the hull described in Tech Tip B11"  Need warm weather for the Sikaflex I used."  Bob.

Fig 1 - Cabin view of the aft aluminum reinforcing plate, final installation.


Fig 2 - The forward aluminum plate was recessed in the teak so the fibreglass bulkhead lays flush against the teak. 


Fig 3 - The pad eye is shown installed fore aft and flopped aft where it is out of the way.


Panache's anchor locker bulkhead is angled 200 forward, leaning to the bow.  On later manufactured hulls equipped with the through deck anchor locker, the bulkhead leans aft about 50 to achieve a larger locker opening while retaining berth space. 

If you want the pad eye further aft you could use one of the following ideas to reinforce the deck.  I'd be interested to hear your version of a solution to this.  Email me.

  1. CROSS BEAM SUPPORT - Install a stiff laminated beam under the foredeck as shown at right.  This should be installed under the flatter foredeck, between the forward hatch and the aft legs of the pulpit.  The beam would have to be about 1" deep, slightly wider than the eye pad and must conform to the curvature of the deck.  It must also fit snug athwart ship to withstand the compression forces of the toe rail as depicted by the red arrows in the diagram.  The beams ends could be made deeper to go around the head liner lip or end at the inside of the lip with a tight fitting wood spacer between the lip and toe rail.  A SS strap under both would join the three sections as one beam.  If the beam is backed with butyl rubber to the cabin ceiling it would distribute the forces over the widest possible area.  Seal the pad eye to the deck with butyl rubber. 

  2. WIRE SUPPORT - Install a pad eye with a matching eye under the deck to attach a wire that is secured to the bottom of the anchor locker bulkhead.  Install the wire in line with the inner forestay.  Tension the wire to just snug.



MAST FITTING - There are many ways to attach a fitting to the mast for an inner forestay. 

  • Probably the strongest method is to use a SS sheet metal fitting that wraps around the mast and is glued (Sikaflex) and pop riveted to maintain a unobstructed clearance inside the mast for halyards and wiring.  But I could also be persuaded to use a "T" fitting although not as beefy as the one shown at left.  This being the case use machine screws to the mast threaded into tapped holes.

  • Alternatively you could install external tangs with a bolt through the mast or a cross strap fitting. 

To prevent movement or corrosion use a liberal application of bedding compound behind any fitting installed on the mast.

NOTE - I have done significant research to explore the forces and requirements of this installation.  It needs to be well thought out and you should do some research to confirm this for yourself.  If you have experience with it I would appreciate an email from you.  Bob P Schimmel

BABY STAY (Food for Thought) - Another go fast gadget you could try is a baby stay that goes from the spreaders to a deck pad eye, forward of the hatch.  Equip the bottom end with a 6' long roller tube to cover an 8:1 block and tackle.  The free end of the line can be fed back to the cockpit.  I installed one of these on my previous masthead Venture 222 and it worked wonders for flattening the mainsail.  What makes this gadget work so well is that it takes little effort to pull the middle of the mast forward to flatten the mainsail.

NOTE - The underside of the deck MUST be reinforced to support the pull of the baby stay.  In addition, you MUST have a stopper knot on the line to limit the amount of pull since there are lots of deck apes out there who don't know their own strength.  Under the rolling motion of the boat it is easy to over tighten this.  The stopper knot makes the operation idiot proof, which is no reflection on the deck apes by the way! 

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