We use SS 7×7 5/16” wire rope for all the standing rigging on the Far Reach, except the forestay. For the forestay, we use synthetic 9mm Dynex Dux (heat treated dyneema). Recently, we modified the forestay to make it easy to detach it from the gammon iron. That modification allows us to open up the foretriangle making it easier to short tack as the forestay is no longer an obstruction to the jib. The modification, includes a partially covered dyneema that serves as a lanyard, and a few low-friction rings.
We originally used stout brass piston hanks on both the jib and staysail. Because the hanks were new, and without sharp edges or burrs, they did not harm the synthetic Dux forestay. But, the heavy and slightly clumsy hanks did not slide on the Dux as smoothly as on the wire headstay when raising and lowering the stays’l. Additionally, during a tack, the big hanks seemed to create friction on the jib when it passed over the forestay.
To reduce friction and to make the attachment of the stays’l to the forestay more streamlined and less bulky we decided to implement a technique we had read about and was used by a seasoned voyager—replace the heavy brass piston hanks with sewn on brass luff rings.
Because the forestay is synthetic, vice wire, there is little to no wear on the brass luff rings. The low-friction ring we use as the end terminator on the bottom end of the forestay can be removed from the spliced eye. Then, we simply slip the luff rings off the forestay, reinstall the low-friction ring into the spliced eye and reconnect the lanyard and retighten the forestay. The reality is we almost never unbend the stays’l from the forestay. It’s either in the bag connected to the forestay and ready to be employed at a moments notice or it’s in the bag connected to the forestay and the forestay and the bag are moved aft and secured to the cabin top or on the side deck near the forward lower shrouds.
To install the luff rings, I needed to remove the crimped-on piston hanks from the luff of the stays’l. It was easily accomplished with a hammer and steel wedge. Then, I used #8 whipping thread to lash the rings on to the luff grommets. Our sailmaker recommended we keep the whipping a little loose around the luff line (inside the sail) and the grommets to allow some movement. It took about an hour to remove the 11 hanks and sew on the brass rings.
While removing the brass hanks was simple, be forewarned they don’t normally survive intact. About half the time the hook breaks off. I had read about this ahead of time so I was not surprised. In the future, when I replace the brass hanks on the genoa, I will purchase the more expensive hanks that are designed to be sewn on vice “crimped” on and which can be removed and reinstalled as often as necessary.
So now we have two simple modifications to the staysail that work hand in hand: an easily detachable synthetic forestay and sewn on brass luff rings that make raising and lowering the stays’l easier and reduce friction when tacking. Though I have yet to sail the Far Reach with the luff rings I have tested it at the dock and it works very well.
I’m looking forward to vigorously testing this modification. If I see any wear on the luff caused by the whipping I will remove the rings, sew on some leather as a chafing guard then reattach the rings with new whipping.