Westerly 22 Other Topics

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Excessive Weather Helm on a Westerly 22

Everything here relates to the gunter rig.

Slight or moderate weather helm is considered good. It helps the boat to weather and makes it turn into the wind and lose power if the helm is let go of. A sign that weather helm has become excessive is when it becomes tiring for the crew or when the angle of the rudder blade begins to slow the boat.

It is important that helm balence remains light especially with a lightweight crew. On long cruise it is not uncommon to sail day and night until reaching harbour. Expecting a lightweight crew to fight the helm for hours while the Skipper sleeps would be unfair

A previous owner of a W22 had the boat converted to a cutter rig. The original gunter sloop rig was retained and a bowsprit and outer jib fitted. When the boat was purchased it was sailed for the first few months with just the sloop rig and the weather helm was found to be irritating at best. A lot of time was spent adjusting the rig tension, mast rake, mainsail foot tension, luff lacing tension, halyard tensions, sail trim. Nothing seemed to make a whole lot of difference.

When we set off on our first cruise (Chichester to Plymouth and back) we still hadn't fitted the bowsprit and outer jib but took them with us and fitted it all up at anchor in Portland Harbour. We thought the extra sail area could be useful in very light conditions.

By the time we had returned to Chichester 3 weeks later we were wondering why all W22's weren't rigged this way. The weather helm issue had finally been solved and the boat was a pleasure to sail.

Details of our outer jib/cutter rig.

The original gunter sloop rig is retained in it's entirity;

A wooden bowsprit extends 5 feet beyond the stem head and is rigged with bowsprit shrouds, a bobstay on a 3 to one tackle and a furling drum. A fitting is bolted through the foredeck for the heel of the bowsprit and the 'sprit passes through a gammon iron which is fastened to the stemhead fitting by the bolt which secures the bronze bow roller. The bow roller is fitted with a stainless bush so it can rotate with the bolt fully tightened.

The fitting on the masthead for the jib halyard block is fitted with a 2 to 1 adaptor so 2 blocks can be used, one for the inner jib and one for the outer jib. We tie the halyards off at the mast tabernacle.

Additional fairleads and camcleats are fitted to the coachroof for the outer jib sheets which run outside both pairs of shrouds. The sheets are quite thin, 8mm probably.

The outer jib is fitted with a ball bearing swivel at it's head and has a wire luff. It is set flying without a stay. The sail is fairly small, somewhere between 50 and 55 sq feet. It's luff goes almost all the way from the bowsprit end to the masthead. The clew is fairly high to sheet correctly to the fairlead on the coachroof.

All 3 sails were made by Jeckalls and bear consecutive numbers. It is obvious they were intended to be used together and work well. The boat will tack through 90 degrees on the compass but throws a bit away with leeway.

When we come to shorten sail, firstly we reef the mainsail down to the first batten. Next we furl the outer jib and slacken it's halyard off slightly. The next stage is to reef the mainsail fully. The roller reefing doesn't allow good foot tension and the sail sets very full. Adjusting the peak halyard helps to a (small) degree. Changing down to the storm jib brings back the weather helm so we rarely use this sail. If it's really windy we will usually drop the (furled) outer jib to reduce windage and gain a bit more tension in the forestay.

The boat heaves to nicely with both headsails rigged.

When sailing dead downwind with the (inner)jib boomed out to windward we furl the outer jib.