What’s a good way to tame the mainsail? (stackpacks, lazy jacks, Dutchman lines, etc)

With the crew aging…….( and only one on deck, usually ) the deployment of the main sail is no problem, however stowage and reefing is. We are considering the ” Stac Pac ” but are concerned about height of the stack at the front. Does anyone have the Stac Pac?? What’s involved?? Does it work for them?? Do we have to alter / re cut / change the main?? Boom furling would be the last option, but if it’s got to be then it may have to be, for safety and ease, anyway. Best regards, Frank Bryant, s/v #186, Visitant.

a. I have no experience with StackPack. A buddy of mine tossed out his “Dutchman” because the fine lines guiding the sail collected dirt, then deposited the dirt on the sail when it was raised and when it was lowered. What experience do you have with lazy jacks? I like my “E-Z-Jacks” http://www.ezjax.com/index.html , but I have extremely limited experience using them, especially heading into high winds. These jacks produce no chafe and have no weight aloft, but you do have to go to the mast to deploy them and to retract them. Lester

b. We had lazy jacks from day one, they are o/k…but it’s still a lot of sail to handle especially if it comes down faster than you planned on and only one person handling. Opinion I’m beginning to think that the Stac Pac may present a windage problem ?? not to mention an eye sore as our stack at the front would be 5′ +/-. I am considering it, but a feedback from someone that has it would be nice. Thanks for your interest.. Regards, Frank

c. Frank, My boat came with a Stac Pac. The zippers were shot and it seemed to have shrunk so that it didn’t fit well any longer. Even if I hadn’t gone to a loose-footed main, I would have had it removed. I set up a stowable lazy jack system of my own design, so dousing the main isn’t a problem anymore. And if I didn’t care to properly flake the main before putting the sail cover on, I would have a sail cover that works with the lazy jacks in place – which is precisely what the Stac Pac does. The worst thing about the Stac Pac, among many, is that it traps a terrific amount of water against the sail when it’s raining and funnels it directly into your cockpit. By the way, Doyle did the work converting the sail, and I don’t recall them trying to dissuade me from getting rid of it. Branko Vukojevic hull #175, H2OBO.

d. I installed a “Mack Pack” from Mack sails in Stuart, Fla. on my ketch, Gisela. Stowing the main is no longer a career. mackpack.htm . Stephen De Blasio (#176, Gisela).

e. We have a Doyle Stackpack on #092, Vision Quest. You can look at it on our photos on the website. Our boat did not come with any sails so we investigated the stackpack. It was expensive but we have been happy with it (built 1997). The mainsail drops down through the built-in jack system and with a zip, the mainsail is put away. I love not having to drag a mainsail cover up, down and around everytime we go sailing. Our boat neighbours have avoided using their main because of the work to put the sail away. The cover stays up all the time and we are easily recognized with our boat name so large and so prominent. We put some steps on the mast to be able to reach the top of the stackpack there. We also stand on the mast guard rails to reach. At the back we can reach by standing on the coamings and pilothouse roof. I am 5’6″ and I can put the main away. My husband finds it a bit easier since he is taller. You’d have to talk to your sailmaker about whether your present main could be modified into the stackpack. Kerry Black, (s/v #092, Vision Quest)

f. I have installed a version of the Doyle Stac Pac, made by Mack Sails in Florida. I purchased the system when I purchased a new full batten sail from Mack. Both sail and Mack Pack are in fine shape after two years of coastal cruising. Sue and I are able to stow the sail in about 10 minutes. The sail needs to be coaxed down into the pack so that the zipper doesn’t get stuck or damage the sail. Reefing is not a problem either, but may add a few minutes to the effort. My problem is that the boom creates a reach problem for me. At 6′, I still need to climb upon the sissy bars at times to pull down the sail. A safer perch for me, as well as mast cars, will be a Spring 05 priority on my to-do list. Tim & Sue O’Neil (#138, Whaleback)

g. In regard to the Doyle Stac Pac the short answer is: 75 % satisfied. Yes, the stack is high. I can reach it by stepping on the canister of the raft and attach the halyard, etc. The reefing cringles will not reach the gooseneck, you need to solve that with extra line and hook. The skirt looks ugly and I had it removed. Now to the whole saga, if you are interested: In 1999, I had a new mainsail built and as an afterthought added the Doyle StacPac. This turned out to be a continuation of existing problems and added new ones. When I bought my Corbin in 1981 I had the option to get the cruising or high aspect rig. Since I intended to sail for several years on Long Island Sound known for its light summer winds I chose the latter. It took me several years of weekend sailing to learn that the boat ran much better on almost all points with one or two reefs installed. I discussed this with the Doyle sailmaker at length and wanted a smaller mainsail cut. He argued that one could never have enough sail and that I would regret not having it while sailing the Trades and maybe the Pacific and at other times I should reef. Unfortunately, he was very persuasive. While the sail was being built, I suddenly remembered having read something about the Doyle Stac Pac and added it, not having done any research at all. Already under time pressure to meet the departure date for crossing the Atlantic, it added to the preparation countless hours. Installation required a special track to be inserted into the grove of the mast. This interfered with the separate tract for the trysail. I spent considerable time removing SS rivets, sealing the holes, drilling new ones and fastening the track again. All this between heaven and deck. The sail came late, I installed the lazy jacks. The system worked but it wasn’t shipshape and I had to leave. In Spain, a sail maker improved the situation some-what, but my decades’ long problem of weather helm persisted. Fortunately, I became aware of Lester Helmus’ excellent Corbin website and the discussions regarding weather helm. Sailing the Mediterranean, a Bimini is a must, but on my pre Corbin Speciale edition, fitting one had defeated me. Sailing the Greek Island and the Turkish Coast last year the Meltemi reminded me often enough of the persistent weatherhelm, and that even under the third reef (which probably equals the 2nd reef in the cruising rig version) the Corbin was overpowered. Recounting all my problems, a radical solution was called for. And after long discussions, my wife and I compromised to shortening the boom, recutting the main, adding a fourth reef point and modifying the Stac Pac. – We would have preferred a new boom with inboom furling and integrated awning. – Now, we finally also have a bimini. All this has been done expertly by ‘Sail Service’, Netsel Marina in Marmaris, Turkey. The reduction of weather helm I cannot yet fully judge since Meltemi conditions persisted and I sailed fully reefed before laying her up. Peter Voges, (s/v #099, Escapade )

h. The Dutchman System may just be the best improvement I’ve made yet. Turn her into the wind and let the halyard run free, and the main that used to blanket the deck, now dutifully folds itself on the boom all by itself. A couple of tugs to straighten out any kinks in the fold is all it takes now. We used to go out for short headsail sails and never take the mainsail cover off because it was just too much work dropping and refolding the main. Not anymore. Vince Salese (s/v #005, Witch of the Wave).