Your most frequently asked questions… answered.
Editor’s notes (2019)
The FAQ and discussion below has been mildly edited to eliminate typos, make it clearer who the authors are and which boats they themselves have (by hull number and boat name if known). Wherever possible alternative (i.e. current) references to products & suppliers are provided.
The bulk of this FAQ was originally generated as a Q&A in the period 2005 – 2015. In this period Lester Helmus acted as a clearing house for questions and responses, but some respondents would also write direct to each other, hence some of the overlapping answers you see in the FAQ. In places there are 2019 and subsequent comments, drawing either on my own experiences, or from other Corbin 39 owners and sources, including our Corbin 39 Group on Facebook. More comments are most welcome and this FAQ will inevitably grow.
We have attempted to contact all contributors to the 2015 version of the FAQ. All responses have been most supportive, thank you. If you are a contributor who has yet to respond please contact us.
As will be apparent there are multiple viewpoints on some topics. Sometimes, but not always, this can be traced to differences in arrangement between the boats of the various authors. Some of the topics raised are not so much a Q&A, as simply being a statement of why a particular owner thought something was a good idea, which of course it may not have been at all. Make your own mind up.
If you have further comments or suggestions on any of these questions, or wish to pose new questions, or describe various issues you have faced and/or overcome, then please contact us either via the Facebook Group or via the Website.
[Remark as of November 2019: Quite a lot of the links to drawings & photos are not yet reinstated due to workload. However I also know quite a few of the relevant images have gone astray. You may find the relevant photos in the individual boat’s entry. Please email us if you have any of the missing photos, drawings, etc.]
SAILS and SAILING
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).
Does anyone have any ideas about the best way to heave-to in a Corbin? I don’t think that I have ever really managed to heave-to, though I found I could achieve much of the same effect by attempting a come about with just the staysail. Thanks.” Rob Brady (s/v #174, Summer’s Door)
a. The usual way of heaving to is to reef the mainsail, aim the mainsail into the wind, back the jib or staysail, and tie the rudder parallel to the jib. I did this frequently on my Bristol 29 when singlehanding from New Jersey to Bermuda and in the Carribbean. Once, in a gale for 30 hours, I hove-to with just the main and rudder. Les Helmus (s/v #010, Insouciance) Here’s a link obtained by a Google search, http://boats.com/content/default_detail.jsp?contentid=1284
b. As to heaving to with a Corbin-there are a number of good choices. It can be done in the classic way-mainsail into wind, backwind staysail, rudder parallel to the jib. (the rudder can be overdone). I have not had good luck with the headsail. I like to tie my roller furling off at the bow in gale force conditions. It is not fun having your headsail deploy in a blow. We can heave to with just our main. We have storm sails but have not deployed them. I would go to a lone trisail if I had to heave to in 60+ knots. We prefer to keep the boat moving in winds up to 50 knots. When running in these conditions we will use our staysail only and get the boat on the Monitor windvane. It is faster than our Alpha 3000 autopilot. I have tried bare poles in these conditions but could not steer well. If we are going to weather we use the staysail and main with 3 reefs. We have found that our Corbin will head up and park when we are overpowered by building winds. This allows us to go forward and take another reef without going into a panic. The bottom line is there is no best way to heave-to; it depends on the situation and there are a lot of choices with the friendly Corbin. Richard Bacon (s/v #043, Balmacara) [email from Australia] [Lester note: The #043, Balmacara has a short bowsprit upgrade.]
c. On our last Atlantic crossing from St Martin to the Azores 2010 we hit the edge of a tropical depression hove-to for 13 hours and slept right through it. Had all the lights on and radar and all alarms on. Sustained wing of 48 knots triple reef in the main no other sail. It was very comfortable. So hove to with a triple reef in the main, and backed the main against the helm, and no headsail. This was was our third event when we hove-to – always the main only but this was the only time we used the third reef. Mario Borg, (#198, Maltese Falcon).
A FAQ on the weather helm issue had been collated in the period approximately from 2000-2015, and which was put here in the process of launching this website in 2019. However we recognised that it could usefully be improved and so we started a renewed effort to understand the extent of the weather helm issue, and the the available fixes. This has now been achieved.
In summary weather helm affects the unmodified mk1 cutter. It is greatly or fully resolved in the modified mk1 cutters, depending on which ‘fix’ was applied. It does not affect the mk2 cutters, nor any of the ketches. Furthermore it seems that reefing the mainsail in a mk1 at the correct windspeed to achieve maximum sailing performance also fully resolves the weather helm issue (this was demonstrated in the VPP analysis, see below). This explains why some unmodified mk1 owners had never encountered the weather helm issue at all, i.e. no modifications are actually needed if they are sailed a particular way, and that way happens to also to deliver the maximum speeds.
- The initial FAQ from 2000-2015 was updated by all owners in 2019-2020. It resulted in a much improved document including all the Anecdotal Weather Helm Evidence gathered from owners (which includes all the original FAQ) last updated in Feb-2020. The report is one of the documents in the Longform Articles section of the website.
- Following this a theoretical study was carried out in April-2020, with the results written up in the Theoretical Weather Helm Analysis that aligned well with the anecdotal reports, but extended and improved the understanding of the causes, and the available solutions. The full report and supporting documents can be downloaded from the Longform Articles section of the website.
- Subsequently further theoretical studies were carried out into static stability and dynamic stability and seaworthiness, also available in the Longform Articles section of the website. An aspect that was studied during this was the actual sailing performance of the different Corbin 39 rigs, using a Velocity Prediction Program (VPP). This was written up in June-2020 as Theoretical Analysis – Sailing Performance & Velocity Prediction Programs (VPP). During the work on this it was realised that the optimal reefing windspeed for a mk1 cutter coincided very well with the point at which an unreefed mk1 cutter would begin to experience the onset of significant weather helm. This is discussed more in the report, and armed with this knowledge skippers can extract maximum performance from their boats. The full report and supporting documents can be downloaded from the Longform Articles section of the website.
As an aside it is now understood why the boats that made changes to the forward edge of the skeg would not have achieved any real benefit from this, however we have not had an opportunity to write that up – it is something of a blind alley in design terms and there is always other work to do. The reported changes to the skeg would have done no harm either. (remark, DS, June-2020).
If more information comes to light then we will update this FAQ etc. If you have more information please contact us.
Does any Corbin owner use spinnakers and do they have a positive impact to help balance the boat, specifically for the hulls built before 1984? If there are any Corbin owners who did use spinnakers extensively, either assymetric or standard, I’d love to hear from them on their choice and # of square feet. Bernard V. (#124, di Rosa).
a. I have used a spinnaker on my Corbin several times. On the Pacific crossing I poled out the spinnaker and let it fly for four days and three nights with the windpilot steering the boat. My spinnaker has a sock and while we were in Darwin, Australia I made a bell shaped fiberglass entry for the sock. It really helped with the retrieval of the sail. Henry M. (#018, 2 Extreme).
b. May I suggest you call Mr Jean Saintonge of Voile Saintonge. Regards, Martin St-Pierre (#146, Nordan).
c. The matter of spinnakers for the Corbin 39 was studied as part of the sailing performance analysis (VPP etc) which is set out in the Longform Articles section of the website, in particular the VPP study summary. As the study shows they can make a considerable difference to performance, especially for anyone doing a lot of long-duration downwind sailing.
Some Corbin 39 have fitted out with Solent rig. Some of these are without the inner forestay, and others retain the inner forestay for the staysail. Here are good photos of #49 “Hanna” that are fairly self-explanatory.
“Hanna” is one of the few solent-rigged in the fleet, apparently very successfully so. Below are some notes from one of “Hanna”‘s owners (JA) with an explanatory comment by me (DS).
JA – a pilothouse cutter and also has a solent stay, forward of the furler. That’s how she was rigged when we bought her in 1998. We love it for the ability to fly “twin” headsails, on two poles, as you can see on my FB cover photo. We crossed the Atlantic (westbound) almost entirely like that, as well as much of the passage between Galapagos and French Polynesia.
At the masthead, the two stays used to be fastened to a Delta plate, which then had a single attachment point to the mast. That was bad engineering, as we learned and after many years (too many, and a couple rigging failures) we added a fitting just below the masthead so they are now attached separately.
JA – the inner of the two stays is the furler, not typical I guess. We have two Hank on headsails we can use on the outer one. Our furler is a small Genoa, probably only about 108% and is great most of the time. We have a larger Genoa (120-130%?) and we have a yankee cut jib (90%?). We can fly either one in tandem with the furler, and can swap them out, without taking the pole down if required. We did so on our second Atlantic crossing as conditions changed. We have two poles on two tracks and can also gybe the two headsails if necessary. It’s not the easiest rig to sail but we love having all the options. Our staysail stay is fixed. My husband built a Highfield lever, which makes it removable but we don’t currently use it.
In the current configuration, the furler does not foul on the outer stay when furling. For a very brief time, we put the stays side by side and then it did, so we quickly changed it back.
DS – In a Solent rig the two forestays are extremely close together. In the most common usage this means that one can run dead downwind without using a genoa, but still having a very large amount of sail out in a controlled fashion (and minimal boat-rolling). On larger boats they are often set up with both of the forestays being roller-furlers. This means that a single crew person can reduce sail (both sails) on their own, extremely handy if it blows up overnight. As I understand it the way “Hanna” is rigged the sail area can be reduced by roller-furling one one stay but not on the other.
Here are I am sending you two photos of my staysail since I got rid of the club boom and rigged a single sheet to the cockpit. I was lucky; the location of the blocks and the foot and leach tension are just right. See staysail1.jpg and staysail2.jpg . Works like a charm. Note: Since I changed my staysail to the single line and NO boom I have been using it quite extensively and LOVE IT ! Frank Bryant Frank Bryant (s/v #186, Visitant).
(photos not located)
What’s a good furling mainsail arrangement?
We are very happy to report that our new Shaefer Boom Furling works as intended, and then some. To save the 3 k USD, I went with the Beta boom @ 16′ ( instead of the Gamma @ 18′ ) Frankly, I had doubts whether the smaller boom diameter would accommodate all that luff, it just made it !! with not much to spare using the 8 oz. cloth. As far as the sail goes, we just roached the new main to the MAX… Bottom line: MUCH improved performance all around especially close hauled. I installed the whole thing in one day and the only pain was routing the main halyard and the boom furling line into the cockpit ( with least friction possible ) and I had to modify the new Shaefer blocks to suit. See pictures. Frank Bryant (s/v #186, Visitant).
I’ve been looking on line to find a Corbin logo so we can get some hats and clothing apparel made up with our boat’s name but can’t seem to find anything. I didn’t know if this is something new or you’ve entertained this request before. If there is nothing available I was going to work with a local embroiderer to make one up myself with an outline of the boat and “Corbin 39” across the image. See please let me know of existing artwork or an embroidery image already available. Dan N. (#085, Trustworthy).
a. I had this same question when I first bought my Corbin, and after lengthy research, came across a silhouette of an animal seal. I have also seen an image of this seal on a sailing Corbin 39, with the seal pointing nose down. I would be curious to know what other owners have found or are using on their mainsails.
These are the Corbin 39 ‘seal’ logos as both jpg and png files. They can also be found at http://www.angelfire.com/jazz/cl16man/SailboatLogos/_logosV111905.html These are the more commonly used logos and are in some of the factory catalogues. Click on them to open as an image.
b. My mainsail is from another Corbin boat because there is a black crow or raven silhouette on it. A bec de corbin is a type of pole weapon that was popular in medieval Europe. The name is Old French for “crow’s beak”. So as “Corbin” is Old French for “Crow”, possibly an earlier owner decided on this Crow silhouette as an appropriate logo. Tim T. (#046, Silent Running).
c. I have a Corbin logo on my mainsail as shown in this photograph of Jakatar taken by a fellow boater along the Portuguese coast. See Jakatar Mainsail Logo . I had the sail made by Lee Sails in Hong Kong. At the time they said they would place the Corbin logo on the mainsail for free. I have no idea where they got the logo or if they simply invented one. Horacio M. (#073, Jakatar).
This is the styilised bird logo that some boats have on their mainsails. Click on it to open as an uncropped image.
d. We looked into the logo situation when we bought a new mainsail in 2005. We got some sticky black fabric from the sailmaker and made the logo shown in Photo 2. Photo 3 was supplied by Corbin as transfers and we have one on each side of the wheelhouse. I think the origin of the logo is the French word, Corbeau, which translates as Raven. David S. (#050, Opportunity).
e. My wife and I have hull 195 built in 1989 and factory finished. Currently named ‘Endorphin’ and kept in Freeport G.B. The original mainsail was still in use when we bought the boat in 2010. The following season we ordered a new mainsail from Halsey UK’s Miami loft. (Not the best service, though the sails are good). They had the Corbin seal logo in their database. Most sail lofts will have just about all of the logos available for recognized production sailboats. We used the Seal logo with the hull number 195 below it. David H. (#195, Endorphin).
f. Here is the Corbin logo as a Seal, shown in AngelFire, Corbin Logo. Robert H. (#017, Est d’Eden).
g. This is what was made for me by the sailmaker (also, the one in the original sales brochure) #186, Visitant’s Mainsail Logo. Frank B. (#186, Visitant).
h. My mainsail has an upright seal with a 39 under it. Guy V. (#189, Tangaroa V).
i. [Ed. Note: I think the majority of owners are using the upright seal with a 39 underneath. Lester] [Ed. 2019, Note the Corbin factory brochure also used the upright seal].
What is the advisable way of adding a staysail stay to the bow bowdeckview.jpg of my Edition Speciale Corbin? Branko Vukojevic (#175, H2OBO / Stargazer V)
a. Here are some guidelines: A staysail is a valuable addition to a boat; adds several combinations of sail plans, is a good jib to use for heavy weather, can be used for self-steering if windvane fails .
1. On whether to use a boom or not; Pros: requires only one sheet, is self-tending (can tack more easily), whisker pole is not needed when running, preventer can be added easily, requires only one winch, can be reefed easily, and in the desirable direction, saves on installation of two tracks and two sliding blocks; Cons: is very dangerous to crew in strong winds, requires installation of traveler with block and tackle, difficult to use with a roller furling sail, and prevents easy movement by crew across deck , the foot of the sail is shorter=less sail efficiency.
2. On where to place the staysail stay chainplate; A. If the bowsprit is less than 4′ long, then I’d put the stay well aft of the windlass, probably at the aft end of the bow deck lockers. You should add a bulkhead or a truss to oppose the staysail loads.
However, take a look at buildinggalene.com/ for some guidance. Galene has a short bowsprit with the windlass well aft and the staysail stay forward of the windlass. The two forestays are quite close to each other, which is why Collin Harty is planning to make the bottom of the stay removable. I do not recommend a removable stay attachnent because it is a nuisance to use, except on the high seas well offshore.. Nick Nicholson, Editor at Large for Practical Sailor detached his staysail stay rarely during his circumnavigation.
On the other hand, the Pardeys’ Talesin has a long bowsprit with the staysail chainplate at the stem, hank-on sail, no boom, AND A REMOVABLE STAY, because the Pardeys do a lot of short tacking as they have no engine. See Lin and Larry Pardey’s The Capable Cruiser, Chapter 9. B. If the bowsprit is 4′ or longer, then I would put a chainplate at the stem ahead of the windlass, make the non-removable staysail stay parallel to the headstay (although this not an absolute necessity), and use a boomless roller furler on the staysail. I would not attach the boom to the stay but would provide a independent support. Lester Helmus (s/v #010, Insouciance)