Tag Archives: Hunter 376 whisker pole

Whisker Pole Details

We’ve had some questions from readers about the details of our whisker pole installation, so I thought I’d provide a few pictures. The first thing you have to decide is whether or not you intend to fly a spinnaker. If so, then you’ll need a much longer and stouter pole than what we’ve used. We have no intention of flying a spinnaker, as I believe that a spinnaker’s purpose on a two-person cruising boat is to turn what would otherwise be a relaxing downwind sail into a terrifying foredeck clusterf&$@. We just wanted to pole out our small 100% jib. As I mentioned in our post Becoming More Gentlemanly, to do that you’ll want a smaller pole than the one Forespar recommends. The 10-18 is the longest that will work. Any longer and it will be very difficult to dip the pole to clear the forestay when changing tacks.

Anyone who’s been reading for a while knows that we’re big DIYers. But this was one case where I’m glad we paid for professional support. Our riggers brought their offshore racing experience to bear and installed things in a way different from how I would have done it. But once they explained their reasoning, I’m glad they did it their way.

For example, we wanted to store the pole up the mast, and I originally asked them to mount everything on the mast to secure the pole when stored. They recommended we use a deck chock instead.whiskerpole1

The reason? If we suffered a rig failure and lost the mast overboard, the whisker pole would go with it if it was stored on the mast. By clipping one end to a deck chock, there’s a better chance some or all of it will stay onboard for use as an emergency spar.

Next, I would have put the cheek blocks for the car control line above and below the T track. They put them off to the side.

whiskerpole2 whiskerpole3

The reason is so that as the track cars get close to the top or bottom of the T track, the pull becomes more sideways, preventing you from pulling the cars off the track by breaking one of the end caps. I would have never thought of that.

The track is an 8 foot section mounted 45″ above the deck. This gives enough room at the top to allow us to raise the pole enough to clear the dinghy, which we usually keep on the foredeck. When the pole is set, it rides right about in the middle of the track.

Notice the way the storage car contacts the pole.whiskerpole4

This looked wrong to me. I expected the pole to snap into the storage chock, which would require some kind of shim behind it to extend its reach. But I contacted Forespar, and they told me that this is how it is supposed to work. I will say that we’ve had several days of winds gusting to near 30 knots, and there hasn’t been a single rattle from this installation.

We hope some of you find this useful!

Becoming More Gentlemanly

There’s an old nautical saying dating from the 19th century that goes, “Gentlemen don’t sail to weather.” This comes from a time when sailing craft were primarily working vessels engaged in fishing, trade and transport, private yachts were virtually unknown, and the idea of sailing for pleasure was about as odd as we would think recreational tractor trailer driving would be. Sailing to weather means sailing upwind, and it’s generally hard work and a bumpy ride. My understanding of the origin of the term is that when recreational yachting first started in the late 1800’s, British lords and ladies (gentlemen and women) would have their servants sail their yachts upwind along the coast, where the gentlefolk would then board for a comfortable downwind sail home.

Hunter sailboats tend not to be very gentlemanly. Their B&R rigs utilize steeply raked spreaders, and the boom can’t be let out very far before the mainsail is laying flat up against them, potentially chafing itself full of holes. The mast is stepped far forward and carries a very large main, which completely blankets the jib once the wind angle gets deeper than about 120 degrees. Now there are actually a lot of advantages to this rig for recreational sailors, ones that are beyond the scope of this post, but basically this means that they just aren’t suited for sailing directly downwind. They sail upwind really well, and love a beam reach, but if downwind is the direction you want to go, the best approach is to gybe back and forth from a port broad reach to a starboard one and back again.

Having to sail a zigzag course downwind can be a real pain when the channel is narrow or restricted, and we naturally see a lot of that sailing in the Intracoastal Waterway. But there are some things that can be done to improve the situation, and we’ve finally worked out way through the list.

First, after our mainsail returned from its recent spa vacation, we took it to the local sail loft to have Spectra reinforcing patches sewn on where it rubs on the spreader tips. Next, we’ve rigged up a simple boom preventer that clips to one of the mainsheet blocks and can be run forward to a bow cleat. This keeps the boom from crash gybing if the helmsperson’s attention wanders for a moment and they fail to notice a wind shift or drift off course while on a deep broad reach. And most importantly, we’ve now added a whiskerpole. This will let us pole the jib out to the opposite side from the main, getting it out of the main’s wind shadow and allowing us to hold a wing-on-wing setting when sailing deeper than 120 degrees.



All of this should really come in handy as we head downwind, working our way west towards Mexico along Cuba’s north shore in a few months.

Some tips for you other H376 owners out there. If you look it up on the Forespar website (the go-to company for whisker and spinnaker poles) they say a Hunter 376 requires a 12-22 pole, or one that is adjustable from 12 to 22 feet. They would be wrong. Based on our J measurement (less than 12 feet), we went with the 10-18 instead, and it’s almost too long. You can just get it clipped onto the jib clew with the sail furled. Any longer, and it would be near impossible to set the pole properly. So don’t pay any attention to Forespar’s recommendation. It’s just a general suggestion for a generic 37 foot boat. If they had actually ever sailed a Hunter 376, they’d know that the 10-18 is the one you want.