Arwen's meanderings

Hi everyone and welcome to my new blog. My name is Steve and i am the lucky owner of a John Welsford designed 'navigator' named Arwen. I built her over three years with the help of my father, father-in-law and two children. She was launched in August 2007 at Queen Anne's battery marina in the barbican area of Plymouth. This blog is a record of our voyages together around SW England.
Arwen has a YouTube channel of her own. Search "plymouthwelshboy".

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Using a jib and mizzen

Somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, I remember John and Osbert offering some advice about what to do when faced with a situation where I would have to sail under just jib  and mizzen. I think Robin suggested that I move my mizzen sheet more centrally othe rear deck so it would be more accessible irrespective of whatever side I was happening to be sat on.  I didn't act on that advice  at the time but Tuesday's  experiences have shown me that I should have done and so one of the first things I will be doing in the next few weeks is to mount a bulls eye on the rudder stock head so that the mizzen can come centrally through the tiller stock. I'll also take a close look at how I might mount a cam cleat for it on the actual tiller itself. I have cleats for the up haul, down haul and the tiller tamer so here isn't much room!
John and Osbert suggested that I should learn to sail by adjusting sails. I missed that opportunity on Tuesday. I should have lashed the tiller centrally using the tiller tamer and then let out or pull in the mizzen sheet. In this way I wouldn't have lost speed. Letting the mizzen  go slightly would have meant that it would have caught the wind less and so would have steered away from the wind slightly........I think!
Wayne contacted me via the comments box and made several well considered points as always. They are worth reading and can be found on the bottom of the previous post. He raised the question "would I have been better off sailing under Double reefed main instead?" Good question, don't know but next time I will certainly give it all a try. In the meantime I will adjust jib, main and mizzen sheets so that they will all fall better in the rear aft cock pit area.



Bursledon Blogger said...

Steve, I'm not sure there are any hard and fast rules, certainly Greta (bigger and heavier at 25 feet) was a bit underpowered without the main, so unless it was blowing a hooley I would tend to keep a reefed main up. Off the wind or even on a reach often taking the mizzen off was an early reef and certainly helped improve weather helm - going to weather we would have it sheeted tight to help tacking and back the jib to get through the wind. guess you need to go out and play - which is as good an excuse as any for going sailing - enjoy!!!!

steve said...

Actually good points especially the go Andre bit!

steve said...

Or even go and play bit.......that is what last comment should say

Joel Bergen said...

Hi Steve,
I've done a fair amount of jib and mizzen sailing now, and here's what I've learned so far.

Obviously, sailing on a reach or run under jib and mizzen is no problem. The boat can handle just about any condition on these points of sail.

If you need to sail upwind in a blow, sail under double reefed main, jib and mizzen if possible. The boat will point higher and tack much easier. If it's too windy for that, consider double reefed main alone over jib and mizzen. Furl the jib and let the mizzen luff. I haven't tried it yet, but I suspect she might tack easier under main alone.

Sailing upwind under jib and mizzen is challenging. The pointing angle, instead of the usual 45-50 degrees, will need to be at least 60 degrees. That in turn makes tacking more difficult because now you're tacking through at least 120 degrees. In addition, realize that the jib and mizzen de-power almost instantly when you begin your tack, unlike the wider main which doesn't fully de-power until much later in the tack. Chop will quickly slow you down. Tacking is possible, but the key element is as much boat speed as you can muster. Fall off a bit, gain as much speed as you possibly can, wait for a puff, then throw the tiller hard over and keep it there. Let the jib back for a just a moment then quickly release the windward sheet and sheet in. Tack quickly. Don't do anything with the mizzen. Just leave it sheeted all the way in throughout the tack. If you are unable to complete the tack and find yourself in irons, complete the tack by sailing backwards. Throw the tiller all the way over on the opposite side, grab the mizzen boom and pull it toward you to back the mizzen.

On another note, I would not recommend cleating your mizzen sheet to your tiller. The pull on the sheet will affect your steering by pulling the helm to one side or the other. A cam cleat on the center of the aft deck is better IMHO.

steve said...

Wise thoughts gained from experience. I checked back and people did recommend a cleat on tiller. I looked a couple of hours ago and dismissed the idea. You have just confirmed my tentative fears. Your tips are gratefully received Joel and its good to hear from you. Happy new year as well. Hope you are well and thanks for tips

Anonymous said...


I put up a few annotated pictures over at

It will at least show how I have done the mizzen. I have never had a problem reaching the mizzen sheet from either side.

It is always fun to read the adventures you have in Arwen. Have a blessed and happy new year!