OCC Forums

Thoughts on a Parasailor?

https://forum.oceancruisingclub.org/Topic5819.aspx

By Daniel.Coate - 12 Apr 2020

Hi. Does anyone have experience using a Parasailor? Good, bad, indifferent? I have a Pacific Seacraft Crealock 31’ and am considering a transatlantic sail either singlehanded or with 1 crew. I’ve read and heard positive things about how forgiving they are in squalls, etc. but curious for the group’s collective wisdom.

I have a quote of ~$5K for one so it’s not cheap but if it does everything the marketing brochures claim it does, I’m willing to spend the money. Thank you.
By Paul Heiney - 13 Apr 2020

Dan,      I had a Parasailor on my 38 footer which I bought ( v expensive here in the UK) for my jaunt down to Cape Horn.  I thought it might be the answer to my largely single-handed downwind passages.  It is a beautifully made bit of kit but I've never ben a fan of big kites and I always had at the back of my mind that this could easily get out of hand as I was often on my own.  However,  if you've got crew I think I would recommend it - once flying it's nicely stable and I never failed to drop it when I needed.  But in the end I sold it. 
By Dick - 13 Apr 2020

Paul Heiney - 4/13/2020
Dan,      I had a Parasailor on my 38 footer which I bought ( v expensive here in the UK) for my jaunt down to Cape Horn.  I thought it might be the answer to my largely single-handed downwind passages.  It is a beautifully made bit of kit but I've never ben a fan of big kites and I always had at the back of my mind that this could easily get out of hand as I was often on my own.  However,  if you've got crew I think I would recommend it - once flying it's nicely stable and I never failed to drop it when I needed.  But in the end I sold it. 

Hi Dan,
I have no experience with a Parasail, but do have thoughts on what makes for a good offshore kite that may pertain to a Parasail and give you some alternative thoughts. Interestingly, in 20 years or so of offshore sailing and hanging around offshore sailors, I do not remember a conversation about parasails nor any boat carrying one. May not mean anything.
Downwind sailing can be a challenge for cruisers as they are often a couple and, even then, often single-handing as one is off-watch and in need of their sleep. I find that most sailmakers underestimate this (they are often young and racers) and sell their customers sails that end up too big and are, therefore, more difficult, even scary, and end up being rarely used.
The PO of my boat had an asym spinnaker that was a challenge coastal cruising and scared me offshore. My solution is in the Forum, second page of the Sails area and titled something like “An Offshore Asymmetrical Spinnaker, design and use”. Please read the PDF at bottom as the formatting got all messed up by the Forum’s formatting.
Somewhere else in the forum you can find my thoughts on another sail/rigging combination that is often seen by cruisers as too much bother or too scary in swell and higher winds: using a whisker pole and going wing and wing. Its name is something like “Taming the Whisker Pole”.
Come back with questions/thoughts/comments,
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
By Daniel.Coate - 13 Apr 2020

Paul and Dick: Thanks so much!
By Geir Ove Bø - 5 May 2020

we have a 105 m2. on our cat,  and it is easy to handel.  it is very strong,  can take a lot of wind.  and it is a very soft puller.  if i can use those words,  if you comp it to a normal spinnaker, that will snapp your line and put a lot of force to everything, one the rig.  the parasailor pulls gently,  and it does not hurt your gear like a hard working spinnakker will do. here is a film from our first sail.  with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7uKokn3Wlk,  sorry for bad english.
By martintsmith@aol.com - 9 May 2020

Geir Ove Bø - 5/5/2020
we have a 105 m2. on our cat,  and it is easy to handel.  it is very strong,  can take a lot of wind.  and it is a very soft puller.  if i can use those words,  if you comp it to a normal spinnaker, that will snapp your line and put a lot of force to everything, one the rig.  the parasailor pulls gently,  and it does not hurt your gear like a hard working spinnakker will do. here is a film from our first sail.  with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7uKokn3Wlk,  sorry for bad english.

A  few years ago I was helping a couple who had recently bought a boat and were planning an Atlantic crossing. They had bought a second Parasailor which still had cost a considerable sum of money even though they had inherited a cruising shute with the boat. As mentioned in earlier posts its a well made bit of kit but we decided that if the wind increased and there was only one person on watch the boat could feel scarily overpowered.
They successfully made their Ocean passage but I am pretty sure they didn't use the Parasailor at all.
For my own East to West crossing I decided a Parasailor was way beyond my budget and we crossed 'Goosewinged' with a preventer on the main and the kicker quite tight to stop any chafe and the yankee poled out with pole held by uphaul,downhaul and a guy led aft to fix it in position.
With this set up it was faily easy to roll in some of the headsail and reef or shake out reefs in the main. Also the Monitor windvane steering did its job without difficulty.
So Dan, unless you have large cruising budget, I would consider what else might be worth buying instead. 
By martintsmith@aol.com - 9 May 2020

Geir Ove Bø - 5/5/2020
we have a 105 m2. on our cat,  and it is easy to handel.  it is very strong,  can take a lot of wind.  and it is a very soft puller.  if i can use those words,  if you comp it to a normal spinnaker, that will snapp your line and put a lot of force to everything, one the rig.  the parasailor pulls gently,  and it does not hurt your gear like a hard working spinnakker will do. here is a film from our first sail.  with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7uKokn3Wlk,  sorry for bad english.

A  few years ago I was helping a couple who had recently bought a boat and were planning an Atlantic crossing. They had bought a second Parasailor which still had cost a considerable sum of money even though they had inherited a cruising shute with the boat. As mentioned in earlier posts its a well made bit of kit but we decided that if the wind increased and there was only one person on watch the boat could feel scarily overpowered.
They successfully made their Ocean passage but I am pretty sure they didn't use the Parasailor at all.
For my own East to West crossing I decided a Parasailor was way beyond my budget and we crossed 'Goosewinged' with a preventer on the main and the kicker quite tight to stop any chafe and the yankee poled out with pole held by uphaul,downhaul and a guy led aft to fix it in position.
With this set up it was faily easy to roll in some of the headsail and reef or shake out reefs in the main. Also the Monitor windvane steering did its job without difficulty.
So Dan, unless you have large cruising budget, I would consider what else might be worth buying instead. 
By Dick - 10 May 2020

Geir Ove Bø - 5/5/2020
we have a 105 m2. on our cat,  and it is easy to handel.  it is very strong,  can take a lot of wind.  and it is a very soft puller.  if i can use those words,  if you comp it to a normal spinnaker, that will snapp your line and put a lot of force to everything, one the rig.  the parasailor pulls gently,  and it does not hurt your gear like a hard working spinnakker will do. here is a film from our first sail.  with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7uKokn3Wlk,  sorry for bad english.

A  few years ago I was helping a couple who had recently bought a boat and were planning an Atlantic crossing. They had bought a second Parasailor which still had cost a considerable sum of money even though they had inherited a cruising shute with the boat. As mentioned in earlier posts its a well made bit of kit but we decided that if the wind increased and there was only one person on watch the boat could feel scarily overpowered.
They successfully made their Ocean passage but I am pretty sure they didn't use the Parasailor at all.
For my own East to West crossing I decided a Parasailor was way beyond my budget and we crossed 'Goosewinged' with a preventer on the main and the kicker quite tight to stop any chafe and the yankee poled out with pole held by uphaul,downhaul and a guy led aft to fix it in position.
With this set up it was faily easy to roll in some of the headsail and reef or shake out reefs in the main. Also the Monitor windvane steering did its job without difficulty.
So Dan, unless you have large cruising budget, I would consider what else might be worth buying instead. 

Hi Martin and all,
I have found, over the decades, that very few cruising sailboats use their spinnaker (or asym, or cruising chute, par-sailor, etc.) much. This goes double for those who sail as husband/wife and triple when passage making where a single person watch at night just feels too risky. Those with racing backgrounds are much more comfortable with chutes.
I believe also that spinnakers, in all their manifestations, are a wonderful coastal cruising sail for couples, but that your decision of running wing and wing on passage is a good one for most couples and conditions. Most well designed, (and not overloaded), sailboats should approach a comfortable cruising speed wing and wing in 12kn (or so) TW DDW and right around hull speed in 14 kn T.
Then, if set up the way you describe, a cruising couple can relax knowing that they can reduce sail (and respond to changes) with total control.
I do wish to underline your description of your set-up:
"a preventer on the main and the kicker quite tight to stop any chafe and the yankee poled out with pole held by uphaul,downhaul and a guy led aft to fix it in position."
It may sound like a lot of work to set up the pole with fore and after guys and a topping lift, but, with a bit of practice, it is quite easy and results in the pole being completely tamed and not the scary spar many treat it as. With the pole fixed, one can roll the jib in or out “dialing in” the amount of sail one wishes.
And using a yankee means the jib is high-clewed and therefore there is little danger of having the tip of the pole rolled into the sea. I use a high clewed jib-topsail to have more sail are available, but the idea is the same.
For more on these thoughts and making wing and wing easy, safe and a comfortably fast way to sail downwind, please see my essay “Taming the downwind whisker pole” in the “Sails, Standing and Running Rigging” section of the Forum.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

By Nick.Keeler - 11 May 2020

Hi, We have a parasailor on our boat and while it is an expensive bit of kit it has been invaluable in light airs where you are lolling around wing on wing. The vent helps stop the sail from collapsing and also helps when a gust would begin to feel overpowered with traditional spinnaker or asymmetric. It's a big sail but as a couple, as long as we are strict about snuffing it in 18kn TWS its relatively easy to get it down; it would take some practice to do it solo with a good autopilot. At a 120o wind angle, a big ease on the sheet and the snuffer works beautifully but then you need to get it down.
It can hold much more wind but our boat is faster then and more controllable with our headsails poled out. The ride it gives is incredibly smooth with less roll. Make sure you get some good advice about how to run the guys for your boat since it flies quite high and they can foul the pushpit/forward rails. Hope that helps.


 


By Daniel.Coate - 18 May 2020

Thanks for the advice everybody! I just completed a 1,050 NM singlehanded passage from the BVI to South Florida and will take all of your thoughts into consideration. My Pacific Seacraft came with a 153% asymmetrical spinnaker in a chute sock. I actually flew it quite a bit and felt comfortable with it and agree you need to make a pact with yourself that you’re going to get it down before the TWS builds too much.

I want to check out Code Zeros on a furler. They look like they could be a very good and versatile light wind solution for a single/shorthander. Nance & Underwood riggers is in my town and they work with Mack Sails so I’ll talk to them about it when I have them inspect the rig.

Thanks for all the advice and articles and OCC solidarity!
By Dick - 18 May 2020

Dan Coate - 5/18/2020
Thanks for the advice everybody! I just completed a 1,050 NM singlehanded passage from the BVI to South Florida and will take all of your thoughts into consideration. My Pacific Seacraft came with a 153% asymmetrical spinnaker in a chute sock. I actually flew it quite a bit and felt comfortable with it and agree you need to make a pact with yourself that you’re going to get it down before the TWS builds too much.

I want to check out Code Zeros on a furler. They look like they could be a very good and versatile light wind solution for a single/shorthander. Nance & Underwood riggers is in my town and they work with Mack Sails so I’ll talk to them about it when I have them inspect the rig.

Thanks for all the advice and articles and OCC solidarity!

Hi Dan,
I am glad you had a good trip and got some hands-on single-handed experience with a light air sail. You must be in Fort Lauderdale to be using Nance and Underwood. Bob sailed into some degree of sailing fame with my friend Andy Wall back in the day. I just finished an excellent book by their third sailing companion, Des Kearns (Beyond Boundaries). Their sailing accomplishments equal in some measure the accolades that many of the “household known” names that were our heroes in cruising when we were starting out, but somehow word never got out. Probably because they were not authors at the time and moved on to other things. But if you can get Bob talking…
Back to sails, I am a bit confused. You report you had an asym of 153%. My experience is that asyms are measured by area (square feet, square meter etc.) and that headsails are measured by percentage. 153% is a big genoa, but certainly not unheard of, but would usually be on a roller furler and not in a sock. Then there is always one of the variously called “cruising chutes” which are sometimes flown with a sock and I am unsure how they are measured.
I have no personal experience with a code zero, but have the sense that the term encompasses a wide range of sail design, often trying to encompass the boundary between a big genoa and an asym. What sometimes occurs is that it disappoints a bit at both. Since it is fixed at the bow, it is unable to fly free in front of the boat and may need (or benefit from) a pole to keep it from collapsing. It may however do well in light air going to wind, but is easily overwhelmed.
Take 5 knots of TW, add 4kn of boat speed and you have ~~8kn AW: perfect perhaps for a code zero. Bump that to 7-8kn TW and 6 kn BS and you have ~~12 kn AW. You will need a pretty heavy sail to tolerate 11kn AW going upwind and that is a pretty narrow window of usage. This probably means Dacron or exotic.
When going downwind the wind range expands as one can carry many DW sails into the mid to high teens (DDW at 15kn TW and 6kn BS = 11kn AW). Beam reach TW and AW are the same.
Just thinking and I welcome field reports on code zeros or other ways of looking at my thinking above.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy