A Schooner Sail Plan
Three Masted Schooner Trinovante
The following sail plans show how the schooner Trinovante might reduce sail as the wind increases. A schooner sail plan has many options so we may not do things in this order.
Depending on wind direction and sea conditions various sail combinations will be used. Factors to be taken into consideration include
- The general trend of the wind – is it increasing or decreasing?
- The assessment of the weather forecast – is there a risk of squally for instance?
- The abilities of the crew.
- If it’s day or night.
- The sea state.
- Whether we’ve just made a cup of tea.
- How quickly we want to get to our destination.
- and so on…
There are no hard and fast rules but a good general rule of thumb would be to get sail off when you first think of it. Also remember that most people can put a sail up but it’s getting it off that counts.
In practice, unless Trinovante is racing in the Tall Ships Race, we don’t tend to do a lot of reefing, we just drop whole sails.
You can see more of how this three masted rig works in the Learn To Sail A Schooner Articles by John, the skipper of Trinovante.
Schooner Sail Plan No.1
This shows full sail set. We would carry this amount of sail off the wind up to around force 5/6. Hard on the wind we might remove the aft fishermans a little earlier when it tends to increase heel without giving any extra speed.
Schooner Sail Plan No. 2
The aft fishermans is off and the mizzen has been reefed to improve balance. Often we just take the mizzen off at this stage and generally only bother to reef it if we are on the wind and want to keep as much sail on as possible. The boat is generally easier to tack with this sail combination if the mizzen is still set.
Schooner Sail Plan No.3
Here the no.1 Jib has been removed and the working jib set . The mizzen is fully off. Reducing the sail area forward balances up taking the mizzen fully off aft. However we often sail with the mizzen off and the no.1 jib set and this works fine too if you are not expecting the wind to keep increasing or if you are off the wind. It all depends how hard you want to push the boat.
Schooner Sail Plan No.4
Now we are starting to be significantly reduced on the sail area.
Schooner Sail Plan No.5
Here the working jib is off too. All the sail area is low down and well within the boat. It means we don’t have to go out on the bowsprit or work on the aft deck as the sea gets rougher. It is now fairly straight forward to gradually reduce sail further by reefing the foresail and mainsail and stay sail or just dropping individual sails right until we get down to bare poles. It’s is going to be pretty windy now. If we are on the wind maybe force 7 and over.