Need for a Gennaker?
20 June 2006
Do I need a Gennaker? - will I REALLY use it enough to justify the $4800 expense? I will pick up a new Hanse 400 (40' loa) in Germany and cross the Atlantic via the Canary Islands/ Caribbean - then off to Tahiti and Hawaii.
As a person who prefers sailing to motoring, I'd say YES.
I went to the Hanse website to learn a bit more about your new yacht. With 140 litres fuel you have about 70 to 80 hours of motoring range and I would say that motoring through the doldrums isn't much of an option. I think you would welcome a light air sail.
You probably won't need a Gennaker, or any light air sail, for most of your trip across the Atlantic or through the Caribbean. The winds are strong and reliable until you get near Panama. Then you're in the doldrums, and winds are light until you cross the equator and get closer to the Marquesas.
Winds in the South Pacific are a bit more variable than in the Caribbean, and the "milk run" is pretty much straight downwind where you will have more opportunity to fly a light air sail. Not having visited any of the islands in the North Pacific including Hawaii, I'm not sure what your course would be, but there's lots of doldrums sailing going across the equator.
Will you have heavy weather sails on the boat? Does your mainsail have 3 reef points, or only two? Your new boat is similar to our Watermelon, and through the Caribbean we found that we reefed all the way down to that third reef point more often than not.
If, however, your budget limits your sail choices and you plan to circumnavigate, I would invest in a spare heavy weather mainsail instead.