How to Rig Cruising Chutes

Written by nancy e. spraker
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How to Rig Cruising Chutes
Spinnakers under sail (sailing yachts image by rob osman from

Spinnakers are used on sailboats to capture the wind from behind the boat. Symmetric spinnakers use a pole to support the bottom of the sail. Since cruisers like doing things the easy way, a cruising spinnaker or asymmetric spinnaker needs no pole. No crew member is necessary on foredeck when changing courses. Rigging a cruising spinnaker is similar to rigging a jib sail, with the exception that all lines lead outside of the deck's hardware and the spinnaker is often attached to a bowsprit in front. Cruising spinnakers may be used with a roller furl, eliminating the need for repeated rigging.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cruising spinnaker
  • Turtle (storage bag)
  • 2 sheets (ropes) connected with one shackle at end
  • Spinnaker halyard
  • 2 winches
  • Port and starboard blocks on tracks
  • Bow attachment

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  1. 1

    Identify and locate the three corners of the sail that should be packed at the top of the turtle: the head or top corner, the tack or bottom front corner and the clew or back corner.

    How to Rig Cruising Chutes
    Corners of the sail (triangle sépia phospho image by Unclesam from
  2. 2

    Uncoil the port (left) and starboard (right) sheets on either side of the boat, starting from the shackle placed at the bow outside of all hardware. Make sure that lines are threaded outside of all the boat's hardware on the sides. Thread sheets from front to back through port and starboard blocks.

    How to Rig Cruising Chutes
    Coiled sheets (fishing ropes image by Nicola Gavin from
  3. 3

    Remove sail from the turtle. Attach the tack to the spinnaker attachment at bow of the boat (this could be a bowsprit). Attach the head of the sail to the spinnaker halyard. Attach the clew shackle to the sheets shackle, keeping all above the lifelines.

    How to Rig Cruising Chutes
    Lifelines and halyards (Red Sailboat image by Janet Wall from
  4. 4

    Wrap the sheets around the port and starboard winches and remove slack. While at the dock, hoist the spinnaker halyard while giving slight tension on the leeward (away from the wind) sheet. If there are no twists in the sail and no tangles in the lines, you are ready to go.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure that the spinnaker and sheets are always above the deck hardware (lifelines) and outside the boat hardware (shrouds). Corners of the sail should be kept together when rigging -- labelling them helps. Attach the correct corners to the correct shackles so that sail isn't flown sideways or upside down. Learn how to correctly pack a chute so that no twisting of the sail occurs when rigging. Connecting the corners to the top edge of the turtle also prevents mishaps.
  • Do not tie knots at the end of spinnaker sheets. That way the sheets can be released in the event of sail overpowerment.

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