Online Book: Sail Handling Made Easy, Chapter 2 of 29

Hoisting the Mainsail Made Easy—Simplicity in Action

Hoisting The Mainsail-2

Some time ago I was on a well designed and well tricked-out offshore voyaging boat. When it came time to hoist the main I was asked to take the helm while two strong and experienced guys set the mainsail.

And that’s when the surprise came: it took about three times as long and more effort to get the main up and drawing as it takes me alone (Phyllis or the autopilot steering) on Morgan’s Cloud, even though our mainsail is about double the size and weight and I’m a creaky sixty-some.

Not only that, the boat in question is fitted with a 2:1 main halyard, and one of those “lazybag” permanently installed sailcovers that incorporate lazyjacks; gear that, at least in theory, make sail handling easier.

So why is hoisting the main easier and quicker on Morgan’s Cloud? Do we have:

  • In-mast roller furling?
  • In-boom roller furling?
  • Electric winches?

No, no, and nope.

What we have working for us is simplicity…with a bit of elegance thrown in.

Here’s a video of the geezer in action:

Ninety-five seconds, from start to sailing. Let’s look at the details that make this work:

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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