Staying in the cockpit most of the time at sea and not getting out on deck often is not a good idea. John explains why and shares the benefits of participating in deck sports.
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Sail Handling and Rigging Made Easy
Setting, reefing and striking sails and doing it in challenging conditions—tips, techniques, gear, sail selection and rigging.
These days, with all the focus on the latest whiz-bang gadgets, many sailors are forgetting to think about and spend money on their boat’s primary means of locomotion. In this post we look at why spending time and money on good sails is vital. Not only is a boat that sails well more fun, it’s also a lot safer.
Many sailors have de-emphasized their mainsails, in some cases to the point where the main is the first sail to come down when the going gets tough and often does not even get set in the first place. This is a mistake and potentially dangerous.
When we have a problem on our boats, it’s always tempting to try to fix it by adding gear, but often a better approach is simplification. We look at mainsail hoisting as an example and provide several tips to make the job easier.
Several members have asked for a post on how many reefs are optimal. But the answer is deeper (ouch) than that.
In this chapter we will cover in detail, complete with a slideshow illustrating each step, how we reef on “Morgan’s Cloud” and more specifically, how we reef when sailing downwind.
If you want to reef from the cockpit, you have to do it right. Colin shares how.
Reefing is one of those areas where the devil really is in the details. Over the years we have answered dozens of questions about reefing. In this chapter we highlight a few of those and provide our answers.
There are probably more myths and downright wrong recommendations published about reefing than any other subject. In this chapter John exposes one of them and then goes on to explain how to do it right.
John believes that any boat over about 45 feet that will be sailed shorthanded needs lazyjacks. In this chapter he describes the lazyjack system that allows him to set, reef, and strike Morgan’s Cloud’s 600-square foot mainsail without resorting to complex gear like roller furling masts or booms.
Do you need a topping lift? John shares how to decide, and how to rig it if so, as well as a cool hack to reduce topping lift related chafe and noise at sea.
12 reasons that the true cutter is simply the best rig for short-handed offshore voyaging. And even if you don’t have a cutter, this chapter can help you make your boat easier to sail and faster too.
When does the cutter rig make sense, both when buying a new boat and considering a conversion? We have a simple decision-tree to make things simple.
Now we get to the nitty gritty: How to convert your boat to a cutter rig and how to make existing cutters better.
Which of the three common cruising rigs is best? Like so many things around voyaging, all three have advantages and drawbacks. John takes a deep dive that will help you pick the one that’s right for your needs and then shares his two favourites, one for offshore and one for inshore.
It’s amazing how few cruising boats actually have a good deck layout that makes them easy and fun to sail. John uses the Outbound 46 as an example of sail handling features he likes, and a few he doesn’t.
Roller furling headsails are ubiquitous, but they are not without their drawbacks. John looks at ways to deal with that and make roller furling work well at sea.
A headsail that is not protected from sun damage when furled, will only last a season or so. So what’s the best way to protect the sail? John has some suggestions.
It’s rare these days to see a cruising boat with hank-on headsails. But are such sails only for the traditionalists stuck in the stone age of offshore sailing? Maybe not. Here is a convincing case for hank-on sails, at least on smaller boats.
Colin shares the details on the Harken roller reefing system they installed on their OVNI 435.
Colin and Louise carry a dedicated hanked on storm jib ready to go when necessary. Colin tells us why and how.
A recent article in French sailing magazine Voiles et Voiliers looked at 7 different gennaker furlers, both for ease of use and ability to handle heavy loads. The results are surprising.
John doesn’t understand the move to swept back spreaders in sailboat rig design. And he’s not shy about saying so.
Which is better for the staysail stay? Roller furling and fixed or hanks and removable? John says it depends.
Rigid vangs were once only seen on racing sailboats, but cruisers can benefit, too. John explains why, how to choose between the two types (mechanical and hydraulic), as well as how to fit and use one safely.
A head injury is a terrible event wherever you are, but at sea far from medical help it’s even worse. Rigging a proper preventer is one of the surest ways to reduce the risk to you and your crew. In part 1 of this two part series we look at the risk and what constitutes a proper preventer.
Part 2 of my article on preventers. In Part 1 I explained why a proper preventer is vital and in this part I share how to make rigging one easy and safe.
John has long advocated for preventers rigged from the boom well outboard to the bow as the only right way. We now have solid engineering, and a tragedy, to show how important this is.
In the last two chapters we covered preventers. But what about controlling the boom once the wind comes forward and also slowing things down when gybing? Colin has the answer.
Colin draws on his decades of experience racing and cruising to share some tips and tricks that will make reaching and downwind sailing faster and more comfortable. Chapter FREE to view for three days.
Poling out the headsail to sail downwind can be intimidating, particularly offshore in big breeze, but Colin has a way to make it easy and safe.
There are few problems that detract more from the pleasure of sailing than a bad case of weather helm, a surprisingly common affliction. The good news is that this problem can be fixed.
We offshore sailors are presented with a bewildering array of options when buying rope for running rigging. John demystifies the process and makes detailed recommendations, including brand names, based on decades of experience, together with recommendations from one of the best riggers in the business.
Details matter on an offshore cruising boat, and nowhere more than the running rigging. John shares how to select the right rope diameters, attach sheets and halyards to sails the right way, and keep chafe from ruining your day.
The loads on a modern offshore cruising boat are substantial so we sailors need to really think about how we handle them. John discusses two common mistakes and what we can all learn from them.
Getting the rig properly tuned is vital for any sailboat, but it’s not easy to do right. John takes the mystery out of the process with a step-by-step procedure that works.
In Part 1 we got the mast upright in the athwartship plane so it was not leaning over to one side or the other. Now let’s set the fore and aft rake and bend. But before we set off on that long and winding road we need to make sure we know what the destination is, and that’s what this chapter is about.
John bored you to death with a lot of mast tuning theory in the last chapter, but here’s the pay off: a step-by-step guide that will yield a good tune every time.
Setting up a rig to be safe and functional offshore is all about getting the details right. Here are some vital things to know and do.
In the previous four parts of this series on mast tuning, we got all the basics taken care of, now we just need to go sailing to complete a great tune.