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Online Book Table of Contents:

Sail Handling and Rigging Made Easy


Setting, reefing and striking sails and doing it in challenging conditions—tips, techniques, gear, sail selection and rigging.

Don’t Forget About The Sails

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.

Your Mainsail Is Your Friend

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.

Reefing Made Easy

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.

Reefing Questions and Answers

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.

A Dangerous Myth about Reefing

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.

Lazyjacks—Mainsail Handling Made Easy

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.

Topping Lift Tips and a Hack

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.

Cruising Rigs—Sloop, Cutter, or Solent?

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.

A Different View—Hank-On Sails

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.

Gennaker Furlers Come Of Age

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.

Rigid Vangs

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.

Rigging a Proper Preventer, Part 1

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.

Downwind Sailing, Tips and Tricks

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.

Downwind Sailing—Poling Out

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.

Ten Tips To Fix Weather Helm

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.

Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1

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.

Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 2

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.

Two Dangerous Rigging Mistakes

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.

Rig Tuning, Part 1—Preparation

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.

Rig Tuning, Part 2—Understanding Rake and Bend

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.

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