Originally Posted by tweitz
One useful thing many people don't use is a downhaul line on the main. Before I had a boat with an autopilot, the trickiest thing other than docking was to lower the main. Even though the halyard was led to the cockpit, I would turn into the wind, release the halyard, and I would then have to run to the mast to pull the sail down. The boat would drift off the wind and make things difficult. So I started to rig a downhaul line most of the way up on the main, led to a turning block at the base of the mast and then back to the cockpit. This enabled me to do most of the work from the cockpit and get the sail down most of the way without running up to the mast.
On my boat, I've found that coating the sail slugs (and sail track) with Sailkote makes the sail easy to hoist and that, on my boat at least, if you get sail luffing first, it will drop very fast on it's own when the halyard is released. I don't have an autopilot (but do lock down the wheel brake to give me a minute to get to the halyard stopper) and have tried several ways. I do have the Dutchman furling system (2 monofilment lines alternately passed through the sail in a number of places, attached to foot of sail at bottom, to topping lift at top). In my case, dropping it quick with boat motoring ahead at some speed into the wind, sail luffing, seems best. The boat doesn't have time to fall off and fill the sail. (my halyard is led to the cockpit so I don't have to leave the cockpit).