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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  • 1 Post By bporter
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  #1  
Old 08-22-2001
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

I often need to drop and flake the mainsail on my own while my wife tends to our child. I have an autopilot on our 26 foot sloop, but can anyone provide hints how I can handle the main halyard, and properly flake the mainsail myself? I don''t want to ruin the main by bunching it up on the boom.

(Second jib halyard used as topping lift while rigid vang is on order, lazy jack is on the to-do list).

Thanks.
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Old 08-22-2001
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

The lazy jacks are the key. I frequently perform all sailhandling singlehandedly on my 28'' sloop without trouble, thanks to the lazy jacks, and I don''t even have an autopilot. My main halyard is led back to the cockpit. I merely luff up, sheet in the main, tighten the lazy jacks and topping lift, and let the halyard go. Lock the wheel, go up on the cabin top to straighten out the flakes of the mainsail and neaten things up.

Just get your lazyjacks installed and you''ll be all set.
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Old 08-23-2001
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

My mainsail is at least 250 sq ft and the boom is 13'' long so if this works for me it will for you. I don''t even bother to head into the wind as my sail will come down with a pull. So I sheet the boom hard to near the center of the boat, go forward and let the halyard go. Then I go back to the cockpit and pull and fold one tie at a time. The first one is the key. Yank on the sail really hard and the sail will pull close to the boom. Then as the first ones are done from the cockpit I go forward again and finish up the ties and then the halyard.

Lot''s of us single hand our boats. That''s what you will be doing. Find a place that''s safe to drop the main. One with no wakes is best.

I don''t want lazy jacks in the way. I could have them and they are more trouble than they are worth.
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Old 08-23-2001
JeffH
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

I basically do the same as Mike with a few additional steps. I sheet the main near the centerline and my boat will short tack to windward when left like that. Standing at the mast I then lower the halyard pulling one flake between each slug side to side so the fabric alternates fold direction at each slug. I then walk back to the cockpit and tighten the mainsheet and pull the traveler windward and place the helm (tiller) hard to leeward (i.e. so its trying to turn the bow into the wind.) This leaves my boat basically beam to the wind, moving slowly sidewards. I hang the sail ties on my neck.

I push the doused sail to leeward of the boom and stand to windward and then working from the leech of the sail simply fold the sail over the boom with the alternating folds carefully aligned with the folds at the luff. As you fold the sails you slowly move forward and at various points you need to stop and tie off. I have done this single handed on some very big boats with relative ease up to about 38 or so feet.

I absolutely agree with Mike that lazy Jacks make folding as sail neatly much more difficult than having an open boom and room to work. If you don''t care about your sails get lazy jacks, but if you wnat neat flakes its much easier without lazy jacks.

Now then, if you have a bolt rope as some of my boats have had, you need to rig up a PVC tube after you drom the sail to roll the sail onto. The tune can hang at the gooseneck and clew end of the boom. and is slid out when the sail is all rolled. I used that for years. It''s a bit more complicated but it still works.

Jeff
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Old 08-24-2001
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

Jeff, Mike, thanks for the advice. I''ll try it this weekend.

[Note: One additional complication was that my first generation B&R Rig placed the mast groove 14 inches above the boom (don''t ask why, I don''t know), causing the slugs to fall out as the main was lowered. In the future I might get some mast gates made and attached above the boom to effectively lower the groove, but for now I''ll try sticking a thumbscrew slug at the mast groove opening to keep the main slugs in the groove.]
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Old 08-26-2001
JeffH
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

OK, but you asked for it. On the Laser 28 I carried a piece of 2" diameter PVC tubing that was slightly longer than my boom. At one end, maybe a foot from the end, I had drilled two 1/2" diameter holes (on the same axis) through the PVC tube about 16" apart. Thru these holes I passed a lenght of shockcord that was tightly tied into loops that went halfway around the tube at each hole. Then I had a 3 foot 1/2" diamter dowel that I would thread through the each of the shock chord loops so that it laid parrellel to the PVC tube.

To roll the sail single handed, I would loop a sail tie or tighten the first reef clew line and hang one end of the tube in that loop. At the mast, I would make a loop with the cunningham and hang the other end of the PVC tube with the dowel end facing forward. I would then tie a small loop of light line through the cringle in the headboard and between the dowel and the PVC tube.

Then I would simply roll the sail around the PVC tube. Once the sail was close to rolled up I would throw a couple loose ties around the sail. Here''s the neat part. I would then walk to the forward end of the roll and pull out the dowel. That releases the small loop of line and then I can pull the PVC tube out. I then would pull or push on the luff or leech and sliding the roll slightly until the battens were parrallel with the roll and then roll the sail the last little bit up onto the boom and tie it off working from one end to the other. Piece of cake! On a J-33 you have a bigger heavier mainsail. I would use a larger diameter PVC tube and maybe spread out the shockcord loops maybe 6 feet and use a smaller PVC tube as a retainer so that you could partially fold the head of the sail over before you start to roll the sail up.

(I would not try this on a J-125 as its too much and too high-tech cloth to handle that way.)
Good luck.

Jeff
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Old 11-30-2001
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Mainsail Flaking Singlehanded

As an alternative to lazyjacks, I had a Dutchman system on one of my boats. They can be a nuisance at the beginning & end of the season, but are really easy to use.

If you''re not familiar with it, the Dutchman runs two strong thin lines (like a fishing line) through reinforced points that are added to your Main. They run from the topping lift down to the foot of the sail. These then allow the sail to fold quickly and easily into flakes that are already set by the threading of the lines through the sails. Very quick and easy, unlike lazyjacks which don''t always flake the sail nicely.

Downsides:

- Weight aloft and turbulence, only important to you if you are mnore serious about racing

- You need a topping lift if you don''t have one

- The sail pretty much alwyas gets folded in the same place, which is not always the best.
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