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Old 06-12-2010
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Tips on lowering sails

I feel I have really got the hang of sailing my boat well single handed. So far since I have been sailing for the last few months, the hardest thing I have encountered with sailing is just lowering the darn sails. Especially single handed and it was getting on my nerves today. My tiller is swinging all over the place and as a result, the boat is turning and not holding into the wind. Now I realized a tiller tamer is an absolute MUST for single handing, absolute MUST. So needless to say I am getting one of those asap.

So no matter how much I losen my halyards those darn sails will not drop down, I end up just pointing directly in the wind and trying to wait until it inches its way down. The thing is, that waiting game simply don't work. I always have to get up there and manually pull the sails down. This is not a problem if I have another person with me to keep the boat into the wind, but as I mentioned above, single handed it seems tough at times. It depends a lot on the conditions. Today was a struggle! The darn jenny is really a pain in the neck, that sucker must love the wind because it sure hates to drop down So can anyone give me any pointers or tips for lowering sails? I am beginning to think there has to be an easier more practical way, a tiller tamer would make a huge difference but anything else? Would attaching an additional line to the sails be a good idea? If conditions are calm and not challenging, its not much of a problem to lower sails but I still have to step up and manually bring them down. Oh and my headsail is not a roller furler, it attaches to the forestay with clips. Any help really appreciated!

Other then this, I am having a blast and have been getting some nice video. I know I been sailing too much when I am home here in my chair and I still feel like I am rolling with the waves. So if the room is not rocking in your house, your not a sailor right? Reminds me of when I used to lift weights, the old saying... no pain, no gain. Well I am going to change that to no sailing, no rocking
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Old 06-12-2010
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sailguy -
In the case of the mainsail, wax the groove or track the sail runs up and down in/on. Get a friend (strong back/weak mind) to hoist you up the mast while you have a block of paraffin or something similar in your hand. That should help.
Do you have your reefing lines run back to the cockpit? You ought to if you like to singlehand. They can be used to get the sail down at least partway even if you don't want to reef
Lastly, you can rig a downhaul. As you might surmise, it's just a line attached to the top of the sail running down alongside the mast to a block then to the cockpit so you can haul down the sail without going on deck.
They are more frequently used on headsails. For a truly neat way of getting the jib under control, research the "Gerr Downhaul". Requires a little fine tuning, but it's worth it.
If you're alone and you have to go up on deck anyway, don't forget to strap in.
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Old 06-12-2010
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No I don't have my reefing lines running to the cockpit, I think I will do that. Man that Gerr Downhaul looks like a winner! Seems pretty simple to setup, I may give that a try since it is mainly my headsail that I have problems with. Although the main is still a problem off and on, it is much easier to access then the headsail. Thanks!
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Old 06-12-2010
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Downhauls are often useful on both mainsails and headsails. Don't run the downhaul to the head of the sail though, as the top-most hank or sail slug is usually a better choice. Running the downhaul to the head of the sail will often cause the topmost portion of the sail to twist and bind, making hauling it down much more difficult.

Cleaning your mast track and the slugs or slides, and converting any mast boltrope sails to slugs/slides will greatly reduce the friction in the system. Lubing the mast track with McLube SailKote once a month or so will help a lot.

As for the tiller....a tiller tamer is one idea. Another is using an autopilot. A third is to make a simple tiller comb for it. A fourth is using a bungie cord and small lanyard to keep the tiller centered.
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Old 06-12-2010
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Another idea is just to anchor, if you can, and douse the jib first so the boat wont sail around the anchor. Then slowly drop the main while you are facing into the wind. If you have a motor you should not need to anchor and just head into the wind while you pull the sails down.
As others have mentioned, cleaning and lubing your tracks, slides, boltrope groove will make getting your sails up and down much easier.
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Old 06-13-2010
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A little more expensive way to take down the jib is the roller furler.

The auto pilot mentioned once above would be invaluable for a single-hander. Just set the auto pilot to take you into the wind and it will act as another person at the helm. Strong hands/weak mind kind of a helmsman...:-)

Just a few thoughts.
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I have not tried McLube SailKote (have to check that out), although I had used some wd40 I had to lube the sliders on the mast. Reason I done this was when I first bought my boat, I was having issues hoisting the mainsail, but once I lubed it those issues went away. I have also anchored before and dropped my sails but the conditions were fairly easy that day, light chop and winds under 5kts. Today, I was about to say heck with it and drop the anchor to get the sails down even though conditions were pretty strong. I was looking at that raymarine st1000 plus autopilot, that seems to be the ideal way to go. I am putting that on my too buy list, just not in a rush since the gulf is still flooded with oil. I may get a tiller tamer for now to just keep the thing still. I used bungies once already in the past, they did work for a temp solution and it was better then nothing. Today was just a bit of a struggle, usually I don't have as much trouble as I did today. Although it still remains the most difficult thing I do when single handing. Appreciate the good advice because this was definitely an issue.
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Old 06-13-2010
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A good alternative is to use a piece of soap in between the top main car and the one after that.
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WD40 is a poor choice for this application as it is not a dry film lubricant. While it would help initially, eventually the WD40 would attract dirt and such and make the sail track much worse. You need to use a dry film lubricant that doesn't attract dirt in an application like this.

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Originally Posted by sailguy40 View Post
I have not tried McLube SailKote (have to check that out), although I had used some wd40 I had to lube the sliders on the mast. Reason I done this was when I first bought my boat, I was having issues hoisting the mainsail, but once I lubed it those issues went away. I have also anchored before and dropped my sails but the conditions were fairly easy that day, light chop and winds under 5kts. Today, I was about to say heck with it and drop the anchor to get the sails down even though conditions were pretty strong. I was looking at that raymarine st1000 plus autopilot, that seems to be the ideal way to go. I am putting that on my too buy list, just not in a rush since the gulf is still flooded with oil. I may get a tiller tamer for now to just keep the thing still. I used bungies once already in the past, they did work for a temp solution and it was better then nothing. Today was just a bit of a struggle, usually I don't have as much trouble as I did today. Although it still remains the most difficult thing I do when single handing. Appreciate the good advice because this was definitely an issue.
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a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 06-13-2010
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Don't even think about using anything but, sailkote. It won't stain the sails and a blast on the lugs everytime will do wonders. You might have to go up the mast and get it clean with a bronze brush, small one to fit in the groove and coat it from the top down the first time then a spray on the lugs before you raise the sail every now and again works great. I know the stuff is expensive but, it works and won't build up or attract dirt. I am as cheap as they come but this product is worth it. No I don't own stock in it just have had to fix the same problem on a few boats and it works! Spray your blocks with it to and tracks.
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