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JeffBurright 11-29-2012 05:26 PM

How do you fold sails on deck?
Like the subject says, I'm looking for ideas on how to fold our foresails when we are at anchor and don't have the square footage of a dock to lay them out. We have a 30' boat, so deck space is fairly limited.

My current strategy is to hook the tack of the sail to the pigtail on the bow, stretch the foot of the sail down one side of the boat along the lifelines, and flake it as best I can before rolling it up and putting it in a top-loading sail bag. This is an imprecise method when I do it, resulting in many wrinkles in my sails and a bulkier package overall than if I tried the same thing on land.

Is there a better way?

Sabreman 11-29-2012 05:55 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
You're probably doing the best job possible under the circumstances. While we can neatly flake and bag sail on the dock, the foredeck is another matter. Consider buying a sausage sailbag like the racers have, it zips along the top. Flake the sail into the bag, zip, and secure the bag to the lifelines. Stuffing a sail into a standard bag without proper flaking and folding makes a mess of a sail, as you know.

Faster 11-29-2012 06:07 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
When we had hank on sails we left the hanks attached and flaked the sail from the clew forward, rolled the sail up towards the bow and then disconnected the hanks and tack and bagged the sail. Then for bending on the entire luff came out of the bag first, attached the hanks then unrolled the sail and tied on the sheets.

AdamLein 11-29-2012 06:11 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
Your procedure sounds just like mine. Some details:

I leave the sail hanked on until it's ready to go in the bag.

I stretch the sail out along the port side cabintop rather than the side-deck; I have tiny side-decks.

I flake from the foot upward. With the sail hanked on, just pulling aft on the leech is enough and the sail flakes itself.

After flaking, I kneel down on the starboard foredeck, right hand about one sailbag-length behind the luff and left hand another sailbag-length behind that. Right hand lifts the flaked sail up, left hand folds the sail underneath the right hand. Repeat until the flaked sail is stacked with the head on top and sheets (permanently attached) sticking out the bottom.

If I'm going to bag the sail, I bag it with the label on top. If I'm unbending it, that happens now. Next time I go out I know the sail will be configured so that it will hoist cleanly. This is especially handy when anchoring out for the night, in which case I sometimes flip the sail around (still hanked on) into the pulpit where it will be lashed in place, and just bring it back and unbag it next morning, ready to go.

JeffBurright 11-29-2012 06:16 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
Oh, to have hanks! Unfortunately in this case, we have a head foil system with luff tape on our foresails. It sure is nice for raising/lowering quick, but the hanks would be so much nicer for flaking. Thanks for the tip on sausage bags. I'll check them out as a potential solution.

Faster 11-29-2012 06:52 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
With a foil it's pretty easy to fold the 'old' sail on a sail change on deck as long as you always drop it 'inside'. One person at each end, flaking as the sail comes down. But you need enough people to spare two for that (or a good AP)

It's taking down the last sail that's not as easy.. but we used to do that too, running deep, sheeting headsail in hard, and , again, one person fwd and one at the clew, flaking the sail as it came down. We were able to do this in fairly breezy conditions because we were working in the lee of the mainsail.. In this way the luff usually ended up at one end of the roll, unlike on many dock folds the head ends up somewhere mid sail unless you take some 'underfolds' to square the LP line with the luff.

GeorgeB 11-29-2012 07:15 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
If you are having trouble folding sail to fit in a regular bag you will find that a sausage bag even more frustrating due to its much narrower shape. Do you have two people to flake or only one? It is easier with two. Try to get your genoa to “flake” as you first drop it on the weather deck. This doesn’t have to be neat. Then, flip the sail over onto the coach roof exposing the first fold. This will be tricky with an overlapping headsail and you will have to figure out what works best on your boat – for example, it is much easier to fold sails on the deck of a CAL 40 than a Catalina 34). With the first fold exposed, re-flake the rest using the proper widths of the folds. If you are using a sausage bag, lay it out, unzipped, before you start the initial drop. And with a sausage bag, you will want to flake along the luff, so the luff tapes are stacked on top of each other rather than the normal flake parallel to the foot. On the race boat, we do a lot of headsail changes (from sausage bags). Remember to keep the toe attached and tie down the bag so they don’t get washed overboard. We only lash a headsail along the lifelines temporarily. We fold the sausage bag into thirds and lash to the coach roof. The first time you get a boarding wave with it lashed to the lifelines and you will understand why we do it on the coach roof.

okapi3 12-01-2012 10:16 PM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
I read in a sailing magazine a tip somebody recommended for flaking a sail on deck shorthanded. He uses those inexpensive spring clamps, available at hardware stores, to hold the flakes in place as he works one end of the sail and then the other. Never tried it myself--just passing on the info.

Minnewaska 12-02-2012 07:26 AM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
Last time we took down our 135 genoa on the deck, I swore I would just cut it away next time and buy another.

We were on our last sail a few years back and stayed out on anchor. I was possessed to drop the sail after coffee in the morning, with no wind, and motor back. We have to bring it inside the stays to have enough room.

When you do a bad job, like we did above, it just gets worse as you move it around. Ours exploded into a mess that wouldn't fit down the companionway. Find a dock for an hour!!

SHNOOL 12-02-2012 08:57 AM

Re: How do you fold sails on deck?
I must be blessed with a large/wide foredeck because I always fold/roll sails on deck, at anchor or at the dock. I solo sail nearly 9 times outta 10.

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