Join Date: May 2002
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Re: Raise main under sail?
When we raise our sails, especially when we're shorthanded, we usually try to get away from other traffic, because our attention is diverted somewhat from helming the boat to sail handling. Since our attention is divided, keeping our speed slow while raising sails is safer. Sailing under mainsail alone is generally slower than under jib alone. Moreover, most boats will self steer more reliably to windward under mainsail alone than under jib alone, because the mainsail tends to drive the boat to windward, whereas the jib tends to drive the bow off the wind. Thus, with mainsail alone, you can easily use a tiller tamer or a wheel lock to hold the boat's heading while you raise sails.
So, we use the motor at slow speed to keep the boat moving slowly to windward while we raise the mainsail. Then we shut down the motor and lock the helm with the boat on a close reach (but not closehauled) to keep the boat moving while we raise the jib.
People are free to use different procedures for raising and lowering sails, but the rule of thumb is to raise the mainsail first and lower it last, because it makes sense logically and it's rationale has been re-proven by generations of sailors.