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An easy low cost system to store the mainsail

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What is the issue?
Gathering up, flaking and lashing down a big mainsail that’s sprawled all over a cabin top is a heavy wearisome and often daily task aboard a boat. It is particularly difficult with a high-set boom, when the sail is being blown about on a slippery rolling deck and as often as not approaching a busy harbour. It can be an absolute pain to handle shorthanded and particularly singlehanded.

Why address this?
Simplifying this will take a lot of stress out of sailing, and a neatly stowed mainsail will give a longer service life.

How to address this?
All that is required is the assistance of a short length of sturdy string and a shackle to make the job much easier.

Laze Jackeen
Photo: Brian Lennon
Attach about 30 cm of strong string to the first reefing point on the leech of the mainsail - the length of the string may need some adjustment until it suits your boat. Tie the other end to a small shackle that can run freely on the main topping lift.

When dropping the mainsail, the string creates a loop or pocket in the lower section of the sail. As the rest of the sail is lowered, fold it into this loop. This is best achieved working from the aft end of the sail forward. Finally, apply the sail ties and the sail cover!

Essentially what happens is that the lower loop of the sail acts almost like a bag for the rest of the sail. Unbelievably simple, cheap and effective!

A slight variation of this to have a couple of looped lines placed into the sail, illustrated below, that I used to simplify a race boat I was having fun with at the time. The boat was arranged for a crew of eight which in sailing parlance means handling convenience was not factored into the design. The mainsail was enormous and once the topping lift was released the whole lot fell right down onto the deck. The physical exertion of dragging it about and stowing it was totally exhausting and precipitated seasickness.

Letting the sail go a tad so as to hook one loop around the back of the boom and the other around the gooseneck simplified the mainsail storage no end. All we had to do was drop the rest into the pocket.

Loops for furling a mainsail
Photo: Michael Harpur

The problem of mainsail can be entirely eliminated by in-mast furling but that is an expense of another order and these have been known to get stuck fast and unable to go in or out. Most people try to escape sail storage through off-the-shelf drop it & bag it lazy jack and lazy stack solution kits from Harken, Schaefer or EZ-Jax. Likewise, lazyjacks are another set of lines to manage, may cause chafe if not watched carefully, and can cause problems of their own such as getting caught around spreaders when gybing. The alternative is the Dutchman System which is more expensive and requires extensive sail modifications - see mainsail furling made easy Experience.

With thanks to:
Originally contributed to a sailing magazine, author unknown.
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