Latest News: Forums Cruising Dropping My Mainsail

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  • #32149
    Stephen Sampford

    Well! All my plans to be readied for a 2021 cruising season are largely scuppered. I did manage some time on the club lake, but no training or even much casual help. Just reading stuff. Love my new edition of the Wayfarer Book by the way.

    But one issue I did identify was, how on earth to manage lowering the Mainsail on the water with a view to putting a tent up. I have a Plus S and the whole business just seemed rather tricky. The material of the sail is not like I imagine it might be with a canvas type material and then there is the substantial boom to deal with too.

    Or if I wanted to stow away the mainsail to row during a no wind situation (I do like a good row too, I discovered) where does one put it all to have sufficient room and also be able to hoist it again without difficulty.

    Sorry if this is a silly question. I am sure I would have picked this sort of thing up from someone under normal circumstances.

    Any advice welcomed

    Bob Harland

    Hi Stephen,
    we find the best approach is to roll the mainsail; drop the sail, detach the halyard and then roll from the top as tightly as you can. It may take a bit of practice to keep the roll square to the boom. Then a couple of sail ties to keep the sail snug to the boom. If you are doing it on your own long arms do help.
    A newish sail will roll quie easily but with use it does get more difficult. It maybe that flaking it is better – needs two people, or if you are on your own put the boom in the boom crutch. A flaked sail is also a bit easier to hoist.
    The sail stays on the boom.

    If the mainsail is rolled or flaked neatly and tied snug to the boom it will all sit along the boat resting on the aft tank / centre thwart/ under foredeck to one side and should give clearance for the oars while rowing. As an alternative, if there is no wind the sail can be left up, raise the boom up with the reefing line – should give clearance for the rowers head.

    hope that help


    Hi Stephen,

    I often notice that people get the main halliard jammed when taking down the main sail.  This is easy to avoid if you throw the halliard overboard first so it streams out behind you. When you pull the sail down there are no snags and it comes down smoothly.

    As Bob says the sail stays on the boom.  Mine has not been off the boom since I put it on 3 years ago. To roll the sail fold it over at the top batten before you start and you have a good chance it will roll down parallel to the boom. I do make the fold a little bigger at the aft end which also helps. A couple of tyga ties to keep it in place and there you have it.

    I can’t help with the rowing bit but know that Bob has done his fair share. My oars are made by Suzuki and come in 2.5 hp size.

    Rita too

    Hi Stephen,
    When rowing, you can raise up the boom with a topping lift. Just one of the benefits of a topping lift which Boris (Andrew) Morrice wrote about in Issue 133 of Wayfarer News on p18 – available in the magazine archive.

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