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Old 13-01-2013, 20:52   #1
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Lowering and securing Mainsail

This may seem like an obvious question, but nothing I've found has answered it for me.

What is the best way to lower and secure the mainsail to the boom?

Specifics:
1989 Macgregor 26D, 9.9 honda, water ballast, roller furling jib.

I've only been sailing a short while and this is my first cruiser. "Learned" on a H16. I do pretty well sailing the 26D around Florida's ICW and am cautiously working my way up to coastal cruising. I am very aware of the boats limitations. I can have this thing off the trailer and sailing in 45 minutes by myself. but the hardest part so far has been lowering the stupid mailsail when anchoring or beaching. I've added a stop, and that helps some. When I have a mate, we try to lower slowly and fold the sail across the boom, then secure it with a cover. Mostly, the main ends up all over the place and we simply strap the cover around the mess of sail. Not good for the sail or the ego. Any tips would help.

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Old 13-01-2013, 21:03   #2
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Do a google image search on "flaking mainsail" and you'll see pictures of the right way to do it. Kind of hard to explain, at least for me.

Think of one of those pleated fans made of paper. You fold it up and it all just collapses together. That's sort of what it's like. Except the sail is much bigger, and it's not pleated. Making the whole thing considerably more difficult.
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Old 13-01-2013, 21:10   #3
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

Standing at the mast, facing aft, put each arm on either side of the mast. Halyard is unhitched and in your weakest hand. Drop the first few feet of the sail fairly fast. This so you have enough sail on the boom to establish a "pattern" of how the sail will fold on the boom. Both hands are used to manhandle the sail to flake across the boom.

Maybe it isn't pretty the first few times but practice will solve that. Actually nice and pretty isn't your first priority, getting it down safely is your priority. Pretty will come later.

The 26D has a topping lift, yes? That will help you to accomplish your goal of fast, nice, pretty. BTW: sailing will teach many things. One thing it will teach is your ego is often the first casualty. If any sailor says they have never been humbled--and it's always your worst when a hundred pair of eyes are on you are--are liars.

What is this "stop" you speak of? Is it on the halyard, a winch, where? Is it meant to stop the mainsail at a predetermined distance from the top?
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Old 13-01-2013, 21:15   #4
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

One more question......When we actually stow the main, we have been removing the blocks and rolling the main on the boom, then stowing the whole thing in the cabin. Is there anything wrong with this? Seems to put less wrinkles in the sail than trying to loose fold and bag. Thoughts??

And here is a picture of our boat. (note the messy main)
Click image for larger version

Name:	<a title=photo.jpg Views: 333 Size: 418.7 KB ID: 52840" style="margin: 2px" />
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Old 13-01-2013, 21:18   #5
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

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Originally Posted by Richard5 View Post
What is this "stop" you speak of? Is it on the halyard, a winch, where? Is it meant to stop the mainsail at a predetermined distance from the top?
It is actually a cross drilled pin that I installed just above where the slides go into the mast. It keeps the slides from falling out of the mast track when I lower the main.


And I do not have a topping lift. Had to google it to know what you werer talking about. This is something I would really like to install as now, the boom just drops to the deck. Do you know of a good resource that would show me how to rig this? What I'm not sure of is what to do with it when actually sailing, Does it remove? Unhook and secure?

Thank you for all your help!!
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Old 13-01-2013, 21:22   #6
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

Now that the sail is fully down, tie off the halyard. Still at the mast, take hold of the small stuff (clothes line) you use to lash the sail. Starting at the mast and working along the length of the boom, fore to aft, run a series of half hitches around the sail and boom. Alternately, use several short pieces to pass around the sail and boom and tie of each with a square knot.
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Old 13-01-2013, 21:25   #7
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

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Originally Posted by SpCantu View Post
One more question......When we actually stow the main, we have been removing the blocks and rolling the main on the boom, then stowing the whole thing in the cabin. Is there anything wrong with this? Seems to put less wrinkles in the sail than trying to loose fold and bag. Thoughts??

And here is a picture of our boat. (note the messy main)
Attachment 52840
If you're away from the boat for a period of time (worried about theft or damage), what you show is acceptable. Be sure to not damage the battens.

Otherwise, it is the lazy way to do it.

Edit: wow! I'd not before seen a hard top on a Mac. Looks good.
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Old 13-01-2013, 21:27   #8
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

As you lower the sail alternately pull the sail between the slugs to one side then the other. If you have help, have your crew follow your lead with the rest of the sail. Tie off the sail from the stern forward in sections as it comes down and it won't get away from you. If done properly, you end up with the sail neatly flaked on the boom with minimal creasing and it's very easy to put the sail cover on.

Lazy Jacks make the job very easy. This is an expensive kit but you can make it up yourself for less. Harken 252 Lazy Jack System For boats 21' to 28'. I did mine using a few brass rings, 2 cheek blocks, 2 cleats, a few padeyes and something like 200' of 1/4" line. Makes single handed sail handling a breeze, just release the main halyard and sail is captured on the boom. Might try googling 'Lazy Jacks' to get some pictures of how they are set up
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Old 15-01-2013, 00:20   #9
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

Check past issues of "Practical Sailor" and google. There are a few with step by step instructions for setting up your lazy jacks
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Old 15-01-2013, 00:29   #10
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

You guys do realize the main on this boat is about the size of a car cover, right?
Lazy jacks are over kill for this boat.
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Old 15-01-2013, 04:48   #11
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

Maybe not overkill when it is blowing and you are singlehanded! Lazyjacks can save the day. You can always pull them forward and secure them to the mast when you don't need them and if they are just in the way.
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Old 15-01-2013, 04:52   #12
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Give us a break. No lazy ass jacks here. 500 sq feet of main. Just drop it and flake it on the boom. Get some muscles. Live a little. Be a sailor.
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Old 15-01-2013, 04:58   #13
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Re: Lowering and securing Mainsail

You might also consider a dutchman rig.

Doyle Sailmakers: Dutchman

Some love it. Some hate it. Some laugh at it. Some consider it required equipment. YMMV.
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Old 15-01-2013, 05:22   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daddle View Post
Give us a break. No lazy ass jacks here. 500 sq feet of main. Just drop it and flake it on the boom. Get some muscles. Live a little. Be a sailor.
Hahahaha! +1 as I think everyone in the forum has wondered how to make dropping the main easier at least a couple times in their sailing life. I think what daddle is trying to say is........practice,practice, practice (and doing in port with protection from wind and less rolling can really help). Another key component for me is a good nonskid!
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Old 15-01-2013, 05:46   #15
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Ya. Sometimes the flake job is ugly. So what. If conditions are really nasty the main will already have a couple of reefs in it, making the douse that much easier.
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