On sailing a Folksong

Lazy jacks – Tiller Trimmer

Not last Friday – (Northwest 6 to gale 8 decreasing 4, then backing southwest and increasing 5 or 6 later. Moderate or rough, occasionally very rough in west. Squally showers. Moderate or good.) – but the Friday before.

Solo, I motored out past Mount Batten pier and tucked in, out of the way, towards Jennycliff, to set the mainsail.

Problem: unless we are head to wind, the slides jam and the mainsail won’t run up the mast; and, when we are head to wind, the head of the sail flaps as it runs up the mast and the battens catch in the lazy jacks.

I haven’t cracked this yet, and suspect that I will always be juggling with the problem.

Head-to-wind isn’t the main problem, getting caught in the lazy jacks is.

Keeping head to wind does require some work when single-handed.

It works best to set the mainsail before the foresail – the bow is blown off the wind less quickly.

Blue Mistress, with her long keel, holds a course fairly well so coming into the wind, releasing the tiller and hauling quickly will work – provided the battens don’t get caught in the lazy jacks.

The Tiller Trimmer works well with the engine in slow revs.

The Autohelm is even better, keeping the boat moving directly into the wind on the engine. But using the Autohelm means setting it up just for this job, and then dismantling it because, following that blissful moment when the engine is killed, I usually don’t want it.

I nearly got it right that Friday – (only had to half lower the sail once : -)). You can see from the image that I needed to tighten up the main halyard which I did later.

And the lazy jacks? They need to be tight when raising the sail – loose, as in the image below (taken last February), guarantees the battens getting caught.

And then they have to be loosened once the sail is up, (first the topping lift, then the lazy jacks), otherwise they interfere with the curve of the sail as above.

The Tiller Trimmer has been a great help. You can see the brake on the tiller behind Pete, with the control line leading back to cleats either side.

That Friday, I put up the main, bore away to take the wind on the beam and set the tiller.

I had time to loosen the topping lift, go forward, shackle on the foresail halyard – (I don’t like it swinging uselessly when we are under power), release the four ties holding the jib to the lifelines, loosen the lazy jacks, look across to the anchorage under Jennycliff which was full of boats, and then go aft and raise the jib.

Blue Mistress was still sailing well, I guess her bow had dropped off 5-10 degrees. My working on the foredeck would have altered the balance. Normally, I wouldn’t be so slow, but I wanted to see what would happen if I took longer.

When we’re sailing, I release the control line on the Tiller Mate entirely, only setting it up if I am going to use it. However, loose the control knob, the feed pulley acts as a brake and I prefer the tiller to be completely free when at the helm.

I have some issues about the tiller and rudder on the Folksong which I will raise in a later post.

For the origin of this series: here.

By the way, yes, it was February in the image above and, yes, that is someone water skiing in Devon.