On sailing a Folksong – Lazy Jacks

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly
Outlook: Southwesterly 3 or 4 becoming variable 3, then southeasterly 4 or 5 later in west. Smooth or slight. Mainly fair. Moderate or good.

I think I’ve solved my lazy jacks problem.

I was pleased they were already fitted when I bought Blue Mistress.

They do have certain advantages:

  • when lowering the main, the sail folds relatively neatly onto the boom.
  • this is good when single-handed or with inexperienced crew. I can drop the sail without having to grab hold and furl it immediately.
  • also, when slab reefing, the loose sail is contained and need not necessarily be controlled with reef points.

But they have disadvantages too:

  • the primary one being that, with a battened mainsail, the first and often the second batten get caught during hoisting, especially in a hatful of wind. This means lowering the sail slightly to free it and start again. Single-handed this is very frustrating.
  • also, they have to be loosened after the sail is set and the topping lift released to a) allow the leach to take the weight of the sail and b) to release the full belly of the sail.
  • this means leaving the helm, going forward and making adjustments both sides of the mast.
  • and this means that they are loose and untidy during sailing.

To solve the problem, I have previously:

  • juggled with the wind and the heading of the boat, using the auto pilot to keep her head to wind. This gave only limited success. It kept the boat head to wind, but required more speed to do so, which, in turn increased the apparent wind, which, in turn, increased the sail flapping.
  • turned to head into the wind, to combine it with the boat almost stopped. Limited success again, needing a very swift hoist. If this failed, the half raised sail would allow the head to fall off the wind and jam the sail part way up. Back to the engine.
  • shortened the lazy jack lines, which had the effect of bringing the the blocks forward as well as  lowering their position. The idea here was to allow the battens to clear the confines of the lines lower in the hoist. This works better in light winds, but not in heavy ones.

The week before last I struggled for ten minutes or so to get the sail up and finally decided that I would get rid of them altogether if I couldn’t come up with a better solution.

I spent Friday night on the boat again and wanted to rig a stretch of canvas over the boom to make a tent over the companion way. The lazy jacks were in the way, so I loosened them off and led them to the mast, hooking them around their respective cleats before tightening the lines again – instant solution to the tent problem and instant solution to the sail raising problem.

In the clip above you can just make out the port lazy jack lines leading along the bottom of the boom and around the cleat.

On Saturday morning, the mainsail went up in one steady haul, the engine was stopped and we were sailing.

The next decision has to be taken at the end of a day’s sailing as to when to reinstate the lines.

One thought on “On sailing a Folksong – Lazy Jacks

  1. Pingback: On sailing a Folksong – those lazy jacks again « bill’s boatblog

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