Dear George: lazy Jacks 1

Dear George

Now you’re asking about lazy jacks and wanting detail, detail, detail. OK, you asked for it.

As you know, lazy jacks stretch from two or three anchor points along either side of the boom up to a high point on the sides of the mast to form a cradle for the mainsail when it is dropped. They keep the lowered sail from flapping in the wind and spilling over the side.


They have their good points and their bad.

When I first saw Blue Mistress, I was pleased they were fitted because I too wanted to sail single-handed and this was among the gear I thought I would need. (Like everyone else who has never owned a boat before, I dreamt of all sorts of gear I would need and all sorts of ways I would sail in her. Some happened – most didn’t).

Firstly, in a boat this size (or bigger boats like the one below), lazy jacks are unnecessary if you have a crew aboard. With someone on the tiller to bring the boat into the wind, control the boom and let the halyard go, a crew of one or two can easily drop the sail, control it and furl it – and you can all be ashore in time for tea.


But single-handing is different. That period between your boat gracefully sailing with sails neatly trimmed and everything under control, and your boat peacefully lying-to with sails neatly furled and everything under control needs some thought. There are a series of moves that need to be made in the right order, or, and I speak from experience, a series of foul-ups, each foul-up leading to a bigger foul-up and so on. It helps to see the whole process before you start – that way you know where you are and where you’re going.

So, ‘single-handed’ means forethought. There will always be moments of chaos – pitching boat, flapping sails, swinging boom. Better that it’s organised chaos. The well-crewed boat manages all this with ease, the rest of us have to work at it.

As I say, lazy jacks have their good and their bad points. The good points are when they are being used for what they were designed for – a manoeuvre that lasts just a few minutes. The bad points are their potential for getting in the way the rest of the time.

I’ll tell you about their usefulness and how they work on Blue Mistress next time. After that, we’ll have a look at their nuisance-value.

To be continued . . .

2 thoughts on “Dear George: lazy Jacks 1

  1. Pingback: Dear George: lazy jacks 2 « bill's boatblog

  2. Pingback: Dear George: lazy jacks 3 « bill's boatblog

Comments are closed.