TAKE IT EASY
Looks untidy, huh? Maybe it does, but I’ve hoisted a lot of mainsails over the years. A few go up easily. Many are a struggle. Sometimes it’s about turning blocks and nasty mast-tracks, but often the problem lies with misplaced tidiness. All stack-packed mains and ordinary slab-reefers have reefing pennants. Some run sweetly in their blocks, others do not, but even with the best of them, when I heave up on the halyard only to find all the slack has been pulled through when the sail was stowed, my heart sinks. If there’s single-line reefing, I lose the will to live. Unless the blocks, especially in the boom ends, are perfect and the rope new and supple, it’s going to be a struggle wrestling the slack back out again. Leave the pennants as they are when the sail comes down, and it’ll make hoisting a breeze. Just tuck them away into the stowed main and drop them when it’s time to go again. The skipper of the boat in the photo might have been a bit tidier, but he’ll have the last laugh.
DITCH THE STRESS
Owners of high-freeboard yachts best boarded via the stern sugar-scoop like to back them into a slip, but the process can be fraught on a windy day or when there’s a current running, espe- cially when you’re shorthanded. This yacht is secured with all the usual lines, but a closer look shows that her skipper has a trick to make his arrival easier. The giveaway is the light, white rope on the port quarter. It’s doing nothing now, but when the yacht came in it was the kingpin. Here’s the secret: approach with lines ready and fenders on both sides so the neighbors needn’t worry if you don’t get it quite right. Prepare an extra warp (the little white one) on the quarter, secured on board. Come in astern at good speed to retain control. When you’re near the end of the road, whack the engine into forward gear to stop the boat. Your crew hops ashore with the white rope, takes up the slack and secures the line. The instant it’s on, start motoring slow ahead against it. The boat is now under total control and you can adjust her position by steering against the line. Keep the engine going ahead while you run out your warps. When all’s as you want it, put her out of gear, slack off the magic line and pour the drinks.
A CLEAN RUN
Dropping a coil on deck so that its running part is on top will always help it to spool out cleanly. Flaking it in a figure of eight can be even better. This allows the line to fall naturally rather than giving each turn a half-twist to persuade it to lie in the neat turns of a coil. Often, however, it’s enough just to dump it carefully into a pile with the running part on top. Whatever your preference for a clean run, it’s critical to take the bitter end clear of the action as shown here. If you leave it underneath, you can bet it will get “sucked in” as the rope runs, creating a series of overhand knots and awarding you the sort of mess referred to by chief petty officers in the old Royal Navy as “a bunch of bastards.” s
Save yourself some bother and don’t pull the reefing lines through
Can you spot the magic line?
Make sure your lines can run freely by flaking them out first