Installing lazy jacks

Up to now, my tactic for dousing my main sail has been to ‘open halyard, dump sail all over deck, scoop it up and tie round boom’ in a highly technical manoeuvre called ‘the burrito’.  This was often made more exciting by circumstances, like single-handing in a gale.

However my new main sail is a lot more bulky and stiff and did not like being wrapped around the boom, and was also exceptionally hard to flake by myself. So it was time to install Lazy Jacks! These are lines that go down the side of the mast to the boom, holding the sail in place when you drop it and stopping it falling everywhere. This would save me a lot of time and effort and also reduce the chances of getting squished by a freighter while dicking around with the sail about around 70% (official estimate)

A lot of people build their own, but I saw a kit online that would cost about the same, came with instructions and seemed to do the things I needed it to; namely

  • Keep sail on boom when I drop it
  • Would retract back against the mast when I’m sailing (important so the sail doesn’t get chafed, or hung up when raising main)

I ordered it and it arrived pretty soon after.

Then it was time to install!

Unfortunately this involved going up the mast WHICH I HATE. It’s a lot easier using the mast climber though. I even managed it by myself by using the spare halyard as a safety line with a prusik knot tied to a climbing harness! SO INDEPENDENT

I had to go up twice to install the things, and then realised that I had mucked it up and had to go up AGAIN the next day, ugh (at least I had Joce from the Nancy Blackett helping me this time!)

Finally it was done and I could drill and tap the holes in the boom for the rest of the hardware

Finally it was complete!

Here is the test run


And here is the system with the lazy jacks out and sail raised

And here it is with the sail down and caught (the first picture setup was later changed to the second picture setup with an extra hook)

And finally – the system goes back and clips against the mast with the sail cover on / while you are sailing so it’s out the way

I haven’t tried it ‘in anger’ yet while out and about but it looks like it’ll make using the main sail a ton easier! Hooray!






One Comment

  1. A simple system that adds another set of hands when dousing the main. I personally don’t have them on my US 25 but would certainly install on a larger boat. You never stop learning new thing in this sport.

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