Boat Handling

Faster Mainsail Reefing

by Don Street, Posted July 10, 2012
On my old yawl, Iolaire, I always used a mainsail reefing method that seemed odd to guests, but was very fast and worked well. After first casting off the mainsheet, we would hoist the end of the boom a full six feet into air—the depth of the reef—with the topping lift...

Let the Wind Do the Work

by Peter Nielsen, Posted January 20, 2014
The first time I tried to pick up a mooring singlehanded in a stiff breeze, I approached from dead downwind in the usual manner and stopped the boat with the pickup buoy right where I wanted it.
Going sideways (January 2006)It's no secret that bow thrusters are a big help when you're maneuvering in close quarters, which is why they are becoming common on boats in the 40-foot range. One reason for this popularity is that the units themselves have gotten better. But it's also true that freeboards are getting higher and many of us either are getting older or are sailing with
This month: carrying a kite; a shorter scope; steering tips; sail saver; using lights on the high seas.VisibilityTo Flash or NotFlashing white lights are far more noticeable than fixed ones and can be much brighter for the same average power drain. However, it’s dangerous and illegal to show anything that could be confused with a navigation aid, so
I’ve been on the wrong end of a towline twice. At the very least, being towed will ruin your afternoon. At worst, it can cause serious damage to your boat or injury to your crew. Knowing what to expect and what to do to help yourself—or to help others help you—will ensure things go safely and smoothly.

Positive control astern

by Sail Staff, Posted April 6, 2009
Because a sailboat without a bow thruster lacks positive directional control when going astern at slow speeds, many skippers choose one of three options when it’s time to go into a slip. They go into the slip bow first; they stop at a right angle to the slip and then use dock lines to pull the stern in by hand; or they back down with enough speed on to maintain control.The first option is

Extending whisker poles

by Peter Nielsen, Posted April 20, 2009
A standard spinnaker pole is as long as the J measurement on your boat – that is, the distance from the base of the mast to the forestay chainplate. This is purely a racing rule requirement; longer poles are penalized under PHRF rules. If you’re cruising, your whisker pole can be any length you like.On a couple of occasions when I’ve wanted to run downwind with

Don't Over Trim

by Charles J. Doane, Posted November 28, 2012
Next time the wind goes soft, instead of submitting to this self-fulfilling prophesy of slow-going, try opening up the slot between your mainsail and headsail.

Pole Up, Ge'nny Out

by David Schmidt, Posted May 11, 2009
Spinnakers and asymmetricals are great for ticking off miles when sailing downwind, but they can be a chore to handle shorthanded. They require constant trimming, and there’s always the possibility of a crash gybe or a knockdown. For a fully crewed raceboat this isn’t a concern, but for cruisers it can be daunting enough that many simply roll out their headsail instead and call

Compass Mask

by Connie McBride, Posted December 18, 2012
 Sunlight is not good for your compass. The liquid inside gets cloudy over time, making it hard to read a heading.
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