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Ring Around the Headstay

The first bareboat I ever hired in the Virgin Islands, many moons ago, was from a small hole-in-the-wall charter outfit with a rather motley fleet of vessels.

The first bareboat I ever hired in the Virgin Islands, many moons ago, was from a small hole-in-the-wall charter outfit with a rather motley fleet of vessels. Much to my surprise, the old Cal 29 I was issued performed flawlessly until the very last day of my charter, when the headsail furler froze up solid with the genoa all the way out in a brisk tradewind breeze in the middle of the Drake Channel. After flapping my arms helplessly for a few minutes trying to get the furler unstuck, I arrived at a very elegant and simple solution. Instead of using the roller-furler to wrap the headsail around the furling rod on the headstay, I used the boat to do it.

This is easiest, of course, with an engine. In my case, I started up the iron genny, took the sheets off the real genny, and just drove the boat in tight circles until the sail was all rolled up. I then reattached the sheets, returned the boat to the charter company, and wished them luck with the repair. 

Without an engine, assuming you have a boat that can sail through the eye of the wind under main alone, you could do the same thing by tacking and gybing around in circles. It ain’t a pretty way to stow a sail, but it works well enough in a pinch. 

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