Tricky manoeuvers at sea

Day 4 Thursday, Sept 9 @ 03:26 44.19 N, 128.66 W
Just got back down below after altering course and changing sails from a run to a reach.  The moon is blood red and there are very few stars showing because the smoke in the air is so thick. There was no sun set this evening for the same reason. A black and not so stormy night. I have had several unusual encounters with wild life as well. I found several dragon flies on deck, birds flying around the boat chirping, and there was a sparrow that landed this afternoon. We are well over a hundred miles offshore… a bit far for a sparrow! 

Coming off a run (wind from behind) onto a reach (wind from the side) in the middle of the night on your own requires some planning, particularly if the wind is falling coupled with a boisterous sea.  Life jacket with safety harness and head light on full are the basic equipment before coming up on deck.

I laid in my bunk for about half an hour planning my moves, and wondering how long I could put it off. When running before the wind in a seaway, it’s important to secure the boom so the main sail does not flap and chafe. I hook up a preventer line which is already on the outward end of the boom and while not being used, is attached temporarily near the gooseneck which attaches the boom to the mast. There is one each side of the boom so which ever tack I’m on, the preventer is handy. I attach another line to the inboard end of the preventer and then run that down to the toe rail about eight feet back from the bow and cinch it up tight once the boom and main are in the right position for the run. This line must be removed so the boom can be brought in with the mainsheet in the cockpit. The boom vang, a tackle that runs from the bottom of the boom down to the toe rail in order that the boom does not rise is also let go before the main sheet is brought in. This requires some quick manoeuvering which can be difficult while moving your harness down the deck as you move back and forward. Once the main is set for the new course, the vang is put on again.

Now there is the jib which is poled out the opposite side to the main sail which has its own preventers to hold the pole in place which keeps the jib where you want it for running before the wind. Getting the pole down requires some very quick manoeuvering so the pole doesn’t swing dangerously when the jib sheet is let go. The line controls for the topping lift, which controls the pole, are on the mast and you have to make your way from the cockpit to the mast very smartly to maintain a controlled take down of the pole. There is also a downhaul for the pole which has to be released. Once the pole is secured on deck you make your way back to the cockpit and roll in the jib and then bring the boat around to your new course and set the wind vane and secure its lines to the the tiller and then set the jib to the new course. Once I’m satisfied the vane is steering the new course I tidy up all the lines around the mast and when I’m back in the cock pit, take one last look at the course and head back to my bunk. This some times goes very well and sometimes not so well depending on my state of mind and the weather. Tonight went rather well, I must have gotten lucky.


  1. Julie Murray says

    I’m exhausted just reading your post Glenn! Sounded like a task successfully completed though. We have seen the Wild Fire images on the media in England. Very strange and very scary conditions…safer at sea! Take care.

  2. Dave & Daphne Carter says

    I’m enough of a sailor to understand the terminology and the gear but not enough of a sailor to do any of the tasks you describe. Great information Glenn, and well written

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