How to Sail a Boat Better – Three Tips to Remove a Jammed Line From a Sailboat Winch

You and your sailing crew are short tacking up a narrow channel with shoals to the left and moored boats to the right. You get your crew ready for the next tack, come about–and the head sail sheet jams onto the sailboat winch! What would you do next?

Jammed turns on a head sail sheet winch-called “overriding turns”-are caused by a sheet line that leads at a downward angle to the winch drum. When this happens, the wraps on the drum can bunch up so tight that they are almost impossible to remove. Use one of these fast, easy methods to remove an override:

1. Luff Up Method

a. Point up into the wind for a few seconds to luff the head sail and take tension off the sheet.

b. Remove the turns by hand.

c. Fall off the wind and build up speed for the next tack.

2. Line and Block Method

a. Tie a rolling hitch onto the jammed sheet between head sail clew and winch.

b. Mount a snatch block aft of the jammed winch.

c. Lead the line to the snatch block and to an open winch.

d. Grind on the winch to remove all tension on the jammed sheet.

e. Remove the override by hand and re-wrap the sheet onto the winch.

3. Emergency Method

a. Cut the jammed sheet forward and aft of the winch.

b. Lead the bitter end of the cut sheet through the block and around the sailboat mast.

c. Tie a rolling hitch onto the leeward sheet. You can tack with this rig until you clear all dangers.

Prevent Future Sheet Jams

Avoid future overrides by leading head sail sheets in an upward direction to the sheet winches. Use one of these easy techniques:

* Reposition each Genoa block along the track to bring it closer to and lower than the sheet winch.

* Insert an intermediate block between the existing Genoa block and the sheet winch.

Sailboat winch overrides are part of life on any small cruising or racing sailboat. Learn how to sail a boat better than ever before by planning for the unexpected with fast, easy techniques like these.

Sailing Rope Tips – How to Heave a Line With Pinpoint Accuracy!

How many times have you needed to heave a line a long distance to a dock or to another boat? How far could you heave a line to a person in the water? Make this sailing rope skill one of your top priorities on your small cruising boat. Follow these five easy steps for super accuracy…

1. Make the coil

Use small diameter nylon or dacron line. If you are going to pass a heavy dock line, attach the smaller line to the eye of the docking line. Coil 100 feet of small line clockwise. Make sure it’s free of knots so that it goes out in a smooth, easy motion.

2. Break the coil

Hold the coil in your non-dominant hand. Pick up one third to one half of the coil with your dominant hand. Keep the bitter end of the dominant-hand coil on the outside of the coil to insure that it pays out without knots.

3. Turn and sight

Turn so that your non-dominant shoulder faces the objective. Sight over your shoulder and focus your concentration on a point just above and upwind of the dock, boat, or person.

4. Swing the line

Hold your non-dominant hand with the palm up and open. This will allow the heaving line to feed out of that hand. Swing the coil in the dominant hand down by your side in a forward-aft motion. This will put velocity into the line as you throw it.

5. Heave the line

Throw the line underhand to a close target where you need pin-point accuracy. When heaving to a boat, use a side arm or overhead throw to gain height and increase the distance of the toss.


Follow these steps to heave any line with pin-point accuracy. Boost your sailing rope skills to the next level with practice, preparation, and proper technique.