7 Basic Steps in Raising the Mainsail of a Sailboat For a Smooth Sailing Experience

To properly raise a sailboat’s mainsail, one should be able to do the following: familiarize the parts of the sailboat; locate all the sail sheets; point the boat into the direction of the wind; release the vang sheet and other supporting parts; announce when the sail is already raised; hoist the mainsail; and; make a final check on the mainsail for creases and luffs.

It is important to master the task of raising the sailboat’s mainsail properly. Once the mainsail is properly raised, your sailboat’s speed capacity can be maximized. Below are the easy procedure of properly raising the mainsail for a smooth and fast sailing:

Familiarize the parts of the sailboat

Always make sure that you know or at least familiar with the sailboat’s rigging mechanism. Know the important parts of the mainsail to effectively locate where the shackle and clew can be found. This is to make sure that you can properly attached all the supporting parts together before releasing the mainsail.

Locate all the sail sheets

Find all the sheets of the mainsail. Ensure that the sheets are complete for every sail. Also, locate the boat rope and halyard to easily prepare the sail for hoisting and decreasing or increasing the luff.

Point the boat into the wind direction

Point the boat in a direction where the wind directly blows over the sailboat’s bow. Before releasing the sail check if the wind indicator located on the boat’s mainmast is pointing forward. By doing this, raising the sail will be easier since the boat’s movement is minimized.

Release the vang sheet and other supporting parts

Release the vang that hold’s down the boom closer to the deck. This will make raising the sail easier. Also release the cunningham which pulls the sail downward the mast.

Announce when the sail is already raised

Always let everyone know that you are raising the sail. This is to ensure safety and to avoid any accidents while raising the sail. Remind the people in the sailboat to move away from the boom while the sail is being raise.

Hoist the mainsail

Confirm if everybody is on their position before giving the signal of raising the mainsail. Use a crank to pull the haylard for larger sailboats, while a cleat can be used in pulling the halyard for smaller boats. Slowly hoist the mainsail and check the sail slugs every time it is hard to hoist the sail. Ensure that the haylard is not jammed with anything and slowly pull it downward until the luff is tightened.

Make a final check on the mainsail for creases and luffs

Keep on raising the sail until its tip reaches the mast. Check for creases and luffs and fix it to properly unroll the sail. When the mainsail is properly hoisted, the halyard can already be cleated off. You can now start the boat to sail away.

Always follow the directions carefully,especially when hoisting the mainsail. Following these simple procedures will help you get ready for a smooth sailing journey.

Basics of Sailing

A basic knowledge of sailing principles, sailing terminology and safe boat handling procedures. The goal is to qualify you to be able to sail aboard without an instructor. Sailing is a life skill, and an enjoyable one at that.


To understand the interaction between a sail boat and the wind is to know the difference between true wind and apparent wind.

• True wind is the wind speed and direction of a stationary position like a flag flying in the breeze.

• Apparent wind is the true wind altered by the motion of the boat. An example is a motorcycle when you get on the motorcycle the true wind is zero but once you start going it is not and that is apparent wind.


• One of the most important things to know before sailing on the water is your Points of Sail.

• It is important to know that no sail boat can sail directly into the wind. The wind will push you backwards and you will end up in the no go zone. The no go zone is a Point of Sail. It is also called In Irons.

• A Sail Boat has a port tack and a starboard tack. When the wind is coming across the starboard side of the sail boat (the boom is on the port side), the boat is said to be on a starboard tack. When the wind is coming across the port side of the boat (the boom is on the starboard side), the sail boat is said to be on a port tack. The starboard side of a boat is the right side and the port side is the left side. Port is easy to remember because it has four letters and so does left.

• The highest Point of Sail, where the sail boat is in the highest point of wind before the no go zone is called close haul, it’s were you have your sails full but trimmed as close as possible.

• This is also the fastest Point of Sail, and the most fun. The next Point of Sail is close reach.

• Then when the wind is coming over the beam or the middle of the boat, this point of sailing is called a beam reach.

• When the wind is coming in directly over the stern (from directly behind the boat) this is called a run. The slowest Point of Sail and least efficient is a run and it is also the most dangerous Point of Sail because you can do an accidental jibe, and the boom could hit someone aboard the boat.

Need to Know.

• Sail boats nomenclature

• Tack and jibe movements

• Ropes and line knots

• Passage right of ways.

These are all things that someone needs to know in order to put together a sail boat, sail the sail boat, and come back to shore safely.

Sailing Pointers for Novices

You will surely love sailing since it is a very enthralling leisure pursuit. However, you have to become an expert in maneuvering sailboats. There are several websites and videos that provide tips in sailing for both greenhorns and professionals. The important thing is to learn fundamental techniques so you can cope with different situations.

  • Beginners should opt for tranquil waters where there are few vessels. This will allow you to concentrate and avoid circumstances that may lead to panic. You can even begin training in a contained harbor. The most important are bow and aft which are the front and back portions of the vessel respectively. The rudder is the object under the boat that has the function of steering the craft.
  • Find out the prevailing weather condition and refrain from sailing if the weather is stormy or there are gusty winds. Be sure that you know how to swim.
  • Opt for a small boat complete with safety tools and one that you can control easily. Experts say that you have to be familiar with the flow of the wind and the boom which enhances control of angles and shape of the sail. Study the essential sailing terminologies as well.
  • It is faster to learn sailing if the boat has a single sail and fewer lines. It is also ideal to practice “keeling” over so you will know how to react if it you are faced with the threat of actual capsizing. Practice a lot since this is the only way for you to become a proficient sailor. Capsize intentionally so you will know how to control the sailboat in such situation.
  • There are safety measures that you have to practice before going out to the sea. Make it a point to inform family members that you will be sailing. Do not forget to bring floating implements such as life jackets, drifters and waterproof containers. Check out the latest weather forecast and carry with you ample food and water supplies, appropriate clothes and water-resistant flashlights. It pays to be prepared for all situations.
  • You have to become skilled at controlling the boat. The most competent sailor must be capable of adjusting to different sail settings as well as water and wind conditions. The cardinal rule is that it must be moderately flat if the wind is light or blowing hard. On the other hand, you have to maintain a full sail when the wind is normal.
  • Be careful with your sail boom to avoid unexpected accidents. You should know when the boom is in the process of moving back and forth to avoid being hit or thrown overboard. In sailing terms, the crew and passengers should be aware and respect the boom at all times.
  • Do not hesitate in consulting colleagues or relatives with considerable sailing experience to acquire additional pointers. Be alert when you sail since there are other vessels in open seas. This will help you avoid collisions and other mishaps. Maintain a safe speed at all times.

Sailing Navigation Secrets – Mark Your Nautical Chart With Magic Art!

Did you realize that you can make your chart easier to see, with less clutter? And that you can do this with simple office tools to save eye strain, make sailing navigation safer, and chart work easier? Use these easy steps for safer sailing navigation anywhere in the world.

Use “bright and bold” highlights to make vital chart symbols stand out.

Know exact locations of perfect anchorage spots before you arrive there.

Identify reliable depths compared to unreliable depths on your chart or plotter.

Tools You Will Need:


*Direction measuring instrument (parallel rules, Weems plotter).

*Yellow, orange, and blue highlighters.

*Colored blue, green, magenta pencils.

*Fine felt-tip pen.

*Scotch magic tape (permanent or removable.

Scan, Mark, and Protect Your Costly Charts

Master navigators always use a step by step process to plot their sailing routes, scan all along the sailing route for danger, and mark the most important spots like shoals, wrecks, emergency “pull-off-the-road” anchorages, and major aids to navigation that affect your sailing safety.

Follow these seven simple steps in the order shown anytime you plot a course for day sailing, cruising, or distance voyaging. It will keep you safe and you will have the confidence that you can see “at a glance” what lies ahead.

1. Use parallel rules or Weems plotter. Plot each course along your sailing route with light pressure with your pencil. Use light lines in this step. That way, if you need to erase, you can do this without effort or marring the chart.

2. Scan along each sailing course line to make sure the course does not cross over dangerous shoals or shallow depths. If it does, erase that leg and change it to a safer course or break it into two courses to avoid the hazard.

3. Use bright colored highlighters or colored pencils to make dangerous wrecks or important aids to navigation (buoys, lights, or landmarks) near the course.

4. Look for deep water pockets off the course line where you could anchor for rest or in an emergency. Make shoal depth contours stand out by tracing over them with a dark blue colored pencil (or similar marker).

5. Stay in water with a depth at least twice your draft. Coastal charts often show water depth contour lines in six foot increments that begin at 30 feet. That means the next depth contour would be 24 feet, then 18 feet, 12 feet, and 6 feet. Mark the outermost depth contour that’s equal to at least 2X your maximum draft.


If your draft is 5 feet, you should mark the 12 foot (or higher) contour curve. Set your depth sounder, GPS, or chart plotter alarm to trigger at that depth. This gives you time to turn the boat toward deeper water.

6. Check each course again for dangers. Recheck each plotted course to make sure the direction marked agrees with the direction indicated by your plotting tool. When satisfied, go to the final step.

7. Run a length of tape over the top of each of the light penciled course lines. Run your fingers over it several times to make sure it adheres to the chart surface. Lay a straight edge on top of the tape and darken in each course line with the felt tip marker. This makes your courses stand out in any light or weather condition.

Use your pencil to write the course in degrees magnet on top and the length of the course leg on the bottom of the line. When you label, write onto the tape. This protects the paper chart and the tape surface can be written on and erased as needed.

  1. Captain John’s Sailing Navigation Tip:
    How do you remove the tape when you’re done with the cruise? Use one of these two fast methods. Scotch makes a ‘removable magic tape’ brand. It isn’t as sticky but works well on a dry surface. Or, heat the edge of a blunt kitchen knife with a lighter. Run the knife along the tape and peel as you go. Keep the knife edge warm for best results.

Beware of Spotty Soundings!

Chart plotters fall far short of nautical charts when it comes to detailed soundings. Their small screen real estate forces the manufacturers to sacrifice detail in order to keep the screen uncluttered. This reason alone should be enough to convince any prudent skipper to carry navigational charts.

Scan your chart for signs of inconsistent or scattered soundings. Large gaps between soundings warn that this area hasn’t been surveyed well enough for safe sailing navigation. Keep clear of areas with spotty, inconsistent soundings to avoid grounding or hitting an underwater, uncharted obstruction.

Spoil areas (also called a fish haven or spoil bank) are where debris like garbage, old cars and trucks, and construction site material are dumped. Theses depths change all the time, so they will never be shown. Stay clear to stay safe!

Now you know the fast, easy way to get your chart set up for safe sailing navigation to save you time and effort once you go sailing.