This is the moment we have all been waiting for, the most exciting part of any adventure on your sailboat. You’ve successfully navigated away from the dock you are now out on open water and see that there’s enough wind to put the sails up!

This is also assuming you’ve already stowed the bumpers and dock lines.

Clear and prepare the sails

  1. Remove the sail cover off and most of the sail ties from the main (keep sail ties handy for later).
  2. Attach the main halyard to the main sail. If you setup, like I do, then the the main halyard is now attached to the end of the boom and being used to help hold boom up. Remove from end of boom and attach to head of main sail (it’s a piece of aluminum).
  3. Ensure main sail is ready to be hoisted and slugs are properly in the track of the mast. Also double-check the outhaul.
  4. Ensure jib ready to unfurl. The jib sheet should be connected and correctly run through the pulley blocks on deck with stopper knots on each end.  The line from the CDI furler should lead back into the cabin and be free of any obstacles. I’ve had this get stuck under our dinghy sitting on the deck.

Set the keel and rudders

  1. Drop the keel
  2. Lower both rudders into the water and cleat them down.

I never liked these rudder cleats until I figured out the nice clean way to wrap the rope around the cleat. Single wrap and then a twist, no need to over complicate it. See Cleat Hitch – how to tie for an example.

For more performance you can adjust the keel and consider using just a single rudder.  Always make sure the rudder is either 100% up or 100% down. You will break things if you try to hold it at an angle.

Head to wind and raise sails

First making sure you are in a good position to put sails up. Think about where the wind will push the boat without the sails. Give yourself plenty of room to get things sorted out. Turn the boat into the wind and prepare to raise the sails.

Ensure the boom is free to move – untangle and prepare the main sheet and loosen it so the boom can move, just watch your head.

Raise the main – start pulling the main halyard to raise the main sail. Ensure it’s staying within the track on the mast and remove the last sail tie. Consider reefing, if winds are high. Use the winch to make sure the sail is pulled to the top of the mast. Lock the main halyard. Send the halyard into the cabin, or lightly coil it up and keep it free in case you need to quickly lower the main.

Unfurl the jib – pick a side (preferably leeward) and pull the unfurling line leading up to the base of the CDI furler on the jib. Gently tug on the jib sheet, leeward side, and make sure the jib sheet on windward side is loose and free. Start to slowly turn the boat away from wind, watch the boom. Double check that you fed the jib lines correctly, they can easily end up on the wrong side of the lifelines.

Set your sails – pick a bearing, tighten up your jib and main sheet and start sailing!

Turn off the motor and enjoy

Once you are happy that sails and lines are all setup right. You can now calmly reach down, put the motor in neutral and then turn the key on the outboard motor to turn it off. Use the switch on the throttle to lift the motor out of the water.

Now take a deep breath and listen… the best sound in the world!

Also consider moving battery switch to either off, or to the deep cycle battery (2). Save battery 1 for starting.