Removing the sails and sail bundle from a JR sloop

  • 13 Oct 2022 18:07
    Message # 12952973
    I don't know if all of what follows is self-evident, but it took me a little while to work it out, so I thought perhaps some others might find it useful:


    I have never taken the sail bundle off my boat.  When not in use, it’s been left supported by the mast lift and boom gallows, properly covered and secured, and it has lasted well.  I have had it for approaching four years now, and it’s in pretty much the same state as when I got the boat, despite a few extra seasons of sailing.  Now I have a reason to take the sail bundle off the boat.  My boat – Long Time, a 22’ Newbridge Venturer, has just been sold and is to be readied for departure to the west of Ireland.  Long Time has been replaced by ‘Yvonne’ (formerly Lorcha), my “new” 1976 Kingfisher 26, complete with, I think the original sail and engine, just purchased from a person in the south east of Ireland, who has a bigger boat to be converted soon to junk rig.  I’ve been out a couple of times with the “new” boat and am very much enjoying it and slowly making it my own.

    Yvonne was delivered by the previous owner, who generously also took over the supervision of re-installing the mast and rigging, a smooth process because he had it all planned out.  The rigging could not have gone up so easily, if it had not been taken down in an organised, planned, sequential manner. 

    So while, in the case of Long Time, the marina/boatyard staff will remove the mast for me and its new owner, I wanted to take off the sail bundle myself in such a way that when Long Time gets to its new home, a simple reversal of the process should be possible.  In particular, since I think that the halyard, lazy jack and sheeting arrangements are likely to cause the most trouble, so I have tried to take the sail bundle down with as little disruption to those as possible.  Removing the sail bundle took only about 2 ½ hours – 1 ½ to think through the sequence, and one hour to do the job. Here’s the process, in case it might assist someone else who has up to now been daunted

    1.       Examine the mast
    Look for lines that hold the sail bundle to the mast, and decide how they will be disconnected.

    2.       Yard Hauling Parrel
    In my case, I left the yard hauling parrel connected to the yard, but pulled it through from the cockpit, through its block on deck at base of the mast, through its block at the yard and around the mast, so that it was now just a long line attached to the yard.  I coiled it up and tied it to the sail bundle.

    3.       Luff-hauling parrel
    Ditto with the luff hauling parrel, which in my case has it’s highest attachment point at the fore-end of the top batten, and is attached by blocks to the two battens below, before running to the deck and into the cockpit.  I took off the stopper knot at the cockpit end, pulled through from the cockpit to the block on deck below the mast, and through again, taking it around the mast a couple of times, until it too was simply a single line hanging from the mast end.  Coiled and tied neatly to the sail bundle.  If I had a throat hauling parrel, the same process would apply.

    5.       Boom hauler-forwarder parrel?
    I also have a parrel for which I have not a name, that attaches to the boom behind the mast and, when pulled from the cockpit, moves the boom forward.  That too was pulled through and taken from around the mast, so as to hang as a line from the boom.  That was tidied up and tied into the sail bundle.

    6.       Batten Parrels
    On Long Time, these are attached at the front of the batten to a metal eye by means of a bowline, and behind the mast they attach to the batten and run through a couple of eyelets placed for the purpose by a thoughtful sail maker many years ago.  (It’s a Chris Scanes sail from pre-2010, I think).  No need to untie the parrels at both ends, I untie the fronts of each batten parrel and am left with a set of lines hanging from the sail bundle behind the mast, which can be gathered together, and neatly tied into the sail bundle.  As I know the mast is to be lifted out shortly, it was an option to leave the parrels in place, and just lift the mast out from behind them.  But this approach might interfere with some of the work of undoing the waterproofing at the mast partners, and of taking out the wedges that fix the mast in place, so I decided against it.

    7.       Untie the sail bundle from the gallows. 
    Of course the sail bundle will be bound in such a way as to stop the sail from flapping about, whether in a cover or not.  But in my case, the sail bundle was also tied down to the gallows to stop it moving about.  I untie it from the gallows, but leave the sail ties on the sail bundle, to keep the bundle together.

    8.       Disconnect the sheeting. 
    On Long Time the sheets are connected to a rail on the aft cockpit rails by a connector which opens.  So I made sure the free end of the sheet was properly coiled, opened the connector and laid the whole sheet system on top of the sail bundle.  I did not tie it to the sail bundle, but perhaps should have done so, just for neatness.  I took a picture of the sheeting arrangements first, as a reference later in case needed.

    9.       Take the aft end of the sail bundle out of the lazy jacks. 
    Now, I want to take the aft end of the sail bundle, which is resting on the aft part of the lazy jacks, out from between the lazy jacks, and put it on the deck.  Where the lazy jacks go under the boom, they run through a fitting connected to the boom – in this case the fitting is a stiff shackle that has not been opened in years.  It would not yield to my fingers, which were sore and red after only a few moments of effort.  So I waved a very large vice grips about in front of the shackle for a moment, with great menace, then applied to grips to the shackle, which yielded immediately.  In retrospect, the threatening gestures were not an essential part of the process.

    Now that it was freed of any physical attachment to the boom, and because the sheeting was sitting on the sail bundle and would not get in the way, I was ready to pull the sail bundle forward, and the aft loop of the lazy jacks backwards to free one from the other.  But for this to work, the sail bundle had to be raised quite high, so I hauled on the halyard first, so that the halyard took most of the weight, while I just lifted at one end.  Easy, the sail bundle slid forward as I raised the aft end, and the lazy jack loop could be just lifted around with no effort.  Watch the sail bundle doesn’t go too far forward, because in a moment we want it to go backwards.

    10.   Take the front end of the sail bundle out of the mast lift. 
    So now, still with the halyard taking most of the weight, pull the sail bundle backwards and lift the front well up, so it can be lifted out from between the mast lift and front part of the lazy jacks, and the mast.  Your sail bundle is now hanging more or less free.   In the case of Long Time, there was one final attachment point where the front starboard element of the lazy jacks was tied to the boom, and I also uncleated and pulled through the front port element of the lazy jacks, where this ran through a block near the mast and led back from there to the cockpit.

    11.   Check under the boom.

    If the boom has anything like a downhaul, kicking strap, etc attaching it to the boat or mast, this should be disconnected now.  In Long Time’s case there is a standing line that prevents the boom from rising beyond a certain point.  I disconnect this at the boom end.

    12.   Remove the Halyard:  Danger!!! 
    I was now in some small danger of an accident.  I have a sail bundle – not enormously heavy but not insignificant either – swinging from the halyard at just below waist height.  If there was a stiff gusty wind, this might swing over and push me towards the guard rails – or even over!  Not likely to happen, but I saw the danger and loosened the halyard to let the bundle rest on deck.  And of course, I then removed the halyard at the point where it’s block attaches to the yard, and tied the block down, so that if someone accidentally hauled on the halyard, the whole lot would not go flying up the mast to a point where it would be hard to reach (happened me once before, leading to a boathook dance on top of the cabin top).

    13.   More Danger!! 

    The sail bundle was free of attachments and now lying in a relatively stable position on the cabin top, and it looked unlikely to budge.  But I could imagine the boat rolling, the bundle slipping, and one end of it jamming into the guard rail, while the other tumbled into the murky estuarine waters of the marina.  I tied it down so it won’t move.

    14.   So that job is done. 

    The halyard, mast lift, and lazy jacks remain hanging from the mast, in such a way as the sail bundle should be easy enough to re-attach.  Then the various parrels, sheets and other lines, all now tied into the sail bundle can be re-installed in a reversal of the process outlined above.

    Photos show (1) the starting point for the job - sail bundle resting in place

    (2) another view of that

    (3) and (4) batten parrel attachments

    (5) detail near the mast - red line is the luff parrel

    (6) the problem shackle and (7) the heavy-handed solution

    (8) detail of the luff hauling parrel, the red line, which loops twice around the mast.  This was pulled through from the cockpit, unlooped from the mast until hanging from its attachment point at the front end of the top batten,  Then it was coiled and tided into the sail bundle.

    (9) Detail of the sheeting where it connects to the stern rail - this was disconnected.

    (10) undoing the final attachment of lazy jack to boom.

    (11) the sail bundle finally on deck, with lazy jacks and halyard temporarily attached to fittings on deck to stop them flying about or going upwards out of reach.

    11 files
       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
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