Product review: MastGates sail track gates

Do you know how to reef your mainsail when the wind gets overpowering? If not, you really should learn how. If you already know, is your sailboat rigged so that you can reef and unreef quickly in high winds while underway? If not, besides a jiffy reefing line like I describe in Single line jiffy reefing, you’re going to want to install mast gates of some kind. I won’t get into all the nuances of reefing in this post. There are many other excellent resources for that. For a condensed, illustrated description along with many other sailing techniques, consider reading my review of Royce’s Sailing Illustrated Volume 1: Tall Ship Edition.

Without mast gates, one or more slugs will fall out of the sail feed slot when you reef the mainsail. That means someone has to go forward to the mast to reinsert the slugs when you hoist the mainsail back to full height. Mast gates either block or bridge the sail feed slot to keep the slugs in the track when you reef and unreef the mainsail. They turn reefing from something that you have to do well ahead of time to something that you can do as just another sail trimming option. Continue reading

Jib sheet attached by an alpine butterfly knot and a soft shackle

DIY soft shackles for quick and easy headsail changes

Ratings_Soft ShackleDo you still tie your headsail sheets on with bowline knots or cow hitches? Do you have separate single-length sheets for each headsail? Do you procrastinate when you should make a headsail change because it’s a hassle to tie or reeve the new sheets?
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Where to next?

How to secure your outboard motor for safe trailering

A frequent question of new sailboat owners is what do with their outboard motor when trailering, leave it on the boat or dismount it and haul it in the boat cockpit or tow vehicle? There are lots of owners in both camps. In this post, I describe the pros and cons of each method and how I prepare Summer Dance to hit the road. Continue reading