Control Your Mainsail Shape Better With a Boom Vang

A boom vang is a useful control for your mainsail, especially if the mainsail is older and acting its age. That is, if it’s getting baggy and is difficult to flatten, particularly when you’re pointed off the wind. For better performance and safety, you need to be able to pull excess twist out of the mainsail…

Upgrade Your Rig With a DIY Adjustable Backstay

At some point when you get serious about sail trim, whether for racing or just high performance cruising, you’re going to want an adjustable backstay. Most C-22s and similar daysailers were rigged at the factory with fixed length backstays that are only slightly adjustable with a turnbuckle. They’re not intended for adjusting to different wind…

How to Rig a Self-Tacking Jib for Free!

You may not have seen or even heard of a self-tacking jib before. They’re usually only found on luxury sailboats. But that’s exactly what one is, a headsail that sheets itself when you tack. You don’t have to cast off the working sheet and haul in the lazy sheet on every tack. In fact, after…

Quick and Simple DIY Turnbuckle Boots

This week’s project is one of the easiest you’ll ever do to your sailboat. There’s no epoxy, painting, drilling, wiring, or splicing involved. If you can saw through a piece of PVC pipe, you can do this job. Heck, this might be a good project for a junior crew member to work on their stingy sailor…

How to Rig a Cruising Spinnaker in 4 Stingy Stages

If you don’t have a spinnaker for your sailboat yet, aren’t you a little envious of those big, colorful, billowing sails you sometimes see at your favorite cruising spots? Nothing says, “Yeah, we’ve got this!” quite like a racing or cruising spinnaker. It’s as though the sailboat is puffing its chest out with confidence and…

Turn Those Chain Plate Bolts!

Do you have problems with your shroud turnbuckle T bolts or toggles binding or bending when you step your mast? If so, your chain plate bolts might not be rotated at the right angle for those parts to work the way they’re supposed to.

Quit Spending Setup Time on Turnbuckles

Turnbuckles are great for tuning your rig but they’re the least convenient way imaginable to loosen and detach the forestay and lower shrouds for unstepping the mast. I vowed long ago that I would quit wasting time on turnbuckles during setup and tear-down. This post is a companion to my previous post How to step a mast single-handed with or without…

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Winch Maintenance

  The winches on your sailboat are the workhorses of your rig. They do the heavy lifting and make your job as skipper easier so you can enjoy the ride. They’re also the most expensive hardware aboard so it only makes sense to take good care of them. In this post, I describe how they…

Install a Double Duty Headsail Downhaul

If you don’t have a headsail furler, a downhaul line is one of the easiest and least expensive control lines that you can add to your sailboat. It adds major convenience and safety for around $30. The line can be used with any size jib or genoa.