Control Your Mainsail Shape Better With a Boom Vang

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

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…

Put That Lazy Sheet to Work and Point Higher

It’s the holy grail of sailing, the one thing that is denied every sailor, yet they yearn and struggle for it anyway.  I’m talking about pointing higher upwind.  No matter how good of a sailboat you have or how good you are at trimming its sails, there’s a limit to how close into the 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 it 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 you set…

Two Ways to Rebuild Your Main Sheet Traveler Car

What condition is your main sheet traveler car in? Do the sheaves look like the picture below, chipped and cracked? After twenty, thirty, or forty years they can get brittle and weak. You don’t want them to break while you’re out on the water. The car wouldn’t come off the bar but there would be…

Do-It-Yourself Small Sailboat Rigging

Do you have an older sailboat with minimal or worn running rigging? Did you recently buy a used sailboat and you don’t know if you can trust the standing rigging? Do you want to set up your sailboat for maximum cruising pleasure and performance? Do you like to save money but you want quality rigging that you can trust?

Product Review: Barton Marine Winchers

Do you have winch envy? I mean do you wish you had shiny new self-tailing winches like on bigger and newer sailboats? It’s easy if you think about how you have to go to the extra effort to cleat off your sheet on every tack when the other guys only have to give them another…

DIY Soft Shackles for Quick and Easy Headsail Changes

Do 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?

Choose Your Running Rigging Colors Logically

When we purchased Summer Dance, she had an odd assortment of line colors, mostly the original equipment, run of the mill white with blue tracer. But the main sheet was white with a red tracer, the jib sheet too, and the genoa sheet was white with a black tracer. The halyards in particular were difficult…

How to Reinforce Your Stem Fitting

While removing and rebedding all the deck hardware on Summer Dance with butyl tape, I decided that I would reinforce the stem while I was at it. A popular only Catalina parts retailer’s website says: “Boats built before ’82 had an inherent weakness: The forestay load was forward of the stem fitting’s forward mounting bolts, supported only by…

Handy and Cheap Line Hangers

Until recently, I stored all my unused lines, sheets, and cords in a large plastic bag in the starboard lazarette. I knew there was a better way to organize them, but I hadn’t seen it yet. First, I came across these teak line caddys on eBay. And while I like their design and the fact that…