- Home | Greeting | Features | Specs | Video | Marina | Cruising | Adventures -
- Forward Cabin | Saloon | Aft Cabins | Sails | Cockpit | Enclosure | On deck -
 - Plotter and Radar | Marine Head | Refue
lling | Seacocks| Engine | Batteries | Dinghy | Anchoring -
- Inventory | Manuals | US/Canada Border | Winter | Thoughts | Troubleshooting -

Sails and rigging

Please do a complete sail and rigging check while you are still at the dock if it is calm, or as soon as possible after leaving. 

Unfurl and furl both sails and examine them and the running rigging and mooring lines for chafe and other issues.  Satisfy yourself that all is in good order and report any deficiencies immediately.

Although we examine the boats between charters, you are responsible once you leave the dock.

General Notes

Cassiopeia has in-mast mainsail furling and a genoa furler, all operated from the cockpit.

The main and genoa halyards are properly adjusted permanently and secured at the mast.  With the exception of the spinnaker halyard which is led to the cockpit, don't touch the halyards. 

The spinnaker halyard is used for various purposes, including launching the dinghy and storing it on deck.

Changing the halyards tension for the genoa or the main could affect furling adversely and cause problems.  If someone should accidentally release a halyard clutch, adjust the tension until the affected furling unit again operates with minimum effort.

The topping lift should not need adjustment. It is there just to keep the boom from hitting the enclosure.

All working lines are led aft and all necessary lines can be managed from the cockpit by one competent sailor. 

The lines are labelled at the clutches.

When you arrive on the boat and leave the boat, the genoa sheets should be pulled forward, coiled and hung on the pulpit and will have to be led aft outside the shrouds and through the cars to the Genoa winches..

If you are wondering if you should reef, do it now.  Reef early for easier sail handling, better speed and heeling angle, safety, happier crew, and to reduce sail flogging when tacking or reefing.  Reefing is far easier on the crew and the sails if it is accomplished before the wind overpowers the boat.  Letting out more sail when reefed is much easier than reefing after becoming overpowered and having to deal with flogging sails and writhing genoa sheets.

Sailing overpowered is not faster, is unnecessary -- and can be very uncomfortable or even dangerous.   Cassiopeia is actually faster and far more comfortable when not overpowered or heeling excessively.  15 degrees of heel is good for most conditions going upwind, and a maximum of 30 degrees is the most that should be tolerated for any length of time.  Carrying too much sail can result in rounding up and losing control.

With the furling main and genoa, reefing is easily accomplished from the cockpit and sail area can be adjusted to perfection.  When conditions relax, more sail can be let out easily and in increments.

You should never need the winch for the genoa furling line, but If you do find it too difficult to haul, look to see if anything is jammed.   If you lack the strength to  pull the genoa in by hand and choose to use the nearby spinnaker winch, be very careful not to jam something or rip a sail.  The winch can exert enough force to do serious damage to the furler.  Both sails should furl in and out easily.  If they don't, pull in and out gently on the lines and observe where things are binding.  If they are binding and more than mild effort is needed to grind in the sail, expensive damage will certainly result if force is applied.

Occasionally, if tension is not maintained on the genoa furling line when the sail is fully out, the cord on the furling spool on the forestay will override and jam.

A trip foreword to examine the problem and careful fiddling will be required to free the cord so that it can run free.  Keep slight tension on the furling line at all times to prevent this inconvenience.  A wrap or two on the spinnaker winch, then jamming the line on the self-tailer will accomplish this with no special effort.

Always balance the helm when sailing.  Try to trim sails so that the helm is centred.  Avoid being overpowered and avoid lee helm in strong winds.  Both conditions are dangerous, uncomfortable and unnecessary.  If winds and seas become uncomfortable, consider furling in the sails and proceeding on bare poles or minimum sail under engine power.

To prepare for casting off

  • Check marine weather, Notices to Shipping, plot course.

  • Examine boat and rigging.

  • Check the engine (belt, oil, strainer)

  • Start the engine to allow it to warm up.

  • Verify fuel level.

  • Turn on instruments, VHF, and pilot. 

  • Allow time for GPS to obtain a fix. 

  • Verify operational status of instruments and confirm your position on the plotter.

  • Clear the jib sheets and lead them outside the shrouds, then thru the jib fairlead cars (one on each side), and onto the winch.   Check to ensure they run clear of shrouds and encumbrances. 

  • Close all hatches and check seacocks and bilge pump.

  • Cast off all lines and ensure none can fall in or are trailing in the water.

The Furling Main

To unfurl the main

Note: The MAIN IN and MAIN OUT lines are one continuous loop that runs over the furling reel on the mast.  Unless tension is maintained on both lines of the loop, the reel is free to turn and the sail will unfurl freely once the wind catches it.

The goal is to maintain only sufficient tension on the loop to control the sail enough that it does not flog excessively while grinding out the outhaul, and if a reefed sail is required, to stall the furling reel when the desired amount of sail is unfurled by tensioning and belaying both the MAIN IN and MAIN OUT lines.

  • choose a course

  • estimate the point of sail and amount of sail required

  • check for traffic and hazards

  • point up 10 degrees off the wind, preferably on a starboard tack

  • set the autopilot or instruct crew to hold course

  • ease the main sheet and vang

  • locate the MAIN IN, MAIN OUT and MAIN OUTHAUL clutches

  • make four turns of the MAIN OUTHAUL line clockwise on the winch

  • open the MAIN OUT and MAIN OUTHAUL clutches

  • hold the MAIN OUT line in one hand and prepare to maintain slight tension to control the amount of sail coming out of the mast.

  • while observing the mainsail, with the other hand, grind the MAIN OUTHAUL until the sail is out to where you want it.

  • Harden the MAIN OUT line by hand tension to stall the furling reel, and close the MAIN OUT clutch.

  • Grind the MAIN OUTHAUL to flatten the sail as desired

  • close the MAIN OUTHAUL clutch

  • set the main sheet, traveller and vang as desired.

  • tidy up the lines

The traveller is adjusted from above the companionway, though the dodger zippers.  For casual sailing most cruisers keep it centred and never adjust it.  The boom vang is useful when running to keep the boom down.

To furl the main, partly or completely

  • check for traffic and hazards

  • point up 10 degrees off the wind, preferably on a starboard tack

  • set the autopilot or instruct crew to hold course

  • ease the main sheet and vang

  • locate the MAIN IN, MAIN OUT and MAIN OUTHAUL clutches

  • free the MAIN OUTHAUL from any restrictions and prepare to control it while furling.  Leave it on the self-tailer

  • Put hand tension on the MAIN IN and MAIN OUT lines

  • open the MAIN IN, MAIN OUT and MAIN OUTHAUL clutches

  • cast off the MAIN OUTHAUL and control it with a loose wrap on the winch while pulling on the MAIN IN line and maintaining some slight tension on the MAIN OUT line so the loop does not slip on the furling reel..

  • the sail will roll into the mast quite easily.

  • stop when all that is showing is the blue UV part of the clew. 

  • lightly tension all three lines and close the clutches.

  • coil and stow the lines

The rigid Boom Vang: should not need any attention unless you have adjusted it. 

The topping lift simply keeps the boom from dropping onto the enclosure.  Do not adjust the topping lift.

The Furling 135 Genoa (Jib)

The headsail furler is a single line furling system.  The furling line runs along the lifelines on the port side from a block on the port cockpit coaming to the forestay.

Be aware of wind direction when furling or unfurling the genoa and minimize the pressure on the lines by steering to reduce pressure on the lines.


To unfurl the genoa

  • Determine how much sail you wish to expose.

  • Adjust the genoa cars accordingly.  (They cannot be adjusted while under load).

  • Point 10 degrees off the wind. (Always check for traffic before altering course).

  • Free the furling line and ensure it is free to run

  • Pull on the leeward sheet to unfurl the genoa. 

  • Control the furling line to prevent snags and jamming as it runs out.   Keep very slight tension to prevent overrides. on the spool.
    Warning: Wind will tend to pull the genoa out suddenly once sufficient sail is exposed if boat is not facing into the wind or the furling line is not kept under control.

  • Seize the furling line when the desired amount of genoa is exposed.

  • Take up the slack in the lazy sheet.

  • Trim the sail and settle on course.

  • Tidy up the lines.

The genoa can be launched with any amount of sail from 10% (reefed) to 100% (full sail) by controlling the furling line as the sail unfurls, then cleating the line with the cam cleat (on the turning block on the coaming) or the spinnaker winch when the required amount of sail is out.

Smart cruisers and less muscular sailors set the genoa sheets for the planned point of sail before turning down onto course.  The sheets can be trimmed easily by hand when luffing, but require grinding once the sail is full.  By setting them before the pressure is applied, the sails will be close to perfect and only the final trim requires winching -- or easing.

To Furl the genoa:

  • Strong winds will tend to whip the sheets around potentially causing damage if they are not controlled.

  • Point 10 degrees off the wind and/or motor to reduce apparent wind. (Always check for traffic before altering course).

  • Completely release the sheets.

  • Heave steadily on the furling line while controlling the sheets.
    This requires some sustained effort. The spinnaker winch can be used to assist, but extreme caution must be used  to ensure that no jamming occurs or damage will result if more than a little force is exerted. Under most conditions this is not necessary.

  • Continue to pull in the roller furling line until the jib sheets have three or four wraps around the furled sail.

  • Belay the reefing line under slight tension on the spinnaker winch.

  • When leaving the boat, pull the sheets to the bow, coil the jib sheets and secure the coils to the bow pulpit, with enough tension to keep the sheets snugly wrapped around the furled sail

In strong winds, sheltering the jib behind the main ca reduce flogging and effort required.

To Reef the Genoa:

  • With the active sheet unloaded, and the lazy sheet free to run, the jib may be furled in and cleated off to any size you wish
    Note that a partially furled jib forms a deeper shape.

  • Jib cars on a partially furled jib should be forward of their normal position. Remember that you can move a loaded car forward, but not aft.

  • When a car needs to come aft, adjust the car for the lazy sheet and then sheet out, tack or gybe and adjust the other. Do not try to pull back a loaded car.

The jib lead cars are adjustable underway by tensioning/releasing jib car leads which rP1010029-01un aft through cleated cheek blocks aft of the genoa winches. 

Although either car can be allowed to move forward anytime by easing its line, each car should only be pulled aft when its jib sheet is not loaded.

Tip: If you are motoring and the wind is coming up, unfurling some sail before idling down and killing the motor will often save having to turn into the wind since the apparent wind will be ahead.  When dousing sail if the wind drops, the same applies.  Start the engine and increase speed and the sails will be in ideal position for furling.


Cassiopeia's spinnaker is an asymmetrical and does not require a spinnaker pole. It comes with a sock.  The spinnaker halyard and winches are in place and ready.  The extra lines are in a separate bag from the sail.

Flying a big spinnaker can be a tricky business.  Worst case, it can be dangerous.  Spinnaker use requires the right wind conditions and an able, experienced crew.   There are hazards to the crew and to the sail if it is not expertly deployed and snuffed.   The sail also takes up space on deck or below.  As a result, the spinnaker is only available on request and to clients who can show that they have spinnaker experience, the crew to manage it, and who are prepared to stow it on board.

Search this site (requires Internet connection)

While the information provided here is believed to be correct at time of publication, errors are possible
and things may change, so readers should verify details before making important decisions.

- Home | Greeting | Features | Specs | Video | Marina | Cruising | Adventures -
- Forward Cabin | Saloon | Aft Cabins | Sails | Cockpit | Enclosure | On deck -
 - Plotter and Radar | Marine Head | Refue
lling | Seacocks| Engine | Batteries | Dinghy | Anchoring -
- Inventory | Manuals | US/Canada Border | Winter | Thoughts | Troubleshooting -