Lazy Jacks

I took the new mainsail on a sea trial across to Port Madison. We were hoping to tie up to the tribal dock in Suquamish but we did not have enough room to be on the protected side of the dock. Winds and waves were building and what should have been a pizza and beer moment ended up being a let’s hurry home moment. A gale warning began at 6pm and we had an hour before things became unmanageable. Quickly we untied the lines, secured the sails and pointed it towards Shilshole with the motor pushing us along. The more exposed part of the Puget Sound channel had wind gusts to 35 knots and seas were big enough to warrant a lookout for breaking seas and big waves. Spray was constant and thankfully much of it was coming right on the bow and hitting the dodger but in order to keep us heading eastward we needed to expose ourselves to the wind and waves. I was hit several times with more than just spray. Once we made it to the other side, the winds did not let up so getting into the slip took more than one attempt. Coming from the north I did not want to commit to the turn so I passed the lane, turned around at the fuel dock and then attempted it from downwind. We pulled up to the dock and struggled to tie up the boat. Satori was safe and I rode out the winds from inside of the protected marina. Due to the level of concentration, I did not have a moment to spare to snap photos of the big waves.

New lazy jacks installed
New lazy jacks installed

One important part of upgrading the mainsail is setting a flaking pattern so that the sail retains a memory and is easier to flake on top of the mast every time. The previous mainsail did not really have such a pattern but the sail was also much lighter and quite a bit softer than the new one. When including full battens, it is imperative to align the sail and be able to flake it singlehandedly. Getting a new sail also meant offering a new means to secure the sail to the boom. I personally like sail ties as this keeps it secured but easy to deploy without too much work. I decided to choose lazy jacks to simplify the flaking process and also did some research on the best choice for materials and arrangement for the lines. Most sails employ eye straps that are secured to the boom but the Schattauer way is to add rings on four of the slugs at the foot of the sail instead. So instead of using the eye straps on the boom, I attach directly to the sail. Satori already had tangs up above for lazy jacks so I just needed the lines, some cleats, blocks and some rings. I found a new way that Brion Toss seems to like by using twelve-strand Dyneema; Amsteel since they are very low friction, easy to splice and really strong. I bought two-hundred feet of 1/8″ white Amsteel and two-hundred feet of 3/16″ yacht braid for the lines, two Harken carbon blocks, two Antal low friction rings and four Ronstan Shocks. The Shocks are also low friction rings but they are tiny, really strong and cheap. The whole setup cost about $250 and also leaves me with some extra line to play with. The yacht braid is spliced to the Antal rings, then two of the Shocks are on either end of the first lower Amsteel fork. Amsteel then threads through the two Shocks and then attaches to the slug rings using soft shackles. The system is a hybrid of Brion’s system but uses a slightly different attachment and also employs the low friction rings. The yacht braid is cleated to the belay pin rails with a small friction cleat to keep the lines away from the mast. Personally I think this setup is simple but also very effective. You could probably modify any sail for the attachments. You will also need tangs up above to attach the blocks to. I was fortunate to already have them ready to use.

Lazy jacks mast blocks
Lazy jacks mast blocks

Here is my suggested inventory to install lazy jacks:

  • 8 soft shackles using 1/8″ amsteel, approx 16′ (24″ each shackle)
  • 4 Ronstan Shocks
  • 2 Antal low friction rings, 7mm
  • lashing twine and a large needle
  • lower lines are 1/8″ amsteel, approx 150′
  • upper lines are 3/16″ yacht braid, approx 100′
  • 2 small jam cleats with eye guides

The lashing twine is the splice the yacht braid to the low friction rings. I opted to eye splice the core and then thread the sheath into the other side, then lash them together to hold the ring in place and provide enough tension to ensure the top ring never breaks free. Given the choice, I would rather have used a twelve-strand core double braid to make the splice easier. I did test the strength of the splice and it seems to be more than strong enough. Flaking the sail seems to be much more straightforward. Once the sail is flaked and tied up, the low friction rings are secured to the sail’s halyard grommet. The deploy again, you simply disconnect the rings and pull the lines tight. Once the sail is raised, back off the leeward side to make sure there is no chafe on the sail and again.

Ronstan Shocks and Amsteel for the lower jacks
Ronstan Shocks and Amsteel for the lower jacks
Cleat for the yacht braid on the belay pin rail
Cleat for the yacht braid on the belay pin rail
Soft shackle connection to the sail slug
Soft shackle connection to the sail slug
Sail is flaked and top rings secured, ready for canvas
Sail is flaked and top rings secured, ready for canvas

One Reply to “Lazy Jacks”

  1. Tony,

    Nice setup. We found that the Amsteel is so slippery that one can eliminate any rings or other type of blocks in the catch lines altogether. We just spliced eyes into the legs and ran the related lines through them. Used them for more than 20,000 miles and they are all still in great shape with no apparent wear and are ready for the next cruise.

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