How to Remove Your Roller Furling Headsail
By Steve Morrell
It is really quite easy: You get in your car, you drive to your boat, you remove it. It is that simple, but I see so many boats out there with their headsails up during high winds with the sail torn and blowing in the wind that I wonder if many people just don’t know how to remove it. What other reason could there be? I saw many boats that their only damage—and they were from tropical-storm-force winds only—was a torn roller-furled headsail that was left up. Plus these boats can damage docks and other boats. Since insurance companies have deductibles, these people didn’t leave them up to get a new headsail. So there must be some other reason. Barring those who are stupid, lazy or have more money than they can spend, I can only guess that some just don’t know how, so here are the instructions.
I strongly believe this: There is probably no one thing you can do in preparing your boat for a tropical storm that has the greatest return for the smallest effort than removing your roller furling headsail.
Instructions for Removing Your Roller Furling Headsail
- In light or no winds (although it can be done in “stronger” winds with a bit more attention—especially if the boat is headed into the wind), roll out your headsail as if you are sailing.
- Release the headsail (jib) halyard. If there are enough people, have someone do it slowly, while the sail is lowered.
- Stand at the bottom of the sail and pull it down and slide it out of the groove that the front (luff) of the sail slides into.
- When the top of the sail is down, disconnect the top (head) of the sail from the fitting that has come down with the halyard—a small drum, the upper part of which is attached to the halyard and the lower part to the sail’s head.
- Disconnect the sail at the fitting at the bottom (tack) of the sail. You are done.
- Place the sail in a sail bag (or fold and wrap a line around it). You can either stuff it or fold it. It makes no difference if it is a Dacron sail, if it is for a short time, like days, or even weeks (and some believe stuffing is better). Fold it if it is long-term. (If in a hurry and your sails are Dacron, stuff both the main and headsail in the bag—it is often better for the material over a short period.) Fold it if it is a high-tech material, like Mylar. You can leave the sheets on and stuff them in the bag or remove them.
- With lines and/or bungee cords, tie the upper fitting (leaving it in the lowered position), which was attached to the head of the sail, to the lower roller furling drum at the bottom and secure it tightly to keep it from moving around. Tighten up the halyard. Also secure the lower drum to nearby points, like a stanchion, so it won’t twist around in high winds. Untie the halyard from that small drum and secure the halyard at the base of the mast or some other point.