Raising the main sail is fairly easy, once you know how. Determine the wind directions and point the bow of the boat into the wind. Trying to raise the mainsail before pointing the bow of the boat toward the wind is a common mistake of new sailors. If the boat is not pointed into the wind, raising the mainsail may be impossible because the wind fills the sail when it is part way up, putting too much load on the halyard. Make sure the halyard is securely attached, and then unclamp and release the mainsheet in the cockpit. Hand-over-hand, steadily pull the halyard to raise the sail. When the resistance becomes too heavy, wrap the halyard around the winch and grind the winch by turning the winch handle until the sail reaches the top of the mast and the sail cloth is taut along the mast. Cleat off the mainsail halyard, coil it or place it our of the way so you can sail. Be careful, however, that you never tie off a coiled halyard in a way that you cannot immediately release it to run freely. You never know when you will want to lower a sail quickly! Steer slightly away from the eye of the wind and haul in on the mainsheet until there is not tension and the sail fills with wind. And, then, sit back and "aah"!
Whether you are an old salty dog or you are about to take your first Caribbean charter, you can always look like a pro. Click to see our article, "No Worries! Looking Like a Pro" to find more tips to capture those certain moments you can only capture aboard. - Donna
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