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How do you run your jib sheets when shorthanded?


Active Member
Or do you? I realize it's a small boat.

I asked this question over on SailingAnarchy, and got ridiculed for "asking too many questions". Too many question on a sailing forum?? I thought that was what sailing forums, and all forums, were for! Well, that and posting photos of your toys.
Sometimes it feels like the members of THAT forum think my questions are based on complete stupidity and no understanding of mechanics or common sense. It makes me very reluctant to use that site anymore, and that's a shame.

At any rate... Just curious what folks here like to do. Not a serious question; like I can't figure out what works best for me on my own. It's just fun to hear what others do to make things easier, and at the same time, breath some life into this sub-forum. :D

Earlier this month I got out for my first solo sail, and at the recommendations of several people, I tied my jib sheets together so I could use the lazy sheet as a retrieval line to access the active sheet.

Unfortunately this resulted in tangled lines piled up all over the cockpit floor, the Barney Post, the mainsheet block, etc. every time I tacked. A few people suggested making a "continuous jib sheet" by significantly shortening the sheets and tying the ends to the jib clew only. That way you have a "smooth", knot-free line running across the cockpit, from the port-side cleat to the starboard cleat.

Others said to just shorten my existing sheets, which I think, regardless of Catalina's recommendations, are waaaay too long.
Mine are a total of 38'.

I'm curious if anyone has tried this? My schedule has been so crazy this month, I haven't had, and won't have, time to get out to the boat to try out some new ideas, so like many people in the off season, I talk about my boat instead of sailing it. :p

I don't think you can ever ask too many questions, about anything. Nobody has to respond so why worry about them.
Regarding jib sheets, I've been sailing for almost 50 years and single handing probably 75 percent of that time, from an eleven foot dinghy to a 23 foot cruiser. Downsizing to the Cat 14.2K Mod III actually made it easier on me, along with a furling jib and a tiller tamer ( no more self-tailing winches to release and reset-for example). Making sure that the "lazy" sheet is trailing down into the cockpit near the barney post seems to be all of the help I need as long as I have the tiller tamer tensioned enough to hold the tiller in position after I begin a tack. My Harken cam cleats for the jib also have the retainer bar on top of them so that I don't have to worry about the line jumping out of position and they work so smoothly that it is a quick and simple effort to release one sheet and snap the other into place. I also keep the jib cars set as far forward on the track as possible, as recommended in the North Sails sail handling guide for this boat. That means that during a brief interval I have both hands free, one to handle the main sheet and one to handle the jib sheet changes. I have been sailing this particular boat for about five years now and every day I sail is always different but rewarding and still gaining experience. I much prefer to sail this boat alone and just soak up the experience(s). It helps that I am sailing a keel version so that it is not as tender but it is all about experience and gaining confidence.
Boat is on the trailer and covered for winter so dreaming about sailing is more of a reality for the next six months before prepping for spring and summer beginning in April.


Active Member
I rigged a continuous jib sheet tonight and hope to try it out tomorrow. Something tells me though, given the amount of extra rope that's still laying in the cockpit, that it will still get tangled up in the mainsheet block if I'm not careful.

I also read that North Sails handling guide, and I keep my cleats and fairleads forward at all times. I doubt very much I'd notice any performance change were I to move it. Keeping them forward gives me a handy place to mount a set of eye-straps for securing mooring lines to.



Well-Known Member
Fairleads! Not counting a few special cases, I think every cleat should include a top fairlead, and jib cleats are no exception. You want the sheet to cleat in any (horizontal) direction you need to pull it. Harken has several good choices; the 425 "flairlead" is fine for most applications, while the 375 (which I have used on the Lightning jib cleats) and 494 let you cleat the line at 90 degrees off-axis.

Have you thought of tying the jib sheet ends across the cockpit to the eyestraps at the aft end of the jib lead tracks? Or to the trapeze handles?

On a spinnakerless boat the jib sheets need to be long enough to enable the jib to be winged (on the opposite side of the main), with or without a whisker pole. I assume that requires sheets that are longer than common sense would say, but it's one of the many things that have to be tested in real life.

And by the way, I haven't followed THAT forum for years. Exceeds my tolerance for plain arrogance way too often (while most of the posters aren't that knowledgeable anyway).



Active Member
And by the way, I haven't followed THAT forum for years. Exceeds my tolerance for plain arrogance way too often (while most of the posters aren't that knowledgeable anyway).
I get some pretty good advice over there, but just like a toxic friendship I recently ended, it's just not worth the abuse I have to deal with, every time I ask a question.

I'd sure like to get out and test the new reefing hardware I installed yesterday, but today I'm seeing reports of 30 mph sustained winds where I sail, so I think I'll sit this one out. "When in doubt, don't go out".....


Active Member
I’m curious, would you share some pictures of how you set up your reefing system?
I will when I get it installed. :p This darn SiP has me hunkered down at home for the foreseeable future.

I can tell you how I'm going to run it, though. I'm going to use the existing Cunningham at the luff, a pair of intermediates along the foot, and this system at the leech (pictured).
My intermediates will be short lengths of rope with a loop at one end, tied to the foot of the sail through the reefing cringles. That way I can just loop the free end around the boom and loosely tie them off at the loops on the other side of the sail.

I should add that my understanding is that the red, reef line seen in the photos isn't set up quite right. From what I've read, you're supposed to run the reef line (red) from a pad-eye, directly below the reef cringle (straight up), then back to a block on the other side, through the block, then forward to a clam cleat.

That's the system I'm working on.

Sorry. I wish I could show you a step-by-step of exactly what I have planned, but I haven't gotten out in a while. :(


mike dimin

New Member
I sail solo 95% of the time. This is how I handle the jib. Prior to the tack I make sure all the lines a clear and ready to go. When tacking (which, BTW, is the only time I cleat the main sheet) I will keep the leeward sheet cleated and allow the jib to backwind. This helps get the boat around quicker and keeps the sail and sheets under control. As I move to the new windward side, I bring the new leeward side jib sheet with me and trim it as I release the cleat on the now, windward side. This makes for a fast tack with no sail flutter. Finally, I’ll trim the jib and adjust the main as needed.

Cactus Cowboy

Well-Known Member
Always helps to backwind the jib... early on in my instruction, from sailing Capri 14s (not the 14.2, the other kind) and Lido 14s, right up through the entire Catalina fleet at the Naval Sailing Club, all of us were taught to use that technique. Makes for a more orderly tack, and if you have friends aboard you get to use salty commands like "Prepare to tack!" and "Cut!" I used to substitute "Tacking!" for "Helm's alee!"---that last one sounded like some sidewalk sissy number, LOL. :rolleyes:

Nothing like a brisk and well-executed tack to make a skipper & crew look good on the water, especially when there's no significant loss of boat speed... beats looking like a chump with the jib luffing in a tack which drags on for half an hour, LOL. :confused: