Raising and lowering the main from the cockpit

Overview: Raising and lowering the mainsail from the cockpit requires a halyard and a downhaul run back to the cockpit. On Dogstar the downhaul is the other end of the main halyard which is made extra long. The normally-free end of the halyard goes back to the base of the mast, turns up via a block at the base of the mast and is attached to the mainsail near the headboard. This leaves a loop of mainhalyard in the cockpit at all times.

Raising the mainsail is trivial. Haul on the halyard. Towards the end use a winch mounted near the cockpit. The line passes through a rope clutch which permits the same winch to be used for the main halyard.

To lower the main, start with the jib already lowered. Center the tiller and completely let go of it. The boat will tack back and forth on its own, at very low speed. As the boat slowly comes through the eye of the wind, release the rope clutch on the main halyard and pull on the downhaul. It will come down very easily.

As always, it helps to have a low friction system. Occaisionally oiling the slides helps a lot in raising and lowering the main, whether or not you do it from the cockpit.



Details of Dogstar's main halyard and downhaul:




The main halyard is the line marked with blue threads. The block through bolted on the far right turns the mainhalyard back towards the cockpit. It is placed ahead of the mast-support deck beam located below the cabin top. The bolts securing this block to not pass thru the beam.

The downhaul end of the main halyard is the line-with-blue-threads that turns upwards thru the block at the back base of the mast. This block is lashed to the base of the mast with the same line that was used for the jib downhaul.

The block bolted to the cabin top, between the two parts of the mainhalyard, is the jib halyard turning block. If I were to redo this, I would experiment with putting the main halyard block back by the jib halyard block. This would keep the main halyard from not being right next to the mast for most of it's length (see last photo). Note the four epoxy-filled holes to the right of the mainhalyard block. Sometimes your first guess as to where to put a block doesn't work out. That is where the jib halyard turning block was in the Mark I version. Holes, fortunately, are easy to fill.


A low friction plastic fairlead slightly changes the course of the main halyard as it runs back to the halyard clutch and winch.

The lines shown here are, left to right, main halyard, jib halyard, pole-lift and main downhaul.


Main and jib halyards pass through rope clutches which permit them to be secured and released by moving a lever. This allows one winch to do both halyards.

The two cam cleats on either side of the winch are used to secure the spinnaker pole-lift and the pole downhaul. However, they're also useful for tensioning on the main downhaul.


In this photo you can see the main downhaul arcing upwards along the sail, just behind the mast. The jib halyard is right next to the mast, while the main halyard is clear of the mast for most of it's length. This, I suspect, increases windage. I've been meaning to redress this by reposition the main halyard turning block, but.....