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Setting sail, reefing, and salvaging: Land & Water

It is said that anticipation is the most beautiful joy. And so there is actually no better moment in the life of a sailor than to “pull up the rags”. Before the more or less wild ride over the waves can begin – of course, the sails must be set.

In any case, setting a sail means more than simply pulling the sail up. Basically, depending on the size/length of the boat, it is dictated whether the sails can be set on the open water (yacht), on a take barrel (smaller yacht), or even partially on land (dinghy).

Starting from the assumption that every real yachtie should / should be familiar with the handling of his sails, I would like to focus on the following explanations regarding the dinghy sailors. In addition, I assume that as a sailing beginner you will first try your hand at an inland area.

One more note: In the text, only the technical terms are mentioned and also diamondback edgewood hybrid bike reviews 

Setting sail

In the case of a dinghy, the fock (foresail) is usually set first. With the much smaller jib, the dinghy can also be maneuvered for a short time without the mainsail – e.B. if the dinghy is in a box and the mainsail can only be set later due to this position of the boat.

It’s easy on land, especially if you work as a couple. If possible, the fock is set from the rolled-up state: from the lower liek (horizontal edge of the sail triangle).

The helmsman pulls at the Fock fall (freely movable wire from the top of the mast) and the foreman rolls off the “sailing sausage” aft on the ship.

Setting sail on the water

To set the, the boat is first turned into the wind with the bow. As long as the boat is on land, this is of course very easy – the slipper is turned until it fits.

However, if the boat is lying in the water at the jetty, it must be turned until the wind blows over the bow. If the jetty-recliner box should be relatively tight (and it usually is), then mooring or mooring buoys are the right alternatives.

For this reason, corresponding buoys are firmly anchored in front of almost all jetties, to which the sailors get (paddle) in order to be able to set sail in peace and quiet (and later also recover).

Moored here at a distance, the dinghy automatically turns into the wind. You should only make sure that the leash that leads over the bow to the bin is also so long that the dinghy can move freely (schwojen).

The Fock is set

In most dinghies, the forestag (tightly screwed wire from the top of the mast to the bow) is relatively thin and only serves to prevent the mast from tipping over when the fock is not set.

In the forward (forward-facing edge of the sail) of the Fock, a then more stable wire rope is pulled in, which takes over the function of the (old) Vorstag when the Fock is set – also because it has to withstand much more pressure.

To set the fock, the sail head (upper part of the sail) is first attached to the fockfall with a shackle. With the Fockfall, the wire, which usually comes out of the mast at the trailing edge or at the bottom side, the Fock is then pulled up in the most neatly rolled up state possible.

The sail neck (lower point of the sail) is also attached with a shackle to a hole behind the prestag fitting. At this time, the Fockschoten (ropes for later operating the Fock) should not yet be attached to the Schothorn (eyelet in the sail through which the pods are guided).

When the Fock is pulled up, it is not yet set

If the Fock is set, it must necessarily still be properly enforced (tensioned). To do this, a second person hangs himself in the (thin) vorstag by supporting himself e.B. with his foot on the bow or the slipper carriage.

Caution: So that you do not injure yourself, you should definitely wear sailing gloves. While the Vorschoter hangs in the vorstag, the helmsman can enforce the fock case until he can hook the wire loop into the hook strip at the end.

Sometimes only a cleat is provided – then you have to take it (Klampe is school material in every water sports school).

Also common are Fock systems, in which the Fock are attached via so-called stag riders on the day before. This system is very useful if you want to sail alone and also set up on your own. Since here the forestag is no longer stretched, but the Fock runs more or less close on the foreday to the top of the mast.

What’s next?

If the fock is set on the mast, the two-part Fockschot is fixed to the Schothorn with a Palstek (Attention: knotting!) – or, depending on the system, also attached by shekel. The two pods must then be guided on port and starboard through the corresponding hole points (eyelet bushings screwed to the boat).

In the end, the two Fockschoten are secured with eight-poops (attention: knot customer) against unintentional noise (slipping out). So that the Fock does not hit (flutter), it is occupied on one side in a pod clamp.

Hint: Especially for sailors traveling alone, it has proven to be extremely practical to use a fockroll system. Here the can then remain rolled up until it is needed.

The mainsail is set

If possible, the mainsail is always stored rolled. This prevents unnecessary kinks in the sailcloth and of course also extends the service life.

If the large tree has a groove, the first step is to move the lower of the mainsail into the large tree – whereby the sail should still remain rolled up and the large tree should not yet be attached to the mast.

Then the lower edge of the sail (a reduction that allows the lower edge of the sail to be pressed) is shaved or knotted into the eyelet in the Schothorn at the rear end of the tree.

For setting, the large case, which in most cases runs directly on or in the mast and comes out at the base of the mast via a deflection roller, is pulled until it has reached the very top.

Depending on the type of construction of the dinghy, there is a mechanism at the top of the mast for hooking in the sail top or you have a wire loop at the end of the big case, which can be hooked at the base of the mast. With the simplest rigging techniques, the large case is simply attached to a cleat, which is usually located on the side of the mast and men hybrid bikes

Setting sail is teamwork

Setting sail is best done in pairs. One sailor pulls the fall, the second inserts the sail on the Liektau (as a rule, a rope is sewn in at the side where the sail is to be pulled up in the mast – the Liektau).

Once this has been achieved, the Unterliek must still be retracted and fastened in the same procedure. Setting sail is much easier with one-hand dinghies such as the types of lasers.

Here, the sail is simply rolled out and pulled over the composite mast in the condom process. Then the mast and sail are inserted into the hole in the deck. Ready!

It is similarly easy with these types, because the Unterliek does not have to be threaded into the large tree. The lower side of the sail is only attached to the Schothorn aft. The Olympic status of the laser should prove that this type of rigging also leads to high sailing pleasure.

Sail reffen

Of course, you and your crew checked the weather before the sailing. Sometimes, however, surprising developments can occur and force you to reduce the sail area.

A very bad idea is to take the sails completely down in such moments or just want to deal with the smaller fock alone – always provided you don’t have an engine. Then the following applies: First get the engine running, then down with the “rags” and off home.

Correct referencing

While with common one-hand dinghies there are no possibilities to reduce the sail area (so you have to see how you can cope and offer the wind as little sail area as possible), the larger dinghies usually have so-called reef systems.

The simplest and most practicable: In the mainsail, three horizontal rows of thinner tamps are sewn in – the reef rows. Eyelets are sewn into the sail at the mast of the sail at the height of each row of reefs.

If necessary, you let your mainsail down with the large case until the corresponding (reduced) sail area is reached. On the large tree you can now hook in the corresponding eyelet and roll up the mainsail until the corresponding row of reefs is reached and you can integrate the sail in the horizontal.

Now you have a much smaller but absolutely functional sail that will take you to the port in a controlled manner. Even the usual sailing maneuvers such as turning and necks are possible.

Hint: Never try to take the mainsail completely down and only want to sail with the smaller fock. This does not work for purely physical reasons.

But: Even if the mainsail is only the size of a handkerchief after reefing – you can get into the harbor without capsizing (falling over by wind).

Maybe not yours, but at least and definitely on land.

Certainly, it is not difficult to imagine that a reefing maneuver in wind and wave is a rather strenuous and complicated exercise. Since sails are always operated with foresight, the reefing should be completed before leaving the marina, but at least before the worst comes to the worst.

Salvage sails

Actually, the order of the sailing mountain actions is indifferent. When lowering or rolling in the sails, it is only necessary to ensure that they are then really tied securely and firmly.

Nothing makes the later mooring as “interesting” as the sudden and uncontrolled unwinding of a sail, into which then also a gust of wind blows! If a dinghy with set sails is or will be parked on land, or is to drift unattended in the water, some important settings must be observed.

The abandoned dinghy can quickly break if, for.B example, it becomes independent in a gust of wind or capsizes (overturns) because the sails suddenly get full wind pressure. In addition, even fitters of the neighboring boat could be damaged, which would not only be very annoying (club harmony!), but also dangerous.

If the sailing is only interrupted, the sails do not necessarily have to be salvaged. Most importantly, the dinghy is placed in the wind with the bow or given so much leash that it can move (commute) freely on the jetty or buoy.

As a rule, the mainsail should still be lowered and rolled up and attached to the large tree. The Fock can be left on top, but tied in the rolled up state on the day before.

In very weak winds, the Fock can also be pulled very tight and fixed in a clamp.


Setting your sails doesn’t make any fuss – if it’s teamwork. In pairs, this is no problem at all. Setting sail alone is always a little more cumbersome – just like salvaging. By means of controlled reefing of the sails, any change in the weather can be sailed out without major


After salvaging, increased attention should be paid to folding the sails. If possible, the sails should be stored in a rolled state. If this is not possible for reasons of space, the mainsail can also be folded in special techniques.

Here it depends on the size of the sails, what material they are made of and how long they are expected to be stored. It is then best to ask the sailmaker of his trust how the sail should be stowed away.



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