19 Things To Consider When Raising Sails on a Sailboat?

Sailing miles across the sea is the best way to experience new adventures, explore new routes, and have some relaxation time. The voyage becomes more exciting when you are sailing with your friends and family; it is the best way to spend quality time together. However, it is not an easy task if you don’t know how to raise sails on a sailboat.

Raising sails is key to control the sailboat in the water. It needs energy and activeness to raise the sails at the right time. If you are new in the field, you need to practice a couple of times to understand the whole procedure.

Experienced sailors know the tricks and tips to raise the sails on a sailboat. However, if you are sailing with your crew (friends and family) for the first time or you are new to sailing, you can learn about raising the sails. Let the journey begin!

Learn To Hoist The Mainsail

Hoisting the mainsail involves a couple of steps that you need to follow carefully. If you follow every step cautiously, you can easily get success in hoisting the mainsail.


Start by taking off the mainsail cover as well as clip on the mainsail halyard. You need to raise the boom. Ease the vang and mainsheet, and tension the topping lift. This helps to take off the pressure when it is hoisted and makes it easier and quicker to hoist.

If a person reefed the main when they sailed last time, it could help in reducing friction while hoisting because it helps to pull through a few reefing lines.

In case of lazy jacks in the boat, you need to take them forward and hook lazy jacks under a horn of a cleat on the mast. This way, battens of the mainsails will not strike with the lazy jack lines.


Lead the halyard back to the cockpit as a safety measure. When you are motoring slowly and 10° off the wind, open the sail ties. The sail will drop towards the leeward side.

If the halyard exit is towards the port side, keep yourself away from the falling side and remain on the high side to manage the wind on the port bow.


You need to hoist as quickly as possible. When the boom rises, the sail will not power up during the hoist.

The last step is hard for most people because of the sail aloft; the wind catches more of the sail, and the sailor’s arms gradually become tired.

Remember to have control of the reefing lines so that they can’t wrap around the topping lift.

Trim the Sail

Once you get the required halyard tension, head back to the cockpit and ease the topping lift as well as lower the boom.

Now trim the sail. Organize the halyard tail and reefing lines so you can use them, and they don’t get tangled.

Correct Settings of the Headsail

It’s essential to correct the setting of the headsail before getting into the water, whether you have a furling headsail or a hanked-on headsail. The following is the procedure to correct the headsails.

Check the Sheets

Check the sheet bowlines, car positions, and the stopper knots. Moreover, check that the furling lines are clear to run.

Unfurling the sail

It’s important to keep friction on the furling line while unfurling the sail. You can turn around the winch to avoid unfurling the sail too fast.

In case of the hanked-on headsail, when you are in the marina, attach the sheets to the clew with bowlines. To keep the sail on deck secured, use the sail ties. Also, attach the halyard to a sail tie to prevent the sail from raising.

To prevent the sail flogging when you are hoisting the sails, you can put pressure on the leeward sheet.

How Does Reefing Technique Work?

Many people think that you can only reef in heavy weather. However, many sailors also use this method in a breeze. This process increases the control of the weather and controls the boat.

Reefing means to manage the boat to the point where it can sail on its own. You can control the sailboat tiller or wheel easily after raising sails on a sailboat.

When you are on the deck and seem like there is a reefing breeze, you must set the reefs in the mainsail before casting off. This way, the sailor can easily hoist the main.

However, there is no particular time for reefs. The skillful sailors say that the best time to reef is when it comes to your mind.

You will know the right time to raise sail when you understand your boat, crew, and the weather conditions. In other words, you need the experience to know the best time of reefing.

Spot The Difference Between Upwind And Downwind

You need to know the wind direction before starting to sail in rivers or oceans. A wind direction is the direction of the wind from where it is coming. For instance, a Northwest wind is an air coming from the Northwest and going towards the southeast.

How Do You Raise Sails on a Sailboat?

Moreover, the upwind is the starting point of the wind flow, and the downwind is where the wind is going. For example, if the wind is coming from the Northwest, then the upward wind direction is Northwest. In this case, the downward direction is the Southwest.

So, if you are sailing upwind, then you are moving against the wind, and if you are sailing downwind, you are moving with the wind.

Avoid These Issues To Raise Sails On Your Sailboat

You need to keep an eye on a few things to prevent the issues when raising sails on a sailboat. These problems can also reduce the lifespan of your sailboat. The following are some issues you need to avoid in your sailboat.

Loose Shackle

You need to check the halyard if you have attached it to the sail for long hours. Make sure that it does not loosen up when raising and hoisting the mainsail.

Sail Slugs

Sail slugs can get jammed in the sail slot, or slot can become dirty, and not function properly. If you find it challenging to raise the sail, check the slugs and lubricate the sail track or replace the slugs.

Snagged Halyard

If the halyard is too loose, it can flop along on mast fitting. It can also cover a speeder. So tight the halyard on your sailboat.

Worn out Halyard

Worn out halyard can get into the block at the masthead, and get jammed. However, a sail can evenly go up and down easily after this problem, but it needs to be replaced before it breaks completely.

How Different Is Dropping The Mainsail From Raising It?

Dropping the mainsail is the reverse procedure of raising the mainsail. Both processes are important to remain in the water.

The dropping of mainsail helps manage the sailboat, pointing opposite to the wind. The engine is always running when the sailor drops the mainsail.

While the raising of the mainsail helps to flow with the wind, you don’t have to run the engine, and your boat will move according to the flow of wind.

The sailors need to understand when they can drop or raise the sail so that they don’t have to face troubles while they are in the water.

More Tips and Tricks to Raise Sails on a Sailboat

You can use some tricks to make your sailing time best and easy. The following are some points to consider to raise sails on a sailboat.

Reduce friction

You can change the old blocks with the new low friction rings. Also, you can fit the PE mast track so that you can raise the mainsail quickly.

Sail Plan

You can use the furling off wind sail, like code zero or gennaker, when you need to cover up the loss of sail area.


Think to choose a new thruster to eliminate worrying berthing situations. Moreover, if you use a stern thruster, it will help your boat to spin in its length and help to hold the boat against the pontoon.

Electric Winches

You can convert all the winches to electric ones with the help of an electric winch handle. You can also modify the existing winches that can assist in hoisting and sheeting tasks.

Regular Maintenance

You can increase the lifespan of the deck gear by washing the salt from the swivel bearings and blocks after every sailing adventure. Moreover, service all winches every year so that they can function smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Sailing is an easy task if you learn to raise sails on a sailboat. By raising the sail at the right time, you can spend some wonderful hours on the water. Raising sails need experience; after trying a couple of times, you can get the expertise of controlling your sailboat.

Consider all the tricks, tips, and methods mentioned above to successfully raise sails at the right time and in the right way.