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Rigging the Boat
This page describes how to prepare Northern Light for sailing/racing. If you're not familiar with some of the terms or concepts on this page, look them up in the Glossary and review the Sailing Basics page.
Please help prepare the boat as follows:
- Preliminary Items
- Power Cord and Vent Covers
- Winche Handles
- Spinnaker Pole
- Leaving the Dock
A. Preliminary Items
- There is a blue plastic bin below the sink in the cabin. Inside the bin are two canvas bags –
one bag holds all the hardware (blocks, winch handles, etc.) and the other holds all the “soft stuff” (winch covers
and other items items that we don't use during the race). Take the canvas bags out from the bin and put them on the floor in the
- Take the blue winch covers off the winches and put the covers in the canvas bag for soft stuff.
- Check with Rod to see which sails we will use:
- The jib will be either the # 95 for heavy air or the # 155 for light air.
- The spinnaker will usually be the 1.5 oz. in the orange turtle.
B. Power Cord and Vent Covers
- Unplug the thick white power cord in the cabin.
- Take the heater, the hanging light, and the power strip off the boat and put them in the storage box on the dock.
- Pull the white power cord out of the cowl vent that the cord runs through.
- Take the power cord off the boat and wind it around the storage box on the dock.
- Carefully pull the cowl vent out from the deck, and put it in the canvas bag for soft stuff.
- Replace the cowl vent with the vent cover (a flat white disc that's stored in the canvas bag).
- There is another cowl vent on the deck near the bow. Pull this cowl vent out as well, put it in the canvas bag,
and put another vent cover over the hole where the cowl vent was.
- Hose off the boat deck. Use the hose that's wrapped around the storage box on the dock.
- Scrub the boat hull. Use the sponge brush with the long PVC-pipe handle. This step is important – cleaning the hull can make a big impact on the boat's performance.
- Bring up the canvas bag with hardware from the cabin and leave it on the floor in the cockpit.
- Get the blocks out of the canvas bag.
- Attach the snatch blocks for the afterguys. The snatch blocks have white casings and attach to the rails, one to port and one to starboard. Look for the wear marks on the rails to figure out exactly where the blocks go.
- Attach the car blocks (fairleads) for the jib sheets to the tracks on the deck.
- There should be one car block on the port side and one on the starboard side.
- For the # 95 jib, the car blocks should be on the forward track, aligned with the aft turnbuckle on the shrouds.
- For the # 155 jib, the car blocks should be on the rear track, aligned with the vent cover near the turning blocks.
- Look for the wear marks on the deck to figure out exactly where the car blocks should go. Make sure the car blocks are even
with each other (the blocks should be at the same location on the port and starboard sides).
- The pin of each car block should be oriented toward the stern.
E. Winche Handles
- Take the winch handles out of the canvas bag and put them in the winch handle holders
(deep white plastic pockets). The winch handles have designated winches – ask one of the other crew members if you don't
know which handle goes with which winch.
- Two winch handles go in the handle holders in the cockpit.
- One winch handle goes in the winch used for the mainsail halyard, with the winch handle always
pointing back toward the stern.
F. Spinnaker Pole
- The pole is normally stowed with one end attached to a stanchion. Open the jaws of the pole and detach the pole from the stanchion.
- Attach the pole to the large metal ring at the base of the mast. The pole should be attached with the jaws up (i.e., with the locking pin toward the sky).
- Place the other end of the pole down on the deck near the bow pulpit.
- Detach the foreguy from the small pennant on the jib luff track.
- Attach the foreguy to the bridle on the bottom side of the pole, and tension the foreguy.
- Topping Lift
- Detach the topping lift from the small pennant on the jib luff track.
- Attach the topping lift to the bridle on the top side of the pole.
- Secure the topping lift in the pole jaw at the base of the mast, and tension the topping lift.
- Put the small pennant that was on the jib luff track in the canvas bag for soft stuff.
- Take the jib sheets, spinnaker sheets, and afterguys out of the starboard lazarette at the stern.
- Spinnaker sheets (red and black lines):
- Attach the shackle of each spinnaker sheet to the bow pulpit.
- Run each spinnaker sheet outside the lifelines, and through the turning block on the rail near the stern.
- Coil the tail ends of the spinnaker sheets neatly, and put the spinnaker sheets on top of the lazarettes.
- Put a slip knot in each spinnaker sheet next to its block to keep the line from dragging in the water.
- Afterguys (lines with the plastic donuts on the end):
- Attach the shackle of each afterguy to one of the spinnaker sheet shackles at the bow.
- Run each afterguy:
- outside the lifelines,
- through the snatch block on the rail near the middle of the boat,
- under the spinnaker sheet, and
- down through the companionway.
- Put a slip knot in each afterguy next to its block to keep the line from dragging in the water.
- Jib sheets (thick white lines with red markings):
- Tie each jib sheet to the jib clew using a bowline knot.
- Run each jib sheet:
- on top of the spinnaker pole and in front of the topping lift,
- through the car block,
- under the afterguy,
- through the turning block near the primary winch in the cockpit, and
- down through the companionway.
- Tie a stopper knot at the end of each jib sheet (to keep the sheets from running out of the blocks when the sheets
- Runners (black and blue lines):
- Uncleat the runners in the cockpit.
- Wrap each runner a couple of times around one of the secondary winches in the cockpit.
- Put the tail ends of the runners through the portholes near the cockpit floor and into the cabin below.
- Main Halyard:
- Take the blue cover off the mainsail by rolling it up from the mast toward the stern. Fold the rolled-up cover in half
and then in quarters. Stow the cover in the cabin below, in the aft-most part of the starboard-side upper shelf
(where the crew's bags are kept).
- Untie the thin cord at the aft part of the boom. This thin cord runs up to the top of the mast, where it is attached to the end of the main halyard.
- Walk the thin cord up to the mast on the starboard side.
- Take the coiled main halyard off the boom, untie it, uncleat it, and place it on the deck so that it is running free.
- Pull the thin cord down. This pulls the end of the main halyard out of the mast and down towards you. Look up to make sure that the main halyard stays clear as it comes down.
- When the screw-pin shackle on the end of the main halyard is down where you can reach it, unscrew the shackle pin, remove the thin cord from the shackle, and attach the shackle to the head of the mainsail. Look up again to make sure the main halyard runs clean from the top of the mast to the head of the mainsail.
- Take the slack out of the halyard and recleat it with a perfect cleat. Run the tail end of the halyard into the cabin below via the companionway.
- Coil up the thin cord and place it in the canvas bag for soft stuff.
- Check to make sure that the slugs on the luff of the mainsail are in their track at the base of the mast and secured with the thumb nut.
- The “casual” mainsail (as opposed the racing mainsail) has two slugs that need to be attached to the plate at
the head of the sail. Push the plunger on the pin attached to each slug, and slide the pin through the plate at the head of the
- Jib Halyard, Port Spinnaker Halyard, and Starboard Spinnaker Halyard:
- Take the coiled starboard spinnaker halyard (green line) off the boom, untie it, uncleat it, and place it on the starboard side of the deck where it can easily uncoil.
- Take the coiled port spinnaker halyard (red line) off the boom, untie it, uncleat it, and place it on the port side of the deck where it can easily uncoil.
- Take the coiled jib halyard (red and white line) off the boom, untie it, uncleat it, and place it on the port side of the deck where it can easily uncoil.
- Untie the thin cord at the base of the mast. This thin cord runs up the mast to just below where the forestay attaches to
the mast. The thin cord is attached to the ends of all three halyards (jib halyard, port spinnaker halyard, and starboard spinnaker
halyard). Walk the thin cord forward toward the bow and turn to face the mast.
- Pull the thin cord down. This pulls the three halyards out of the mast and down towards you. Look up to make sure that all three halyards stay clear as they come down. Keep pulling the thin cord down until the snapshackles of the three halyards are down where you can reach them.
- Unshackle the port spinnaker halyard from the thin cord. Look up to make sure the port spinnaker halyard runs clean to the
port side of the mast, and that it isn't wrapped around the other halyards. Attach the port spinnaker halyard to the eyelet on
the deck at the base of the mast (on the port side of the mast).
- Unshackle the starboard spinnaker halyard from the thin cord. Look up to make sure the starboard spinnaker halyard runs clean
to the starboard side of the mast, and that it isn't wrapped around the other halyards. Attach the starboard spinnaker halyard to
the eyelet on the deck at the base of the mast (on the starboard side of the mast).
- Unshackle the jib halyard from the thin cord. Look up to make sure the jib halyard runs clean and that it isn't wrapped
around the other halyards. Attach the jib halyard to one of the eyelets on the deck at the base of the mast.
- Take the slack out of the port spinnaker halyard, recleat it on its assigned cleat (use a perfect cleat), and run the end into the cabin below via the companionway. Do the same for the starboard spinnaker halyard and the jib halyard.
- Coil up the thin cord and place it in the canvas bag for soft stuff.
- Check once more that all four halyards (mainsail, jib, and two spinnaker halyards) are clear, untangled, and ready to hoist the sails.
- Take the selected jib out from the port quarter-berth in the cabin and bring it up to the foredeck.
The jibs are wrapped in blue sausage bags which have markings to indicate which jib is in which bag.
- Tie one of the ties on the outside of the sausage bag to the lifelines. (This keeps the sausage bag from falling
into the water.)
- Open the sausage bag a little bit so you can access the head, the tack,
and the clew of the jib, but leave the jib in the sausage bag (the deck crew will rip open the bag when the jib is ready to
- Attach the tack of the jib to the hook on the port side at the base of the pulpit. Put a bungee cord on the hook to keep the tack in place.
- Run your hands up the luff to the head of the jib to make sure there are no twists in the sail.
- Attach the jib halyard to the head of the jib.
- Place the bolt rope at the head of the jib through the pre-feed hook and into the port luff track.
- Tension and cleat the jib halyard (so that the head of the jib does not fall out of the luff track).
- Stretch the two white bungee cords with the plastic hooks across the jib sausage bag, and attach the hooks to each other. This helps keep the jib in place on the foredeck.
- Double-check that the jib sheets are on top of the pole and in front of the topping lift, and that they run
free (e.g., make sure that the jib sheets are not trapped under the white bungee cords).
- Check that the selected spinnaker is packed correctly.
- Bring the turtle up and attach it to the bow pulpit. Make sure to use both clips.
- Extra sails:
- There are usually extra sails on board, stored in the forepeak (in the cabin at the bow). Take the extra sails off the boat
and place them securely on the dock. Make sure the sails do not touch the support pole on the dock or the rollers at the base of
the pole (the vertical motion of the dock can rub the sails against the pole and wear the sails down).
I. Leaving the Dock
- Release the mooring lines and help guide the boat out of the slip:
- Rod will take off the stern line from the cleat at the stern of the boat.
- Release the spring line (untie the perfect cleat from the cleat on the dock).
- Release the two bow lines (remove the loop end of each line from the cleat on the bow of the boat. You do not need to untie the lines from the cleats on the dock).
- Leave the spring line and the bow lines on the dock, and announce when you have released each line (e.g., "bow lines are off").
- Hold the boat from the bow pulpit.
- When Rod says "in gear," push the boat straight back.
- Move to the starboard side of the boat and help glide the boat out of the slip.
- Jump on the boat as it glides out of the slip.
- When the bow clears the dock, announce "bow is clear."
- Put away the fenders:
- There are three fenders on the port side and two long fenders on the starboard side. Take the fenders off the lifelines
and put them into the port lazarette at the stern.
- Remember the location and height of each fender – this will help you put the fenders back in the right place when
we come back to the dock.
- The fenders are marked with labels: P1, P2, and P3 on the port side, and S1 and S2 on the starboard side. There
are corresponding labels on the boat deck to help you identify where each fender goes.
- The height of the fenders is different on the two sides of the boat. The starboard fenders hang from the lower lifeline
(these fenders protect the boat from bumping against the dock). The port fenders hang from the upper lifeline (these fenders
protect the boat from bumping against the neighbor's boat).
- Hoist the mainsail:
- Take the sail ties off and tie them around the handrails on the stairs in the companionway.
- Hoist the mainsail – be sure to use the correct winch.
- Once the mainsail is up and secure, take the boom lift off the boom and attach it to the loop at the end of the stern bungee cord. Before attaching the boom lift to the bungee cord look up and make sure the boom lift runs clear of all the cables running up to the mast, and that the bungee cord is routed aft and above all the stern rigging and between the backstay and one of the running backstays.
- Prepare to hoist the jib and/or spinnaker:
- Typically the crew will hoist the spinnaker and practice some spinnaker jibes and douses before the race.
- Check in with Rod:
- Remind him what time it is so he knows how much time we have before the start of the race.
- Remind him what the current will be for the race (flood or ebb).