Lazy jacks

For those that don’t know, lazy jacks are like a catcher’s mitt for your main sail when you decide to drop the sail.

After sailing around in the bay on numerous days where the wind was fairly brisk, I learned quickly that trying to drop the main in a controlled manner could be a real challenge.  You couldn’t just let the main halyard fly.  Well, you could, but you would most likely end up with your main in the drink and some real damage to something.  So, what I did was lower the main slowly in steps.  I would lower it enough to put a sail tie at the end of the boom, then lower it some more and add another sail tie further up and repeat this until the main was completely down and secure.

Honestly, there were a couple of sailing days where I elected to sail with the head sail only due to the effort in getting the main down.  (Yeah, yeah . . . it’s not really that much effort, but for a short day sail it was just easier to leave it down.)  I had looked at lazy jack kits on line and they were slightly out of my budget and most of them were up permanently.  I knew I didn’t want that.  I wanted to be able to raise and lower them as needed.  With a little perseverance and a whole lot of internet, I researched the basic concept, looked at multiple designs, examined local boats with lazy jacks installed, and finally came up with a plan.

Here were the supplies purchased:
Qty 2 – Ronstan 30 mm Orbit block part number RF35151 – $14.99 each
Qty 6 – US Rigging 2″ Stainless steel round ring part number K-42-850 – $3.49 each
Qty 250 feet – Samson LST Yacht Braid 1/4″ line – $0.39/foot
Qty 4 – #8-32 stainless steel machine screws (sourced locally) – $0.25 each
Qty 4 – #10-32 stainless steel machine screws (sourced locally) – $0.25 each
Qty 2 – 4″ nylon cleats (sourced locally) – $3.00 each
Shipping – $15.00

With shipping, the total cost of the project was less than $175.00 from Defender.

Things needed that I already had:
Eye straps on the boom for the lower lazy jack lines
Drill bits and taps
Whipping twine
Tef-gel (to lubricate and isolate the stainless screws from the aluminum mast to prevent galvanic corrosion)
Internet lesson on putting an eye splice in double-braid polyester line

If you look at the diagram , the lower lines are knotted through eye straps at the bottom of the boom at the 3′, 7′, 11.5′, and 15′ marks. The lines attached to the 11.5′ and 15′ marks have rings attached to the end of them with eye splices.  Each line then runs through the stainless ring that is above it.  The very upper ring is attached to the lazy jack control line that goes through the orbit block that is attached 27′ to 30′ up the mast.  If you look at the 3 line diagram on the right, you can see clearly that I drew the lines going “through” the rings.

The hardest part is going up the mast and drilling and tapping the #8-32 holes to attach the orbit blocks.  Also, I got mine not quite lined up symmetrically on the mast.  After I had screwed up, someone informed me that I need to use the sail track as my “reference” point from which to take measurements.  Things that would be nice to know before one starts the project.  I had tried to use an imaginary “center” of the mast which I had marked.  Additionally, I discovered that the #8 drill bit that came with my tap kit was OVERSIZE.  I don’t understand it and have no idea how that could be, but I made two holes that were threaded too big because of this and finally had to make two more that were the proper size.

The final outcome of the installation was a success.  On our first breezy sail, I raised the lazy jacks and simply let the main halyard fly and the main sail dropped right down on the boom without a hitch.

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