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Lazy jacks

Discussion in 'Smaller Boats' started by Willemvan, Sep 11, 2017. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Willemvan


    Joined Jan 23, 2014
    49 posts, 0 likes
    Hunter H26
    Ca Peachland
    Anyone have any pics, instructions or opinions on lazy jacks for my H26
    Thanks. Willem

  2. Justin_NSA


    Joined Jul 7, 2004
    4,578 posts, 685 likes
    Hunter 30T
    US Cheney, KS
    Have you tried the search? There are tons of opinions on rigging. placement of blocks, good/bad idea, sail cover mods etc.

    I had them on my Macgregor. My Hunter came with the Dutchman system which I think I prefer.

  3. Tally Ho

    Tally Ho

    Joined Jan 7, 2011
    983 posts, 124 likes
    Oday 322
    US East Chicago, IN
    I had Lazy Jacks on my H280 when I bought it. It also had a strong track and batt cars. Main was really easy to raise and lower. The jacks kept the sail on the boom instead of all over the cockpit. Yes, you can catch the battons in the jacks, but I never really found this to be a big issue.

    On my next boat, Oday 322, it did not have lazy jacks. That was one of the first things I added. But this time, I went with a Mac Pack from Mack Sails. Combines a sail cover that zips along the top edge, with the lazy jacks. Works even better and I can be rigged to sail, or put the boat away in just a few minutes.

    Here is a link to my boat projects page, and there is a video of the Mack Pack installation on there.


  4. Submarine


    Joined Jul 5, 2017
    48 posts, 5 likes
    Hunter 25.5
    US Arizona
  5. Benny17441


    Joined May 24, 2004
    5,391 posts, 309 likes
    CC 30
    US South Florida
    Are you asking for my opinion on lazy jacks? In boats where the mainsail is too heavy to handle comfortably lazy jacks are a necessity. I an h26 where the main sail is fairly lightweight it will likely be a hindrance. My biggest beef with lazy jacks is raising the mainsail; they provide a narrow slot and if the boom or sail is not pointing exactly into the wind it will catch the sail battens and require the process to be repeated. My 2nd beef is the adjustments required. You do not want loose lazy jack lines so you tighten them when sailing close hauled but when you turn downwind you have to loosen them to accommodate the sail shape. Also at the beginning and the end of the day they must be adjusted again. My 3rd issue is the sail cover. Some jacks can fold away to accommodate a standard sail cover and also allow easier raising of the main but they must be folded up and down. If a custom sail cover is used then they are set and you have to live with them. My last issue has to do with cost and installation. I don't mind paying for something that I have a need for, but to pay and do work for something that is really not needed and also brings negatives with it is something I'm opposed to. The largest need that I hear for lazy jacks is when sailing singlehanded to facilitate bringing the main down. It can be brought down gradually by releasing the halyard a bit tying the end of the sail and releasing the halyard some more and then tying that part of the sail that is loose until you get the whole thing. With a small high aspect sail it can be downed in two steps and the holding and releasing of the halyard can be accomplished by stepping on it. (not foolish if you just lay the tip of your shoe on the line while keeping most of the weight in contact with the deck). The second reason I hear the most is because it seems like a good idea and a cool upgrade. No it is not a good idea unless it is a necessity. In order to put up with the hassle which lazy jacks bring the only reason I will consider them is if the main sail is too heavy to handle. Sails start getting heavy in the Hunters with the large roach sails in boats around 30' and in boats with the high aspect ratio sails around 34'. If you can manhandle your sail then save the money and aggravation. This is my opinion forged in having to deal with the jacks on an h320.

    Kings Gambit likes this.
  6. 19thol


    Joined May 2, 2014
    25 posts, 3 likes
    Hunter 30-2
    US St.Petersburg, Fl
    I have lazy jacks and I absolutly hate them, biggest pain in the butt. If you're cranking on the wench to raise the main you can't really be looking up the mast to see if you are getting stuck in the lazy jacks until you feel the tension and you know the sail is not all up. Then you have to lower the sail and start, almost, all over again. Don't like them at all, will be removing them soon.

  7. VT Fitz

    VT Fitz

    Joined Oct 19, 2006
    314 posts, 4 likes
    Hunter 27-3
    US Brownsville, VT/Mystic, CT
    I now have in-mast main furling, but on my prior 23.5, I loved having lazy jacks. I installed them fairly inexpensively myself, using some hardware that came with the boat; all I had to purchase was a check block for the boom. I had everything else including the line. I used the Harken specs as the blueprint for where I placed pieces. The link Submarine provided is a great resource.

    With respect to Benny's and 19thol's valid objections, we were willing to trade off the ease and safety of not having the main spilling to the deck for some additional precautions. Yes, the full sized battens sometimes would get caught, but we just made sure we were paying attention. When we were underway or back at the slip, I had enough line so I could get them out of the way and loop them back to the gooseneck. Again, more process, but it allowed the main to have a good shape without slack line flailing about and I could use my boom cover normally.

    Definitely go for it!

  8. VT Fitz

    VT Fitz

    Joined Oct 19, 2006
    314 posts, 4 likes
    Hunter 27-3
    US Brownsville, VT/Mystic, CT
    Some notes from my installation:

    At about 9:45, I didn’t use a eye at the end of the line for exactly the reason they mention: you can’t change it or remove it. Since I was trailer-sailing at that time, I needed to remove the line when unstepping. So I just used a stopper knot on that end.

    At about 11:43, I put that strap underneath the boom.

    To tie off, I used a cleat that was already on the mast, so I didn’t have the cleat they discuss at about 13:20. I led the line under the rams head then up to the cleat on the mast.

    I used aluminum rivets, not stainless. I realized stainless is stronger. Perhaps the aluminum will need to be replaced one day, but it’s easy enough to drill out an aluminum rivet and replace when needed… though that’s the new owner’s issue now!

    Again, I used a long enough line that I could get the jacks cleaned up and out of the way to put on the boom cover. I brought both legs on each side back to the gooseneck and hooked them under the rams head hooks on each side of the gooseneck. I also cleaned up the jacks after raising the main so it didn’t affect sail shape.

    At about 17:40, they discuss an option for shock cords off the spreaders to open up the slot. I didn’t do that either. As I said before, sometimes we had issues with the full sized battens getting hung up when raising the sail, but we were always ready to deal with that possibility.

  9. plenny7


    Joined Oct 3, 2014
    134 posts, 50 likes
    Hunter 33.5
    US & Lake City, MN
    We're on year 2 of our first sailboat, which came with a Mack Pack/Lazy Jack combo and I love it. We rarely have problems with getting battens caught in the lines, once we were figured out the best way to raise the main. My wife takes the helm, goes into the wind, I raise the main to the point just below where a batten can get caught, pause very briefly while my wife fine tunes the heading into the wind and as soon as she's dead on, pull another foot of halyard and we're clear. Easy. It took me a lot longer to type that out than it takes to do. I can't even remember if there are two points that can catch or just one, but we rarely catch a batten any more. The biggest challenge is for me to keep my mouth shut when I want to tell her which way to turn. She already knows and it just irritates her for me to say anything.

    Now maybe that is a lot more difficult than having no lazy jacks, I don't know, but it's pretty darn easy. The instructions say to loosen one side of the lazy jacks, pull the lines down and towards the mast, then raise the sail with the wind from the opposite side. Adjusting the lazy jack lines is a quick and easy task but I've not felt the need to go to that effort.

    As far as affecting sail shape when going downwind...I'll have to take a closer look at that next time out. I'm not all that great with downwind sail trim and perhaps that's one of my problems.

    We used to just dump the main when taking it down but I quit doing that in favor of a gradual lowering so I can neatly flake the sail, but is is nice to know that if the need arises I can dump it and know the main won't spill all over.

    But like I say, I'm a rookie at this sailing business and have a lot to learn.

    Submarine likes this.
  10. Ward H

    Ward H

    Joined Nov 7, 2011
    1,757 posts, 174 likes
    Catalina 30 Mk II
    US Barnegat, NJ
    When I bought my O'day 25 I wanted lazy jacks. I mounted blocks on the spreaders and ran lines through them while I had the mast down that first spring.
    Then I found that I could easily lower and secure the main while standing in the companionway. I'm 6' tall and can easily reach up and around the boom.
    The most important part of doing this is adding a downhaul to the top sail slug. I ran a 1/8" line so that I can pull the main down and hold it down. My halyard and the downhaul are run to the cockpit.

    This worked so good I pulled the lines and blocks off the spreaders after a couple of years.

    Just something to consider.

  11. Tally Ho

    Tally Ho

    Joined Jan 7, 2011
    983 posts, 124 likes
    Oday 322
    US East Chicago, IN
    If catching a batten is an issue, most lazy jacks can be loosened, and pulled forward to the mast and bungee corded out of the way. I did it once on my Mack Pack, but after that, I quit bothering with that since I seldom had issues raising the main.


    finefurn likes this.
  12. Daveinet


    Joined Sep 20, 2014
    848 posts, 139 likes
    Rob Legg RL24
    US Chain O'Lakes
    I made my own lazy jacks. They work on a slightly different principle, which requires no adjusting or raising. The lines that go from the rear of the boom up to the high point on the mast, are setup so they pull tight and hold the boom just above the cabin. When I raise the sail, it lifts the boom, and the lines go slack and fall out of the way. I don't do anything with them under sail, they are always just fine. The lines are mounted comparatively low on the mast - about as high as I can reach while standing on the cabin roof. I don't have to be straight into the wind, as the boom can swing from side to side to compensate. They work really well and make it much easier to single hand. Previously when lowering the sail, I always needed two hand to tie it off, and one hand the hold the end of the sail on the boom. Lots of playing around taking too much time for the boat to stay on course while I was away from the tiller. Soo much easier now. I made these myself, so my total cost was around 30 bucks - way cheap in boat dollars.

    flynhi4u and finefurn like this.
  13. Crazy Dave Condon

    Crazy Dave Condon

    Joined Jun 8, 2004
    6,428 posts, 502 likes
    -na -NA
    US Anywhere USA
    My thought on lazy jacks on the Hunter water ballast. First in the way and second too much time if you know the proper way of flaking the mainsail. You start at the end of the boom pulling on the back of the main and folding in the beginning in small folds over the boom. As you move forward, tie off suggesting two but three is better but as you go forward the folds will get larger and try to arrange the battens to lay in parallel to the boom. That is the trick paticuraly in high winds.

    Ward H and 19thol like this.
  14. Benny17441


    Joined May 24, 2004
    5,391 posts, 309 likes
    CC 30
    US South Florida
    You want to practice dowsing the main, do it while sailing down wind. Pull on the mainsheet to center the boom, as the sail starts to flutter release the halyard and head for the mast and start pulling the sail down until it stops drawing the wind. I was heading for a channel once and this boat apparently was racing me to the entrance. As he came over my starboard side he did a quick 180 degree turn to drop his sails and I just cranked the engine and dropped the main going down wind and when I looked back I was about 1/4 a mile into the channel and he was just entering it.

  15. MaxinCalgary


    Joined Apr 8, 2013
    154 posts, 7 likes
    Hunter 260
    CN Nanaimo
    In the modification section a H260 owners made some as a stop gap measure.
    I followed his directions .
    Work great . Very rarely get hung up and keep the sail above the boom and out of the way till I'm at the dock. I keep a tie in the cockpit for the end of the sail.

  16. pateco


    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    2,004 posts, 521 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    I have enough slack in my lazy jack line that I can move them forward to the mast and hook them on the reffing hooks at the goose-neck when raising the sails and avoid getting the battens stuck. Then I just tighten them back up when getting ready to drop the sails.

  17. IH82BL8


    Joined Feb 6, 2013
    412 posts, 17 likes
    Hunter 31
    US Deale, MD
    I guess I'm late to this party but I'd like to suggest another option. It sounds everyone who has lazy jacks have forfeited the topping lift. Why not have both? (it sounds like pateco might still have his topping lift.

    Leave the lazy jacks forward secured near the gooseneck. Don't hoist them until it's time to drop the sail. That way you don't have to worry about snagging battens, slackening the LJs after hoisting the main, whether the LJs are attached to the mast or the spreaders, whether they're in the way when removing the main for Winter, having to modify the sail cover.


  18. pateco


    Joined Aug 12, 2014
    2,004 posts, 521 likes
    Hunter 31 (1983)
    US Pompano Beach FL
    Yes, I have both topping lift and lazy jacks. this is what lets me move them out of the way when not needed. This will also permit me to use a boom tent at anchor. I still need to make one LOL.

  19. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    8,779 posts, 2,110 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    You have to factor the size of the boat and mainsail into this discussion.

    Below say 28 feet, lazy jacks are an optional convenience. From 29 to to say 34 (depending on rig type) they are optional but very convenient.

    Above 35 feet you really need to way to manage your mainsail. Jacks, Dutchman, furling, Park Avenue boom, etc, pick one and simply MAKE IT WORK. The notion of standing in the companionway with halyard in one hand and gathering the sail on the boom with the other is no longer is realistic.

    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
    flynhi4u, Dave Gibson and Ron20324 like this.
  20. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    944 posts, 429 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    lazy jacks. the name says it all. all the above mainsail control ideas have a downside. they slow your boat down.
    the op asked for opinions. i have one . learn to furl a sail properly, easy peasy on all boats up to say 50 ft.
    head up wind. dump main on deck, furl the sail. very simple, easy to do, takes maybe two min. no loss of power from your sail plan while sailing. this is the KISS method.

    ....... back when boats were wood and men were iron :)