Sailing tricks that will make life on board easier

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I always say that learning to "move" a sailboat is easy, but getting the most out of it, that's another thing ... In cruising, depending on our profile of sailor, or even the time, we may prefer to spend a whole journey in a regatta plan, continuously trimming our sails, turning or gybing at the slightest hint of role, or opting to uncork that fresh beer and simply enjoy the navigation, without worrying too much about that possible extra knot that could squeeze our boat, or if we arrive an hour earlier or later to our destination.

In that same line, the sailor must always have an open mind to learn. The learning process in sailing is always continuous, either by using new materials, knowledge of new boats, or simply because one day we are at the dock, a neighbor arrives, and we discover a new way to do something useful that surprises us.

Likewise, it is important to have our sailboat always ready. To do so, there is nothing better than having all the nautical accessories we may need. Nowadays it is easy to access an online nautical store and make sure to get all those nautical gadgets that are going to make navigation easier for us.


In this article we are going to learn some of those sailing tricks that probably many of you know but others not yet. Here is our contribution:

Sailing maneuvers

  • In the case of using a full batten mainsail, it is very convenient to make a mark on the mainsail halyard to indicate the curls. In this way, when we lash the halyard, we will do it only up to the reef mark we want to put on the sail.
  • It is wise and advisable to always leave one turn at the mainsheet of the windward genoa. This way, if you need to make a quick tack, we have it ready.
  • It will be easier for us to prepare the exact position of the windward genoa carriage before making the tack.
  • When the working rigging is working, it is very useful to throw all the surplus inside the cockpit hatch. This way we have all the lines clear.
  • Placing light lines on the shrouds will help us to read the apparent wind direction well.
  • The boom brake will be of great help in case of strong winds where the boom is placed more open with the risk of possible involuntary gybes. With only one line going from the end of the boom to a cleat, we can get that retention, called retained or Portuguese. Today there are simple but very useful mechanisms such as the Walder brake, which in addition to achieving total retention, regulating the tension depending on the intensity of the wind, and sending the line to the cockpit, we can gybe smoothly and safely.
  • Putting a tape on the wheel, just to the track, helps us to know quickly when the rudder is just in the middle.
  • Putting names to the jaws (main halyard, reef 1, reef 2, etc.) will allow new crew members who are not so familiar with our boat to react quickly in all manoeuvres.

Mooring and Anchoring

  • The colored marks on the chain every 10 meters help us enormously to know the amount of chain to row or cam. I also complement it with a legend that I hook on the inside of the anchor hole cover.
  • A conveniently prepared nozzle with two shock absorbers from the chain to the cleats symmetrically prevents the windlass from working, as well as getting rid of the annoying noise of the chain working. 
  • In order to know if we are doing it, in addition to all the applications and clocks that today provide us with this utility, it is very useful to mark our position in the GPS and to check the distance that separates us from the mark.
  • I still think that casting our anchor is highly recommended; not only to solve a possible anchor casting, but also to warn our neighbors of the exact location of our anchor. For it it is enough to take a small buoy, or in absence of this one it will serve a defense to us, to unite it with a corporal and to make it firm with the other chicote to the arganeo. When we filar the chain we leave free the corporal that with a distance equal to the one of the probe will manage to mark the situation of the anchor.
  • On the hottest days in summer, the so-called "ghost" is an extraordinary invention. I call it natural air conditioning. It consists of a lightweight fabric that is normally raised with the spinnaker halyard by adjusting the base to the porthole of the forward cabin. Since the boat at anchor always tends to get in the way, it generates a current of air inside the boat that comes out of the aft cockpit hatch.
  • If we have a reduced stowage space, a rope with a hook at the lower end of the fenders will allow us to secure them to the fender, so they will be well fastened and will not disturb. Perhaps it is not the most orthodox, but sometimes utility takes precedence over orthodoxy.
  • On the days when we are moored in port and with strong wind, many times the crew complains about the noise that the moorings make when they are stressed. This also happens when we are tied to a buoy. My trick is a bucket of water to which I mix a little dishwashing detergent and with this solution I spray the moorings. Holy cow! The noise disappears immediately, which the crew is grateful for.
  • Placing a light of a different color, or placing a light other than the one at anchor, will help us locate our boat quickly when we return at night with our assistant at busy anchorages.
  • Don't forget to take a waterproof bag with you on your dinghy. As I usually comment, most of the anecdotes during a sailing trip usually have their origin in the "dinghy".


  • Placing a humidifier will keep the boat always dry, and will avoid a lot of problems derived from humidity. We can place a tube that goes from the humidifier container to the kitchen sink so that the condensed water filters out.
  • When the WC drainage pump squeaks, we can pour a little olive oil down the toilet, to grease the joints.
  • Place a plastic grid at the base of the gas bottle, to prevent the rust that is usually released from the bottle from damaging the fibre. If we also cover the bottle with a plastic bag, the protection will be total.
  • Continuing with this unwritten but real principle of how good and healthy it is to share knowledge, we would love this article to be useful for those of you who are already sailing, so that you can give us your tricks for sailing, and make this list as extensive as possible.
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