Posted by: Mike Randall | December 26, 2012

Lazy Jacks now make for lazy Mike!

intro-pic Been awhile since I’ve done a blog entry. I’ve recently made an update to the rigging on my Stirven that I think warrants a post.

Ever since my first sail on the Vikki Bee I have found hoisting, reefing and lowering the mainsail a slightly stressful operation, particularly while single-handing.

I also found the boom crutch as I had built it to be to low and the jaws cradling the boom and gaff to small.

I discussed these issues I was having with Stan Roberts who is building a Stirven in Tasmania. Stan sent me a link to some info about Dudley Dix’s Cape Cutter 19 that showed an example of a combination boom topping lift and Lazy Jack set up that could work on the Stirven’s gunter rig, here is the link

There is also a rigging diagram of the Dudley Dix’s Cape Cutter 19 lazy jack set up here.

I thought this type of set up could resolve my issue of the boom and mainsail lowering into the cockpit or more annoyingly overboard whenever the peak halyard is released. Not very seaman like state of affairs when trying to impress family and friends of your sail handling prowess!

All I needed to test if it would work was a block that would sit above the throat halyard block and some rope. So I lashed a block to the D shackle that connects the throat block to the mast band and I was away.

My pics below will probably make it easier to understand.


The additional block is the angled one. Probably hard to visualise as the mast is laying down in this pic

Block position on mastband above the throat block

Block position on mastband above the throat block

I then ran the topping lift rope through the block and down to the reef comb on the boom.

Topping lift through reef comb under boom the out the other side and a bowline tied

Topping lift goes through the reef comb, under the boom, then out the other side and ends in a bowline

I adjust the boom height by pulling on one side of the topping lift (The side running through the bowline) and tying it off to one of the boom reefing cleats.

To adjust height topping lift goes through the bowline and back to any spare cleat on the boom (there are four)

To adjust the boom height one side of the topping lift goes through the bowline and back to any spare cleat on the boom (there are four)

I thought that two diagonal ropes running off the topping lift ropes and then wrapped around the boom would act as the lazy Jacks, capturing the sail when it is lowered.

Lazy Jacks catch the sail nicely when lowered.

Lazy Jacks catch the sail nicely when lowered.


Another view

This whole system worked really well and is easy to set up and remove when derigging. It has made handling the mainsail much simpler and safer.

I have not seen this set up on any other Stirvens and I’d be curious to know why.

As part of this project I redesigned the boom crutch to be taller and have larger jaws that would easily hold the boom gaff and sails when flaked.

New improved boom crutch

New improved boom crutch

With the topping lift and the boom centred by tightening the mainsheet you could almost get by without the boom crutch! It is handy though when setting up and if you want to drape a boom tent over the boom when at anchor.

I have since refined this set up further with neater knots tying the Lazy Jacks to the topping lift and put eyelets on the forward part of the boom to keep the ropes in place. This is instead of wrapping them around the boom as they are in my trial set up. I’ve also made another mini reef comb and attached it forward of the existing one. The new one is for the topping lift. This keeps all my comb reefing points free and makes sail capture even neater.

So as you can tell there is always new and interesting things to refine and learn on a boat.

Summers here and we are doing plenty of sailing. The family and I will be taking the Vikki B to the Australian Wooden Boat Festival in Tasmania in February. So I’ll probably do another post on that adventure.

Happy sailing, building or dreaming


  1. Hi,
    I am the owner of a Vivier Jewell for use here in Norway. I am interested in information about your combined topping lift/lazyjack system. Looking forward to hearing from you.


  2. Hi Erik what else would you like to know?

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