Stepping the Mast for Beach Sailing: A Guide To Launching Beach Side

You will find that launching a sailboat from a beach is no walk on the sand!  It is slightly tricky co-dependent on a few factors. Waves/wind speeds play a major role in how challenging it will be at any given time of day to get moving off the beach. What you are looking for are no waves and maybe just a little off-shore breeze. side-shore breezes are ok too. This is when the winds come through along the shoreline in a parallel direction. So when you are right off the beach, its not as difficult but that sometimes is an unrealistic scenario.

There are tons of way to rigging boats. We suggest you ask your sailing instructor or boat owner if you are acting as a crew member, some aid in learning how to rig. They will gladly help you and will usually want to show you what they know. So, no need to hesitate in asking them!RIG BEACH, SAILBOAT BEACH, RIG SAILBOAT BEACH

Also, try to remember the following when getting your sailboat ready for beachside water:

  1. You may want to start by hoisting up the sails you plan on using before the boat gets into the water, so do this while the boat is on the beach and not in the water. It’s hard to hoist once you are floating! You will find that if you do hoist the sails on the beach, then carrying the boat to the water becomes a daunting task. Still, we believe it will save you a lot of headache in the long run.
  2. If your boat utilizes a rudder that is kick-up enabled like this Catalina 22 series, make sure it is “kicked” into position, which would be the folded up position. Kick-ups have the ability to rotate and fold out of the water.
  3. Make sure that you collect all your gear you are to bring with you on board and then rig that boat!

For launching:

  • Make sure that if you are sailing solo, you ask someone to help you carry the boat onto the beach. Make sure to get more than just one person so that the load is not bothersome at all to anyone of you. Once you get to the shoreline prepare for your feet to get wet. Make sure you have the front of the boat (bow) facing the wind if you have the sails hoisted up. To make life easier, we recommend utilizing a dolly to get the job done.
  • Once you are at about waist high, and as the boat is now floating, make sure to designate someone to secure the bow and try not to let go! Then have someone get into the boat to start rigging the boat in order to begin sailing. You will notice that the sailboat will seem very cap-sizeable because of not having the ability to lower your keel or centerboard down as far is need be since you are not yet in deep. You should just be at waist high waters at this stage. You can go ahead and put the centerboard down just a little
  • Now it is time to hoist the main and or jib sails and get the rudder into the water (if it’s a kick-up), at least part of the way down while you are in low waters. Make certain someone is securing the bow while hoisting.
  • Designate one other person who is not in the sailboat to start pushing the boat and make sure they are pushing it towards reaching
  • Those holding the boat should always wear sea shoes. Make sure to be safe and avoid the unknown underwater so that you don’t lose handle of the boat and hurt yourself in the process.
  • If you are dealing with bigger waves, move the boat and point it perpendicular to the direction the waves are breaking. You don’t want to get caught in a monster wave and get pushed and pulled every which way with the boat. It’s extremely dangerous.  If your sails are up it gets harder to make this happen.
  • Also, when there are waves at play, refrain from standing sandwiched between the boat and shore. Make sure you always stand on the seaward side of the sailboat. This is also much easier to accomplish when the sails are not hoisted.

How do I return my sailboat beach-side?BEACHSIDE SAILING, SAILBOAT BACK ON BEACH, SAIL BEACH

Returning your sailboat beach-side is no easy feat. Here are some steps you can take when headed back:

  1. Make sure your sails are luffed to force your speed to dip way before you get close. The trick is you want to ease into the landing. The trick is to go slow and have the sails in full easing mode. Make sure you alter your angle when approaching in order to allow for the wind to push your sails in the direction the wind is actually going. If you are dealing with the wind that is dead zone downwind, try to turn the sailboat POS head-to-wind which is away from the shoreline…while approaching, don’t forget to drop the mainsail.
  2. Remember you are sailing towards shallow waters, so make sure that your rudder and centerboard are pulled up at least half-way as you ease into the approach.
  3. Once you are extremely close to shore, quickly to the boat head to the wind which will help slow up.
  4. Get your crew members to leap out of the sailboat to land feet on the ocean floor (close enough to shore) and get your dolly or a bigger crew to come to lift the boat back onto the beach. It may feel heavier now after a long day out on your sailboat plus any water splashed into the sailboat will add to its weight.

When should I put up the mast?

Depending on the type of sailboat you own you may not have to. But if you are sailing on a dinghy or smaller keelboat then putting up the mast is usually required. You will also hear people refer to this as “stepping” the mast. There are tons of different way you can do this and a lot will have to do with the sailboat’s equipment. There are masts out there way too have to carry by hand (even on keelboats and dinghies). Usually, a crane will be required on these massive masts. If you have never stepped a mast before, get help! On smaller boats 15ft or smaller, typically you will be able to lift the mast up on your own and into position somewhere in the boat, but if you have help from others, no reason not to use it. Remember to look out for powerlines overhead, this can save your life so do not overlook it.

How do I get my mast from a horizontal to vertical position?

Here is a checklist of steps to make sure you follow when putting your mast vertically in position on the sailboat:

  1. Designate a crew member to push the far end tip of the mast vertically while you are someone else is securing the base with your feet or object to where it stable side to side.
  2. Once you have the mast vertical, it is time to position it in the boat. This is easiest done by having someone who is in the boat pull this technique off.
  3. We implore you to ask for help at the slightest discomfort. This should not feel like an extremely daunting task, it should be smooth. The last thing you want is a mast to hit you or smash a car in the parking lot.
  4. Once you have the mast in position on the mast step, rigging you can start linking/attaching all the (shrouds, backstay/forestay). Remember, attaching the standing rigging takes more than just one person to do if you are looking to save massive amounts of time. You also want to make sure that the mast does not move around while rigging.
  5. Make sure that you are inspecting the fittings while you are attaching the standing rigging portion. Inspect the fittings that support the mast, in particular. Make sure to have your pliers handy to tighten any shackles that may be loose and confirm that all the fittings are tightened.

If you happen to own a dinghy that utilizes a free-standing mast without standing to rig then you are in luck! These are way less tedious, as all that is usually required is to slide the sleeve on the mainsail luff over top the mast before the put up.

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