Jib Downhauls

By Stephen Jensen:

The Jib Downhaul is a simple set up that allows the single-handed sailor to do two things.  One is to lower the jib to the deck from the cockpit. This is handy when you have just hoisted the spinnaker or when the winds pick up quickly and you need to get the sail down NOW. 

On Charmed Juan, I can drop the Jib to the deck in about 5 seconds from the cockpit.  It works well for small 110% Jibs, with the Genoa you may have to tie the sail so it won’t flop over the deck into the water after it’s down. 

One important trick is to tie a loop in the line about 6" below the halyard shackle and attach the loop to the top hank.  This way when you pull the jib down it pulls on the top hank, not on the head board which can twist the top hank which will bind it on the forestay.



The other benefit is to act as a temporary forestay to hold the mast up after stepping so you can pin the forestay. After stepping the mast, pull the Jib downhaul line tight and cleat it.  Make sure the Jib Halyard is also fast or you will be in for a nasty surprise.  Now you have the ability to let go of the mast, go forward and attach the forestay.  In the picture below, you can see there is no forestay.



Bringing the mast down is just the opposite.  Release the backstay adjuster, cleat the Jib Halyard, tighten and cleat the Jib downhaul. The forestay should be loose now.  After you remove the forestay pin, you can let the mast down to about 45 degrees with just the downhaul line. After this you need to hold the mast as you would normally.
The whole thing consists of a 3/16 polyester double braid line attached to the Jib halyard shackle.  The line runs to a block at the bow tang, then to a cheek block mounted on the deck to keep the line away from the fore hatch, and back to a cleat at the cabin top near the cockpit. There is a lot of tension on this little 3/16 line so it’s important to use a quality polyester double braid or better.


Here is a pic of the cheek block