How we sail SY Esper

How we sail

Our followers asked us to film a video about how we sail SY Esper, our Oyster 435 cutter-rigged ketch. So we filmed a simple 101 when we took her out for a day sail off Kota Kinabalu along the Borneo coast.

Although we have two masts and two in-mast sails plus two foresails, the principles of sailing apply equally to most sail plans…

The top corner of the sail is called the ‘head’ and the line attached to this is an uphaul. On most sailboats with fully slabbed main sails, you pull the uphaul to raise the sail. On in-mast furling and furling headsails this stays hoisted and is instead unfurled by a sheet or an outhaul, which is attached to the ‘clew’, the rear-corner of the sail. The bottom front corner is called the ‘tack’.

Sailing days - cruising west coast Sabah
There are many videos on YouTube about how to set a sail, so we don’t go into too much detail in the video (link below).

But the basic principle to remember is keep your sails tight and close to the centre of the boat when going into wind, and then let them out and loosen off as the wind comes around and beyond the beam behind you.

How we sail

If the mainsail helps provide balance to the boat then the headsail is the accelerator, providing the drive to move the boat frowards.

Some of the topics we cover in our video:

  • Stowing, planning, weighing
  • The mizzen sail
  • Sail naming convention
  • In-mast furling and unfurling the sails
  • Upwind sailing
  • Mainsail
  • Running backstay
  • Staysail
  • Headsail
  • Sail trim

How to sail

For a useful book on sail trim, we recommend you find a copy of Sail and Rig Tuning by Ivar Dedekam, published by Fernhurst Books. Its no-nonsense language and clear diagrams demystify the whole subject.

We end this episode with a gentle sail in the beautiful South China Sea

Come and sail with us…

Peace and fair winds, friends!
Liz and Jamie xx

How to sail

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