Lazy Jacks


I continue to struggle with how to handle my mainsail after a day of sailing. My first choice is the Dutchman System but it is just too expensive for me. So I moved to my second choice, Lazy Jacks. I began by looking at the commercially available options and after looking at several on the market I was not happy with what I found for several reasons.

1.  Price – I just thought they cost too much

2.  Several required the sail cover to be modified to accommodate the vertical lines

3.  I thought they were too complicated

4.  I did not like the way they look when the mainsail is up

I decided I could do better so I began working on a “poor man’s” lazy jack solution. After a little “noodling” I came up with the notional design shown.

The design is pretty simple, a couple of cheek blocks attached to the mast just under the spreaders; a line with a plastic thimble (low friction); a line fixed to the boom that passes through the thimble to make the “legs”; a hook to hold the lines so that they are parallel with the boom & the mast (90 deg); and two plastic cleats. Total cost was about $90.

Click to Enlarge
When not in use the lines are stored out of the way by pulling the lines down along the boom then around a hook then securing them on a small cleat. In this way it is out of sight, out of the way, and the lines do not interfere with the standard sail cover.

The hook was made from a small 1.99 nylon cleat from West Marine cut in half and filed smooth.

Just before lowering the sail, I simply slip the line off the hook pull each side tight, drop the sail, straighten the folds, then put sail ties on around the sail. Before putting the sail cover on I loosen the lines, tuck them behind the hook, and tighten the lines on the cleat. See it in action
The low friction thimbles are spliced into the vertical line.

After using the system for a season I am happy with my "Poor Man's" Lazy Jack. As always there are improvements to any design.

Lessons learned:

  1. The aft line needs to be closer to the boom end – see the video

  2. 1/4 inch line had too much stretch – I think at some point I will upgrade to low stretch 5/16 or 3/8 line

Simple Bill of Material:

Lazy Jacks





Harken Cheek Blocks








Line Eyes




Plastic Thimbles




1/4 inch Double Braided Polyester Line




Cleat for hooks (In my bag of spares)







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