PS Advisor


Dutchman vs. Lazy Jacks
Im in the market for some kind of sail flaking system and need advice. Have you compared the lazy jack method to the Dutchman? What are the pros and cons for each? I notice on the Dutchman website that you are referenced by them as having the Dutchman system on your Tartan.

Im planning to put the flaking system on a 1985 Catalina 30. The main is getting pretty sloppy and old and it needs replacing. Im leaning towards the EZ Jax system for several reasons. First, it appears that the Dutchman doesn’t work too well on worn, baggy, limp sails (like mine). Second, because I sail on Puget Sound and EZ Jax is close by in Camus, Washington. And finally because the cost is about one-half the Dutchman.

Roger Eastman
via email

We wrote about various lazy jacks systems in the January 1, 1996 issue. The Dutchman weve discussed many times. Yes, we did have it on our Tartan 44.

The main advantages of the Dutchman are that the monofilament is lightweight, does not bang against the mast or sail (chafe considerations), has less windage than lazy jacks, and is almost invisible. While it works best with stiffer sails that will take a fold, it will work with any sail, at least in keeping the sail on top of the boom and not letting it fall onto the deck.

Lazy jacks are a more robust system and would be the right choice for heavy full-batten sails, as one sees on multihulls. They require a bit more work than the Dutchman, which stays in place and requires no adjustment or fiddling when raising and lowering the sail. Lazy jacks that can be led forward once the sail is hoisted are preferable (like the EZ Jax and Schaefer systems), but that requires you to perform that operation, at the mast. And when raising, you have to be head to wind so that the roach of the sail, especially at the battens, doesn’t come up inside one of the lazy jacks.

Price aside, we like the Dutchman for its simplicity and would choose it for most boats, unless we had a traditional boat, maybe with a gaff rig, or a full batten sail like a Freedom or multihull. Then wed choose lazy jacks.

The bottom line is that both work to keep the mainsail on top of the boom, and thats the whole point.

Guessing True Wind Speed
If Im beating to weather in my S2 at about 45 to the true wind, showing 13 knots of apparent wind and 5 knots of boat speed, is there a rule of thumb (without having to explain vectors) for guessing at true wind speed?

Wayne Richard

As you know, it can be worked out precisely with a bit of trigonometry, or for those who have forgotten high school trig and want an easier way, a simple vector diagram can be mechanically drawn on paper to produce fairly accurate results. Its much like the vectoring you do when the tidal current is working on your beam. Most sailors who race boats keenly know this stuff.

But, if you want, as you say, a rule of thumb, the figure youre looking for is about 25%, varying only a little whether you have a fast boat or a slow boat. In other words, if as in your example, the apparent wind is 13 knots, youre beating at 45 at 5 knots, you should subtract 25% from 13 knots.

Remember to subtract, because when youre going upwind youre always adding to what seems like a stiff wind. Doing it in your head might give you 25% of 12 (because 12 is easier than 13) is 3, which takes the 13 down to 10, take off a little more because you dropped a 1 out of that 13, and youd make the true wind speed about 9.5 knots.

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at