Coiling Lines and Flaking Halyards

Published on December 23rd, 2022

Coiling and flaking running rigging properly is an important step to ensuring it runs freely when you it to. Erik Shampain shares his tips in this Sailing World report:


Ropes can be finicky. Sometimes they run flawlessly and sometimes they have a mind of their own. Luckily there are some simple techniques to ensure they work as desired.

When it comes to flaking halyards, the most important thing is that the line going out first is on top of the line going out last. On small boats that keep halyards on deck, such as the Etchells, I find the bitter end and lay a large figure-8 pattern on the deck near the halyard cleat. On midsize boats, I find the bitter end and throw that through the companionway or down into the bottom of a companionway bag. I then continue to “flake” or drop the remaining line on top of it.

On big boats, I often use a winch as a third hand. It holds one end of the coil while my left hand holds the other end. This can be helpful if you have a short “wingspan” or the line gets heavy. Once again starting at the bitter end, my right hand creates a large figure-8 between the winch and my left hand. When finished, I lay the coil down below deck on the floor or in a low-traffic area at the front of the cockpit, ensuring that, when I lay it down, the bitter end is on the bottom. – Full report

Sail GP

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