see it clearly

Dutchman Sail Flaking

Whether you are a novice or experienced sailor, you may have problems with neatly folding or rolling the sails on your boat, a process commonly called flaking. This task is especially tedious, if sails are new or stiff, or if you sail alone and have to flake the sails by yourself. The Dutchman sail flaking system makes the job easier and also deters harmful chafing of sail materials.

Dutchman Sail Flaking

Dutchman Sail Flaking System Overview

The Dutchman system runs inflexible, vertical control lines from the base of the main sail up to the topping lift, using fairleads on either side to keep the lines fixed and rigid. When you are ready to lower the sail, these guide lines gently direct the sail into flakes on each side of the boom without struggling with the sail material or lines, similar to the way you raise and lower Roman shades on a window. The system also makes reefing easier as the need for tying in the intermediate reefs is eradicated. The lighter cords on the Dutchman, made of nylon monofilament, create minimal wind resistance and are nearly invisible.

Dutchman Systems vs. Lazy Jacks

Dutchman systems use lighter control lines than the traditional lazy jack. A traditional system uses large amounts of intermingled cords to raise and lower the sail. It piles the furls onto the lowered boom, increasing the weight of the vessel and chafes the sail. Lazy jacks are infamous for catching and tangling during the sail raising and lowering procedures, which doesn't occur with the Dutchman system.

With a lazy jack, you have to adjust the tension on the control lines each time the sail is raised or lowered. The Dutchman system has tabs that automatically relax the control lines each time you raise the sail. Another common problem with lazy jacks is their inability to efficiently lower and fold stiff, new sails or those made from heavy, durable synthetic materials. The Dutchman sail flaking system creates big, soft folds in the lowered sail, regardless of the newness or stiffness of the sail. Softer folds reduce creases and folds in the sail, which diminishes material chafing and increases the life of the sails.

Performance and Chafing Considerations

The control lines in a Dutchman flaking system are thin, about 1/16 inch in diameter and made of lightweight monofilament. They easily fit into the tiny hole on the sail and don't adversely affect the sail's performance or increase the wind resistance. The Dutchman system incorporates tabs into the base of the sail, which loosen the control lines when the sail is raised and tightens them when the sail is dropped. This reduces the chafing action inherent to lazy jack or manual sail manipulation.

Going Dutch

Before purchasing a Dutchman sail flaking system for your boat, check the specifications and requirements to be sure it is a good match for your sails. While the system is not compatible with sails on junk or gaff rigs, it may a good tool to make your sailing smoother if you have a compatible boat.