Dousing the Main
In the great days of sail, every precaution was taken to secure the yards before the men were sent out on them to furl or reef sails. We can learn by their example when dousing the mainsail. With one person ready at the mast to haul down on the luff, head up, luffing the sail, then release the halyard. Lowering the sail to the boom should just take seconds, and during this time everyone else stands clear of the swinging boom and shaking sail. As soon as the sail is down, pull the mainsheet in tight and cleat it. Only then, with the boom safely secured, should the crew be sent to the cabin top to furl the sail and make it fast with sail ties. Trying to secure the sail on the boom as it is being lowered, while the boom is still loose, is a dangerous and unseamanlike practice.
By Tony Johnson, Tradewinds Instructor