How to Flake A Sail: Step by Step Photos

Sails are expensive and proper care can significantly extend their lifespan. Since we can’t afford new cruising sails,  our sails are always covered when we’re done sailing for the day, sailcover on and never exposed to UV unless they’re up and we’re sailing.

When we leave the boat for hurricane season, returning to the Midwest, it’s critical that the roller-furling jib be off and not just wrapped.  We’ve seen masts broken when boaters just added extra wraps to secure their jib versus taking the trouble to remove them.  The results are catastrophic.

We’ve also seen cruisers who DO take their roller furling jibs down just wad them up and stuff them in a bunk below.  In addition to being terrible for the sail material, aboard Winterlude, we don’t have enough room to take up an entire bunk with a jibsail stuffed in!

David has always flaked our jib/genoa (depending on whether we have the 95% or the 130% on the boat at the time we’re taking it down) and stored it in it’s nice neat original bag in the shower.  Here’s how he does it.

1.  Lay the sail out in the largest space you can find — an open field is ideal, we’re lucky to be on the T-Dock so we carefully squeeze the top of the sail down the dock with the bottom stretched out on the “T”.

2.  After making sure the bottom of the sail is straight and laid out with no wrinkles, start folding the sail down in zig zag increments.  Our bag is about three feet tall, so we try to zig zag it slightly less than that so hopefully the sail fits in the bag.

3.  The zig zags will  get smaller as you near the top of the sail – they don’t have to, it just seems like that’s the way it always works.  This is not rocket science, we’re just trying to get the sail neatly folded so it fits in the bag and we don’t crush the sailcloth.

4.  Start from one end and neatly roll the sail to a size that will fit into the width of the sailbag.

5.  After rolling the length of the sail, fold it over one more time and then put it into the sailbag for protection.

The final result is our jib neatly stored in it’s sailbag in the shower and not taking up nearly as much space as if we had just crumpled it up and jammed it in the quarterberth – PLUS the sailcloth is neatly folded and not crushed shortening it’s life.




  1. Here’s a shameless plug for the company I retired from- Dutchman, makers of the Dutchman mainsail flaking system. Automatically flakes your mainsail as it comes down.

    • Dutchman’s are ok. They don’t automatically flake your main but they do keep the mess manageable on the boom.

  2. For visual learners, photo sequences like this are so helpful, whether you’re flaking a sail, or re-building a windlass. As a newbie, I rely on the pictorial tutelage of sail bloggers ( in conjunction with books, hovering over professional service staff, magazines, etc.) I thank you, effusively, for snapping photos of everything. Please keep it up. 🙂

    • I’m showing this comment to my husband who thinks I’m being ridiculous, not to mention a PITA by making us stop every step & take photos. 🙂 THANKS & Cheers — J


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