Select Page

Gybing is the sailing manoeuvre used to change a boat’s direction through a following wind. As with the tacking manoeuvre, gybing a sailing boat calls for the crew to work together as a team and is one of the first sailing skills to learn.

When a boat is sailing downwind, with the wind blowing from behind the yacht, it may need to alter course so that the stern goes through the wind. This requires a sailing manoeuvre called a gybe, where the sails move from one side of the boat to the other.

The aim is to turn the stern smoothly through the wind onto the new course in as controlled a manner as possible. This means the boom of the mainsail has to be controlled carefully through the turn and the boat must not be allowed to swing round and turn sideways to the wind, causing it to heel over.

As when tacking, the gybe manoeuvre calls for a well co-ordinated crew and clear instructions from the skipper and helm.

Gybe manoeuvre

The gybe manoeuvre can involve two or three crew members and goes as follows:

  • The skipper or helm decides it is time to gybe and alerts the crew.
  • Helm calls “Ready to gybe!”
  • The mainsheet is pulled in to bring the boom to the centre line.
  • If there is a mainsheet traveller, this is cleated to hold the boom in place.
  • One or two crew members are put in control of each jib sheet winch, depending on the size of the boat and number of crew available.
  • A crew member then puts two turns of the slack or “lazy” jib sheet around the winch (A) on its side of the cockpit and pulls in the slack. Another crew member un-cleats the “working” jib sheet, keeping it tight on the winch (B).
  • The helm turns the boat slowly to allow the wind direction to pass from one side of the stern to the other. Once the turn is complete the helm calls “Gybe-oh!”
  • As the boat turns, the headsail blows from one side of the bow to the other. The crew on the working sheet eases and releases the sheet from winch (B).
  • The crew on winch (A) then pulls in the new working sheet. The winch handle is inserted into the top of the winch, the crew winches in the sheet and the sail is trimmed for the new course.
  • The helm steers the boat onto its new course and the mainsail is let out on the new side.
  • Both sails are then trimmed for the new course.

Tips:

  • It is very important to sheet in the mainsail to the centreline before gybing, to prevent the boom swinging across in a dangerous, uncontrolled manner.
  • All crew should keep their heads well down away from the boom during a gybe in case it swings across unexpectedly.

Repairing a leaking hull-to-deck joint

If you suspect a hull-to-deck joint has failed, then being absolutely sure where the actual leak is occurring is of prime...

Leaking decks

Leaking decks are perceived as a nuisance by some boat owners, but if leaks are ignored a much more serious situation may well be developing, especially in the case of boats with balsa or plywood deck cores. So deck leaks do need to be investigated and dealt with.

Diesel engine winterisation

An inactive boat engine needs to be protected from corrosion during the winter, caused by the rising humidity levels through the cold months and the salty coastal air. This applies whether the boat is left afloat or hauled out over the winter. Read here about the two important stages of winterisaton for a diesel boat engine.

Galvanic and electrolytic corrosion

Galvanic corrosion is an electrochemical reaction between two or more different metals, in the presence of an electrolyte (note salt water is a good electrolyte).

Understanding your boat’s compass

Article submitted by Mike Rossiter, Certificated Compass Adjuster. Since the magnetic compass was first used by the Chinese...

Marine engine oil system maintenance

The regular maintenance of a marine diesel is key to preventing engine failure at sea. This means doing regular checks of the fuel, cooling, electrical and oil systems.

Essential Knots: Reef knot

Essential Knots: Reef knot Use: Tying two ends of rope together, often used for tying up a bundle of loose sail around the boom. Step...

How diesel engines work

The basic principle of a diesel engine is less complex than that of a petrol engine. No spark plug or ignition system is needed, making the basic diesel engine a comparatively straightforward system that results in fewer faults and has lower maintenance costs than a petrol engine.

Boating Rules of the Road – International ColRegs

    International ColRegs Rule 7: Risk of Collision Anyone who is responsible for a vessel at sea, from the...

Light characteristics – how do navigators identify lights at night?

How do navigators identify the different types of light around our coasts at night and what are their characteristics?Navigating at...

Seized fixings and fastenings

Maintaining a boat can be a rewarding experience but at times it can also be frustrating. A prime example of this is when you come across a seized fixing or fastening that refuses to budge. Read our tips on how to release and fix them:

Essential Yachting + Power Boat Safety Briefing

Yachting Safety Briefing   Down below Lifejackets and harnesses - fitting, when to wear, clipping on Gas - risks,...

Understanding tides

If you are used to sailing in tidal waters, you will know that tides can be both a benefit and a hindrance to the sailor. In many ways,...

Boat electrics and essential checklist

Essential boat electrics Small yachts and power boats have 12-volt DC (direct current) systems, although larger vessels will have...

Antifouling for leisure boats – Part 2

To prepare for antifouling, as soon as your boat has been lifted out and pressure washed, you need to check all the surfaces of the hull below the waterline, remove any remaining barnacles and check for blisters.

Winch Servicing

It is not essential to service the winches when a boat is ashore, but if time allows I prefer to do this maintenance job when the boat...

Rudders and steering systems – Part 1

Rudders and steering systems. A rudder is one of the most critical parts of a boat. Rudder failure is a common occurrence on neglected or overworked boats and a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous thing to happen when you are out at sea.

Boatyard Health and Safety

Boat storage facilities are potentially hazardous environments and it is the responsibility of both boat owners and boatyards to ensure that the...

Essential Knots: Clove hitch

Essential Knots: Clove hitch Use: Tying a rope to posts, bollards, rings or a guardrail. Step 1. Make a turn around the object and lay...

Navigation safety: a quick-reference mobile app to learn the ColRegs NavLights and Shapes

 Safety at SeaSafety at sea will always remains a topical and important subject that will no doubt dominate the syllabuses of nautical...

Sail care and maintenance – Part 1

When thinking about the care, maintenance and repair of sails it helps to have some understanding of the properties of the ever growing range of modern sailcloth and the fibres they are made from, as opposed to the traditional canvas sails of the past.

Points of Sailing

The course on which a boat is sailing can be described by its angle to the wind, not to be confused with its compass...

Understanding boat engines

Irrespective of what kind of engine a boat is equipped with and who does the work, the regular care and maintenance of a marine engine is essential. The most common cause of marine engine failure is widely known to be lack of maintenance.

Understanding marine sealants & adhesives

Sealants, adhesives and adhesive sealantsThere is a bewildering variety of sealants, adhesives and even adhesive sealants available for...

You Need To Understand The IRPCS ColRegs To Pass Your Yachtmaster, Master of Yachts and Coxswain Certificate of Competence

IRPCS ColRegs Rules of the Road at Sea and Yachtmaster Learning, understanding and remembering the International Regulations...