Getting In and Out of Irons

“Being in irons” describes a boat that is stopped. While pointing into the No-Go Zone, the sails will be luffing. You will not be able to steer normally.

On a boat with a jib you can turn the bow away from the wind by backing the jib. To back the jib, hold it out to the side of the boat opposite the direction you want to go. The wind will push against the jib and turn the bow around without the boat backing up very much.

If the boat does not have a jib, back the mainsail by pushing the boom forward on the side you want to turn toward and hold the tiller in that same direction. As the boat begins to sail backwards, the bow will turn toward the boom, and away from the wind.

With either method, when the wind starts coming over the windward side of the boat, release the backed sail and pull  in the sheets to stop the luffing. Pull the tiller away from the boom and continue sailing.

Remember, when back the sails, be aware that there will be wind pressure pushing against you. The stronger the wind, the greater the pressure. Take care!

For more from our Small Boat Certification Series and to get started on the right tack, visit our website to purchase “Learn Sailing Right.”