There is however a significant problem swinging a square sail on a yard high up a mast: that is, furling and unfurling the sail. The age-old technique, which is still employed on sail training ships today, is to order hands aloft up the ratlines and out on the swaying yard to stow the sail. Men frequently fell to their deaths in this operation
I don’t have a crew of thirty—just the wife—but I still wanted a square rigger. I therefore designed and built a system where the sail rolls up inside the yard, like in-mast furling, except horizontal. It works beautifully, and when the wind is from anywhere astern, or even 40 degrees either side, we unfurl the sail and away we go! There is hardly any roll because the boat is being pushed along evenly, unlike with a triangular sail. My square-sail can also be easily reefed, by simply winding up as much as required back inside the yard. When all the sail is furled it is completely protected from the elements.