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Leave main halyard at mast or run back to cockpit ?

K2MSmith

Member III
I’ve sailed my ( new to me ) boat for about 4 months now and I’ve developed a list of “single hand” optimizations I’d like to do . Flaking the main is not easy with a huge boom and in windy conditions where I may want to drop if quick , I’ve decided that retractable lazy jacks are what I need so we are in the process of installing a 3-point dyneema rope system. It’s going to work well with my existing ( but new sail cover ).

Next on list . We installed a new mast track system a few months ago and it works very well. I can raise main without a winch at the mast by hand . I have two outstanding issues . 1) The older clutches need to be replaced and 2) the main halyard / reef line winch at mast is old / anemic and needs to replaced with a new self-tailer both ( clutch and winch ) require epoxy fill / redrill new deck holes .
So choices.., do we redrill in place or do we consider moving the winch back and run reef / halyard control lines though a deck organizer back to cockpit ? I’d like to hear your opinions , especially if you’ve had both setups .
 

dofthesea

Member I
I'm into process of moving all lines aft. I want the ease of doing as much as possible from the cockpit as I'll be mostly single handing.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
No right answers, but there is an argument for a main halyard winch on the mast.

It eliminates fouls in deck organizer, saves blocks and simplifies everything. It also means, esp. on a small boat, that the skipper goes to the mast to hoist, lower and reef, which gets him and his flying elbows out of the crowded cockpit.

Going to the mast is often necessary anyhow, and in my opinion there is no added "safety" with lines led back (in an emergency there will doubtless be a foul up there). For singlehanders, a simple wheel or tiller pilot solves the steering problem and makes leaving the cockpit natural and in fact enjoyable.
 

67rway

Member II
Data point:
Installing mast cleats for main and spin halyards has greatly improve my single/double handed effectiveness.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Data point:
Installing mast cleats for main and spin halyards has greatly improve my single/double handed effectiveness.
Yes, we are putting in a harken 150 on the mast tuesday for a main halyard holder. I followed recommendations to install on anther thread.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
No right answers, but there is an argument for a main halyard winch on the mast.

It eliminates fouls in deck organizer, saves blocks and simplifies everything. It also means, esp. on a small boat, that the skipper goes to the mast to hoist, lower and reef, which gets him and his flying elbows out of the crowded cockpit.

Going to the mast is often necessary anyhow, and in my opinion there is no added "safety" with lines led back (in an emergency there will doubtless be a foul up there). For singlehanders, a simple wheel or tiller pilot solves the steering problem and makes leaving the cockpit natural and in fact enjoyable.
Adding deck organizers and new winches is not going to be easy. Removal/Replacement of headliner being one of the more time consuming issues. I'm still trying to get one of the zippers working. The pulls are all corroded. the HW bill is going to be more expensive.

I have a tiller pilot which I am still trying to learn the nuances off- but we used it on our last sail and it worked pretty well. It even has a sail-to-wind-direction feature which appears to be working (and interfaced to the instruments). Since I was able to open the first headliner zipper near the mast, access to the clutches that need replacing and the halyard/reef #1 winch is easy to replace. With advantages to a main halyard/reef controls at mast, I am wondering if I should start by simply replacing the bad clutch, maybe replacing the one winch (although I can hoist the main at mast without a winch so maybe replacement is a lower priority) , add the harken cam cleat on the mast (plan to do tuesday) and just sail the boat for a while and see how it works.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
I have proved to myself many times that the secret to autohelms of any kind is sail trim. The helm needs to be neutral, or with only minimal weather helm. As the wind comes up this means a reef, or otherwise reduced sail, earlier than it would with an enthusiastic hominid at the wheel. When the tillermaster falters, check the helm for pressure and adjust sails to relieve it.
 

Keith Parcells

Sustaining Member
Kevin,

My boat, just 6 after yours off the line, does have a beefy mast collar with turning blocks and deck organizers for the lines which are led aft. No winches on the mast. They are on the cabin top.

I like my set up, but Christian is right. You still have to go forward to the mast to reef. I hook the cringle over the rams horn hook at the gooseneck. I don’t think it would be worth the trouble to modify your set up. I wouldn’t mind hoisting the halyards at the mast.
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
I have no problem hoisting/lowering halyards at the mast. One original winch on starboard mast for main and one port for foresail and of course cleats for both. The setup is factory original.
 

jtsai

Member I
K2MSmith, my 32-3 main halyard leads to cockpit. After installed a jam cleat on the mast, I still wish for a winch on the mast especially when single handling. The full batten main sail sometime gets too friendly with lazy jack, even when tensioned. Mechanical advantage is most welcome when trying to reef but have past the "should I reef?" moment. The cabin top winch is nice but the extra friction and dodger hinders complete wench handle rotation, so it is only used to tension the last few feet after trip to the mast.

When condition allows, able to complete the sail raising and reefing tasks at single location is easier (safer?) than the cockpit to mast and mast to cockpit movements.
 

G Kiba

Member III
Consider where you sail. The SF Bay is not a lake (well most of the time) and it is not SoCAL. Consider who you sail with (if not alone). How comfortable do you want your guests and much confidence do your guests need to see in you when things get rough? I have all lines led aft and can also reef at a moments notice from the cockpit. When the wind kicks up, cleats (except cam cleats) and wenches on the mast seems to be the first thing to get tangled. Auto-tillers work fine until they stop. My tiller pilot works fine until the batteries get low. So have an manual way to lock the tiller and practice using it whenever you can if you sail a lot on your own.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Kevin,

My boat, just 6 after yours off the line, does have a beefy mast collar with turning blocks and deck organizers for the lines which are led aft. No winches on the mast. They are on the cabin top.

I like my set up, but Christian is right. You still have to go forward to the mast to reef. I hook the cringle over the rams horn hook at the gooseneck. I don’t think it would be worth the trouble to modify your set up. I wouldn’t mind hoisting the halyards at the mast.
Mine is setup for crew with 2 winches at mast and two small winches in each side of companionway . In addition, there are two primaries and two large running back winches - 8 in all :) I have no experience with the spinnaker setup yet , so I’ll have to figure that out . I have retractable lazy jacks which also require going to the mast ( unless it is possible to lead those controls aft) . I’m thinking more and more to leave mainsail / reef / lazy jack controls at mast .
 

K2MSmith

Member III
Consider where you sail. The SF Bay is not a lake (well most of the time) and it is not SoCAL. Consider who you sail with (if not alone). How comfortable do you want your guests and much confidence do your guests need to see in you when things get rough? I have all lines led aft and can also reef at a moments notice from the cockpit. When the wind kicks up, cleats (except cam cleats) and wenches on the mast seems to be the first thing to get tangled. Auto-tillers work fine until they stop. My tiller pilot works fine until the batteries get low. So have an manual way to lock the tiller and practice using it whenever you can if you sail a lot on your own.
I bought bungee, hooks and made a tiller lock . It works great as long as there is not much weather helm .
 

K2MSmith

Member III
I have proved to myself many times that the secret to autohelms of any kind is sail trim. The helm needs to be neutral, or with only minimal weather helm. As the wind comes up this means a reef, or otherwise reduced sail, earlier than it would with an enthusiastic hominid at the wheel. When the tillermaster falters, check the helm for pressure and adjust sails to relieve it.
More and more I’m thinking on my boat with 300 sq ft main , I need to be reefing at 10-12 knots ( with just me on board ) and reef 2 at 15 for neutral helm. I’m always sailing with too much weather helm . My wife wants to get a rowing machine so she can train for it .
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
More and more I’m thinking on my boat with 300 sq ft main , I need to be reefing at 10-12 knots ( with just me on board ) and reef 2 at 15 for neutral helm. I’m always sailing with too much weather helm . My wife wants to get a rowing machine so she can train for it .
I suggest a recut, or a new main cut flatter for your windy conditions. Some growing shape in the belly of a sail that large will produce the symptoms. I have driven an E-33RH in 20 kts, and the helm can be kept close to neutral. Some more outhaul and cunningham might be needed, or a trip to the loft...

Decades ago, there was a personable gal building/repariing sails in our local North loft, and she once chuckled when I brought in our original dacron main and observed that all it needed was a "Tummy Tuck"... ! :)
That small expenditure got us thru several more seasons until we budgeted for the new main.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
I suggest a recut, or a new main cut flatter for your windy conditions. Some growing shape in the belly of a sail that large will produce the symptoms. I have driven an E-33RH in 20 kts, and the helm can be kept close to neutral. Some more outhaul and cunningham might be needed, or a trip to the loft...

Decades ago, there was a personable gal building/repariing sails in our local North loft, and she once chuckled when I brought in our original dacron main and observed that all it needed was a "Tummy Tuck"... ! :)
That small expenditure got us thru several more seasons until we budgeted for the new main.
Good points.. The "tired" mainsail does seem like it is resisting a flatter airfoil even with a lot of vang/cunningham/backstay experimentation. I have not played with the cunningham too much - so something to do next. That puts a direct force downward, so I would think that should definitely help flatten. I ordered a new jib (as you I think you may be aware) and it is *supposed to be* coming in a few weeks, but I delayed purchase of the new main until after the new year because it is going to be expensive (in the same line/material as my jib, it's around 5K). Since I am getting the new main hopefully over the next 3-6 months, I think I will just pretty much try to make do with adjustments on the existing main rather try to recut it. The point you raise though makes me want to go talk to the North rep again before I order the main to discuss the sail cut and also play with the cunningham on the sail I already have.

With your experience at 20 kts on the 33RH, was that with a racing crew on board and no reef ? The boat is pretty tippy so maybe - 3-4 guys on the rail makes a big difference.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
If the sail is old and the shape has bagged, it will lay you over going to windward. Controls like Cunningham and outhaul and luff can't do much about that. But a reef will work to reduce the heel until your new sail arrives. Only really matters to windward.

It is worth noting, esp. for cruising types, that racing boats can carry huge amounts of sail because the helmsman is feathering. It is exhausting and takes skill. It isn't just the crew on the rail, it's the helmsman's ability to pick channels between the waves, handle subtle changes in velocity, and keep the crew busy with the traveler and the top batten and the vang. This is all illustrated best by class boats and dinghies--and 12 Meters--who typically don't or can't reef.

I'm the first to reef. The speed difference is probably half a knot, the boat maintains its efficient heel, the weather helm goes away, and yeah, a Farr40 goes by but the rest of the cruisers remain in relative positions.
 

K2MSmith

Member III
I'm the first to reef. The speed difference is probably half a knot, the boat maintains its efficient heel, the weather helm goes away, and yeah, a Farr40 goes by but the rest of the cruisers remain in relative positions.
I think I saw one of your videos where you took your boat out in 30kts and you had it double reefed (or maybe triple ?) and it all looked very much under control (at least when the camera was rolling :).. I'll have to find that video again for inspiration...
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Good points.. The "tired" mainsail does seem like it is resisting a flatter airfoil even with a lot of vang/cunningham/backstay experimentation. I have not played with the cunningham too much - so something to do next. That puts a direct force downward, so I would think that should definitely help flatten. I ordered a new jib (as you I think you may be aware) and it is *supposed to be* coming in a few weeks, but I delayed purchase of the new main until after the new year because it is going to be expensive (in the same line/material as my jib, it's around 5K). Since I am getting the new main hopefully over the next 3-6 months, I think I will just pretty much try to make do with adjustments on the existing main rather try to recut it. The point you raise though makes me want to go talk to the North rep again before I order the main to discuss the sail cut and also play with the cunningham on the sail I already have.

With your experience at 20 kts on the 33RH, was that with a racing crew on board and no reef ? The boat is pretty tippy so maybe - 3-4 guys on the rail makes a big difference.

My experiences were with a crew of 5 or 6, racing. Going to weather we could do OK, because the main could be sheeted flat enough. We would have 3 or 4 guys on the rail or at least on the high side deck. That model has a huge main, so shape is even more important than for other EY models, IMO.
 
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