March 2011 Cruising Tips

INGENUITY: Tackle and Winch

In the words of the great Bernard Moitessier: “Incredible, the power of a tackle on a winch. I feel I am going to start crying, it’s so beautiful…” These were his thoughts after he used a four-part block and tackle with its fall led back to a primary winch to straighten out the steel bowsprit on his ketch Joshua after she was hit by a freighter. Fortunately, I remembered Moitessier this past summer after a big schooner hit my cutter Lunacy and bent one of her stanchion posts.

The post is solid aluminum stock and is very strong, but I had little trouble pulling it back straight (more or less) with my four-part vang tackle led back to a two-speed Andersen cockpit winch. The angles involved in my case were simple—all I had to do was secure one end of the tackle to the bow pulpit just forward of the bent post and take the other to the post itself. Moitessier’s rig was much more complicated. He set up a gin pole shackled on one end to the Sampson post on his foredeck with the other end held outboard on a topping lift. He led a chain pennant from the outboard end of the gin pole forward to the end of his bent bowsprit. The tackle in turn ran aft from the pole’s outboard end to a cockpit winch.

I’m sure there are many other creative ways to harness this “beautiful” power. Keep it in mind next time you’re confronted with an immoveable object on your boat. — Charles J. Doane


This anchor chain was seen on a charter boat I sailed some time ago. If your rode looks like this, give yourself a good kick in the backside. Not only does it look awful, but in our case the friction in the rusted links caused the chain to kink and hockle as it was hauled out of the chain locker. Usually, you can extend a chain’s life by having it re-galvanized. This chain was too far gone for that, as many of the links were wasted from rubbing against each other without the protection and lubricating effect of galvanizing. Note also the rust flakes surrounding the anchor roller—if you’ve ever tried to get rust stains out of gelcoat, you’ll know why that’s bad news. — Peter Nielsen

BOAT HANDLING: Downwind Mooring Pick-up

Most sailors pick up their moorings head to wind, which means if they misjudge the approach the boat’s bow is blown off to the side in all but the lightest wind. Since single-screw boats do not handle well with no way on, the helmsperson can do little to retrieve the situation, and the mate on the bow is often left clinging to the mooring pennant for dear life. Or the pennant is dropped, and you must circle around and try again.

I prefer to take advantage of the fact that most sailboats tend to blow downwind bow first. I approach my mooring going downwind with the engine shifted into reverse, goosing the throttle to slow and stop the boat at the mooring ball with the bow downwind, where it wants to be. This makes it easy to secure the mooring pennant without a big tug of war. Once hooked up, I cut the diesel and the boat swings to the wind. This has worked well on our Morgan 382 and now on our Endeavourcat 30. — Vaughn Weaver

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