Halyard Hook

Leon Lieberman of Ambler, Pennsylvania, asks:

"The center headsail halyard on my C&C 33 needed replacing, and a crewmember accidentally pulled it out without attaching a messenger line to run the new halyard. I’ve been up the mast twice, but can’t get the new halyard to feed in over the sheave and down the mast. Any thoughts on how I can get the halyard up and over the sheave without taking the mast out of the boat? I’ve tried using a thin line, a bike chain and have also tried fishing it with a curved wire coat hanger. The hanger metal is too stiff, and the line and chain bunch up in the mast before they go over the top of the sheave."

Win Fowler replies:

It’s hard to know for sure what might work without seeing your masthead, so I’m not sure whether this trick will work. But it’s worth a try.

First, see if you can run a coat hanger wire up over the halyard sheave and out the opposite side of the mast at the main halyard exit. If you can do this you may be in luck. Get a piece of light messenger line and tie either a lead sinker or a machine nut to the end; be sure it’s small enough to fit over the sheave. The weight will help pull the messenger down the mast. Make a bight in the messenger about two feet from the weighted end and attach it to one end of the coat hanger (A). Push the other end of the hanger up and over both the genoa and main halyard sheaves.

Next pull the weighted end of the messenger up and over the genoa halyard sheave, but don’t pull it out the other side. Release the bight from the hanger and let it go back through the main halyard exit (B). If you are lucky you should now be able to feed the messenger down the mast to the appropriate mast exit, hook it, and then fish it out of the mast exit (C). Once the messenger is in place attach it securely to the new halyard and pull it back up over the sheave.

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