Cockpit Control - Sail Magazine

Cockpit Control

If you are one of the many thousands of sailors who own a boat built before lines-led-aft became ubiquitous, and you want to be able to sail your boat without leaving the cockpit, leading halyards and reefing lines aft can be a relatively easy upgrade
Author:
Publish date:
leading_lines_aft.interior

If you are one of the many thousands of sailors who own a boat built before lines-led-aft became ubiquitous, and you want to be able to sail your boat without leaving the cockpit, leading halyards and reefing lines aft can be a relatively easy upgrade.

Planning the projectStep one is to look at the feasibility of locating the hardware you’ll have to add. Your deck layout may make it difficult to come up with clean leads from mast base to cockpit. If there is an owner’s association for your boat, check to see if other owners have tackled this project; better to learn from others’ mistakes than your own.

You won’t want to drill more holes in your deck than absolutely necessary. The bolts intrude belowdecks and can mess up your headliner or trim. Some mast steps on older boats will have tangs to which turning blocks can be shackled; if yours doesn’t, you could perhaps have some welded on while the mast is down for the winter. You may also be able to buy a ready-made base plate complete with halyard organizers that will fit on your mast step. Dwyer Mast and Rig-Rite both supply such items.

Make sure there’s enough room under your dodger to mount the rope clutches and winches you’ll need, and that you have an unimpeded swing with a winch handle with the dodger up. You’d be surprised how often builders get this wrong.

Now you have to decide how much hardware – blocks, organizers, clutches, winches – you’ll need to buy. How many lines do you want to take back? The main reason for going to all this trouble is to be able to take in and shake out a reef from the security of the cockpit. You’ll have to bring back the main halyard, topping lift, two reefing tack lines, and two reefing clew lines. That’s six lines already, which means six rope clutches, two deck organizers and two winches.

In theory you could lead all these lines to one winch, but in practice you’d find yourself grappling with a snake’s nest of tangled lines every time you try to reef the main. Life is much easier when you divide the tasks between two winches, which unfortunately means twice the expense. Or you could cut out two lines by going to single line reefing, but that’s another story.

I’ve seen some production boatbuilders who lead the halyard and reefing lines to the cockpit, but leave the topping lift secured on the mast. This means you have to go forward to harden it up before going back to the cockpit to take in the reef, and then go to the mast again to ease the topping lift. That’s just dumb. Either lead all those lines aft, or none of them.

linesaft1

Theoretically, you could lead as many lines aft as your cockpit can handle. I once sailed on a boat that had 20 rope clutches; it was a nightmare. Remember that ease of handling was the reason you embarked on this project, and don’t complicate things.

Realistically – given the space constraints on a typical cruiser – you can bring as many as eight lines back to the cockpit, four a side. Now you have to work out your priorities. If you’ve already brought six lines aft, what with reefing lines, main halyard and topping lift, that leaves two spare clutches – three if you install a spring-loaded vang, which lets you get rid of the topping lift. What else should come aft?

If you have a furling genoa you’ll be tempted to add a clutch on the mast and leave the coil of the halyard there instead of having it cluttering up the cockpit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you are a tweaker you’ll want to be able to alter headsail shape with the halyard, so you’ll need it led aft.

The other two lines could be the outhaul – again, it’s handy to be able to adjust sail shape without leaving the cockpit – and the vang, which is another often-used line you’ll want to be able to reach conveniently.

This is all subjective, though. For instance, when our project boat was re-rigged, we led the following lines aft: Cunningham, outhaul, vang; genoa halyard #1, genoa halyard #2, staysail halyard, spinnaker halyard, spinnaker topping lift (the pole downhaul runs along the toerail to a cleat). I like to reef at the mast, so I kept the main, topping lift and reefing lines there, though any future owner will have the option of taking them aft. A winch and rope clutches on the mast provide redundancy for the most-used halyards, so they can be jumped at the mast and tensioned from the cockpit. We find we use the Cunningham, outhaul and vang lines every time we sail, and often adjust the genoa’s halyard tension too. The other lines just clutter things up most of the time, but when we need them, it’ll be useful to have them in easy reach.

Related

SouthernOcean

The 50th Anniversary of the Golden Globe

Here we go! The 50th anniversary of the Golden Globe, the first singlehanded nonstop round-the-world race, is upon us. On July 1 one tribute event, the Golden Globe Race 2018, will start out of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, with a fleet of 19 amateur skippers setting out in ...read more

180621-X01-Landing-Page

Volvo Ocean Race Cliffhanger

After racing over 44,000 miles round the world and battling their way past the world’s great capes, including the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn, it’s all come down to the final 700-mile leg from Gothenburg, Sweden, to the Hague. Brunel, Mapfre, Dongfeng: going into the ...read more

Stearns Photo

Racing the Solo Mac for a Cause

There are plenty of reasons to do a Chicago-Mac race, and Rich Stearns, who has done literally dozens of ‘em should know. This year, though, he’s doing the Solo-Mac for an especially important reason: to help those with prostate cancer.“Two years ago, I was diagnosed with ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comRafting dangerOne unseen danger when sailing yachts lie alongside one another for a convivial night is that if they happen roll to a wash or begin to move in an unexpected sea, the spreaders can clash ...read more

180615-01 Lead

A Dramatic Comeback in the Volvo

After winning three of the last four legs in the Volvo Ocean Race (and coming in second in the fourth), Dutch-flagged Brunel is now tied for first overall with Spanish-flagged Mapfre and Chinese-flagged Dongfeng following the completion of Leg 10 from Cardiff, Wales, to ...read more

MFS-5-2018-Propan-SP02

Tohatsu LPG-powered 5hp Propane Motor

Gassing it UpTired of ethanol-induced fuel issues? Say goodbye to gasoline. Japanese outboard maker Tohatsu has introduced an LPG-powered 5hp kicker that hooks up to a propane tank for hours of stress-free running. Available in short-, long- or ultra-long-shaft versions, the ...read more