Cockpit Control Page 2

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
Author:
Publish date:

Hardware
Your choice of deck hardware will be determined by the size of your boat and the way the deck is designed. There are four components to a lines-aft system.

Mast base blocks
With every turn a line makes, friction is added, so don’t buy cheap, inefficient blocks. If the mast base has tangs, you can shackle blocks to them. If not, you have several choices. You can fit spring-loaded standup blocks, which will need to be bolted through the deck with strong backing plates; half-moon blocks, which will also need to be deck-mounted; or swiveling fairlead blocks, which are riveted to the mast. Standup blocks are self-aligning, but if you’re using half-moon blocks, your line leads need to be spot-on.

Deck organizers
These are used where line direction needs to be changed, so the lines enter the rope clutches at the correct angle. They’re available in two-, three- or four-sheave sizes, from Schaefer, Spinlock, Antal, Lewmar or Harken. Some can be stacked to allow more lines to fit through narrow gaps. The organizers I’ve used all seem to be good, irrespective of make; your choice may come down to something as subjective as looks. You may find you need to raise organizers off the deck to prevent the lines from the mast from entering at an above-horizontal angle and chafing on their metal edges. Because the lines on our boat need to be guided over the breakwater at the front of the cockpit, I fitted 2in wood risers under the organizers.

Getting a grip
A line will either be fed through a clutch or jammer (aka stopper) to a winch, or (on a small boat) terminate in a cleat of some kind—jam, clam or horn. A jammer is just that—once the line is tensioned, it is gripped by the jammer’s jaws; the more load on the line, the tighter the jammer grips. The corollary is that you can’t release a loaded line from a jammer without first nipping it up on a winch. A rope clutch gives you more control and can be released under moderate load, although it is wise to first take a turn around a winch.

If you need to decide between a jammer or a clutch for a particular application, consider whether the line will ever need to be released under load in an emergency. If the answer is yes, choose a clutch. The best-known clutches are from Spinlock and Lewmar, though Antal and Easylock are also well-established names.

Clutches and jammers vary widely in price, according to line size and the loads they’re expected to hold, so do your research. Spinlock and Lewmar have good online guides to clutch selection. We fitted two banks of four Spinlock XTS clutches, but could have gotten away with lower-end XAS clutches or even jammers for the lightly loaded lines.

linesledaft2

Winches
You don’t need powerful winches for main or genoa halyards, or for reefing lines, though it is better to over-specify than under-specify. According to Lewmar’s winch selection guide, #16 winches should be entirely adequate for an average 35-37 foot cruiser. Self-tailers are of course desirable, but expensive, and certainly not essential in this role; the clutch or jammer will be closed while you’re winching, so if you let go of the line it’s not going to go very far.

On bigger boats, it’s not unusual to see an electric winch fitted on the cabintop to handle halyards. It also comes in handy for hoisting people up the mast.

An inconvenient convenience?
Some people find that leading lines aft causes as many problems as it solves. It’s not a cheap exercise. Apart from having to purchase the hardware mentioned above, you may discover that some of your halyards and lines aren’t long enough to reach back to the cockpit and will have to be replaced. With the lines passing around blocks and through deck organizers and clutches, you’re putting more friction into the system and you could find your sails are harder to raise without resorting to winch power. You will inevitably end up with lots of line tails in the cockpit. Lastly, the belief that leading lines aft frees you from ever having to go on deck is a fallacy; there will always be a reason to go on deck, whether it’s to free a fouled sheet, hoist a downwind sail, prepare or secure an anchor, or tidy up the mainsail you’ve just dropped from the safety of the cockpit.

RESOURCES

Antal

Harken

Lewmar

Rigging Only

Rig-Rite

Schaefer Marine

Spinlock

Related

judges2-1024x319-0219-600x

2019 Pittman Innovation Awards

For the past couple of decades, the digital side of sailing has become increasingly important, to the point where it’s now almost inconceivable going offshore, even aboard a daysailer, without at least a modicum of electronics onboard—a trend that has been very much in evidence ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! I took this shot from Cooper Island Beach Club as my ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Fall in line In the days before GPS, the best trick outside the book for finding a harbor in dense fog went like this: if it’s surrounded by rocks, forget it; if not, in you go, but never try to hit it ...read more

190115-Mark-Slats-Golden-Globe-Race2048x

Photo-Finish in the Golden Globe Race 2018

With less than 1,700 miles to go to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, second-place Mark Slats of the Netherlands has cut another 393 miles out of the lead held by French sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in the Golden Globe 2018 race.  Jean-Luc aboard the Rustler 36 Matmut ...read more

06-Heineken-1-R2018_1March_©LaurensMorel_LMA5965_p

Post-Irma Heineken Regatta

Even more than a year and half later, the scars from Hurricane Irma are still all too visible on the island of St. Maarten. But if Irma couldn’t prevent the famed Heineken from taking place in the winter of 2017-18, you can bet it’s not going to put a crimp in either the racing ...read more

05-TRANSPAC_71417_SG_055268

The Transpac Prepares for No. 50

Because modern yachting is in many ways an invention of the early to mid 20th century, in recent years sailors have been celebrating any number of milestone anniversaries. Now it’s the biennial Transpac’s turn, as it prepares for its 50th race from Southern California (following ...read more