Know how: Upgrades on a Classic Boat

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The new system in all its glory

The new system in all its glory

Our Allied Seabreeze 35, Keewaydin, has just turned 50, so it seemed appropriate to give her (and us) a small present to simplify sail handling—a new traveler. We’d already added a Tides Marine sail track, new halyard winches, and replaced the original quirky roller-furling boom with a slick single-line reefing boom and vang setup from Selden. The original mainsheet setup consisted of two blocks on deck, a double block at the boom end and a miniscule winch. It was awkward to use, unsafe to trim in any kind of a blow and didn’t do much to shape the mainsail.

A traveler installation is a simple and moderately easy project on most boats, but it does require some planning. The first step was to remove all the old hardware, fill the holes with West System Six-10 epoxy and roughly sand them smooth. After that, I called Schaefer Marine with basic rig dimensions to spec the correct model traveler. We then measured the length that could be accommodated across the deck and made sure there were no obstructions above or below deck where fasteners would go. I also made a pattern of the deck camber (so the track could be pre-bent) onto a board, cut out the curve and then traced it onto a piece of drafting paper. Finally, I sent the dimensions and the tracing to Schaefer, and a couple of days later a perfectly bent piece of track arrived at my door, along with a couple of pre-drilled aluminum backing plates.

Changing out a traveler is a pretty straightforward DIY project. Here’s how it’s done:

Next, I drilled the holes through the deck, using a new 1/4in bit. The two center holes in the track would be right over a compression post (preventing a through-bolt), so I drilled a couple of oversized holes into the post and filled them with Six-10 epoxy. I let this cure before drilling the holes anew with a slightly smaller bit to accommodate the 4in stainless steel wood screws.

The backing plates were cut just long enough to fit between the compression post and the end of the track, and I pre-drilled very slightly oversized holes to fit the bolts that were also included in the kit (thank you, Schaefer)! After dry-fitting the entire track system, we applied bedding compound to the undersides of each plate to surround the fastener holes, placed a couple of bolts through the track for positioning, held the plates in place (with moderate gymnastics) and tightened the nuts. Everything fit perfectly, and after some rigging with New England Ropes Sta-Set, we were ready to go sailing.

I didn’t want to cut into the teak cockpit coamings, so I installed the traveler control blocks backward (facing aft). Since I don’t anticipate working the traveler like a race boat, I think this will be fine. If we change our minds, I will reverse them and cut some fairlead holes through the coamings for the control lines.

This installation has already proved to be worth the trouble. The first sail this season brought some 20 knot gusts, and instead of having to hand over the wheel to release the mainsheet, the six-part tackle was super easy to let go without losing control.

Andy and Gay Howe cruise Keewaydin in Maine each summer, with their two dogs for crew

August 2017

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