Spring Commissioning: Cam Cleats

Sometimes you have to pass through complexity on the road to simplicity, as one sailor found while rethinking his sail-handling systems.
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Although many of us say we like to live by the KISS principle, sometimes it’s not so easy to Keep It Simple, Stupid. On sailboats, this is evident in the endless quest to make sailhandling more efficient. Well, it’s my endless quest, anyway. Sometimes it doesn’t pan out that way, and I end up overcomplicating what should be a simple issue. For instance…

Ostara has always had a winch on either side of the companionway to handle halyards and other lines. During a refit a few years back I ditched the aging banks of jammers that dealt with these lines and installed four Spinlock XTS clutches per side to cope with the anticipated reefing lines and halyards. The starboard clutches handle the genoa, staysail and spinnaker halyards.

Then I decided to reef at the mast, so the port side clutches were instead relegated to serve the vang, Cunningham, outhaul and topping lift (the latter led aft to minimize mast clutter, while the other lines were left at the mast to minimize cockpit clutter… ).

These lines, being relatively lightly loaded, did not really warrant rope clutches, but hey, they were there, right? Same with the winch—I haven’t used it once in five years. And—annoyingly—the Spinlocks’ levers fouled the dodger. I never sail with the dodger up except in bad weather, so it wasn’t that big a deal, but I was always aware of it, because I’m constantly fiddling with the vang, outhaul and cunningham.

So, during this year’s spring commissioning, I decided to strike. Off came the winch and Spinlocks, and on went four cam cleats, nicely color-coded to eliminate confusion, since all four lines are the same color. The most heavily loaded lines will be the vang and the Cunningham. The vang has a 4:1 purchase so its load is well within the 300lb safe working load of the Harken cam cleats, and by the time there’s enough load on the Cunningham to be a concern, it’ll be time for a reef in the mainsail anyway.

The new set-up is an absolute joy to work, and I feel much less Stupid for having Kept It Simple. Anyone want to make an offer for some lightly used rope clutches?

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