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.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

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?

Related

210913-11HRT-SKIPPER-PORTRAITS-VC-122

11th Hour Christens Two IMOCAs, Hits a Snag

This week has been a big one for the American-founded, sustainability-centric ocean racing team 11th Hour Racing. In addition to christening their two new boats, the team also took them out for a quick test ride—against some of the most intense IMOCA 60 skippers in the world. ...read more

01-LEAD-DSCF3091

Clewless in the Pacific

Squalls are well known to sailors who cruise the middle Latitudes. Eventually, you become complacent to their bluster. But squalls vary in magnitude, and while crossing from Tahiti to Oahu, our 47ft Custom Stevens sloop paid the price for carrying too much canvass as we were ...read more

Nigel

SAIL’s Nigel Calder Talks Electrical Systems at Trawlerfest Baltimore

At the upcoming Trawlerfest Baltimore, set for Sept. 29-Oct. 3, SAIL magazine regular contributor Nigel Calder will give the low down on electrical systems as part of the show’s seminar series.  The talk will be Saturday, October 2 at 9am. Electrical systems are now the number ...read more

5ae5b8ce-3113-4236-927b-f795be4ae091

Bitter End Yacht Club Announces Reopening

Four years after being decimated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Bitter End Yacht Club is set to reopen for the Winter 2022 season. Hailed as one of the best anchorages in the Caribbean and built by sailors, for sailors, this island outpost in the BVI has been a favorite with ...read more

01-LEAD-'21.05.01_Jay-&-Mira

Cruising: Bluewater Pollywogs

Bluewater sailing is 25 percent actually sailing and 75 percent learning how to live on a boat at sea, in constant motion and with no chance to get off the roller coaster. I cannot over-emphasize how difficult normal daily functions become at sea, even on nice, calm days. ...read more

01-LEAD-IMG_0078

Refurbishing Shirley Rose: Part 2

If you missed the first installment, click here. Thankfully, the deck and cockpit of my decades-old Santana 27, Shirley Rose, were in pretty good shape. The balsa core, in particular, was for the most part nice and solid. Nonetheless, there was still a fair bit of work to do. ...read more

orca

Orca Encounters on the Rise

This week’s confrontation between a pod of orcas and the Nauticat 44 ketch Tuuletar which left the boat rudderless is just the latest in a string of encounters with orcas off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, over 50 of these encounters have been reported, half of ...read more

01-LEAD-Project-complete

DIY: an Antique Nav Station

Ever since the advent of GPS, I have not found much use for the chart table on my schooner Britannia. Most of our passagemaking navigation is done on a Raymarine multifunction display on the helm pod, which is then transferred to a paper chart on the saloon table roughly every ...read more