I thought I'd post about a small upgrade we just made on our boat.
Like many of you, we have a roller-furling headsail. The furling unit is manipulated by a line that is lead aft to the cockpit, via a series of blocks and fairleads attached to the pulpits and stanchions.
I never liked the fairleads on our boat. They attach to the stanchion base, and lead the furling line inboard along the edge of the side-deck. The Schaefer hardware we had, called the "clamp-on stanchion block", looked like this:
Installed on our boat, it looked like this:
The biggest problem with this old hardware system was that the blocks stuck out on the inboard side of the stanchion, right at ankle-bone level. I cannot tell you how many times I smacked and sliced my ankles on those blocks -- believe me it hurts like the devil!
To their credit, about seven or eight years ago Schaefer came out with a much-improved stanchion fairlead, called the "clear-step":
The advantage of the "clear-step" is that the block slides down over
the stanchion, and leads the line outboard
, which cleans up the side-decks and reduces the chance of scraping your ankles on the hardware.
Unfortunately, we could not upgrade to the "clear-step" because it has to drop down over the stanchion. In our case, our boarding-gate stanchions have support "knees" welded to them, preventing installation of the "clear-step" system on 2 out of 4 stanchions.
Another option available from Schaefer is a simple clamp-on bulls-eye fairlead, which can be oriented inboard or outboard. I wasn't keen on this solution due to the increased friction, but it might be a good option for smaller boats:
But at the Annapolis Boat Show in October, I noticed a new solution from Harken. It's called the "Outboard Stanchion Lead Block Assembly" (OSLBA). It combines the best of the two Schaefer solutions, i.e. outboard blocks that can be clamped-on. Have a look:
I ordered four and installed them this past weekend. They are great! They are lower profile than the "clear-step" system (i.e., on the inboard side, they don't stick out hardly past the stanchion), and the twin-block assembly improves the fairlead.
Here are some photos, which I must apologize for their poor quality (the close-up macro on my camera isn't the best). The first two photos show the old and new blocks side-by-side, the last photo shows the completed installation. In the last photo, you can see the problem I mentioned with the boarding gate stanchion and its welded knee:
NO MORE SLICED ANKLES!!!