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ericb760 10-22-2013 01:18 AM

Optimal halyard length?
One of my (many) off-season projects will be replacing the main and jib halyards. Presently they both are tied off at the mast. I doubt that I can afford new winches and rigging this year so I won't be leading them back to the cockpit. One problem that I'm having is with the main raised, the wire portion comes all the way down to the winch, and if I really tighten it, the wire ends up around the winch. As a result I don't think I'm using the sail effectively. Question #1: What is the formula for determining halyard length? Question #2: How do I specify that I need the wire portion shortened and how do I measure this correctly?

overbored 10-22-2013 01:36 AM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
get rid of the wire and use one of the new Spectra/ Dyneema ropes that are stronger and last longer then the wire. safer too. do you have the large sheaves for the narrow wire. if so you can use a 5/16" line for a halyard, it does work.

RedHorizon 10-22-2013 03:33 AM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
The big question here is what kind of sheave do you have at the top of the mast. If it's wide enough to handle something wider than wire then you have lots of options. It it's sized to fit just wire, then you may need to stick with wire unless you can change the sheave out.

ericb760 10-22-2013 11:13 AM

Re: Optimal halyard length?

Originally Posted by RedHorizon (Post 1108824)
The big question here is what kind of sheave do you have at the top of the mast. If it's wide enough to handle something wider than wire then you have lots of options. It it's sized to fit just wire, then you may need to stick with wire unless you can change the sheave out.

Short of going up the mast (which I am not inclined to do), can you suggest a way in which to measure the sheaves? Worst case their is a girl in my marina with a bosun's chair that I once paid $20 to retrieve a halyard that had gone up the mast;)

Alex W 10-22-2013 11:42 AM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
Going up the mast or dropping the mast are the two options. On a 24' boat you might be able to drop the mast with 2 or 3 people quite easily. It's a really good idea to take a close look at all mast rigging and hardware, including halyard sheaves, if you've never done so.

You can use a dyneema core line with a stripped cover, or splice dyneema to double braid, to make a wire-replacement halyard that would work on small size sheaves. The splices aren't too hard to learn, or you can get a rigger to do them for you.

overbored 10-22-2013 12:06 PM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
don't need to change the sheaves on this boat. go to the yankee dolphin web site and there are many that have changed to rope with the existing sheaves. i think it is 5/16" line and your done. it's only a 24' boat and almost any 5/16" line today can handle the loads of the halyards. I have a friend that did this and it took about 10 minutes to change. they are external halyards

rhr1956 10-22-2013 05:19 PM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
Dropping the mast is not a big deal, especially if you have a mast tower/crane at your marina. Your boat is over 40 years old. If the sheaves and brass bushings are original it's probably time for some new ones. Get an eyeball on that mast head and you will know for sure what you have. That said, I would get rid of the wire halyards and replace them with line and properly sized sheaves. Depending on the type of sailing you do, I don't think you need the high-tech Dyneema type line. Just some good old fashioned Sta-Set is cheaper, will hold knots and will work fine for years to come.

jimgo 10-22-2013 10:07 PM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
You've gotten good advice on what kind of line to use. You asked how to calculate the length. There are a few ways to do this.

The easiest and most accurate is to go to Home Depot/Lowes and buy 100' of clothesline. Fasten one end to the end of the halyard, then pull the halyard completely out (replacing the halyard with the clothesline). Measure the halyard and buy the corresponding length.

Another option is to look up the height of your mast. The halyard will, at a minimum, have to be 2x the height of the mast minus the height of the boom above the deck, and minus the height of your cleat above the deck. If you go with this approach, though, be sure to add in at least a few feet so you can tie off around the cleat.

ericb760 10-22-2013 10:18 PM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
Looks like either someone's going up or the mast is coming down. One of you suggested replacing the sheaves along with the halyard. I think this sounds prudent. Also, in this thread and in others I searched for, the conventional wisdom seems to be to eliminate the wire leads altogether. I guess that this was how it was done in the 70's but no longer? Anyways, I was mildly surprised at the cost of roughly 70 feet of Sta-Set. Heck, I can throw in new color coordinated jib sheets at this price! While I will eventually lead the lines to the cockpit, I've read where some sailing purists prefer to tie of at the mast? Any real world experience one way or the other?

jimgo 10-22-2013 10:30 PM

Re: Optimal halyard length?
That's partly personal preference, and partly how you expect to use the boat. If you're going to be sailing in a lot of shifting conditions where you'll be tying in reefs, and if your reefing lines aren't lead aft, then it may be easier to keep the main halyard at the mast. By contrast, if you're going to be doing a lot of single handing, and if getting forward to drop the main while alone is going to cause you problems, then you might want to run the halyard back to the cabin.

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