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  #1  
Old 10-23-2006
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Leading lines aft/removing mast winches

I'm looking at several boats, but some that I like have mast-mounted halyard winches. I'll be doing quite a lot of short- or single-handed sailing, and I'd like to run those lines aft. I'm not sure how much work it is, though. My biggest question is about the mast winches - do they add structural integrity to the mast? Will I be hurting anything to remove them? I assume you just fair them over with aluminum plates....

Any advice?

Cheers,
Phil
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Old 10-23-2006
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The main thing you'll have to do is install turning blocks and deck organizers to lead the lines aft. Then you'll probably want to install line clutches and possibly a new winch for the lines led aft. It really isn't all that much work, but does take a fair amount of planning.

The winches don't really add any structural integrity to the mast, but I would leave them on the mast just in case you ever have to raise/lower the lines from the mast. Not having them there removes that as a possibility, and in an emergency, like if your lines led aft setup gets broken, you'd be screwed. Redundancy, especially on a small sailboat, is always a good idea.
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Old 10-23-2006
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Dog's right, I would NOT remove the winches. They can really come in handy. I wish I had one on the mast.
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Old 10-24-2006
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When we bought the old dear I'd planned on doing that mod but after a bit of experience with her I'm not so sure. To raise your main you still have to go to the mast to attach the halyard so why not stay there to raise the sail ? Then when it comes to reefing you have to go to the mast to attach the reef cringle to the horn. My thinking is what have you really gained by having your uphauls back in the cockpit. There is one big unless in all that. If you modify your reefing arrangement to a one line system then you don't need to worry about the horn/cringle attachment. Then I can see some sense in it all but I wonder if it's really worth the trouble. Having said all that I'd still agree with SD and M3302 that leaving the winch(es) on the mast is no bad idea except for the cost of one or two new winches.
One point about the new winches is that a huge mistake a lot of people, and boatbuilders for that matter, make is in installing the winches under the dodger and not leaving enough room for the winch handle to turn without obstruction.
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you mean like this?
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Generally, if you've led the lines aft, you'll want a larger winch on the cabintop than you had on the mast as there will be considerably more friction in the system, and the larger winch makes it much easier to handle the job of lowering or raising the mainsail, even with the additional friction.

I'm in the process of re-fitting my boat with the main halyard, topping lift, first and second reefs, outhaul and spinnaker halyards all led aft. I'm using a Lewmar 40ST winch for the setup, as it is the same as the genoa winches I've already got on-board, and should make raising the main a piece of cake. The mast has Lewmar #8 winches, which are a bit undersized for the task. For the line clutches, I'm using Lewmar D1 twin clutches, which match the ones I have elsewhere on the boat. I like standardizing with the same gear, as it reduces the amount of parts I have to carry aboard.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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Old 10-24-2006
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There are, as tdw indicates, compelling reasons to leave halyards and reefing lines at the mast when you are singlehanding - everything is at hand when you reef, and you have to go forward to attach anyway. However that does require some reliable self steering gear.

The added friction of some systems can add to the effort required when things are led back, for sure. (not the least is the ability to use your own weight to help the main up if you are standing at the mast)

However if you are determined to run things back, make sure you properly seal any fittings like turning blocks etc, and give some thought to reinforcing the deck area where you plan to put a winch. Especially if you upsize the winches, on an older boat the torsional stresses from grinding can lead to delaminating or separating the coring in that area.

One other thought - if you have a keel stepped mast, running lines aft requires a deck stay to prevent the tensioned halyards from lifting the deck up around the partners. This force can be considerable.

Last edited by Faster; 10-24-2006 at 08:17 PM.
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Faster brings up a very valid point about the deck stay... On my boat it isn't an issue, since it is a deck-stepped mast.

Any deck fittings should be properly potted and backed with a backing plate of appropriate thickness and size. I've spoken with the designer of my boat about the winch position placement and gotten his blessing and recommendations for it.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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Old 10-24-2006
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Thanks for all the great advice (as usual)! I'm also planning on a jiffy reefing setup. I think I'll definitely leave the winches on the mast, regardless. I had not considered the extra forces on the deck around the mast boot when the turning blocks are in use..... I'll have to think about that some more.

As far as reinforcing the deck for the blocks, organizers, and winches, how, generally, is that done? I have a book on hull and deck repair (not too far into it), so I understand drilling out the core and epoxying to seal it around the new fittings, but what should I plan on for deck reinforcement? Stainless backing plates? How big should I plan to make them?

The whole subject of fiberglass repair and maintenance is fascinating....

Cheers,
Phil
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I'd go with aluminum, plywood (glassed and epoxied over), or solid fiberglass backing plates, rather than stainless. Stainless steel is a bitch to drill, and the ease of working with the other materials makes them much simpler to install and such. Don't forget to taper the edges of the backing plates to spread the stress and not cause a 'hard' edge where the plate ends.

I am using a single plate for all of the turning blocks, which will be located relatively close to one another, and then another plate for the winch itself.

The plate for the winch I am using is almost a foot square, the plate for the turning blocks is about two feet by a foot. Both are 1/2" plywood...and I'm bedding them in epoxy thickened with high-density filler. Originally, I was going to use 3/8" aluminum, but decided that plywood would be simpler, since I don't have to worry about galvanic corrosion in the case of any leaks.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 10-24-2006 at 11:03 AM.
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