Outhaul setup - can a cheek block be used to control the outhaul at the end of the boom? Is running the outhaul internally through the boom far superior because it pulls the clew directly back?
Yes, you can use a cheek block. Yes, running the outhaul through the boom gives a better line for the outhaul pulling on the clew. Also, most in-boom setups have a block setup that gives you 2:1 or better leverage on the outhaul.
Reefing - I have a mainsail with three sets of reefs. I'd like to have it setup with two line reefing for at least two reefs. The mainsail has a boltrope at the foot and no cut-outs below the reefing clews. Is there a reason NOT to attach the end of the reefing line to the boom behind the corresponding reefing clew and use a cheek block on the other side of the boom to pull the line down vertically (I think that's opposite to the norm)? What can I use to attach the lines to the boom on the opposite side of the cheek block? Alternatively, if I used cheek blocks with beckets, and placed them behind the clews, I'd have problems keeping the clew held down to the boom, correct?
Why not have a sailmaker add grommets for the reefing line to go through at the foot of the sail? Tying the reefing line to the boom with a bowline around the standing part of the reefing line is really the simplest and most effective way to do this. The cheek blocks should be about six inches or so aft of the reefing point to provide the outhaul-like tensioning capability for the sail's reefing point.
Topping lift - I was thinking of putting a small block on the end of the SS cable and a small camcleat at the end of the boom. Then I'd just use a small line to manually adjust the boom height and loosen the topping lift when I start to sail, leaving it loose until I drop the main. For those of you with an easily adjustable topping lift - do you find it to be a very useful feature?
Why not run the topping lift from the end of the boom, where it attaches to the boom using a shackle, up to a block near the top of the mast, and then down to the mast base—and possibly back to the cockpit. This would give you a proper topping lift and also allow you to use the topping lift as a backup main halyard in a pinch.
Lines led aft - The area I can't quite get my mind wrapped around is the lines coming off the boom... So say I want to run an outhaul and two reefing lines for the reefing clews back to the cockpit. Getting the lines running toward the mast seems simple enough, but what about the downturn? Suppose the lines aren’t internal, they're running alongside the boom, what hardware do I use to make the downturn? How do I avoid interfering with the Boomvang? And - I've always wondered this - when the boom is pointing directly aft, won't the tension on the lines be different (increase/decrease) as it swings to the side?
If the lines are inside the boom, there's typically a set of sheaves at the front end of the boom, just before the gooseneck that allow you to turn the lines down to the mast base, and typically you'd add a set of turning blocks to the mast base and run the lines to a deck organizer and then to a set of line clutches and then possibly to a winch.
Without internal hardware, you can do basically the same thing using cheek blocks at the foreward end of the boom, just after the gooseneck. If the blocks are positioned properly at the mast base, it shouldn't affect or interfere with the boom vang.
Yes, the tension on the lines will change slightly, but if the blocks are mounted properly, the changes will be relatively insignificant.