Main halyard tackle in lieu of winch - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-12-2011 Thread Starter
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Main halyard tackle in lieu of winch

My Hunter 18.5 came with one small winch mounted on the mast. I have since led the halyards aft through a deck organizer to horn cleats at the aft edge of the cabin top.



The winch on the mast being useless now, I removed it. I had thoughts of mounting the winch on the cabin top, forward of the main halyard cleat, but the handle won't clear the starboard stanchion (which supports the nearly useless shin-height lifelines). In the meantime, I can raise the mainsail most of the way without any leverage, then sweat it up (horizontally) for some tension, but not quite enough. Track lube on the sail slugs should help, but in order to get proper tension, I think I need some mechanical advantage.

The thought occurred to me that I could put a block and tackle arrangement at the masthead. Instead of shackling the main halyard straight to the headboard, I would shackle it to the masthead, placing a block in line between the masthead block and the now dead-end of the halyard, and shackle the headboard to that. The concept is illustrated in David Seidman's The Complete Sailor, although it is shown for a jib halyard rather than a main.

So before I go running off on this concept, somebody give me a reality check here. Aside from making the main halyard twice as long, what am I not thinking about that would make this a bad idea? I'm only getting 2:1 advantage at best, not counting friction in the headboard, mast head, mast base, and deck organizer blocks, versus the much greater leverage the winch would give. But I've got to be missing something else.
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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Here's your reality check... While you could run a 2 part halyard as you describe that means twice the rope to pull, and to stow while sailing (and to buy).

In my opinion that's overkill for an 18 foot daysailer. If you are having trouble getting sufficient luff tension, add a cunnigham to the bottom of the luff of the sail. Then you can rig a simple, lightweight 2:1 (or 4:1 for plenty of power)cunningham tackle... Haul the sail all the way up with the halyard and create luff tension by pulling DOWN at the tack.

This may entail getting a sailmaker to install a cringle or a strap on the sail for that purpose, but other than that it's a couple of small bullet blocks and some 1/4 line.

Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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On a J24 with MUCH bigger sails there is no winch needed on the main or jib hand strenth can do it fine

We do use a Cunningham on both sails to fine tune them

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post #4 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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I did something very similar on a Stiletto 27. However, there were a few differences:
* 40-foot mast with fully battened bolt rope sail. Much harder hoist.
* Sail was down-hauled for tension (8:1), not winched up. You are going to have trouble getting it tight enough, I think. Cuningham?
* Used Kevlar line, to control stretch. You may not need to.
* A bullet block should do. But don't shackle it to the mast head, probably. Place a padeye in the sail tack (the nuts should catch in the track).

Yes, 2x the line, but that was no issue. The 2:1 purchase was great. But I'm not convinced it will replace a winch; your case is different than mine.

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post #5 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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Not really a good idea on a boat the size of yours, since it really isn't necessary. If you learn how to "sweat" a halyard properly, you shouldn't need a winch or a tackle on a boat the size of yours. Of course, it is easier to do if you have a line clutch setup, but that isn't really necessary.

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post #6 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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I have a 1:1 halyard and a cunningham on my C27. I have been tempted occasionally to increase the purchase of my halyards, mostly to add saltiness But have never done so. Besides what everybody else mentions, you'll probably lose a couple of inches of hoist out of the deal, which will mess up your luff tension anyway.

I have a winch on the cabin top ostensibly for the jib. I never need it except in winds of at least 15 kt, and even then only to tension the luff, not to hoist. The winch is inside the dodger, right in the corner, and the dodger prevents complete turning of the handle. However it's a one-speed winch and I can just use a ratcheting action to get the tension I want. If you only need the mechanical advantage to achieve tension, the fact that the handle doesn't make a full turn isn't that big of a deal.

On the other hand, if it really starts to piss me off, I have the option of removing the interloper, whereas you do not.

By the way, shin-height lifelines are not useless. In conditions where lifelines are really important, you should be keeping your center of gravity nice and low to the deck anyway. In such conditions, my thigh-height lifelines aren't going to do anything except remove my hat as I go overboard.

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post #7 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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I don't have any winches on my 23' boat either. I also wanted a way to get more tension on the halyards so I made up this portable handy billy out of spare parts. It consists of a four part tackle attached to an open clam cleat. The clam cleat can grab any line up to 1/2" diameter. The metal strap between the double block and the cleat is for strength.









Confession: The system works well but since I usually single hand and it takes a minute or so to set up, I found it is faster and easier to just use the Cunningham and tack downhauls. These are all lead back to the cockpit. My main Cunningham is 8:1, the jib tack downhaul is 4:1, and the staysail is 6:1.

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post #8 of 11 Old 01-12-2011
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Clever, Henry... but as you say yourself, the cunningham is a nearly identical tackle that does the same thing.. without needing a place to be stowed!

Ron

1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-13-2011
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Just take a turn around your cleat and put a truckers hitch in the line and tension it. Then tie it off as usual. Should be plenty of tension for your main.

I don't tie this variation, but it looks like it would work the same as the one I use.
Trucker's Hitch | How to tie a Trucker's Hitch | Boating Knots

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post #10 of 11 Old 01-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrd22 View Post
Just take a turn around your cleat and put a truckers hitch in the line and tension it. Then tie it off as usual. Should be plenty of tension for your main.
Wouldn't that cause a crazy amount of chafe or friction on the line?

In a more whimsical moment I rigged a trucker's hitch in some (discarded) climbing rope (or something like it that, as I recall, only provided 2:1) to hoist a friend up to a high ceiling. After a few goes at it, the loop in the moving part that the pulling part passed through had melted and fused.

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