Main halyard tension, no winch - SailNet Community

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Old 09-20-2011
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Main halyard tension, no winch

I have a newly acquired Cal 24 which was previously equipped with a mainsail halyard winch that was removed at some point. I find that it's very difficult to get the sail all the way up unless there's no wind at all (at which time I don't need it of course).

I've done a lot of searching on this and found several suggestions--beyond replacing the winch, which I'll probably do but I'd like to sail and not fix for the rest of this season if at all possible.

The most obvious tactic is sweating it, but the halyard is internal and the distance between where it exits the mast and the cleat is only a few feet, so not enough length to do that effectively. Anyway I apparently am not strong enough to do it.

The best short term solutions I've seen are using a trucker's hitch or a handy billy. What I haven't seen discussed anywhere though is that you have to get the sail most of the way up, and then try to tie the knot or attach another line while the halyard is under pressure already. I've thought of cleating the halyard at that point and then tying another fixed line to it with a rolling hitch to hold tension while I work on the free end, but that's now a lot of moving parts and I know these things tend to be harder to actually do than to think about. I'm going to try it anyway to see how it works out, but any ideas or alternatives would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-20-2011
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Why not just pick up a small winch and install it? They aren't expensive. If not, you could install a cheek block on the mast, so that you can sweat the halyard "up". Maybe changing the direction of effort will help you.
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Old 09-20-2011
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Depending on how much you're able to raise the main without the winch, if you have a cunningham rigged perhaps you could tighten the luff sufficiently with it.
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Old 09-20-2011
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Does the Cal 24 have a downhaul or is the goose neck riveted to the mast?
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Old 09-20-2011
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Adding a block should lighten the load some. As posted above, a mast winch is at the least, not as costly as you might think. Especially if you pick one up "previously owned" via "fleabay", "Craigslist", etc. etc. Good luck.
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I should have mentioned that the boom gooseneck is fixed, so no downhaul. I do have a cunningham rigged, but I would need it to make up for the head of the sail being maybe a foot below where it's supposed to be, so not enough of a solution. It's not that I can't get the luff tight, I can't even get it all the way up. Makes for a very ugly main, and a lot more heel than necessary.

As far as the winch I've looked at options for new and used and buying will be no problem, it's taking the time to do the work that I don't want to do now. I traded this boat for a "project" boat I bought a few years ago, not realizing how much of a project it was. I've lived with the frustration of not having the time or inclination to get out there and work on the boat while still paying the yard bill and getting NO use all this time, and right now I just want to go sailing! It may be though that I have to bite the bullet and do the winch anyway.

Thanks.
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Old 09-20-2011
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For now I think I would just point up and flog the sail while quickly rasing it to put as much tension on as I could. I can't see why it would be a foot short on the hoist especially on the size sail of a Cal 24.
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The main on a 24 footer shouldn't be difficult to fully hoist. I suspect that there's extra friction in your sailtrack and slug arrangement.. have you tried some lube in the track? Once the sail is properly hoisted it's usually pretty easy to control luff tension with the cunningham.

Sorry to mention the obvious, but.... main sheet off completely, reef lines free to run and vang released??
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Sounds like a good opportunity to upgrade at the same time, ie bring the main halyard back to the cockpit. You could mount a winch either side of the sliding hatch.
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I don't know why it's so difficult to hoist either. I used to have a Catalina 27 with no main halyard winch and got that one up fine no problem. Of course that was an external halyard, so I could sweat it (I hope that's the right term) to get it tight.

I do plan on picking up some track lube on the way out this week, that should help. And I do make sure that the sheet and vang are released. Reef lines have yet to be strung.

The other reason I'm hesitating on just installing the winch is because I would like to run it back to the cockpit, so it's a bigger project that just screwing one back on the mast. Although, the threaded holes are still on the mast with screws in them, if I could match the bolt pattern then it wouldn't be any trouble at all and I could move it later...
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