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Old 11-14-2011
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Purpose of Winches

Would someone please describe the purpose of the various winches on a 34-36 ft. sloop. I know that one each would be for raising/lowering the main and the jib. But what about the others. I suspect that there is a winch for reefing the main but am not sure. Thanks.
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Old 11-14-2011
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Any line you need more mechanical advantage. Some lines have block and tackle (vang, main sheet, cunningham), others will need a winch. Halyards, reefing lines, jib and spin sheets.
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Old 11-14-2011
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In a nutshell- any winch that is available and can accept a line coming through either a block or clutch can be used for trimming headsails, mainsail or reefing- the caveat being that it must be run fair to the winch; the closer the better to a point... I'm assuming the halyards on your boat will run down to the mast base, through a block on the cabin top, through a clutch, then to a winch directly inline with the clutch. Some halyard winches and clutches are right on the mast, though... It just depends on your configuration.
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Old 11-14-2011
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On a C&C 34 I used to race on, starting from the stern:

2 primaries for trimming the genoa
2 for trimming the spinnaker sheets/guys
one on the coachroof, port side to trim the mainsheet
one on the coachroof starboard side to manage the pole uphaul
one just aft of the mast for the main halyard
one just to starboard of mast for the jib and spin halyards starboard side
one just to port of the mast for the jib and spin halyards port side
one just forward and to starboard of the mast for the babystay

All that to say, it really depends on how the boat is set up. 10 winches on a 34' boat is old-school. On my previous Jeanneau 35, I only had 4 as all lines were led aft to the cockpit. The primaries by the cockpit would be used to trim Genoa sheets and spinnaker guys. The coachroof winches would be used for all halyards and trimming spinnaker sheets.
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Old 11-14-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustyf View Post
Would someone please describe the purpose of the various winches on a 34-36 ft. sloop. I know that one each would be for raising/lowering the main and the jib. But what about the others. I suspect that there is a winch for reefing the main but am not sure. Thanks.
Rusty: the location of the various winches will tell you what their purpose is. The winches on the side of the mast are obviously for raising the sails. On some boats, the winches for raising the sails are located on the cabin top. This means you don't have to leave the security of the cockpit to raise and lower the sails. Also, as someone else has pointed out, you can use these winches for multiple purposes; by installing "clutches" to hold lines fast, you can use the same winch for a variety of line handling tasks. Boats set up for racing with multiple headsails or that use spinnakers have this type of arrangement. And to answer your question specifically, there is no winch dedicated to reefing the main; you would use the same winch as you used to set it. The downside to having these winches on the cabin top is that the various blocks needed to run the lines to the winches create extra friction, which means a noticeable increase in the amount of effort it takes to handle the lines.

The winches located on the cockpit coamings are used to control the jib or genny sheets. When the boat has a big main sail, sometimes you need a separate winch to control that sheet too. I can't recall if I have ever seen one on a boat the size that you describe except for an all-out racing machine. This winch is often located near the aft end of the cockpit.
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Old 11-15-2011
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Thanks to all for the helpful information. A follow up question. On a boat set up for single handed sailing how does one secure the mainsail to the boom when reefing the sail. Do you have to leave the cockpit and to secure the main to the boom or can a winch handle that?

Thanks again.
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Old 11-15-2011
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That depends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustyf View Post
Thanks to all for the helpful information. A follow up question. On a boat set up for single handed sailing how does one secure the mainsail to the boom when reefing the sail. Do you have to leave the cockpit and to secure the main to the boom or can a winch handle that?

Thanks again.
There are lots of different setups for reefing.
On my boat I have a two line reefing system (one for the tack and one for the boom end). Both are led back through clutches to the winches on the coach roof (one on each side).

Each coach roof winch can be used on several lines by help of the clutches.
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Old 11-15-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rustyf View Post
Thanks to all for the helpful information. A follow up question. On a boat set up for single handed sailing how does one secure the mainsail to the boom when reefing the sail. Do you have to leave the cockpit and to secure the main to the boom or can a winch handle that?

Thanks again.
Rusty: assuming you don't have in-mast or in-boom mainsail reefing, reefing the main is a fairly simple process. You slack the mainsail halyard to allow the sail to come down a certain amount (the amount you lower the sail is generally preset or understood from practice at the dock or in calm conditions), but you don't lower the sail completely. This action is done in the same manner in which you lower or raise the sail normally. Once the sail is partially lowered, you must affix the newly shorted sail to the boom. In the old days, this was done by tying the reef points (short pieces of line that run through the sail at regular intervals parallel to the to the boom) around the boom. Many sails still have reef points, but they are rarely functional, and are only used to cosmetically tuck the now-folded up extra sail snug so it doesn't look sloppy.

The reefed portion of the sail is affixed to the boom these days with a "slab" or "jiffy" reefing system. You now have one or two lines that run along or in the boom, through blocks, up through grommets in the sail at its after-most and fore-most ends, back down the other side of the sail, and then affixed to a strong point. One pull on the reefing line(s), and the entire sail is brought down to the boom in a big slab. Affixing the end of the reefing line to a cleat on the boom then completes the action. If you have reefing points, you can then tie them off, neatening the look of the sail. You then rehoist the halyard taut. Reefing done.

Here's a link to a slab reefing diagram:

Reefing the Mainsail - How to Reef the Mainsail - Slab Reefing for the Mainsail

I have never seen reefing lines that weren't cockpit accessable, and if your mainsail halyard winch is on the coach roof or if the lines are lead back to the cockpit, then you don't have to leave the cockpit to reef. On my boat, I have two reefing lines, both accessable from the cockpit, but my halyard winch is on the mast, so I do have to leave the cockpit to reef. Consequently, I reef before I leave the dock whenever possible. One of these days, I will change over to a single line system like the drawing. One of these days....
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