Is the halyard the only support for the boom - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 11-10-2013 Thread Starter
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Is the halyard the only support for the boom

I went on an 18 ft sailboat and I saw that the only thing holding the boom in place was the halyard. When we were fiddling with the halayrd to attach the mainsail to the halyard, the boom fell on the cockpit.
Is it always the same on all cruising sailboats?
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post #2 of 17 Old 11-10-2013
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

On a small boat the halyard.mainsail sometimes is the only thing holding up the boom. In most cases the boat has a topping lift of some sort at a minimum. On a cruising boat they will have a topping lift and or rigid boom vang to support the mast. The bigger the boat the more need for boom support.
If you do a google search you will find many different options.
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

For smaller boat's that's pretty typical.. you just need to get used to gently laying the boom down when you go to attach the halyard. It's OK but a proper topping lift will support the boom during the reefing operation, which is helpful but not necessary depending on boat/sail size. A topping lift does tend to chafe the leech of the mainsail over time.

Rigid vangs and boom kickers are available to provide that support, allowing you to forego a full time topping lift. On larger boats (say 30+) I think that's the way to go.

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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

makes life easy

Is the halyard the only support for the boom-topping-lift.jpg

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post #5 of 17 Old 11-10-2013
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

If you have a boat that can reef the main you need a way to keep the boom in place. For reefing you will have to lower partially the main and if the boom is not kept in place, it will come down since there is nothing that can maintain it at his normal height.

As have already been said there are two ways that most of the time exist together on most cruising boats: boom vang and topping lift.

On a new boat the boomvang has enough power to do it alone but with time the spring loses power and starts to be not enough. Last year I had to change the boomvang spring on my 6 year's old boat. Now it works perfectly


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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

There are 4 common possibilities:
* Pigtail off of the backstay that can hold the boom up. This only holds the boom near the centerline of the boat. It is a cheap option and often the stock option.
* Two main halyards, one of which is lighter weight and used as a topping lift. The other is used to haul up the sail. Gives you a backup halyard should your main one fail.
* Topping lift that is fixed to the masthead and adjustable near the boom end. Or a completely fixed topping lift. This is a lighter option, especially if made with dyneema.
* Rigid vang, which has some sort of spring that pushes up on the boom when the vang is released.

All of them work pretty well and have different tradeoffs. My least favorite is the pig tail, if you forget about it and bear off to a beam reach or down wind you'll now be stuck with a boom near the centerline of the boat and which is pulling hard on your backstay.
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post #7 of 17 Old 11-11-2013
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

The small boats I sail sometimes have a plastic curved "spring" under the boom, brand name "Boomkicker". It will hold up a *lightweight* boom fairly well during rigging sails and reefing/unreefing. Don't know if this would work for you. It's similar to the rigid vang Alex W describes above, but on "my" boat has just the bowed part, nothing rigid.
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post #8 of 17 Old 11-12-2013
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

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Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
There are 4 common possibilities:
* Pigtail off of the backstay that can hold the boom up. This only holds the boom near the centerline of the boat. It is a cheap option and often the stock option.
That worked well for me and very simple to rig and operate. I would simply bring the main to center and clip it off to the line attached to the back stay.

(not my boat, sniped from online)



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Last edited by gedaggett; 11-12-2013 at 11:40 AM.
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post #9 of 17 Old 11-12-2013
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

Be careful if using vang to hold up boom on a bigger boat. When it gets bumpy the boom will oscillate up and down on it's spring. With time occillations will get greater and boom may hit you, dodger or bimini on a larger boat. Much safer to have topping lift. If you have roller furling boom with truly rigid vang ( fixed angle) vang may suffice.
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post #10 of 17 Old 11-12-2013
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Re: Is the halyard the only support for the boom

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Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
My least favorite is the pig tail, if you forget about it and bear off to a beam reach or down wind you'll now be stuck with a boom near the centerline of the boat and which is pulling hard on your backstay.
My little boat has a split backstays with a cradle strung between them for the boom, kind of like a pigtail. The previous owner could not stress enough how crucial it was to remember to take it off before sailing! Sounded like it was personal experience...
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