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Old 05-03-2004
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Releasing tension on a winched line

Could someone explain how to properly release a tightly-winched line when working alone?

We have 2 situations where releasing a tensioned line gets a little dangerous. The first is raising/lowering a 600-lb daggerboard on a 3:1 block set, and the second is lowering the mast. If the daggerboard drops suddenly the boat will get hurt. If the mast drops uncontrolled I will get hurt.

Anyone willing to teach techniques for single-handed loosening a tightly-loaded line in a smooth, controlled (i.e. safe) fashion?

I read about pressing one hand against the line just forward of the winch and understand the concept, but fear the one-hand only grip on line.
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Old 05-03-2004
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Releasing tension on a winched line

The technique for easing a tensioned line on a winch that works for me is to use one hand to hold the wraps of the line flat against the winch barrel -- NOT just forward of the winch -- and then ease the line with the other hand. Holding the line''s turns against the winch keeps the line from overriding, and added pressure can be used to brake the line if necessary. For a block & tackle setup, I would take the end to a winch before releasing it (see above) or perhaps add another
tackle to make it 4:1, and easier to handle.
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Releasing tension on a winched line

Your concern probably shouldn''t be the one-hand grip. With three or more wraps around the winch, it takes only light pressure on the tail end of the line to hold enormous loads. Your concern should be with releasing the "brakes" smoothly.

Practice with a friend. Instead of using a ''live'' load, run a piece of line from one winch to another. You release from your winch as your friend cranks in on the other. Take turns, back and forth. The advantage of this setup is that your friend can put every bit as much tension on the line as there would be in a real world situation, but if you slip, there isn''t a big heavy weight (or a big full Genoa) waiting to pull out yards of line and drag your hand into the winch.
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Old 05-04-2004
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Releasing tension on a winched line

Well, the easiest solution is for you to mount those cam cleats in front of the winch. The line runs thru, you crank the winch, lock the cam down and then you can remove the line from the winch if you want.

When releasing, most have a feature to let you ease off the tension incrementally.

If you don''t want to mount one of these locking cam cleats, then if you have a standard cleat aft of the winch, then take the tail of the line and do a half-wrap around one of the horns of the cleat and when you pull tight, it will release the line from the self-tailer without losing much, if any tension. Make sure you always have at least 3 turns on the winch and then you shouldn''t have problems with the line getting away from you.
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Old 05-06-2004
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Releasing tension on a winched line

Jonathan3 16.
Ask any experienced sailor to show you how to feed the line off the winch - place your left hand on the turns on the winch, ease the line in your right hand slightly. push the turns around the winch with your left. this feeds the line out very smoothly, no jerks and and as slowly as you wish. Easier to see than tell...

Good luck.
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