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Sam Boyle 05-12-2004 08:00 PM

The Perfect Traveler
<HTML><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8></TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=250><IMG height=333 src="" width=250><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>The saga of SailNet's flagship continues: from the yard, to the water, to&nbsp;her first race, to&nbsp;her crew's list of demands!&nbsp;</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>If you've been following the saga (OK, so it's a short saga at this point) of <I>Grit</I>, our project boat<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">—</SPAN>a 77 Pearson 10 Meter, then you know that our first race ended with a list of demands from the crew.&nbsp;One of the items high on their list was as they explained it: “A traveler that actually travels.”&nbsp;&nbsp;<P>To be fair, this was not an unreasonable request.&nbsp;It is rather difficult to trim the mainsheet when your traveler is downwind<SPAN style="FONT-SIZE: 12pt; FONT-FAMILY: 'Times New Roman'; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">—</SPAN>particularly when it seems determined to stay there despite your best efforts to move it elsewhere.&nbsp;&nbsp;It's also tough explaining to the crew why they should be willing to brace against the coaming and push with both feet in order to move said traveler upwind.&nbsp;&nbsp;Did I mention that I was also concerned about paying for chiropractic treatments after a long race?</P><P>Armed with the understanding that we needed to remedy this situation, I set out to find the perfect traveler for <I>Grit</I>.&nbsp;&nbsp;Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, the first place I went was the <A class=articlelink href="" target=_blank>Pearson Owner's list </A>. This is a collection of 375 Pearson owners who have banded together to share experiences and ideas on how to get the most from their sailboats.&nbsp;&nbsp;(SailNet hosts about 200 of these groups for a wide range of sailboats.&nbsp;&nbsp;You can see a complete list of all the groups at <A class=articlelink href="" target=_blank>SailNet's Boat Owners Groups</A>.&nbsp;&nbsp;</P><P><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8></TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=250><IMG height=333 src="" width=250><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>The existing traveler on <EM>Grit</EM> may have been state of the art in 1977, but 27 years later it almost drove the crew to mutinity.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>From this group I quickly gleaned two things.&nbsp;&nbsp;First, the existing traveler was “state of the art” when the boat was built in 1977.&nbsp;&nbsp;Second, the definition of “state of the art” had matured significantly in the intervening 27 years.&nbsp;&nbsp;The original traveler was no longer manufactured.&nbsp;&nbsp;Some parts were available, but the consensus was that it simply wasn't worth the effort to rebuild.&nbsp;&nbsp;It ran on four delrin wheels and even when new, did not move freely under load.&nbsp;&nbsp;Also, the control lines were set up with a 3:1 system that didn't provide enough leverage when the wind picked up.&nbsp;&nbsp;The cam cleats were add-ons, not original equipment,&nbsp;and they weren't adjustable; they were locked-in pointing dead aft, making adjustments from anywhere but dead aft a major chore.&nbsp;&nbsp;Finally, the mainsheet blocks were tired after all those years in the sun.&nbsp;&nbsp;While a good cleaning might have made them run a little more freely, and a smaller line certainly would have helped, the 4:1 ratio they provided was a little too slow for light air and little too weak for a heavier breeze.</P><P>Being something of an “economy-minded” guy, I resisted the advice to heave this system until the crew&nbsp;finally wore me down.&nbsp;&nbsp;I think the final shot was something along the lines of “There's only a couple of places where you should really spend the money to buy first class and the traveler is one of them.”&nbsp;&nbsp;I pondered that advice and decided it was worth a whole lot more than I paid for it.&nbsp;&nbsp;The traveler and mainsheet system are one of the&nbsp;essential controls on the boat.&nbsp;&nbsp;Being able to use them quickly and efficiently is the key to getting the boat to perform at its potential.&nbsp;&nbsp;Having been a slow sailor all my life, and now having the racing bug, I was all for maximum performance.</P><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8></TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=300><IMG height=250 src="" width=300><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B>Accepting that the old system on board <EM>Grit</EM>&nbsp;needed replacing turned out to be the easiest decision; the tough part was narrowing down the selection of its replacement.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>Deciding to replace the old system was the easy part; now I was faced with a myriad of choices for the new system.&nbsp;&nbsp;There are literally dozens of different configurations available from the manufacturers who specialize in these parts.&nbsp;&nbsp;Once again I turned to the list to see what advice would be forthcoming.&nbsp;&nbsp;The consensus, if you can call it that, was quick and to the point.&nbsp;&nbsp;While there was a variety of equipment doing the job, the most satisfied owners&nbsp;seemed to be the ones who chose Harken traveler systems.&nbsp;&nbsp;And, the happiest of the lot were those who went for the Harken Windward Sheeting Car.&nbsp;&nbsp;Not being a die-hard racer, I had no idea what a Windward Sheeting Car was.&nbsp;&nbsp;So I checked in with some of our in-house gurus and learned that the WWS Car is an ingenious device that automatically releases the leeward control line on the traveler car.&nbsp;&nbsp;What this means is that you can tack without fooling around with the control lines…the windward line will automatically lock at the same time the leeward line releases.&nbsp;&nbsp;This sounded like heaven to the guy who just finished a race where we had to move aft to line up and manually uncleat the control lines at every tack. <P>Some quick research in the SailNet Store and on the Harken site indicated that Harken recommended the mid-size traveler system.&nbsp;&nbsp;I also learned that Harken had recently redesigned this system to incorporate “captive” bearings – meaning that one no longer has to worry about losing the bearings anytime the car is removed from the track.&nbsp;&nbsp;Having decided on the traveler car system, the only thing left was the mainsheet system itself.&nbsp;&nbsp;</P><P><P><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 align=right border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=8></TD><TD vAlign=top align=left width=250><IMG height=188 src="" width=250><BR><DIV class=captionheader align=left><FONT color=#000000><B><EM>Grit</EM>'s new traveler system components are seen here on proud display prior to their installion.</B></FONT></DIV></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2 height=8></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>This was a frustrating choice.&nbsp;&nbsp;I could have a fast system or I could have a powerful system.&nbsp;&nbsp;Or, so I thought.&nbsp;&nbsp;More advice from the list and our in-house gurus followed.&nbsp;&nbsp;Soon I was looking at the Harken 2-Speed Mainsheet System.&nbsp;&nbsp;This is a combination of blocks that gives you a choice of a 3:1 or 6:1 ratio without the usual collection of additional blocks in a fine-tune system.&nbsp;&nbsp;I liked the simplicity of the solution as well as the reduced clutter.&nbsp;&nbsp;The 10-Meter doesn't have a lot of space available for elaborate mainsheet systems so this looked like the perfect set-up.&nbsp;&nbsp;Once again, the List confirmed my choice.&nbsp;&nbsp;The people who have a 2-Speed System raved about it.&nbsp;&nbsp;</P><P>Add some track, control line sheaves and a stand-up toggle and you've got a complete “2004 State-of-the-Art” mainsheet system for <I>GRIT</I>.&nbsp;&nbsp;In the next article we'll describe how we went about getting the track pre-bent to fit the camber of <EM>Grit</EM>'s bridge deck and the steps involved in installing our new system.&nbsp;&nbsp;</P><P>My most important learning discovery: Buying a complex system like a mainsheet traveler and blocks is a lot more complicated than simply picking up a catalog and ordering parts.&nbsp;&nbsp;The range of choices and capabilities has expanded exponentially in the 12 years since I last refit a boat.&nbsp;&nbsp;Unless you're doing this all the time, it really helps to seek advice from other owners and the professionals.&nbsp;&nbsp;And, selecting the base system is just the first step.&nbsp;&nbsp;You're going to face a bunch of minor choices in how to accessorize and fine-tune your selection so it is the perfect fit for your boat.&nbsp;&nbsp;We'll explore all that in the next article.&nbsp;&nbsp;For now, I'd just like to give a big thank you to the folks on the Pearson List and our in-house staff.&nbsp;&nbsp;They really helped this rusty sailor put together a well thought out and superb mainsheet system.</P><P>For those who are interested, here's a breakdown of the parts in the new system:</P><P>&nbsp;</P><TABLE cellPadding=5 width=468 align=center bgColor=#c4d7fc border=1><TBODY><TR><TD><A name=sidebar><P align=left><FONT face="Trebuchet MS, arial" color=#000000 size=+2><B><EM>Grit</EM>'s New Traveler System</B></FONT></P></A><TABLE cellSpacing=1 borderColorDark=#000099 cellPadding=2 width=450 align=center borderColorLight=#c4d7fc border=1><TBODY><TR align=middle bgColor=#ffffff><TD>Harken 1636</TD><TD>Windward&nbsp;Sheeting Traveler Car&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR align=middle bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD>Harken 1618.1.5</TD><TD>High Beam Track</TD></TR><TR align=middle bgColor=#ffffff><TD>Harken 1632</TD><TD>Double Sheave Control Blocks</TD></TR><TR align=middle bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD>Harken 332</TD><TD>2-Speed Mainsheet System</TD></TR><TR align=middle bgColor=#ffffff><TD>Harken 1622</TD><TD>End Caps for Track</TD></TR><TR align=middle bgColor=#c4d7fc><TD>Harken 1561</TD><TD>Stand-up Toggle for Traveler Car</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></HTML>

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