To be fair, this was not an unreasonable request. It is rather difficult to trim the mainsheet when your traveler is downwind—particularly when it seems determined to stay there despite your best efforts to move it elsewhere. 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. Did I mention that I was also concerned about paying for chiropractic treatments after a long race?
Armed with the understanding that we needed to remedy this situation, I set out to find the perfect traveler for Grit. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, the first place I went was the Pearson Owner's list . 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. (SailNet hosts about 200 of these groups for a wide range of sailboats. You can see a complete list of all the groups at SailNet's Boat Owners Groups.
Being something of an “economy-minded” guy, I resisted the advice to heave this system until the crew finally wore me down. 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.” I pondered that advice and decided it was worth a whole lot more than I paid for it. The traveler and mainsheet system are one of the essential controls on the boat. Being able to use them quickly and efficiently is the key to getting the boat to perform at its potential. Having been a slow sailor all my life, and now having the racing bug, I was all for maximum performance.
Some quick research in the SailNet Store and on the Harken site indicated that Harken recommended the mid-size traveler system. 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. Having decided on the traveler car system, the only thing left was the mainsheet system itself.
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 GRIT. In the next article we'll describe how we went about getting the track pre-bent to fit the camber of Grit's bridge deck and the steps involved in installing our new system.
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. The range of choices and capabilities has expanded exponentially in the 12 years since I last refit a boat. Unless you're doing this all the time, it really helps to seek advice from other owners and the professionals. And, selecting the base system is just the first step. 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. We'll explore all that in the next article. For now, I'd just like to give a big thank you to the folks on the Pearson List and our in-house staff. They really helped this rusty sailor put together a well thought out and superb mainsheet system.
For those who are interested, here's a breakdown of the parts in the new system:
Grit's New Traveler System
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