Proper Line Cleating Method - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 28 Old 09-05-2007 Thread Starter
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Proper Line Cleating Method

I've always understood that there is only one way to cleat a line as shown in the following link under "Cleat Hitch". Yet, I see a number of odd twists and multiple wraps that people use when cleating a line. I've observed these permutations on non-sailing vessels most often, but have seen them on sailboats too.

The questions posed to this august body are:

1. Is there only ONE proper way to cleat a line?
2. If the answer to #1 is no, then what is the benefit of the variations?

http://www.virtualvoyages.net/sailin...nb/knots.shtml

A similar question can be posed for coiling a line, but that's another thread.

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post #2 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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There is defenantly more then one way to cleat a line. If you have a line that is under a lot of pressure and must be removed somewhat often, or in a hurry. You should wrap it round the horns three time. It should never be hitched. If the hitch seizes up you won't be able to release it fast. You could need to blow your sheet and not be able to

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post #3 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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That is the proper way to cleat off a line. BTW, the angle formed by the standing part of the line and the cleat body should always be less than 90˚, since if it is larger than 90˚, you've lead the line to the wrong end of the cleat and there's a much greater chance that the line can jam under a load.

IMHO, there really aren't any benefits to additional wraps of the line around the cleat or extra figure eights. They just increase the chance that the line will jam and make it much more difficult to release the line.

If you're not cleating off the line, but using the cleat to provide leverage, then you should probably do what danjarch has mentioned above... the final turn with the bitter end tucked under would be a problem to release in a hurry.

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post #4 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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There's also a slippery hitch. This can be used under medium pressure.

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post #5 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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For powerboats, which operate under different rules of course, there is a different method: wrap the line around the cleat under both horns at least three times, then make figure eights over the top until the cleat is no longer visible or you run out of line. Pile any remaining line loosely on top to help hold it in place.


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post #6 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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There really aren't any benefits to additional wraps of the line around the cleat or extra figure eights. They just increase the chance that the line will jam and make it much more difficult to release the line.
You've probably got clam cleats on your boat, but if you don't, you never hitch the sheets or the halyards. After so long under a hard load, the hitch will lock up to the point where you can't get it off. Instead of a hitch you do multible figure eights around the cleat, usualy three complete wrap in total. This gives enough friction that you don't need a hitch. It also allows you to remove one wrap at a time, by compressing the underlying line while you remove the top line. You do this untill you have just enough friction left to control the release of say the main sheet.

By the way, if you use three strand, you need to make sure that your keeping the right hand lay when ever you cleat off.

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post #7 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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Dan

Having only sailed on boats with rope clutches and/or jam and cam cleats, I never even realized some of the things I don't know. Here's another one, thank you.

Mike

(edit: meaning I've never had to use a horn cleat for anything other than holding fenders and docklines, and hadn't even though about doing so - lack of exp showing)


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"... the only matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my alloted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze." - Richard Bode, First you have to row a little boat (pg. 94)

Last edited by ReverendMike; 09-05-2007 at 04:56 PM. Reason: clarification
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post #8 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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I don't use horn cleats for the sheets on my boat. The main sheet uses a cam cleat at the base of the bottom block on a six-to-one purchase. The genoa sheets are held by the self-tailing winch jaws.

There are no clam cleats on the entire boat, with the exception of the clam cleats used for the leech lines on the sails.

I've never had a cleat hitch lock up. If you do it right, I don't believe it will lock up to the point you can't untie it. Of course, if you're using high-tech lines, which are a bit more slippery than dacron or nylon lines, you might have a problem, but I've never had one.

Also, if you do what you're saying, then you can't put two lines on the deck cleats... which are designed to be used for two lines each in normal use. Your cleating method doesn't leave enough room on the cleat for that.
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Originally Posted by danjarch View Post
You've probably got clam cleats on your boat, but if you don't, you never hitch the sheets or the halyards. After so long under a hard load, the hitch will lock up to the point where you can't get it off. Instead of a hitch you do multible figure eights around the cleat, usualy three complete wrap in total. This gives enough friction that you don't need a hitch. It also allows you to remove one wrap at a time, by compressing the underlying line while you remove the top line. You do this untill you have just enough friction left to control the release of say the main sheet.

By the way, if you use three strand, you need to make sure that your keeping the right hand lay when ever you cleat off.

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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 09-05-2007 at 04:51 PM.
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post #9 of 28 Old 09-05-2007
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The main sail on the Liberty Clipper was something like 800 square feet. We didn't have cam cleats or winches. On all the boats I worked on, you were never allowed to put a hitch in any halyard, sheet, or falls. It was considered poor seamanship. I will say that I still don't use hitches on my own boat very often. If you need to have two lines on a small cleat, I geuss you'd have to hitch them off. We used the slippery hitch for the falls on one boat I sailed on, but I can't remember why.

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Ummm... the line handling techniques for a tall ship with 800 sq. ft. of sail area are going to be a bit different from those used on a small boat.

However, I don't cleat off the main sheet or genoa sheets in any manner that would prevent releasing them quickly in an emergency.

In fact, while the mainsail halyard is usually cleated off normally, it will be tied off with a slipped cleat hitch if I know I'm might be dropping the mainsail soon. I won't be having to do that much longer, as I plan on installing line clutches for the halyards at the mast.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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