Control lines set-up for singlehanding - SailNet Community
Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.

LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 Old 08-28-2009 Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 38
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Control lines set-up for singlehanding

I have all my deck hardware removed for my deck re-core/re-paint project. I'm considering whether to alter the layout for my control lines to make it easier to singlehand.

Currently, all my control lines lead aft. I have three winches on the seahood over the companion way and a total of eight rope clutches to handle all the lines coming from the mast. My mainsail has a bolt rope in a mast groove and my headsails use a double foil (no furling). The reefing system consists of tack hooks at the gooseneck and the reefing lines led to the forward end of the boom, down to the deck at the mast base, and back to the cockpit. The boat is 26' and was set-up for racing, not singlehanding.

My concern is raising and lower the sails and reefing. The system I have needs to change, but I'm not sure what would be the best way to go.

Option 1: Move the three winches to the mast. I would be able to guide the main while I raised/lowered it, put a wrap on a winch with the jib halyard and walk it forward while raising the jib/genoa, and set/shake out reefs in one trip to the mast. I have inboard shrouds, so that should protect my sheets from fouling on the winches.

Option 2: Instead of using reef hooks on the gooseneck, I could use running reef hooks similar to a cunningham and run those back to the cockpit for reefing. I guess, with my current set-up, I could put a wrap on a winch with both the main and jib halyards and still go forward (I would need longer halyards) to guide the sails while pulling on the halyards.

I would like to hear (or maybe see with pictures) how others set-up for singlehanding. I've also considered removing the foil from my headstay and having hanks put on my foresails.

OhioTom is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
Telstar 28
sailingdog's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
Posts: 43,289
Thanks: 0
Thanked 20 Times in 15 Posts
Rep Power: 19
Use a two-line reefing system, where one line control's the reef's tack and another controls the reef's clew... That's how I have my boat setup, with the main halyard, topping lift, reefing lines, and outhaul all run back to the cockpit.

The reason I went with a two-line reefing system is that I feel it gives better control over the sail shape when reefed and the lines are shorter than if I were using a single-line reefing system. The lines are also under less friction than in a single-line reefing system. For more about two-line reefing, read this page.

If your mast is deck-stepped, then adding a base plate to the mast step to attach the blocks for the halyards and lines being led aft is a pretty simple way to do it.

It would help if you said what make/model boat you had, since someone on this forum may have the same boat and could give you model specific advice.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Telstar 28
New England

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)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Last edited by sailingdog; 08-28-2009 at 07:31 AM.
sailingdog is offline  
post #3 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
Jeff_H's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Posts: 8,911
Thanks: 44
Thanked 444 Times in 374 Posts
Rep Power: 10
Moving the winches to mast would make your boat very difficult if not dangerous to singlehand in heavy air. You cannot afford to have a jib sheet snag a mast mounted winch during a tack in heavy air on a small boat when you are single-handed. You also cannot afford to leave the cockpit to reef in gusty-shifty conditions, and ideally you need to be able to reef reliably on the fly (i.e. without heading into the wind) which strongly speaks to having both a tack and clew reefline for each reef lead back to the cockpit.

I had a similar sail arrangement to your boat when I owned my Laser 28. I improvised a couple systems that made single-handing much easier. Initially, I added a horseshoe style luff pre-feeder for the mainsail similar to the luff pre-feeder that you would use on an old style jib foil. It was attached to the gooseneck on short strop. That allowed me to raise the sail from the cockpit.

The Laser 28 has a very generous sail plan and so, for single-handing, needed to be reefed at winds approach the high teens. I set up a two line reefing system for both reefs that was lead aft to the cockpit winches. The clew reef lines came with the boat, but the tack reef lines were something that I added. Basically, I tied the tack reef line to an eye near the deck (on my current boat the line is tied to an eye on the mast base organizer). It passed through a shackle at the tack fitting which kept the reef line near the gooseneck, and then up through the reef cringle, then down the sail to a block at the deck and then back to the winch. On that boat, I had an open cam cleat that I could use for either reef, but on my current boat, I have stoppers for both clew and tacklines for both reefs. In general I try to run the tack reefline to the winch on one side of the boat, and the clew reef line to the other so that they can be wrapped on the winch, handle in place when I begin to reef.

I also mark the main halyard so I knew precisely how much halyard to release when I began to reef. This saved a lot of time since I could precisely drop the halyard, pull in the tack reefline, and then pull in the clew reef line. The whole process could happen on almost any point of sail in a couple minutes. On the Laser 28, I could steer with the tilller between my legs and reef at the same time. On my current boat, I use the autopilot.

On the Laser 28, which has a bolt rope on its luff, I made a 'roller' out of a piece of PVC pipe that allowed me to roll the mainsail at the end of a day of sail single-handed. The way it worked was that I had a small loop of light line tied to the headboard of the mainsail. The pvc pile had to loops of shockchord roughly 18" apart. I had a dowel that would pass through one shockchord, then the small loop of line on the headboard, and then through the other shockchord. I hung the tube off the cunningham forward and stood at the leech and rolled the sail around the pipe. When the sail was rolled, I hung it from sail ties, pulled out the dowel, which disconnected the sail from the pvc pipe, and then removed and stowed the pipe. I later coverted the mainsail to slugs.

On the jib with a boltrope and foil on the luff, I had a sail that I set aside strictly for short-handing which I had the sail maker add half a dozen or so small cringles along the luff. I made up short ties that I could pass through those cringles and which tied around the luff and which kept the sail near the headstay when dropped. I made the ties out of small webbing that I stitched a small loop in one end and a loop with a small plastic snap hook in the other end. These did not have to be very strong since they were only there to keep the sail attached to the stay when the sail was dropped when single-handed. The webbing helped me flake the sail, but more often than not, I used the same sail roller than I had made for the mainsail. I actually did not use the ties all that often, mostly when cruising and bad weather was predicted. I also added light line nettingt to the forward lifelines to keep the sail on the deck when dropped. I raised the sail using the prefeeder which came with the 'TuffLuff" foils and which was very good as long as you kept it lubed with Sailcote.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Jeff_H is online now  
post #4 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
Belliure 41'
JT1019's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 136
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Send a message via AIM to JT1019
I would add a 4th winch to build something like this....
Winch 1 (outboard to port) – port jib halyard, port spinnaker halyard, main toping lift/bkup halyard
Winch 2 (inboard to port) – single line reef 1, single line reef 3, cunningham
Winch 3 (inboard to starboard) – single line reef 2, outhaul, spinnaker toping lift
Winch 4 (outboard to starboard) – main halyard, starboard jib halyard, starboard spinnaker halyard

I’m sure this will mean adding expense but now is the best time to do it. Single line reefing on a 26’ boat is a cakewalk.

“Greatness Is Not In Where We Stand, But In What Direction We Are Moving. We Must Sail Sometimes With The Wind And Sometimes Against It – But Sail We Must, And Not Drift, Nor Lie At Anchor.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
JT1019 is offline  
post #5 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 81
Thanks: 0
Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Rep Power: 14
You may want to convert your bolt rope main to slids. Just put eyelets along the luff and add slides. I have done this to 3 different Mains and it works great. You will never have to feed the Bolt rope again.
Gary3675 is offline  
post #6 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 155
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 11
You know, every time I think I'm a sailor, I read one of these technical threads, and realize that I don't even speak the same language as you guys.

I sail a Snark 11.

Captain Bill

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

"It ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of sailing is? Love. You take a boat in to sea that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her afloat when she oughtta founder... tells ya she's hurtin' 'fore she keens… makes her a home." Captain Malcom Reynolds, Paraphrased
ArcherBowman is offline  
post #7 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
NON member
AE28's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 544
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 12
I'm a bit prejudiced and I think you're probably talking about a lot more boat than I have, but I don't think you could go far wrong if you could search out and study the running rigging of an Alerion Express 28.
The newer, larger AE's may also be applicable, but I have no experience there.
AE28 is offline  
post #8 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 42
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Tom, what is your intended use for the boat? I'm assuming racing is not what you are contemplating as you mentioned hank on head sails. Are you going to be cruising to more or less primitive locations, where a trip to the local marine supply store is not realistic? If so I would suggest "reliable and proven" over "latest high tech". "Sew on hanks" sort of thinking (so you can rotate their location on the sail to equalize wear) etc.

And another question: single handed sailing infers some sort of self steering aid. Depending upon whether we are speaking of wind vane vs electronic autopilot, the idea of safety going to the mast and forward to handle sails comes into play. I have several thousand sea miles single handing using a wind vane and any the idea of more danger going forward to reef or make a sail change etc. is a non issue. Those miles are from the Marquesas to New Zealand in 1977-8 and from Hawaii to Cailfornia in 1983.

As for reefing if the reef is going to be in place for more than a short while one does need to tie the reef points as well as secure the clew and tack with something besides the reef line. This means exposing yourself to wind and waves. I would like to hear from those who use either a single line (or even two) run aft to cockpit as to what they do regarding reef points as well as regarding securing the clew and the tack. I suspect they are sailing short distances and so chafe (the bugbear of ocean sailing) doesn't come into play. So alot of what you decide is dependent upon what you are wanting to do with the boat.

Wiley1 is offline  
post #9 of 10 Old 08-28-2009 Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 38
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 0
Thanks for the replies.

To answer the questions posted so far:

sailingdog: I doubt anyone else has my boat (maybe). Its a 1976 Soverel 26. The mast is keel stepped, and I already have tracks set at the base of the mast for all my lines which are currently run aft. I guess all I would need to do is run two additional lines aft - 1st and 2nd tack reef lines.

Jeff_H: I knew (from your previous posts) that if you replied you would be against mast mounted winches. I've never tried them, and, to be honest, I was hoping to avoid the hassle and expense of moving them - my other projects are enough right now. I really like your idea of using a PVC pipe as a sail roller. I will definately try that out. You mention running the bitter end of the tack reef lines to the deck, would adding a padeye to the mast itself work as well? That seems to me to keep the line shorter, the run more direct, and put less stress on the deck, no?

Wiley 1: I'm on the Great Lakes and although the boat was built for racing, I'm just interested in daysailing and weekending for right now. No passages with this boat, so chafe is not my primary concern. Right now I have no self steering aids. My refurbishing budget doesn't allow it at the moment. I'll initially set up some form of "tiller tamer" like a bungie and jam cleat to just hold the tiller steady long enough for me to do something else quickly.

On slides/slugs for the main: I've been wondering how that would help. I keep imagining the slides/slugs just falling out of the bottom of the slot when lowering and wondering how they would feed into the groove while raising. Do you more or less permanently slip them up into the groove and then drill and tap a screw or something into the bottom of the mast slot to keep them from falling out the bottom? The groove on my mast is open (to allow room for feeding the luff bolt rope) for about 12" above the gooseneck.

Again, thanks for all the suggestions. You guys are great and now I have some better ideas for the asking.
OhioTom is offline  
post #10 of 10 Old 08-28-2009
I'd rather be sailing
labatt's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: The state of s/v/ Pelican
Posts: 1,903
Thanks: 0
Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Ditto everyone else... we changed from a hook at the gooseneck to a two line reefing system. We put three padeyes on either side of the mast just above the gooseneck and spliced lines to them. We then led each of our three reefing lines through the appropriate cringles on the luff, fed them through blocks at the foot of the mast, through deck organizers and ultimately to clutches in the cockpit. For the luff end, we tied a bowline to the boom (we have a loose footed main) for the first and second reefs, fed them through the cringles and then through sheaves in the boom, to the gooseneck, through blocks at the base of the mast, through deck organizers and then back to clutches in the cockpit. Since our third reef luff line is so long, to minimize friction, and also since we only have two sheaves to run lines through the boom, we put a block on the boom to run the line through before leading it to the gooseneck and beyond. We also do the same thing as Jeff and mark the halyard as to where it needs to go for each reef. When on overnight watch I've reefed "singlehanded" several times and it has worked wonderfully. It's very nice not to have to go forward at night.

s/v "Pelican" Passport 40 #076- Finished Cruising - for the moment -
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
"Don't dream your life, live your dream" - Bob *****in'
"I'll see it when I believe it" - Me
labatt is offline  

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Control lines for Lewmar traveller size 2 benesailor Gear & Maintenance 10 04-24-2014 05:51 PM
singlehanding without cockpit routed lines jcwhite Seamanship & Navigation 20 05-06-2011 02:08 PM
Moving control lines to the cockpit? Garffin Seamanship & Navigation 9 11-29-2009 04:58 PM
Leading Control Lines Aft chtaylor Gear & Maintenance 57 08-23-2008 12:25 AM
Leading Sail Control Lines Aft Sue & Larry Gear and Maintenance Articles 0 08-11-2003 08:00 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome