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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always used a preventer but recently I have decided to install a boom brake and looking for some advice.

There is a decent sale on the witchard gyb'easy at defender and I'll problably get that one, unless there is a compelling reason to go with the Dutchman (or some other).

So a few questions
  • I'm inclined to use the boom brake in lieu of a preventer. Is that wise, or should I use both? I've been doing a lot more ocean sailing this season and the thought of back winding the main and even dipping it in water with the preventer strained to the max is a bit worrisome.
  • rigging the boom brake to the chainplates seems preferred but it also strikes me as a significant obstruction going forward on the high side, at least on my little boat. Am I missing something? (As a single hander I value clear side decks)
 

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I am a fan of boom brakes. I had a Dutchman on the main of a Corsair F31 and it allowed me to gybe the asymmetric single handed while ignoring the main, very valuable on a boat with a rotating mast!

The Witchard is less adjustable but once you get it right it should work fine.

The extra lines was the price I paid for the convenience of the controlled gybe. Once I had the boom brake set correctlyI did not use a preventer.

Phil
 

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I also had the Walder but it worked well on the over 30K miles I used it.
I did not have a preventer, and never needed one, and had several accidental but controlled gybes.

Don't rig it to the chainplates, they are not designed to take side loads. Install strong pad ayes both sides just aft of mid boom. You will have to go over the lines when the brake is rigged (down wind), but this is the price paid for safety. The windward line goes to a free cockpit cleat.
 

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There was a Dutchman installed on my main when I bought the boat. It worked well but I grew tired of having lines in the way. I removed it and have only had one accidental jibe since (when I wasn't at the helm). If I were doing an overnight downwind or another was going to be at the helm, I would re-install it. On my boat the end of the line is connected to my toerail. It should take no more than 10 minutes to put it back on and ready to go. It works great!
 

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We have been using a Gybe Easy and my advice to to make sure you set it up in a way that allows you to control the tension on the controlling line. When running downwind we use a winch to apply a lot of tension. When gybing it may or may not be necessary to slowly ease that tension for the boom to gybe. If you don't have a lot of tension on the control line the gybe easy is of minimal or zero value regardless of which level you pass the control line.
 

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I've always used a preventer but recently I have decided to install a boom brake and looking for some advice.

There is a decent sale on the witchard gyb'easy at defender and I'll problably get that one, unless there is a compelling reason to go with the Dutchman (or some other).

So a few questions
  • I'm inclined to use the boom brake in lieu of a preventer. Is that wise, or should I use both? I've been doing a lot more ocean sailing this season and the thought of back winding the main and even dipping it in water with the preventer strained to the max is a bit worrisome.
  • rigging the boom brake to the chainplates seems preferred but it also strikes me as a significant obstruction going forward on the high side, at least on my little boat. Am I missing something? (As a single hander I value clear side decks)
My experience with a boom brake is limited to my Dutchman, have only looked at the Wichard. Aside from the dual preventer setup seen on most Valiants, i don't think I've ever delivered a boat equipped with one, so they seem pretty rare. I'm a big fan of mine, but they definitely come with some tradeoffs, and I see my opinions are gonna differ from some of those who've already posted… :)

First off, i do not consider a brake to be a substitute for a proper preventer. Using it as such, or rigging a preventer from mid-boom to the deck amidships, can be a recipe from breaking something, especially on larger boats… preventers should only be run from the end of the boom forward, IMHO. If you're concerned about dipping the boom, use a rope like climbing rope, instead…

As Tatia mentioned, fixing the brake to chainplates seems a bad idea. I'm surprised Dutchman actually recommends it. Mine are taken out to my perforated toerail, instead. Of course, that constitutes a major tripping hazard… I would hope most sailors would learn to actually step over it :) But if you routinely sail with guests aboard, it's certainly something to consider, and using a brightly colored/high visibility line can't hurt… but if you're running jacklines on deck, taking the control lines out to the rail can be problematic, as you've got to decide whether to run the jackline over the brake line, or underneath… I which case, you'll have to un-clip if you're going further forward. Since I virtually never use my jacklines, preferring fixed tethers instead, that's not a big issue, for me...

I also have a pair of folding padeyes inboard, behind the shrouds, where the control lines are 'parked' whenever I don't need the brake underway, or while at anchor or a dock. I actually appreciate the utility of the brake as much when the boat is at rest. Since I have end-boom sheeting, I can completely remove my mainsheet, and swing the boom outboard a bit, then lock it in place with the brake, which greatly frees up my cockpit space and headroom…

In my opinion, you absolutely need to have the control line run back to a cleat or clutch at the cockpit, to make it easily adjustable to suit the conditions… My brake is the yellow line, below…



I've come to favor the use of a line with a bit more stretch over time, seems a bit easier to control, but it does require a bit more fine tuning/continuous adjustment…

The Dutchman is a nice piece of gear, but has one major drawback, in addition to being rather heavy. If you stow your mainsail in a conventionally flaked fashion, draped over the boom, you might get a real issue with chafe against the rather sharp edges of the top of the brake… I resolved this issue somewhat by fitting a sort of 'drape' from elkhide, that lays over the top of the brake, but not before I had done some minor damage to a 3DL main, not good :) Even with the protection I've added, it still requires a sharp eye from time to time… One advantage to the Wichard, with its much more rounded shape, that sort of chafe would not seem to be nearly as much of an issue…

You can sort of make out the protection I've fashioned in this pic, and you can see I have the control lines stowed inboard near the chainplates, rather than out at the rail, where they would be if I were sailing downwind…

 

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I just bought the Gybed Easy during the Boat Show, but have not tried it yet. I'm short a clutch, but I suppose I could use my Spinnaker Tack clutch in the interim. I'll need to figure out how to best use it. It seemed like a reasonable value, even included line. Admittedly there is not much to it though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
All, thanks for the explanation and advice. Jon the details and pictures you provided were extremely helpful.

i do not consider a brake to be a substitute for a proper preventer. Using it as such, or rigging a preventer from mid-boom to the deck amidships, can be a recipe from breaking something
Agreed. I did not explain it very well, but I don't intend to use the brake as a preventer. My preventer is from the end of the boom to the bow, and back to the cockpit. My thought is to use the boom brake, without the preventer, and "let the gybe happen" if the conditions arise. (Vs fixing the boom and "preventing" the gybe altogether).

I have had occasion to come close to an accidental gybe on a broad reach in big seas (big for me anyway), preventer rigged, and autopilot engaged. In these cases the autopilot (an oldish wheel pilot) was overwhelmed and could not react fast enough. In each case I was able to disengage the autopilot, grab the wheel and correct.

But it got me thinking (frankly it also scared the crap out of me!) anyway my thought was: If I were to gybe in these conditions with the main "prevented" how would I get out of that situation?

Again I've never been in this situation so I may be being completely naive. Perhaps it's just a matter of easing the preventer? It just seems like there would be a lot of force to safely ease the preventer. And if the preventer parted I imagine it could be ugly. Or maybe it possible to jutst steer out of it? I don't know.

(FWIW My preventer is a stretchy 1/2 line taken back to a cleat at the cockpit. I don't have a clutch for it)

Anyway this is what lead me towards the boom brake, and the thought that using it instead of a preventer might be safer in some conditions.

As Tatia mentioned, fixing the brake to chainplates seems a bad idea. I'm surprised Dutchman actually recommends it. Mine are taken out to my perforated toerail, instead. Of course, that constitutes a major tripping hazard…
even though I singlehand and would learn to (almost always) step over it :), the tripping hazard is still a concern. Is rigging the boom brake to the cabin top viable? Is it strong enough? Is the geometry acceptable for the boom brake to function? I can take it to the toerail if it's the right thing to do, but just wondering about options.
 
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