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Discussion Starter #1
We have been advised to purchase a solid boom vang for our rig.

We have a 36’ sloop and have a raised salon with two big (about 19x19) hatches on top. Because of these the vang will clip one off if it is open enough. We do not sail with them open as even with the canvas covers off they still obstruct the view somewhat. However at the dock they would still get clipped if the boom were moved to one side with a hatch open.

We have a large soalr panel on top of the dodger. We mnove the boom to one side at the dock so it does not shade the panel.

We have entertained the idea of a vang but though it would be another thing to constantly be aware of, the hatches.

We have a new full batten main with three reefe points.

We have a new topping lift.

Some of the advice was that when reefing we would be needing to adjust the topping lift for a good reef with the sail. The topping lift is not easy to use as the boom is heavy and there is no winch nearby to help with the topping lift. You really need two people, one to hold up the boom and the other to adjust the topping lift. It has a 4.1 inside the boom. The boom could fall down and crush the solar panel.

The vang would support the boom and we would not need to worry about the soalr panel. Having to mess with the topping lift in bad weather could be a safety hazard. Our lines are and will not be lead aft but for the main sheet and traveler lines.

Does this sound like a good enough reason to purchase a vang.
Ah yes then there is the added sail shape.
We are leaving for the West Coast of Mexico in about four months to cruise.
Any other thoughts?


Thanks,
Chip
 

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We have been advised to purchase a solid boom vang for our rig....
Some of the advice was that when reefing we would be needing to adjust the topping lift for a good reef with the sail. ...
It is hard to imagine a need to adjust the topping lift for a reef, unless your boat has some uncommon circumstance.

In general, you should be able to adjust the topping lift when you first rig the boat, and then never touch it for the rest of the season: sail up, sail down, reef 1, reef2 or reef3 should not be affected by the topping lift. The topping lift may be affected by the reefs, i,e, become more slack.

I guess an exception to this could be if your reef points are installed insensibly. Usually the reef points result in the boom raising a bit, thus the standard step 1 instruction for reefing is:release the boom vang...

A hard vang is nice to have but not for this reason.
 

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Last year I installed the Garhauer rigid vang. Comes with custom brackets for boom and mast, and a clutch cleat. So far it has done as advertised, that is keep the boom up when reefing and furling the sail. I had the topping lift removed completely but now would probably leave it in place as a backup.

I strongly recommend bringing the vang control line back to the cockpit. I at first did not, and then brought it back to the cockpit later on. It's much more useful when it's easy to adjust. In particular, it's a very good idea to be able to release it quickly in a gust. In a beam reach in say 20 knots, the difference in heel can be a factor of 2, vang tight vs. released. That's how much affect it has on the sail shape especially at the top of the sail. Some people add a cam cleat and then leave the line long enough to reach from the helm, to allow for easy adjustment. That way you can "play" the vang, tighten it in lulls and ease it in gusts.

I have found that, for reefing, in the "boom fully raised" position, the boom doesn't rise enough to easily tighten the reef downhaul, IF the tack has already been attached to the hook and the halyard tensioned.

Therefore reefing procedure is to :

Fully release the vang
Luff the main or heave to
Drop the main to a foot past the normal reefed point
Tension the reef downhaul
Attach the tack to the hook and tension the halyard.
Re-tension the vang if required

However I would also expect you to be able to find a setting for the topping lift, that you can leave alone, where this procedure would work - dropping the main past it's reefed point, tightening the reef downhaul, THEN attaching the tack.
 

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You do not need to use a vang to reef. Lower the luff to the reef cringle, tension the halyard, and then tension the reef line to set the clew. The topping lift may or may not have slack, so adjust as necessary. We've used this technique countless times up through gale conditions, shorthanded and full-crewed. A reef should take no longer than 2-4 minutes to apply.

The vang is quite effective to adjust the twist in the upper part of the mainsail. Beyond that, it isn't really used. Many people use a rigid vang to eliminate the chaffing effects of a topping lift. However, the counter-spring of the rigid vang makes using it to adjust sail shape more difficult because it's a force to be overcome by the 4:1 or 6:1 block system that's usually provided. On larger vessels, the angle available to set a vang is often less than 45 degrees, further negating its effectiveness as a sail trim device.

IMO, a rigid vang is nice to have to eliminate a topping lift, but of minimal use as a trim device if not hydraulically controlled.
 

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I have NO vang and do NOT miss it as the dual mainsheets stay OUT of the way and allow all kinds of control

I do NEED to use my topping lift to reef as i have a Stoboom and my 2:1 lift is lead back to the cabintop right NEXT to the furling winch and main haylard

The whole deal makes reefing a 20 second item without needing to leave the cockpit
 

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One of the points of the original post has to do with the two hatches at the base of the mast. I had a similar problem where the vang interfered with my mast-base hatch. It wouldn't open, as it opened toward the bow, and was kind of right under the vang. I simply turned it around, and problem was mostly solved. It doesn't open straight up, but enough to make it worthwhile.
 

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In my case the decision to fit it was an easy one, as the boat came with no installed vang at all, but it did come with a custom Garhauer solid vang in a box.

I wouldn't really rave about it or say it's vastly better than a topping lift and non-solid vang. It works, and looks nice and shiny. Oh and in light airs the main's leech used to get caught on the topping lift during a tack, so I'm glad that's not a problem any more.
 

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We too have the same problem with a hatch beneath the vang and not being able to open all the way. We just open it about to 45 degrees and that's enough for us.
 

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I transitioned from a topping lift to a ridgid vang last year and am very happy with it. Like you, adjusting the topping lift was difficult underway, and when reefing it was never just right, either too loose and flopping around, or too tight resulting in a baggy sail. With muliple reef points the chance that it will be right every time and can be left unchanged is very low. Now I remove the topping lift from the boom prior to leaving the dock, I leave it attached for added support when the boat is not being used or durring prolonged motoring to reduce wear and tear on the vang. Reefing is now much quicker and safer for me.

In regards to clearence with hatches and the solar panel, I would talk to your vang manufacture, they will give a good idea of where it will end up when installed. I went with Garhauer and found them to be helpfull. You could then easily make a mock up with a broom handle to see if it is reasonable.

As a final note, I have come to apprciate the added sail control the vang offers. I had boom end sheeting and no vang prior, so it was a pretty big change. The value for sail control will be greatly reduced if you can not bring the line back to the cockpit.
 

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I can see how a rigid vang would cause some issues with the hatches on your boat, but they really are worth while. Not being able to open your hatches all the way is something you might have to live with while under sail. If you really want to be able to open them wider when you are not sailing, I suppose you could make the vang connection point to the boom quick release, and disconnect it when you are at the dock, and drop it to the deck between the hatches. it wouldn't be hard to do...
 

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has any boat ever reefed in SD ever ?
 

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We are leaving for the West Coast of Mexico in about four months to cruise.
WDS not idea, but the OP is leaving soon.



Personally I hate topping lifts. And have never been able to figure out what they are for.

Assuming a 50' mast, the topping lift is going to wind up being around 120'. Figure a line with 3% stretch at 10% MBL and that line is stretching over 3 foot. Not very precise for a line you at hoping to use to protect your very expensive solar panels.

A rigid vang on the other hand can be set up to not allow the boom to drop below a certain point. This can be dangerous if you don't know it's set up this way, since cranking on main sheet to tighten luff tension can cause the boom to break, but if you know it's there, you just don't try to get more luff tension than the system allows.

Vangs also allow much better sail shape, ease of trimming, and hold the boom up.

While not being able to open your hatches all the way really does hurt, the advantages to me outweigh the disadvantages significantly.
 

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"A rigid vang on the other hand can be set up to not allow the boom to drop below a certain point. This can be dangerous if you don't know it's set up this way, since cranking on main sheet to tighten luff tension can cause the boom to break, but if you know it's there, you just don't try to get more luff tension than the system allows."

A properly installed rigid vang should be set up to be at it's lowest extent of it's range with the main sheeted in hard. The instructions for the Garhauer tell you to do this. Thus installed there is little risk of boom breakage.

The procedure I followed :

1) Mount vang to the mast as low as possible.
2) Go sailing. Sheet the main in HARD close hauled.
3) With the vang fully sheeted in, offer the bracket up to the boom and mark the holes.
4) Mount the vang in that position back at the dock.
 

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....Personally I hate topping lifts. And have never been able to figure out what they are for. ....
I regularly sail a variety of boats with hard vangs. All the cruising types have kept the topping lifts in place. The racing boats operate without a permanent topping lift, however as soon as the main is down, the main halyard is brought aft and secured to the end of the boom, where it serves as a temporary topping lift.

The topping lift is essential without a hard vang. With a hard vang, the value of a topping lift is, when the mainsail is down, you can trim the mainsheet hard, and the combination of the mainsheet and the topping lift provide a boom with very little give, permitting the folding of the main sail. Until the topping lift is on, and the mainsheet trimmed tight, the crew are warned not to lean against the boom, as it will swing suddenly, dropping someone on their head... No topping lift would make putting a main away a very hazardous proposition
 

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A rigid vang on the other hand can be set up to not allow the boom to drop below a certain point. This can be dangerous if you don't know it's set up this way, since cranking on main sheet to tighten luff tension can cause the boom to break, but if you know it's there, you just don't try to get more luff tension than the system allows.
This is not an issue at all unless the vang is incorrectly installed. Even if it was installed incorrectly, there is no way you could break the boom with the mainsheet! It would take a huge purchase and a big winch to even bend the boom! I assume you meant LEECH tension since the mainsheet has no effect on the luff tension.

The topping lift is essential without a hard vang. With a hard vang, the value of a topping lift is, when the mainsail is down, you can trim the mainsheet hard, and the combination of the mainsheet and the topping lift provide a boom with very little give, permitting the folding of the main sail.
You don't need a topping lift for that, just just use the main halyard. It is the perfect place to stow it so it doesn't slap or chaffe on the rig, and it completely eliminates the need for a topping lift.
 

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The spinlock vang (no longer in production as far as I know) has two modes... one is vang, when it is essentially a multipart tackle inside a sliding sleeve, then it has a 'topping lift' setting where a mechanical ratchet lock is engaged to prevent boom drop.

If you hoist and sail off without releasing the 'toppinglift' mode it can lock up as described above, and the mainsheet is unable to provide proper leech tension. We have one of these and I have seen the boom bend before realizing what we'd done, but I agree it would be very tough to 'break the boom' with most standard mainsheet tackles.

Most others utilize a spring or a gas shock, and do not provide the rigid support that the Spinlock, or a standard topping lift does.

Image below:

 

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Discussion Starter #17
After the input we have decided to forgo the solid vang unless we have some extra cash before we set sail south. That is probably unlikely.
I had thought it was a safety issue but now with this input I realize it is not. Although it seems a vang would be a nice addition it is not something we have to have.
Not having much ability to bring the vang line aft is also an issue.
We will continue to monitor the topping lift.
We are still setting up the reef points with the new sail and will see how they work out regarding the topping lift. I am hopping and doubt we will ever use the third reef point in our coastal cruising of Central America but would like to be prepared. Also we bought a new main sail and decide to get the third reef because we would never do it later.
The topping lift did not need adjusting on our last sail, no reefing, but could possibly use a bungee on it to hold it from flopping around.
Thanks for the help on this issue.
Chip
 

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After the input we have decided to forgo the solid vang....
By this I hope you mean you will still use a standard 'soft' vang.. and not forgo a vang altogether?!?
 
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