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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
New sailer, new boat...

My 1981 Spirit 21' currently has a stern mounted wire triangle configuration which connects to the aft part of the boom... and reaches forward to put angled downward pressure on the boom. It seems like having a cockpit traveler directly under the end of the boom would improve performance with the disadvantage being it would take up space.

I'm just now starting to use this new-to-me boat and probably 80% of the time I'll be solo sailing on a lake. On the attached pic, it shows how the vertical line breaks right by the lazarette lid, so installing a backer-plated traveler would be easy to install, and would not block the lid.

Is this a worthwhile modification? Opinions would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: After the good recommendations received this morning, I just thought of something: The companionway threshold on this boat has two bolts and the crank for a swing keel- would adding a traveler to that area weaken things?? I just added a pic to this post, showing this area.
 

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Given the location of your lazarettes, you basically have only 2 options, to have a traveler sticking out from the companionway threshhold about 12-18 inches (really awkward spot), or to throw it right at the threshhold for the companionway (much betterer). All the better too, if you can manage to run it from back support to back support. Kind of like this


Yeah having a traveler across the cockpit is a PITA for moving around the boat, but it provides such a great amount of sail control. I think you'd quickly come to love it, especially if you single hand a lot.

Looking at the location of your winches, and not seeing a tiller in the picture I imagine/hope that you can man the winches from the skipper's seat? If so, and again assuming you solo sail, put angled cleats at each end of the traveler and use a continuous line that you can reach from the tiller. With a single hand motion you can "uncleat" both windward and leeward cleats for the traveler, and hopefully reseat it as you need. To be able to do that, sometimes it is required that you place the cleats on the combing, at an angle, and if you have a hiking stick all the adjustments can be done while on the high side, like a J/24 or the like...

Oh and cross sheet for the jib too, once around the leeward winch, then up to the windward one then you can adjust the genoa/jib and the traveler all from the high side while you plow to winward... This was the setup on my Capri 25, and it worked pretty well. Obviously yours would be at the companionway, but the principle still works.
 

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I'd probably install it along the aft edge of the bridge deck as shown in Shnool's first pic, but move the sheet attachment along the boom to be more or less straight above the traveler. Putting the traveler just ahead of the locker lid unnecessarily cuts into your already smallish cockpit space and would be quite a shin-buster.

Also with a tiller steered boat having the traveler/mainsheet forward is a much more natural reach to be able to steer and trim without twisting about and losing sight of where you're going...
 
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Another vote for the companionway threshold. You would really break up the cockpit putting it in the middle and the traveler cannot rest on any of the lazarette lids, so you are very restricted location wise.

Just an FYI, when installing a traveler order two pieces of track the size you need. One goes on top as the traveler rail, the other is the backing plate. All the holes line up perfectly, and the load distribution is ideal. Plus track itself is pretty cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very helpful SHNOOL.

I do have a tiller, I keep it stowed so it will stay in the best shape possible.

Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What is the best way to attach a down fitting (and piece of hardware) when the traveler is moved up to the threshold area??
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'll read up on how best to install a boom bail. If mine has one already can I remove it and relocate it... or (if I have one) is it better to not remove anything and add one on?
 

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I also have a fairly small boat, I have moved a few pieces of hardware on the boom to a location that serves me better for singlehanding.
Souldn't be a problem as you won't have that much load aft of the new mainsheet position.
 

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Something like this would do you nicely.

 
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Newest Harken small boat traveler kits use wide stem heads that slide into the a groove in the bottom of the track, so that you can place the bolts anywhere you can get attachment points (they are great for refits because of this)...

A complete kit that might work for you boat can be had here:
Catalina Direct: CP-22 Mainsheet Traveler Upgrade Kit

Just instead of adding a 2nd track you can use a regular backing plate, might even be able to get away with just starboard for a backer on a boat that size.
 

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LOL that Catalina kit comes with a disposable tube of boat bodge! At least it's not 5200 or silicone!
 

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Newest Harken small boat traveler kits use wide stem heads that slide into the a groove in the bottom of the track, so that you can place the bolts anywhere you can get attachment points (they are great for refits because of this)...

A complete kit that might work for you boat can be had here:
Catalina Direct: CP-22 Mainsheet Traveler Upgrade Kit

Just instead of adding a 2nd track you can use a regular backing plate, might even be able to get away with just starboard for a backer on a boat that size.
A few things...

1) refit tracks like this are for refits only not first installations. They are great once you already have a series of holes drilled since you can just drop it in, but if those holes aren't there already trying to use one is a real pain. First you have to mark a perfectly strait line and drill perfectly to that since you can't use the track as a guide. Any error off the strait line means filling and redrilling since the holes won't fit.

And it's a lot of holes. For a low beam track there is a hole every 4 inches. So over the course of a 3' installation that's 12 holes that have to be drilled perfectly. I am not that good.

2) refit tracks are also much thicker than standard tracks. This is so they have the strength to span further distances and to make room for the bolt heads. For an installation on a sill like here this is going to be a real problem.

3) starboard is never acceptable as a backing plate. It doesn't have enough rigidity to spread the loads. Fender washers will absolutely work. I like the extra security of a second traveler rail, but you are right it isn't necessary.

4) one of the advantages of using a piece of matching track for a backing plate is that you can use the second piece to drill full size holes through without worrying about damaging it. The traveler car itself needs as smooth a track as possible, while the backing plate portion can tolerate some damage.

In fact it is common when replacing old worn track to use it as a backing plate for the nex one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Very useful info SHNOOL- thanks for all of your specific resources. Got some decision-making to do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Stumble- good points, all of them. I'm wondering how much performance pickup can be gained with all of this modification??
 

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Maybe not a performance gain per se, but more convenience and ease of adjustment means you'll trim more often for a gain that way.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Faster. I suppose like most things, pros and cons come into play- big time; trim convenience verses going below convenience. Since the objective for many is efficient sailing, I can see why so many sailors focus on upgrading or adding traveler systems, even at the expense of cockpit flexibility.

I think I will try my hand at a few local races and see which direction I am drawn to.
 
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