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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having some trouble achieving proper mainsail shape on our tall rig Catalina 27.

The symptom is that I have wrinkles along the luff and probably 12 inches of slack at the tack. Its almost like the main halyard isn't all the way up. It appears to be up all the way and even adding tension with a winch doesn't fix it. Appears fine when raising but not so when loaded with wind.

I played around with the topping lift. Not sure if the boom should be above level. Could be the leech is reaching tension? And yes, my main sheet and vang are loosened before hoisting the main.

I don't think it's really hurting boat speed but it looks un-sailor like and is driving me crazy. Hard to work through settings at the dock without wind and not a lot of time to adjust while raising on the move. Could it just be older sails? I would estimate they are half life or so.

I also had to rebed the bobstay on my bow spirit. I thought I had tensioned to its previous setting. Sometimes when I look up the mast which appears straight in its column, I seem like there might be a slight rake FORWARD. Could too much forestay/bobstay tension be causing this? Might just be deceiving appearance and not actually raked forward.

Seems basic but confounding me. Thoughts?

Josh




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Can you take a photo?

Does your Catalina 27 have a fixed or sliding gooseneck? Is the downhaul tight enough to tighten the luff? Was the boat built with a sliding gooseneck, but some previous helpful owner "fixed it" in a particular location that is too high for your sail?

The best thing is to hoist the sail in light winds at the dock (head to wind) and then walk one or two slips over a take a photo. That will make it clear if the sail is reaching the top of the mast or not (differentiating between getting a full hoist or not having enough downhaul).

This is an example of such a photo that I took when measuring for new sails:


In this case there was no wind and the luff has vertical creases showing too high luff tension (because I was over tensioning it to measure the luff length).

The topping lift shouldn't matter when the sail is hoisted, if the topping lift is too slack the leech will lift the boom, and if it is too tight it won't prevent the sail from getting a full hoist.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Here is a reasonable shot illustrating the issue. I hadn't considered the gooseneck position but that is a great thought. It's currently fixed but probably movable.

I do loosen the main sheet and the vang but I might start pushing the boom up to make sure there is enough slack.

Water transportation Sail Sailing Vehicle Sailing


Josh

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One of None
Hunter 34
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Do you loosen the vang and main sheet lines when raising the main? ( let them go totally slack. ) I is the outhaul stretching the foot of the main properly? Do let the topping lift loose after the main is set? Topping lift is only for holding the boom up when you are NOT sailing. Or to hold the boom when you are dropping the main to reef.
I learned this all on my own! :)
 

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If you are getting full hoist (this really is easiest to see from a photo taken beside the boat, not on the boat) then your boom has to be mounted too high.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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It does not appear that you have a downhaul. I don't know if it ever had one but, as Alex indicated, maybe it was removed at some point. Other than that, if the sail is up all the way, the luff is too long. Maybe use the 1st reef eye as a cunningham for a while to at least get some tension on it.

The foot should be on an outhaul to get the slack out and the topping lift should not keep the sail from attaining it's shape by being too tight.

If the luff is too long, it's not too difficult to shorten it a bit by recutting the top of the sail and moving the headboard down a couple of inches. That might be easier than remounting your boom.
 

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Catalina Direct's website confirms that the original gooseneck is a sliding gooseneck. The replacement "fixed" model is clamped in place.

Your photo is a little low resolution to say for sure, but it looks like you have a cleat on the mast directly under the boom, which would have been for the downhaul.

My take is that the boom is probably mounted too high. It isn't uncommon for previous owners who aren't sailors to do such silly things to try and get more clearance in the cockpit for a bimini. It looks like you only need to lower the boom about 3-4 inches.

This is the original sliding gooseneck:
Catalina Direct: Gooseneck Slide Only, C-27

This is the new fixed model:
Catalina Direct: Fixed Mast Fitting for Gooseneck C-27

It should be easy to differentiate by looking at the boat. If you have the sliding gooseneck then you need a downhaul.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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The picture that we need to see is what is happening at the masthead. Catalina masts have a reputation for varying in length over the years. You may have a stock length mainsail on a slightly shorter than stock mast.

You also may simply have too stretchy a halyard, or may not be properly tensioning the halyard to begin with. Have you changed the halyard lately?

As other have suggested, you should try lowering the gooseneck to the bottom of the track and locking it in place to see whether that cures the problem. You also may want to look at your masthead through binoculars when the mainsail is fully raised to try to see whether the sail is fully raised and if something is preventing raising it all the way.

Jeff
 

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I'll bet money it's a sliding gooseneck, the downhaul is gone (all this was said), and the boom is sliding up with the sail.

Many people have upgraded their sliding goose to a fixed goose, but with a fixed goose and a dacron main, you'll just have to go to the use of a cunningham then to get proper luff tension.

This was a common design on the Capri 22, 25, 26, and Catalina 22, 25, and 27, to use a sliding goose and a downhaul rather than fixed goose and a cunningham. Basically does the same things.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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I'll bet money it's a sliding gooseneck, the downhaul is gone (all this was said), and the boom is sliding up with the sail.

Many people have upgraded their sliding goose to a fixed goose, but with a fixed goose and a dacron main, you'll just have to go to the use of a cunningham then to get proper luff tension.

This was a common design on the Capri 22, 25, 26, and Catalina 22, 25, and 27, to use a sliding goose and a downhaul rather than fixed goose and a cunningham. Basically does the same things.
Just as a minor point, on boats of any size, the downhaul for a sliding gooseneck generally had a block and tackle on it which allowed the luff to be tensioned without having a main halyard winch so in effect the sliding gooseneck/downhaul replaced the main halyard winch.

A cunningham only pulls on the fabric of the sail at the luff. It does not behave the same as a downhaul or halyard in that it literally moves the camber forward as it is tensioned, and so in not interchangeable with a sliding goose and downhaul.

Jeff
 

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I used to think a sliding gooseneck/downhaul and Cunningham did the same thing, but there is one difference that is useful to note when a sail is getting old.

The Cunningham pulls the sail fabric down. A downhaul pulls the bolt rope down (because the bolt rope is typically secured to the sail cloth near the tack). If the bolt rope has shrunk a Cunningham will allow you to get some of your luff tension back, where a downhaul/sliding gooseneck will not.

A downhaul/sliding gooseneck is a good way to get high luff tension on a smaller boat without having to put the main halyard on a winch. Crew can sit on the boom to get luff tension, or a multipart block and tackle can be put on the downhaul. My Catalina 25 came from the factory with the jib halyard having a winch, but the main halyard not being led to a winch. The intention was that the downhaul would be used to tension the luff after the sail had been hoisted. When we moved the halyards back to the cockpit both went to clutches that shared a winch, so the downhaul didn't need to be used anymore and we kept a fixed length of line cleated there.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I only suggested that he pull the luff down with the reef eye to get rid of the ugly slack in the luff, not to actually use it permanently as a cunningham. A cunningham is offset from the line of the luff and moves the center of the sail pocket forward. Pulling down the luff would not do that except to get the sail shape right by exerting the proper amount of stretch in the luff rope. In the sail sewing process, the sail cloth is finally sewn to the luff rope with a lot of tension on the line so it's important to get the tension the same when it's hoisted.

I have a downhaul and would recommend reinstalling yours. It is very useful in getting the proper tension. It also allows some flexibility in the height of the boom. Using the mast winch to tension a halyard seems to be more difficult I guess because of the length of a halyard and line stretch.
 
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