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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In a recent thread I announced my first solo sail. Well, I am already thinking about ways to make single handling the boat easier and safer. And I would like some input on these ideas.

Let me start with the convenience aspect first. I have a swing keel boat for which I need to lower the keel for good sailing performance but raise the keel every time I return to dock. The Keel is 4,000 lbs of lead and while it has a multiple purchase system, it eventually leads up to a winch on the cabin roof that I have to operate by hand.

The keel line comes up thru a port in the roof, by the mast, (just to the left of the double pulleys)



passes aft thru a stopper (clutch) and then to the a Harken 44, two speed winch.



With the Dodger up the winch handle cannot go all the way around, but I do have a ratcheting handle so it alternates between the two speeds. But with the multiple purchase system (down below) I end up having to winch in a lot of line ( maybe 20' or more), and it takes quite a bit of effort, especially with no crew to take turns. (Note: the above picture is for visualization purposes only, obviously the line here is not tailed thru the winch)

My thought is to turn the line around and run it forward to the windlass, which has 2 drums (gypsy's) one for chain and one for rope. I am almost always motoring as I enter our creek as the channel is narrow and by this time the sails are down, so it is not an issue to go forward to the windlass (unless the weather is really bad).

My questions are these:
Can I use the existing winch as a pulley to turn the line forward, if I wrap the line around the winch in the counter clockwise direction a half wrap? (Excuse me for not just trying this, but I am not at the boat; boat in NC, me in NJ at the moment). My thinking is that with a half wrap the wrong way the winch will just free spin. Anything wrong with doing this?

The remaining issue is that the existing line is possibly not long enough to reach all the way to the windlass. Should I use a sheet bend to tie on another length of line? Is that the strongest line joining knot? And will it pass around/thru the windlass without issues?

All thoughts or comments welcome (I know that can be dangerous on this forum, but what the heck).

Cheers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Clarity

You know how problems sometimes become more clear when you try to explain them to someone else? I already can identify one issue. The line originates at the cabin roof height, but the windlass is at the deck height. The double drum is not high enough to make up that offset. So I suspect the line to the windlass will not be presented at the normal and might bind or tend to ride off the windlass. A lot depends on how much tension is on that line and I suspect it is pretty high. Also the line will probably not be to happy being drug across the cabin roof as it bends down toward the windlass.

I guess there is a reason for pulleys and such!

Cheers.
 

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Have you thought about using a 1/2" 90*, 18v drill with a winch adapter in the chuck. I know they market a set up like this (I've seen them at boat shows) but I'm sure you could easily make the set up cheaper and to your standards.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Going Electric

Wayne,
Thanks for the suggestion. I believe its been tried (I did not, but read it somewhere) and the portables drills just do not generate enough torque. There is a reason a windlass and motor costs around $1800.

You would need some sort of gear down mechanism between the drill and the winch. If cranking this load on the 44 were easy I would not bother with looking for a solution (I can always use the exercise). But it is a workout! And aerobic too as it goes on for about 10 minutes!

I looked into the expense of motorizing this winch, but the motor would sit at the head of the Starboard Aft Berth, which is also inconvenient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Main halyard and reefing

The next mod I am considering is bringing the main halyard and a reefing line to the cockpit.

Currently the lines that come to the cockpit are the main sheet (port side), and the keel line and 2 main sail clew reef lines (all on starboard side).

Replaying one of the earlier pictures.


The double sheave block at the base of the mast brings the 2 clew reef lines to the cockpit (they both have stoppers on the boom). The main halyard comes out of the mast, thru a stopper to a mast mounted winch. If I make that a triple sheave set of blocks I could bypass the stopper on the mast and add another stopper next to the keel line stopper on the cabin roof. Then the main halyard could be lead to the starboard side of the cockpit and I can use the Harken 44 to raise the main. That Harken is only used for the keel and it is held by its stopper so after raising or lowering that winch is free.

So that would keep me in the cockpit to raise the main. But what about reefing, which is probably being done under worse conditions than raising the main. Currently I have 2 reef points and they are set by hooking an eyelet in the main onto a horn at the boom. I can envision a 2 line reefing system where a line from the boom goes thru one of the eyelets back down to the block and back to the cockpit and having a third stopper on that cabin roof.

So my question is this. If I can only bring 3 lines back to the cockpit they would be the main halyard and a pair of reefing lines for clew and tack of the mainsail. Which reef point would I want to bring the lines back for, the first or second?

My guess would be the second, because the first you probably do early, but you only go to the second reef point when you need it (perhaps?).

What are peoples thoughts on this?

Of course I could consider adding more pulleys to the Port side and perhaps bring the tack reefing lines back over there.

cheers.
 

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How about one of the small windlass that the smaller boats use that have all the works on the deck?
 

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Looking at the picture it is difficult to see how much overlap there is between the dodger and the handle, but three things come to mind, although I can see a downside to each as well.

1. Shorter winch handle - leverage won't be the same.
2. Move the clutch and winch inboard - might not line up well
3. Modify the dodger - royal PITA
 

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So my question is this. If I can only bring 3 lines back to the cockpit
I don't understand this statement.
With proper rigging; Turning Blocks, Deck Organizers, and Clutches, you should be able to bring as many lines back to the cockpit as necessary.
Of course there is a limit, but many more than 3 lines have been run to the cockpit on many an occasion.
There was a previous thread that discussed a lot of what you are doing, and more. See here, maybe you can find some useful information here.
http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenance/43499-running-rigging-plan.html
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
reefing lines

Sailor,
Thanks for the past thread, lots of useful information there. My question was more if (for the cost of adding more blocks, etc) I only brought back one set of reefing lines to the cockpit which is considered the one most used under bad weather conditions, the first reef or the second reef point?

I understand that for the cost of new hardware I can bring back more lines. If I put a triple sheave on the starboard side eye plate I can bring back the main halyard and the two tack reef lines (if the size of the sheaves can be found to match the lines). Then I would add a double sheave on the port eye plate to bring back the 2 clew reef lines. Since these lines have stoppers on the boom, there is no tension on the line once the clew is set. So they would not interfere with the boom vang as the boom swings.

But now I see a problem as there would need to be tension on the starboard lines as I would put those stoppers on the cabin roof. And they would play havoc with the boom vang when the boom swings to starboard. So I would need to move the attachment point farther fwd or closer to the mast.

As I said talking thru this to someone else helps me think thru some of the issues.

Perhaps having to go the mast to set a reef is not a bad idea as it forces me to do it early enough before the weather deteriorates to the point that I don't want to go forward.

cheers.
 

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You could bring all of it back to the cockpit. Means more $ for clutches of course but with the right leads its quite easy to do. In addition to mainsheet, you would need to bring two lines for each reef (tack and clew), vang, cunningham and outhaul. If you have roller furling jib it's not a problem, if not jib halyard and a jib downhaul will take care of it. I think that totals 10 + the keel lift. The winch could be moved closer to the hatch opening and the clutch already there re-aligned to suit. I don't understand why the two clew lines are led to cockpit with stoppers still mounted on boom - I would think it would work better with the clutches (stoppers) mounted closer to the winch on the cabintop.
Brian
 

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For the keel lift, I think I'd look at an electric ATV winch like the Warn RT 15:



It has a 1500 lb maximum pull, spools 50 feet of 3/16 line, costs $230 and has a lifetime warranty. 3/16 dyneema line has a breaking strength of 5800 lbs, which is plenty. It runs off an ATV battery so power is no problem.

You could mount it inside to keep it out of the weather, and if it fails for some reason, you can still run the line through the deck and back to your manual winch, although the small line wouldn't self tail. It has a built in brake, but having an extra rope clutch to take the load off the winch might be a good idea too.

Good luck,

Tim
 

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I singlehand 90% of the time and am fortunate to have all my lines running to the cockpit - regardless, I ended up getting a Raymarine X5 autopilot and the Smartcontroller Remote which gives me all of my boat's data and controls the autopilot. The Remote would allow you to handle steerage while going anywhere on the boat (caveat - harness when conditions require). It's been a huge help and convenience for me when reefing as I still need to tie off grommets to the boom and it's just a great general convenience (fine tuning sail trim, pulling/putting out fenders, anchoring, making a drink, chilling on the windward side of the boat, etc). It also plays a big role in allowing me to fly an asym singlehanded. You may want to check it out as the costs of new deck organizers and clutches may exceed the cost of the Smartcontroller.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Mods

Brian:
I don't understand why the two clew lines are led to cockpit with stoppers still mounted on boom - I would think it would work better with the clutches (stoppers) mounted closer to the winch on the cabin top.
the only reason I can see is that if the stoppers were on the cabin top the lines would be under tension all the way to the boom and where they located the turning blocks those tensioned lines would interfere with the boom van when the boom swings to starboard. So they left the stoppers on the boom so those lines are loose to the boom after they are set.

Tim:
I really like the idea of that electric winch. I will have to look into that more. I am not at the boat so I cannot measure them, but I think the current keel lines are 1/2"

ZZ:
I can see into an access port and the purchase is 7:1.

DR:
That looks great, I just installed the S-1 Wheel pilot. I will look to see if there is a remote available for it or an upgrade.

cheers
 

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Keel Lift

For the keel lift, how about this:

1.) Keep the line run aft through the clutch and around the winch
2.) Then run the line forward to a block attached to that padeye I see low on your mast in the photo.
3.) Run the line forward to a block attached to one of those bow cleats or another strategically located padeye that is a fair lead to the windlass.
4.) Transfer load to rope clutch once keel has been lifted.

Assumes you have a keel stepped mast. Don't think I'd lever a deck stepped mast in that fashion if there were any shear load involved.
 

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I believe its been tried (I did not, but read it somewhere) and the portables drills just do not generate enough torque.
Are you sure about that? Don't forget with the drill you could always be in low=hi torque speed and not alternating from hi to low as you are when cranking manually because of the dodger clearance. I've heard that drills have been used for some fairly large genoas and a 44 in low speed should be fairly easy to crank. Just seems like running lines all over the boat would be a bit complex.
Oh ya and as mentioned have you tried a "shorty" winch handle by Harkin that would probably enable you to stay in low speed. I used one on a previous boat with the same dodger issues and it worked out great.
 

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This is why I'm spartan about not liking dodgers and moving parts under the waterline (non-fixed keels). And electric winches for that matter, "more stuff to break".

But to your point, using the eixsint gwinch drum as a pulley should be a bad idea, winch drums should have enough texture on them to really grip a line. If yours are older and polished smooth (typical) they can be refinished and that makes them work much better.

Simplest cheapest solution would be to clear the dodger....or perhaps to move that winch inboard six inches so the handle can clear it. Add a 1/4" teak or UHMW (white) plastic sheet under it to hide all the old mounting holes at the same time...and that might be all you need to do.

Would it be feasible to raise the keel BEFORE you drop the sails and before you enter the creek? So you've got enough sea room to just let the engine idle and keep on way while you're doing it?

I'm often accused of dropping sail early, but I prefer to do it where there's sea room around me and time to dance (so to speak) without hitting anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Raising keel

Groven:

I thought of just what you mentioned, it could work but a lot of setup to run the line. But still I will look into this (as actually try it next time I am at the boat!)


Christy:
No I am not sure. Just anecdotal evidence that the cordless right angle drills are not up to the task. I suspect there are some heavy duty ones (think Milwaukee) that are 110 AC that might be up to the task. But they cost as much as a motorized winch!

ZZ:
Certainly a thought, just more line to run out! The access to the line is pretty limited, the keel enclosure (where it comes up inside the boat) is only about 6" wide.



HelloSailor:

Would it be feasible to raise the keel BEFORE you drop the sails and before you enter the creek? So you've got enough sea room to just let the engine idle and keep on way while you're doing it?
It is feasible as the boat does sail with the keel up, it just develops more lee way. That is not a problem until I get into the shallow part of our channel as it is pretty narrow as well. But not necessary as our creek flows out into the Neuse River near its mouth, the river is 5 miles wide. I have plenty of space to motor around once the sails are down. I typically drop the sails about a half mile from our first channel marker. Then as I am motoring to the marker I crank up the keel. The water does not get shallow (its > 7') until I am half way into the creek (where it drops to around 4' in normal high water).


using the exist winch drum as a pulley should be a bad idea
this is what I am really trying to understand. If I run the line a half turn counter clockwise around the winch, the winch should just free spin in that direction, so it could act like a pulley. It does not need to grip the line, the line could slip around it as well. That might add some friction, but this is not a fast process, even if I used the windlass.

This is why I'm spartan about not liking dodgers
One option is I can drop the Dodger and then I can get a full turn using a large winch handle. If I was in a hurry that is what I would do.

Any comments on what knot to use if I have to tie an extra length of line to the keel line to reach the windlass? Nominally I would use a square knot, but under this load I have read that may not be the best and should use a sheet bend.

thanks all.
 
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