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What are your tricks for keeping a tidy cockpit underway? Mine always turns into a rats nest of lines. It's not helped by the fact that all of the running rigging from the mast (both halyards, main sheet, vang, mast-furler lines, etc.) back to the port side of the cabin-top. I've got some bungee line ties installed there, but they can't possibly handle all the lines at once.

We're lake sailors, which means we tack a lot--so it's not really feasible to coil running lines. By the time you get the coiled, it's time to uncoil them.

I'm thinking of installing some line bags. How well do those work for people? Are there other tricks that work better? I had an instructor once suggest dropping tails down the companionway, and another say that this is dangerous for people using the companionway.

In the long run, I plan to move some of the lines to the starboard side, but that means a new winch, organizer, and some clutches. And I do sort of like having the starboard side clear of lines as it's an easy path to the foredeck.
 

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My mainsheet/ traveller is located right in front of the companionway, so the tail drops down below. Halyards are coiled into medium sized loops and draped over the winches but then I have a winch per halyard on the cabintop. Dpending on the length of the leg I am sailing, I may do no coiling at all, For long legs, the active Genoa sheet is coiled and placed on the cockpit seat as my genny winches are on the cabin top. The lazy sheet is coiled and placed on the cockpit sole below the turning block which is aft of the seats. I am going to build a line bag for the cockpit as my arrangement is not ideal,
 

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Beneteau has these very clever line holders that we find really help organize the lines. Since we have multiple lines led back to a single winch thorugh line stoppers, draping them over the winch does not work.
 

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I like to drop the tails of lines down the companionway hatch. After each tack, I put the jibsheets on the seats, arranging them so they'll run free. That eliminates the likelihood of a foot cleat, and greatly reduces the likelihood of a butt cleat, because people will usually avoid sitting on a line, especially if it's wet, and it also reduces the likelihood of a hockle in the working jibsheet when you release it and it runs through a block during a tack.
 

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I have 2 Blue Performance bulkhead sheet bags from WM mounted to catch the lines, a smaller one on port where it's just my main sheet, and then a larger one with winch handle pockets on starboard where it's the main / jib halyard and boom vang which all come through a set of clutches and back to one winch on starboard at the front of the cockpit.

Coiling the lines and stowing them in the bags after raising the sails isn't an issue, and they work really well for keeping the lines out from under your feet while underway... Since I'm on Long Island Sound, most of my tacks are usually fairly long (sometimes 4-5 hours between tacks if the wind is just right and I'm trying to get somewhere) so I might get a small set for the Jib sheets for next season, but they aren't in the way like the halyards and sheetline were...


EDIT:
Link to the bags...
 

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Large loose coils over the respective winch. I would think that would take less time them stuffing them in a bag. Will they knot up coming out of the bag? A large coil ready to use, and then placed on the floor will run freely compared to a bag I woutld think. How big will this bag be?.......i2f
 

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Large loose coils over the respective winch. I would think that would take less time them stuffing them in a bag.
Since they all go through a 3x rope clutch, and then to a single winch for those lines, I can't use the winch to hold the lines (I DO coil the lines up over the winch at the dock when the sheet bags are stored below).

Will they knot up coming out of the bag? A large coil ready to use, and then placed on the floor will run freely compared to a bag I woutld think. How big will this bag be?.......i2f
To "stuff" them in the bag, I coil them up, and while holding the middle of the coil, just push the center down into the bag. The loop ends stick up the sides, and it pulls out still coiled without a mess. As long as I pull the sails down in the opposite order I put them up (aka Genoa was last up, so first down, this is because both halyards share the same bag and one gets "stuffed" on top of the other) I don't have to do anything special with the lines and they just pull out of the bag neatly without tangle.
 

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Very interesting on your procedure to place the line in the bag.......i2f
simple but effective...

now if only I can keep guests on trips from using the sheet bags for holding bottles of water, cameras, empty beer bottles, etc... I can actually pull the lines out without being snagged by a corona @ a nikon stuffed in there 3 hours before by someone too lazy to go down below.:cool:
 

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Agree, lines lead down the companionway. I've raced in many an estuary this way where 20 minutes between tacks is a luxury and stuffing lines into bags or any kind of coiling in this environment is just not feasible.

The only time I've had lines tangle is crewing on a boat where the owner liked to store an outboard motor under the cockpit just below the companionway. After a few tacks, less frequently used lines (eg headsail halyard) would sometimes become tangled around the outboard to everyone's annoyance.
 

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I made halyard / sheet holder from bits of hardwood, bungee cord & snubber balls wich cost £3.00 & 2 hours work. They hold my lines in loose coils. Very quick and effective. Can post photo if any interest
 

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We have one winch mounted on the starboard cockpit bulkhead which is used for the main halyard, jib furling line, fore and aft lines for both reef points, and the topping lift. We have two mesh bags which hold all of those lines except for the main halyard, which is coiled on the adjacent cockpit seat, and the jib furling line, which is coiled on the winch where it is easily removed if we need the winch.
This works well for us, since the only thing we might need to do in a super hurry is blow the main halyard, which is coiled neatly and ready to run free.
 
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