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Discussion Starter #1
We have the standard two winches for the jib and one for the main sheet. Catalina 30. I'm a big fan of using the handle then putting it back in the holder on the pedestal. Some crew like to leave it where they last left it.

My theory is that:
1. releasing a line fast is a safety issue that stopping to remove a handle slows down.
2. Looking around for the winch handle slows things down more often than having the handle where you left it last is helpfull.

What is your policy?
 

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David, normally I leave the handles in the sheet in service, (normally for constant trim), and off the not in service winches.

Therefore, I leave them on the low side winches. (note my main is sheeted in either from port or starboard).

See photo bellow

Once someone is handling the sheets its up to them how they prefer..either in the pockets or on..but generally they stay on all times.

If you are sailing along in a relaxed manner, leaving them off is good, but all depends on your habits..even cruising I leave them on.

In an emergency the removal is quite fast.

 

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We do as Giu -- leave it locked in place on the leeward side for ease of trimming/tweeking. It gets moved to the opposite winch just prior to tacking.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'll guess I'll have to get over my obsessive behavior.
 

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One other question:
How many of you have spare winch handles on board for when Mr/Mis Butterfingers try to use it and it goes over the side??
 

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I have 6 handles on use and two spares in a box
Good for you.
I charter a lot, often with inexperienced crew.
Usually only two handles are on board with some old spare (non locking is standard for spare).
Often the locking spring is broke (due to mishandling), so my normal policy is: handle goes in the pocket after use.
But the policy is not strict and we often leave them in the working winch if the locking mechanism works - specially those one-hand-release models, which are great.
 

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I have about four on each boat. My spare ones are the floating kind...they aren't great winch handles, in my opinion, but I'll be damned if I'll lose the last ones!

My habit, such as it is, is to leave only one winch handle in use in the weather-side winch. I will keep a spare in a pocket or otherwise secured in the cockpit. I also prefer to raise halyards from the mast and will keep a winch handle in a pocket there.

As part of tacking with a crew, I will ask for the winch handle to be handed up to "the high side", and I make sure the winch is still "pre-loaded" with two to four wraps (depending on the winds and the ultimate point of sail). Then I say "ready about", put the helm down and release the now lee sheet just as the sail is crossing the centerline. By this point, the crew is grinding and I start to haul in. This can mean I am handling both sheets at once: letting the lee sheet run out in a controlled fashion as I am hauling in the weather sheet. I will haul in the weather sheet one-handed for the first little bit and then two-handed as needed. Obviously, this works best on a boat with a smaller cockpit and a tiller, as I can steer with my knees!

My reason for not just throwing off the lee sheet is speed and the reduction of wear on the foresail due to flogging...I want the wind and not the sheets to move the sail to the new side, and if I essentially keep a bit of tension on the clew as I tack, the sail doesn't flog, and the likelihood of needing to skirt a big genoa is, I find, reduced. Anyway, this works for me.

Even though we cruise, we like to handle sails and tack and gybe as if we were racing, primarily because we like to sail efficiently, and also because so much of the boat's power is based in inertia of all that keel weigh moving forward. If you can efficiently tack and gybe, you keep boat speed up and can keep the sails drawing. This is also why I tend to "over-tack" slightly, to get the sails pulling nicely and steering to a close-hauled angle as we are grinding the sheet in. All these methods I learned from racing, although in club racing, it is rare to see them all on the same boat, or being done smoothly. Backwinding the genoa or jib slightly mid-tack is something I only see on smaller boats, (and it doesn't work that well in light airs), but it's a good method. As Alex is often saying in his videos: try it, experiment, see if you like it.

About the only thing I would change in my current set-up is to switch to those one-handed locking winch handles. My wife has smallish hands and my son is seven: being able to remove a winch handle one-handed as I can usually do would be a big advantage to them because they could keep one hand free for the boat or to better hand the tailer the sheet for a nice, fast sheeting in.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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I have a handle in a pocket on the mast for halyards and one in a pocket in the cockpit for sheets. I have three spare handles in the cockpit locker.

I absolutely concur with Valiente's comments on tacking. When I raced regularly we discovered that slowing down the tack a bit (helm less aggressively put down) we could get the foresail across and sheeted in with minimum grinding and consequently were trimmed faster. When cruising, my goal is to tack as slowly as I can without losing all boat speed.

About the only thing I would change in my current set-up is to switch to those one-handed locking winch handles.


These are now my primary winch handles (I got the regular grip). They are absolutely great and have essentially eliminated all fumbles.
 

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I know they lock in but I don't think the winch handle looks good just sitting there so we remove it.

Once set, we tend not to trim and retrim the way racers might. So I could see them leaving it there.
 

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The main difference I have with Valiente's tacking procedure is that I try to never "over-tack." If you'll watch the most smooth-tacking racers, you'll see that the helmsman stops the turn when the jib begins streaming along the new lee rail. By stopping the turn at that point, the jibsheet tailer can pull in almost all of the jibsheet with his bare hands before the jib loads up. He/she can usually do it hand-over-hand, without having to use the winch handle, except to fine-trim the sail for the new course. While the jib is not loaded, the tailer on a 30-40' boat (even if it's masthead-rigged, with a big genoa) can haul in the jibsheet as fast as possible, bare-handed, but once the sail loads up, the tailer has to resort to the slowest method, grinding it in with the winches, while expending an inordinate amount of energy.

After the tailer has hauled in most of the jibsheet by hand, the helmsman should then bear off slightly, loading up the jib. If the helmsman and tailer are well-coordinated, the jib will be slightly fuller than closehauled when the jib is loaded up. At that time, while the helmsman gradually brings the boat up to a closehauled course, the tailer uses the winch handle to fine-trim the jib for the new course. In that way, the boat can accelerate out of the tack.

If you over-tack, the boat will be bearing away from it's optimal course more than necessary, which results in the boat losing more ground to leeward than is necessary.

There's a fairly good video that illustrates the technique at the following website. How to tack and gybe on a sailboat | Wonder How To

In that video, the helmsman still over-tacked slightly more than I like to do it. If you watch carefully, you'll see that the jib is almost fully sheeted in after the turn, and the sails are drawing on the new course, and the tailer hasn't ground the winch handle at all. He only uses the winch handle for the final trim adjustment. While he is doing so, the helmsman gradually brings the boat up to closehauled, which is only a very few degrees.

If you need a tailer with the strength of a gorilla to tack your jib, and he's getting arm-weary, the solution is with the helmsman.
 

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If I am at all uncomfortable about being rounded up by a gust or from being overtrimmed, I take it out so as to blow the sheet easier.
Nice calm day, I just do whatever.
 

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If I have crew then the port (crew operated) side is up to the crew. I have four handles on board, two that float are left outside in the slot next to the winch, two are inside.
The centerboard's are operated using a standard winch handle, two turns up, two turns fully down. It helps to have a handle at each centerboard because if you are going to swap boards you want to lower to the up board, THEN raise the down board - without having to chase down the handle on the down side.

Single handed is different, I take out the handle on the starboard side and leave it in on the port side.

It's in on port because on a catamaran it's a fair distance from my helm which is on the starboard side and I want to be able to trim it when I get there, not fumble for a handle.

If it's truly windy out and I might have to blow a sheet the handle is out and the sheet tail is in my hand ready to snap off the winch. The main sheet rides over my shoulder for the same reason.
The way my self tailers are set up (pointed inboard) I can simply snap the sheet (like a whip) and it'll pop off the winch and blow a sail even when I'm standing ten feet away to starboard.

Catamaran's that are homes don't like to fly hulls.

If for any reason I need to go forward I'm more likely to go on the starboard side, so I take it out so it's not a trip hazard on the way.
 

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3 handles. 2-10" and one 8". All floating. Don't know why someone would buy anything but floating, not to mention, the ones I buy are cheaper than the non-floating versions.
 

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I have one handle. It is not a floating handle, but came with the boat. Usually it is hanging just inside the cabin, as my boat is only 23 ft and I don't find that I really need it, except when it is really windy.
 

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like this?
Yes, pretty much. The only difference is that with a tiller I can do everything myself. That's why I much prefer sailing the 33 footer solo instead of the bigger boat.

My older boat has a cabin-top traveller and mid-boom sheeting. While this is admittedly not ideal from a purchase point-of-view, it makes it very easy to handle the main and tiller at the same time.
 

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If you need a tailer with the strength of a gorilla to tack your jib, and he's getting arm-weary, the solution is with the helmsman.
I fully agree, and in a crewed situation I prefer that. But as a cruiser I sometimes have my hands full making sure the gear is preserved and secured before I can concentrate on returning to my intended heading.

I will say that in lighter, but steady winds, I sometimes cleat off BEFORE I've completely tacked over, and rely on boat speed to finish the tack and to fill the sail. This is possible because on the boat I usually sail solo, there's a very large J measurement and I point pretty high. Part of the foresail will be filled while the other part is "on the edge" and I have a pretty good sense of how hard to trim. I should also point out that my old boat doesn't have self-tailing winches, so it's necessary to cleat off quickly or to physically hold the sheet until you've figured out sail set and course.

And you're correct in pointing out that a "tiny" tack frequently means you don't need to use the winch handle at all.
 

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I fully agree, and in a crewed situation I prefer that. But as a cruiser I sometimes have my hands full making sure the gear is preserved and secured before I can concentrate on returning to my intended heading.

I will say that in lighter, but steady winds, I sometimes cleat off BEFORE I've completely tacked over, and rely on boat speed to finish the tack and to fill the sail. This is possible because on the boat I usually sail solo, there's a very large J measurement and I point pretty high. Part of the foresail will be filled while the other part is "on the edge" and I have a pretty good sense of how hard to trim. I should also point out that my old boat doesn't have self-tailing winches, so it's necessary to cleat off quickly or to physically hold the sheet until you've figured out sail set and course.

And you're correct in pointing out that a "tiny" tack frequently means you don't need to use the winch handle at all.

Try that on a catamaran and you'll be running back and forth forever. Thankfully they make autopilots that can tack the boat at precisely 90 degrees. I just punch the buttons and walk over to the lee side; flip the wind ward sheet off the winch with a snap and hand over hand the new working sheet.
It works except for when it doesn't, then I get caught in irons and sail backwards for a bit.
 
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