Saturday, August 22, 2015

from horn cleats to a little bit of cam

 Beachcomber came with a splendid array of wooden horn cleats, and they somehow looked 'proper', and representative of the satisfying habit of 'making fast'. They are easy to use because they are big and well-proportioned, but for a sometimes lone, and a not overly confident self-taught sailor they presented a bit of a risk in a sudden gust if I need to de-power any or all of three sails quickly without leaving the helm. So I felt it was a safety issue to bring a little cam (calm?) into the arrangement.

The pic above shows the old horn and the new by-pass, through the combing to the cam cleat on a merbau block. The angle is 45 degrees. Being a two-ended main sheet, this end will be cleated off while I sit next to it, working its opposite number across and under the tiller- and that side can be cleated too, obviously...but released in a panic without needing to go anywhere.

I will arrange the jib sheet similarly, but I'm struggling to decide how far aft to take these cleats. If I had crew, they would prefer them further forward, near the side seats, but alone, I would prefer them quite close to the main sheet, so that two lines come from a similar direction can lay across my lap. Either way will have benefits...

The staysail is self-tacking and will probably remain horn cleated for the moment, because it its the outer one, the jib that is most likely to want to power me into trouble in a blow.


  1. That seems a sound and sensible approach. Single handing a cutter is mostly a very satisfying experience, the un-mostly bit can verge on the misadventure end of the adventure scale.

    It took me some time to learn that the key to easy sailing was the constant attention to main sheets, and watching well to windward for gusts. Laying my cutter on its beam ends was not the best example of seamanship I've demonstrated.

  2. This boat is so wonderfully beautiful, the tones and shades of wood, sheer craftsmanship
    It is truly wonderful Rob.
    Actually, I have been having the exact same conversations in my mind regarding jib sheet cams placement on Arwen. I need to put them on an angled block inside the coaming and also possibly move them further back. Still umming and Arring on that one

  3. Thanks for your continued interest Dale and Steve. Dale, I had forgotten that yours is a cutter too, thanks for the input...I do find the wind harder to read here as I get to know the effect of all the nooks and crannies on the lake edges, and the effect of the shallow bars and banks, but it helps to keep a weather eye!
    Steve, thanks for your kind words too. Nice to think someone notices a bit of progress. It was actually my set-up on my Navigator that caused me to do the cleats this way. Annie has everything accessible from the helm, even sail raising, and the jib and main sheets coming at me from similar directions gave me a lot of confidence. The cleat blocks were originally set a bit horizontal, but their eventual angle made it much easier to cleat on and off without getting up ( I'm tempted to say "without putting down my book" but you'd know I was gilding the lilly) The other thing that I really love (on both boats now) is my Wykham Martin furler. Being able to pull in the jib is worth the cost of a bit less windward angle in my opinion. The more the sheets are in front of you the easier it is to control them sensitively I think. On the Navigator I just used a couple of deck blocks outside the combing to get it right, while on Beachcomber I was able to use bronze ones because it seemed appropriate and Fred, the former owner had left a couple in his box of 'extra bits' that came with the boat- typically generous and I'm happy to put them to use.

  4. Arwen is rigged so all lines lead aft to cockpit. The jib sheets go through fixed deck eyes and I think these may be in wrong place but don't know enough about positioning them. M the sheets come through coaming and the inside cleats are angled wrong. I use a small Barton roller furler...brilliant.
    Anyway, I can sit comfortably at the forward end of cockpit with all lines comfortably to hand including topping lifts, lazy jacks, and main halyards for top boom.

  5. I'd recommend the jib sheets coming as far back as is necessary for them to feel like they are just across from you, 45 degrees down from horizontal worked for me, but be prepared to experiment with the angle as I reckon the yawl balance is so nice to feel if jib pressure can be nuanced without doing much- but able to be uncleated very easily. I always feel that Annie can be made to balance on the finest finger pressure on the jib sheet, and without touching the main or mizzen you can take her from lee helm through neutral to as much weather helm as you feel comfortable with, just by jib adjustment alone. That experience (when I first learnt that) enabled me to 'feel' for the first time what the mizzen was really doing back there. So I guess I'm saying that in my yawl, getting the jib adjustment very easy helped me understand helm balance.

  6. Hello Robert! Congratulations on your move, and finding your wonderful new (old) boat, Beachcomber!! She's truly a work of art, and I'd think she has fallen into the right hands. I haven't checked in on the blog in a long while, it's so nice to see how well you're doing! And, what a lovely new project to keep you out of trouble…

    All the best,
    Dale (the other Dale, in a land far to the north ;-)

  7. Very good to hear from you Dale, and I took the opportunity to check out your new (to me) blog as well. It's great to see that project of yours doing what it was designed for; I've included it on my blogroll.
    I did let this blog lapse a bit for a while, reducing my readership from three to two, I guess I sometimes wondered why I blogged at all since it sometimes feels like talking to myself, but then as I no longer posted, I noticed that there was this small interest in older posts, and some of them got quite a hammering, and I thought maybe I'll just keep thinking out loud in case something resonates with someone, somewhere.
    Your blog resonates with your sense of a good image as well as the exploits you undertake. Absolutely lovely!