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Old 30-05-2008, 10:01   #1
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Any experiences with boom brakes?

It seems I go through this phase regularly - the one where I start to think about adding a boom brake. The mainsheet is not terribly convenient to the helm for those instances when I'm singlehanding. I'm wondering if the addition of the brake would allow "self gybing" plus perhaps add some safety for cruising.

I've about 400 sq ft of main and I've looked at Dutchman and the new Wichard brakes. The Wichard looks like a bit cleaner design in terms of installation but the Dutchman seems a bit stronger.

Does anyone have any experience with either? Thoughts?

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Old 30-05-2008, 14:00   #2
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The boat on which I do most of my instruction has a Dutchman boom brake. It seems to work well. I have not had a accidental gybe - yet, but regular gybes work well. I also seems to provide the same effect as a vang.

If the brake is set properly, it is good for letting out the main after a gybe. I would still centre the main before gybing.


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Old 30-05-2008, 15:46   #3
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I'm in the process of installing a boom brake on my 30-footer but I have not decided which "friction device" yet and will likely first try using a rock-climbing figure-8 devise which also is designed to control the speed of line run through it - and LOTS cheaper.
But in the past, on other boats, I've utilized the boom vang, when on a run, by moving the lower end of it from the base of the mast to outboard and shackling it to the toerail (or similar location). It would hold the boom during an accidental jibe and also pull down the boom for a flatter sail. I just had to amidships to let it go.
I wonder which is "better" - other input?
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Old 30-05-2008, 15:48   #4
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I have a Walder boom brake (one of the earliest on the market). They all work on the same principle, friction, so I think they'd all perform the same. The Walder is a large grooved aluminum drum and the line running through this controls the gybe. I only used it when I went cruising on my CS36 as it adds clutter to the decks as the lines are led from the brake to the toe rail amidships and then aft to the cockpit. It's excellent for gybeing in heavier winds, no need to center the main, the main just goes over slowly if you've got it dialed right. An excellent preventer and gybe controller. I haven't used it on my Beneteau as the darn spreaders are so swept back, the main is seldom boomed out!
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Old 30-05-2008, 18:48   #5
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I have used a home made boom brake on my 35' sailboat, that worked good. Just a stainless furling drum with a shackle on it to hang it from the boom. I then bought a used Dutchman unit. The Dutchman has a larger diameter. Using a brake involves more lines , but is a good safety measure. For running dead downwind, wing and wing, I rig a preventer from boom end to a block near the bow, with the end led back to the cockpit for quick release if needed. I once saw a boat that had a preventer on the boom and it was loose, and when the boat jibed by mistake, it sweept over the boat and took out the dodger. Doh!

One hting I didn't like with the boom brake on my boat was that when rigged the lines rubbed on the edge of the cabin trunk. I am repainting the boat, and might add a couple of rub rails.
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Old 31-05-2008, 02:45   #6
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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
...They all work on the same principle, friction, so I think they'd all perform the same....
All automobile breaks work on the same principle of “friction” (the pads on a disk brake system, or the shoes on a drum brake); but I doubt that anyone would claim they all PERFORM the same.
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Old 15-08-2008, 21:25   #7
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I use a figure 8 "rescue descender"

My boom brake is very simple - a figure 8 "rescue descender" used for rock climbing which i got off EBay for $45 and 20ft of 1/2in polyester braid. The line is shackled to the starboard toe-rail and runs through the figure 8 to the other toerail, through a block shackled to the toe rail and then back up to the cabin top jammers via a free sheave in the line organiser. I use a winch to grind it on. Because of the set-up, it effectively has a 2:1 purchase.

There's a photo of the boom brake on my blog at S.V. Sunny Spells · Running Rigging.

The boom brake does create a bit of an obstacle on the side decks, but you get used to it pretty quickly. I run my jacklines OVER the boombrake lines, which also keeps the tether hooks off the deck, at least over that area. However, having an intermediate "catch point" in your jacklines is not such a bad thing - if you get washed along the deck you'll get stopped midway rather than dangling over the transom!

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