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Old 01-05-2016, 21:08   #16
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pirate Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

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Originally Posted by jstevens View Post
... So, for me, I prefer the mast work as it is normally faster and easier for singlehanding - as long as you have a good autopilot or windvane. Also you might as well get used to working on deck in a blow as if something goes south you will likely have to be there to fix it. John
Yep. We can all singlehand any vessel until something goes south.
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Old 01-05-2016, 21:28   #17
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
...why not use low friction blocks and fittings? Why not clean those sheaves and add some lubricant on their pins?...
The main friction isn't from the sheaves, pins, blocks and fittings; it is the friction or hysteresis from the line being straightened, bent, straightened..., especially with salt-soaked line. There can be a vast increase in force required in the cockpit vs at the mast, depending largely on how many turns and their turning angles.

Hoisting the main at the mast is easiest, as you can jump the halyard, using your body weight to easily overcome the force of lifting the mainsail.
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Old 02-05-2016, 01:43   #18
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

If properly set up leading reefing and halyard lines back to the cockpit can work well. Normally I find it easier to reef a main with limes lead aft, and harder to unreef, as you often need to go forward to overhaul the reef pendants.

I do like the simplicity and low friction of reefing from the mast, and thats how I set up Snowpetrel 1. With everything led aft you get into the situation where you can feel uncomfortable and unused to working forward. This can be damgerous in its own right. Eg you reef from the cockpit but the leechline now needs tweaking. Do you go fwd and fix it. Or leave it amd end up with the sail destroying itself. Often the everything from the cockpit crowd will be to uncomfortable working on deck in nasty weather to deal with these kind of things.

I am not sure what I will do with the new boat. Probably add some winches to the mast and boom and run the main reefing from forward. With a decent windvane its as easy to lock it on and go forward as deal with the tangles and spaghetti in the cockpit.

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Old 02-05-2016, 02:28   #19
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

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KISS, do you have a boat already? You say you want to be a future single-hander, but don't mention whether you're setting up an existing boat or thinking about that future boat that you plan to single-hand. As with so many things on boats, there's no one way to do anything and this is one of the biggies where there is absolutely no consensus. The best thing is to try to sail with other single-handers and see what they do. You'll find they are in all of the camps mentioned above, but then you'll see the trade-offs they're making as a result of their choices. This is what you really want to know. The key, to me, is a really good auto pilot. If you have that, you're not truly single-handing and you can take that out of the equation on how to rig your boat. Of course, you then need to consider how you're going to manage the sails if the AP fails in a big sea state.
The latter

Current plan (to be revised, no doubt): ~30' masthead sloop, slab reefing main with double sheets (i.e. one acting as preventer), lift and soft vang, Cunningham, hank on headsails (possibly twin forestays).

I hadn't given much thought to line placement until recently (having just accepted the conventional wisdom for singlehanders of leading them all aft), but now I'm thinking maybe keep the halyards, reefing line, and lines for the lift, vang, and Cunningham at the mast - having only the sheets and outhaul in the cockpit: maintains easy tacking/gybing but reduces frictional problems and "cockpit spaghetti."

Anyway, yes, the best thing is no doubt for me to get on a bunch of boats and play around with different setups, but I'm not in a position to do that yet. For the time being, all I can do is read and think.
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Old 02-05-2016, 02:54   #20
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

Remember it's also a question about the deck and cockpit layout sometimes preventing to have all lines lead to cockpit in a meaningfull manner.
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Old 02-05-2016, 03:11   #21
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

@gamayun

P.S. re autopilot, I'm planning to have a windvane.

...which (speaking of how form follows function) means I prefer a full keel.

...which in turn is one of the reasons I don't want roller furling.

...and on and on, all connected.
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Old 02-05-2016, 03:31   #22
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

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Originally Posted by KISS View Post
Leading lines aft is a common practice these days, especially recommended for singlehanders. The rationale behind this seems sound: going up on deck involves more time and risk than handling the sails from the cockpit.

Then I found this article, which takes the opposite view. The argument is largely based on the additional friction involved when leading lines aft. As a future singlehanding sailor, this is of great interest to me, but I don't know enough to have a strong opinion at this point.

What do you think?

Continue Reading
I first sailed on a 54 steel cutter with no winches(block & tackle) Canvas main ,cotton head sails manila ropes, I now sail on a a yacht with incockpit reefing and roller furler genoa I can assure you i no witsh one is best and safest.
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Old 02-05-2016, 03:57   #23
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

What a load of old cobblers! (Translation for Trump subjects: What a crock!)

Middle of the night, 30 knots, 5m waves, solo in Bass Strait. Would I rather be up there clinging to the mast, or be working a winch in the cockpit under the dodger ?

I've done just that, both ways. First trip I had mast reefing, then changed to cockpit reefing before the next trip and could not believe how much easier reefing was. If you design it right, the friction is not an issue. The safety aspects of not going forward in heavy weather imho are beyond argument as a solo sailor. And if you are soloing (or short-handed), the reduced effort is a huge contribution to fatigue management.

If you like your mast reefing good for you, but I think you're nuts.

Cheers, Graeme
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:45   #24
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

The following setup is designed with the single-hander in mind, but works equally as well for a lightly crewed vessel on a passage:

Lead your main halyard, & your reefing lines aft (both tack & cles); to a pair, or trio of winches, with a bank of stoppers. These, along with one of your kite halyards, & one topping lift.
That way, you can quickly, & easily reef while standing in the companionway, from underneath of the dodger (solo).

And then, if you’re working the foredeck when you have crew onboard, someone else can assist you with the kite via the other 2 lines (noted above), from the cockpit. While juggling the helm as well, needs be.


For your Primary Jib, Solent/Staysail, second Kite halyard, & the #2 Topping Lift, you’re going to want them on mast mounted winches.
The reason being, is that when hoisting or dropping a headsail solo (kite included). You’ll be working up on the foredeck, or at the headstay; while controlling the sail with one hand, & running the halyard with your other one.
And in order to do such, you NEED a few wraps of the halyard on a mast mounted winch, in order to have enough friction on it, to be able to control the sail.

Here's why: At 100kg, in 15kts of breeze, a kite filling on a 35’er is enough to lift me off of the deck if I have a good grip on the halyard when the sail fills. And it has happened. Which, had the halyard had a few turns around a mast mounted winch, this wouldn’t have transpired.

Plus which, when working with a jib set up for a foil, such as found in most furlers. For a good part of the hoist or drop, you Must be up at the headstay, in order to get the sail to feed correctly. Or to keep hold of it when you drop the last several meters. And you can only do this if you can simultaneously control the halyard at the same time.
Which you cannot do, if the halyards are led back to the cockpit.

Also, with the above halyard configuration. If you’ve got crew onboard, then they simply work the halyards from the mast, while you devote your full attention to things on the foredeck.
Meanwhile, the AP drives on, just as it would if you were solo.


So, No. I’m far from a believer in leading everything aft. It causes more problems than it fixes, costs you mucho $ in the process. And leads to a deteioration of your seamanship.

Plus which, the whole concept of your being able to stay in the cockpit & still be able to take care of all of a boat's sail hadling chores is; BS (read, impossible), & Very unseamanlike.
For one Must be both comfortable, AND in the habit of going forward to inspect everything regularly when underway. Regardless of the weather or sea state.

As such tours of the deck are what enable you to spot, & head off problems before they become problems. Fixing them, then & there.
And this is SO much more important in foul weather than in fair. As when the wind & waves are up, problems create themselves that much faster.

This, along with the (common sense) fact that there is no “safe” place onboard a sailboat (or on land). And such leads to a dangerous mindset, & especially, patterns of behavior.

Rant mode off

PS: It's worth reading Andrew Evans's book on Single Handing Techniques (& Tips). You can download an abridged version for free, via the San Francisco Singlehanded Sailing Association, & or, order the full version from Amazon.
Plus, he's a regular on Sailing Anarchy Forums.
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Old 02-05-2016, 04:50   #25
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pirate Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

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Originally Posted by lockie View Post
What a load of old cobblers! (Translation for Trump subjects: What a crock!)

Middle of the night, 30 knots, 5m waves, solo in Bass Strait. Would I rather be up there clinging to the mast, or be working a winch in the cockpit under the dodger ?

I've done just that, both ways. First trip I had mast reefing, then changed to cockpit reefing before the next trip and could not believe how much easier reefing was. If you design it right, the friction is not an issue. The safety aspects of not going forward in heavy weather imho are beyond argument as a solo sailor. And if you are soloing (or short-handed), the reduced effort is a huge contribution to fatigue management.

If you like your mast reefing good for you, but I think you're nuts.

Cheers, Graeme
On a 28ft boat in those conditions and location I'd have been reefed right down long before you.. but then I am a firm believer in reef early.. stay safe..
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Old 02-05-2016, 06:53   #26
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

I'm obviously fragile, 2 autopilots, windvane and all lines lead to the cockpit. Im happy to never leave the cockpit when the winds up.

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Old 02-05-2016, 07:12   #27
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

With all my lines at the masts I can still be in the cockpit during storms. This is because I will have dropped my main before the storm and sail on mizzzen and jib alone. The mizzen mast is in the cockpit so I can have both: work the mast while staying in the cockpit.

What the lines led aft people seem to do is wait too long before reefing and then they don't dare to go forward anymore, blaming the reefing lines at the mast instead of failure to reef in time.

Then we have thise who compare to ancient old school boats where the life expectancy of deck crew was not much more than 2 voyages to the OriŽnt.


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Old 02-05-2016, 08:29   #28
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

I had my main halyard and reefing lines brought back to the cockpit. It is harder to raise the main, sometimes I just go forward and to it. However, I am able to drop the main and go "jib and jigger" or put a double reef in the main without leaving the cockpit. That VERY important to me. I can always go forward after things have calmed down if need be. Of course none of that works without lazy jacks. If you don't have them, get them first.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:11   #29
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

Like most things in sailing and cruising, the real answer is somewhere in the middle.

For me, our sheets are led aft, including yankee/jib, main and staysail. Yankee furler reef line is also aft. Preventer line is led aft when rigged.

All halyards, outhaul, reefing lines (including staysail reef) are at the mast/staysail.

Our boat is a good working platform for when the going gets lumpy. Wide side decks and fairly flat and low cabin with good space around the mast. Her motion is fairly seakindly, so it's not difficult to be out there.

My previous boat was laid out much worse, and was difficult to work on at the mast. On that boat, without lines led aft, raising the main in a sea was difficult and reefing could be scary.

As Captain Ron says, ..."if anything's going to happen, it's going to happen out there." I think that applies to rig problems as well. When "it happens" I think it's better to be comfortable working "out there," on the foredeck and around the mast.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:14   #30
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Re: Lines Led Aft - Is It Really An Improvement?

I reef from the base of the mast. I singlehand most often these days. I find it very important to be able to get to the mast through the center of the dodger by unzipping the center panel and going out of the cockpit clipped on and staying on the centerline of the boat vs having to clamber around the dodger on the deck. I like the opportunity of inspecting the main up close and to scrutinize the foredeck for any hardware that may have come down from above.

With my full, rigid centercockpit cover it is difficult at best to observe the main. After several days at sea reefing becomes an easy process but it is always a bit intense the first night out.

I am in no hurry usually and so for the first night or two alone at sea, I often will reef the first slab into the main at sunset so that I needn't have to do it in the middle of the night, in the middle of a squall.
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