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Old 21-09-2016, 11:22   #1
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Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

I've been thinking about making some modifications to my boat to lead the main halyard, topping lift, and reef lines aft from the mast into the cockpit. Seems like a good safety feature, not having to leave the cockpit to reef the main in rough weather.

Obviously I'd need some blocks, deck eyes, deck organizers, rope clutches and a couple of winches, and I'd need to drill the cockpit coaming and install tubes for the lines to run through. Not a super complex job, by any means, but before I embark on something like this I want to be sure to consider both the pros and cons of doing so.

Pros - safety, convenience
Cons - cost, additional friction in the lines

So, for a blue-water cruiser, what should I be thinking about, in addition to the items listed above? Is there a compelling reason to NOT do something like this? I welcome opinions on both sides of the debate...

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Old 21-09-2016, 11:31   #2
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Interesting article AGAINST leading controls aft into the cockpit.
Rigging Simplicity - The Con of Leading Lines Aft | Sailing, Simplicity, and the Pursuit of Happiness

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Old 21-09-2016, 11:36   #3
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Just IMHO but I don't see how more complicated arrangement adds safety. Instead make the foredeck safer with good arrangement of jacklines, tethers, handrails and nonskid deck.
Stay on Board Your Boat with Tethers and Jacklines | Cruising World


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Old 21-09-2016, 11:39   #4
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Well, I like the reefing & halyards at the mast, less to go wrong.
But leaving that aside, what was a success was routing the topping lift to a jam cleat attached to the backstay. Dead easy to adjust so it sits quietly and downwind in light airs with the topping lift, preventer and mainsheet it's easy to set the boom so the main is happy. Without leaving the cockpit
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Old 21-09-2016, 11:42   #5
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

You've pretty much nailed all the disadvantages - people will argue back and forth all day until there's no consensus and the gap has widened to a canyon.

The Sailing Simplicity folks are great - but their POV should also be considered as one end of the spectrum, they reverted back to hanked on sails instead of furling - and can generally opt for more crew/experience than most short-handed sailors.
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Old 21-09-2016, 12:18   #6
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Roller furling jib, definitely. Main halyard led aft, not so much. Unless you have lazy Jack's, you still have ties and the cover to deal with. Even with jacks, the main often needs a little help coming down. Plus on my boat I have a stepped cabin top that would cause the halyard to be about six inches above the deck at one point. Just enough to be a serious trip hazard.
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Old 21-09-2016, 12:47   #7
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Have led all the mainsail lines aft. Can reef in a minute from the protection of the dodger. No more having to go forward in big seas and high winds to wrestle with a flogging sail and bucking boom reefing the main. Don't know where any complications come from. Just longer lines and a block or two to get it back to the cockpit. Never a problem as long as it's rigged properly. Having the mainsail control lines aft has made reefing so easy, do it sometimes just for fun. No longer hold off reefing or shaking one out. It's the best change I've made to the boat and would never go back to at the mast reefing.

All headsail halyards are at the mast. Changing headsails, etc seems to always involve a lot of back and forth from the headstay to the mast. Sailing single handed wouldn't want to have to add the hike back to the cockpit to raise or lower a sail. If you always sail with a crew and trust them not let a halyard fly at the wrong time, might be an argument for running the halyards back. Tried having the foresail halyards at the cockpit but soon abandoned as way way too much of a hassle.
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Old 21-09-2016, 12:49   #8
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

-One con is the tangle of lines at the companionway.
-Another is you crack off the halyard stopper, go forward as the sail doesn't want to come down, you pull the sail part way and it stops, you go aft to see that the halyard has twisted or knotted at the stopper, you release it and go forward again. etc.
Sound safer?
How do you prevent this? Well you can add luff and clew reefing lines both led aft. Now you really have a tangle of lines, stoppers etc. And a reefed main that may be all bunched up on the boom rather than neatly reefed. Or you can go to one line slab reefing, which on a boat of any size is terrible due to the resistance in all the line turns.
- Another is wet deck core from the holes you drilled to install blocks. So do it right and make epoxy plugs if you must do this.
-Another is all the resistance in the lines.
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Old 21-09-2016, 13:07   #9
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Well, I hank on and I like the lines led aft. My current boat doesn't have it that way yet though. One negative is you'll have more lines in the cockpit so keep em neat. Now, if you run all the reef lines too, with three reefs? That's a lot of spaghetti to keep organized. I like the idea of reefing without leaving the cockpit though. I don't have enough beam and cabin top space to run that many lines. If I had to choose only one I'd have the third (or whichever is deepest) reef run to the cockpit. The more I have to reef, the less I want to. So I'd say, yes, there is a safety advantage to lines led aft IF they all work well.
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Old 21-09-2016, 13:09   #10
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Well, we're somewhere between the hank on, total simplicity folks, and the everything back to the cockpit folks.

Our reefing lines are led to the cockpit, but not the main halyard--and on our boat, one has to put the dog bone (reefing strap with two rings) over the reefing horn, then re-tension the luff, so you have to be at the mast anyway.

However, I have seen boats with everything led to the cockpit that worked well. One that comes to mind is one of three alloy boats designed by the same engineer, and they have 11sheet stoppers, with various lines on each side of the cockpit, and the tails of the lines go into hinged storage on the top of the cockpit coaming, so there is no clutter.
So, it can be done, and eliminate tangles.

Why so many lines? Partly because they have two sets of sheets for each headsail, led via different blocks, for sheeting inboard and outboard. Then there's all the halyards, topping lifts, downhauls and so on, and just maybe a couple of spares--in case. That boat's been around the world once, to Chile and Labrador, too, it's special. But the point is that if you really want all your lines to the cockpit, it is definitely doable, and the better the blocks you use the less additional friction you will have.
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Old 21-09-2016, 13:11   #11
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
-Another is you crack off the halyard stopper, go forward as the sail doesn't want to come down, you pull the sail part way and it stops, you go aft to see that the halyard has twisted or knotted at the stopper, you release it and go forward again. etc.
Sound safer?
Ha! All good points. I used to lay out the jib halyard before releasing it for just that reason! Then as I went forward I'd pull the halyard through.
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Old 21-09-2016, 13:15   #12
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Gotta love this forum! Great points of view, on both sides of the debate

Anyone have an opinion on mast pulpits? You know, the butt-height railings on either side of the mast against which you can brace yourself when you have to work at the mast?

-David
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Old 21-09-2016, 13:16   #13
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

Lead your main halyard, & your reefing lines aft to a winch, with a bank of stoppers. Along with one of your kite halyards, & one spin pole topping lift. That way, you can easily reef without going forward, & if you’re working the foredeck when you have crew onboard, someone else can assist you with the kite via the other 2 lines, from the cockpit.

For your Primary Jib, Solent/Staysail, second Kite halyard, & the #2 Kite 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.

As, for example, 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 it fills. And it has happened. Which, had the halyard had a few turns around a mast mounted winch, then 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, I’m far from a believer in leading everything aft. It causes more problems than it fixes, & costs you mucho $ in the process.

Plus which, the whole concept of your being able to stay in the cockpit for the duration of an entire sail/sailing trip is both BS (read, impossible), dangerous, & 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 a “safe” place onboard a sailboat (or on land), is ludicrous. And such leads to a dangerous mindset, & especially, patterns of behavior.
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Old 21-09-2016, 14:00   #14
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

You guys ever seen a boat set up for singlehanded racing?
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Old 21-09-2016, 14:21   #15
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Re: Pros and cons of leading halyard and reef lines to cockpit?

I'm not a racer and not as experienced as some other contributors here, but since you asked, my main halyard and reef lines are at the mast. Yankee and staysail halyards are brought back to the cockpit. I'm mostly single handing so having all I need to reef in one place makes sense and I prefer not to add resistance.

As to mast pulpits or "granny bars" I love them. Mine are rey robust 1 1/4" stainless very securely attached. They make secure working at the mast secure and provide a place to lash various things.


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