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Old 21-07-2015, 18:19   #1
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Twisted mainsheet problem

My mainsheet gets twisted up after a couple of days of sailing and I then have to pull it out to shake out the twists and re-thread it. A bit of a nuisance and I think the problem has been getting worse lately.

As can be seen from the picture, the routing is not too straight forward and there are three further sheaves/turning blocks routing the sheet around the traveler out of picture to the right.

Is there anything I should do to deal with this problem?
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Old 21-07-2015, 18:23   #2
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

Yup, make sure that when you flake the line after sailing that you do figure eights, don't put the half twist in that might be used to to when flaking dock lined, halyards, etc. does not look quite as neat coiled, but those half twists are what is ending up working through the blocks.


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Old 21-07-2015, 18:29   #3
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

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Yup, make sure that when you flake the line after sailing that you do figure eights, don't put the half twist in that might be used to to when flaking dock lined, halyards, etc. does not look quite as neat coiled, but those half twists are what is ending up working through the blocks.


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I do just what you say when I start out. The sheet is flaked under the cockpit seat in figure of eights and gets pulled out, but then more often than not during the day (and when not sailing) lies in a pile on the deck. Not tidy I know, but I don't know if not re-flaking it is a problem?
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Old 21-07-2015, 18:38   #4
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

How old is the sheet? I've raced on a j-37 that had the same type of main sheet. After a few seasons the line had been so set that any twisting around the winch quickly made its way to the blocks.


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Old 21-07-2015, 19:07   #5
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

You don't need a float that big on your fishing line. Try keeping tension on both sides of the sheet at all times. Check that the top sheave swivels easily especially under tension. Try replacing with a different style of line (dyneema?)
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Old 21-07-2015, 19:28   #6
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

[QUOTE=dlymn;1873934]You don't need a float that big on your fishing line.

Seems like locking down the block on the boom so it can't turn would fix the problem. Those aren't Garhauer block on an Oyster, are they?
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Old 21-07-2015, 20:13   #7
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

Stop the upper block from turning. Many swivel blocks have a way to lock the swivel. On Harkens its a small allen screw, others use a plastic insert that may have gone walkabout. If that block doesn't have a way to lock it from turning, you'll need to buy a non swiveling block for the top,
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Old 21-07-2015, 20:54   #8
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

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Stop the upper block from turning. Many swivel blocks have a way to lock the swivel. On Harkens its a small allen screw, others use a plastic insert that may have gone walkabout. If that block doesn't have a way to lock it from turning, you'll need to buy a non swiveling block for the top,
Bingo. This is a common problem, and solution is to remove the swivel. I think a lot of riggers put swivels on everything, because it makes fitting simpler, but most of the time if things are positioned correctly, the shackles provide all the movement that is needed.

By all means, flake out the line and be kill the OCD coiling habit. I'm sure that is also a part of the problem. A neat pile is better.
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Old 21-07-2015, 23:07   #9
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Stop the upper block from turning. Many swivel blocks have a way to lock the swivel. On Harkens its a small allen screw, others use a plastic insert that may have gone walkabout. If that block doesn't have a way to lock it from turning, you'll need to buy a non swiveling block for the top,
+1, if you can't find a built in way to do it, just put a spectra lashing around the swivel, to stop it rotating. I suspect that the winches are what twists the sheet. Especially with a big fleet angle like yours. Watch the sheet carefully as you winch it in and you might see the sheet "roll" up the winch as it is winched in under load. A bowline at the bitter end makes it easy to undo and De-twist as needed.

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Old 21-07-2015, 23:27   #10
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

Ironically, that's normally one of, if not The, simplest & most trouble free mainsheet setup. Assuming that there aren't any crazy block setups which aren't in the picture.

+1 on locking the block on the boom in place. And if it still gives you trouble, then put a bit of separation in between the two blocks on the traveler/spread the 2 cars apart slightly (but keep them bolted together still - with a spacer).

Also, taking the line off completely, & towing it behind the boat for a mile or three, will help to remove some of the semi built-in twists that it currently has.
It's common for bigger lines, which get heavily loaded, to develop twist rates in their cores which are different from those in their covers. And towing them tends to free up these twists.
Put a buoy on it for safety.

Also, I'd Highly recommend that you run the line through the washing machine a few times, using a mild detergent & warm water (no fabric softeners). Just loop it evenly around the spindle in the machine, & use the gentle cycle.
Aside from cleaning the line, doing this restores a lot of it's original handling properties. Besides making it feel new to the hand.
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Old 22-07-2015, 04:45   #11
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

These are great tips. Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I will take them up.
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Old 22-07-2015, 05:37   #12
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

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Also, I'd Highly recommend that you run the line through the washing machine a few times, using a mild detergent & warm water (no fabric softeners). Just loop it evenly around the spindle in the machine, & use the gentle cycle.
Aside from cleaning the line, doing this restores a lot of it's original handling properties. Besides making it feel new to the hand.
Use a pillow case. I did a rope washing project with New England ropes and there are several things to watch out for:
1. The rope can wrap around the spindle, depending on the machine, and rip it right of.
2. Any fibers that come off the rope are very strong compared to clothing lint and can damage the pump (happened to me).
3. If there is a shackle put a sock over it; it can beat the machine to death.
4. NEVER wash a rope in the first year. The milking with make it herniate, the core coming right through the cover.
5. Wash-in water repellants are MUCH more effective than fabric softener. Horses for courses.
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Old 23-07-2015, 23:13   #13
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

If you use a pillow case, how then, do you propose to keep the (Heavy) weight of the sodden rope, balanced in the machine? Especially when it comes time for the machine to spin?

What you're saying about ropes possibly damaging the machine makes sense. Although it's not one I've encountered in washing several thousand miles of lines. But I'm a bit at a loss as to how to keep things balanced if using a pillow case.
Unless, that is, you sew one into a donut shape, with heavy Velcro around it's radius, for inserting, & sealing of the line. And then, drop the whole thing over the center spindle of the machine. - Thoughts?

Also, to be clear, I stated to stay away from fabric softeners. That, & to use very mild soaps/detergents. So as not to wash off/out the Samthane/manufacturer's proprietary line coatings. The ones which keep the fibers & jackets tight, & also work to enhance abrasion & UV resistance.
They're what makes rope shiny, & extra slippery when it's new. Gradually wearing off with time, & work cycling.

That, & with some types of ropes, these "coatings" actually assist in bonding the core to the cover (of a rope). So that if you wash them out of the rope, or damage them, it grows significantly weaker.
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Old 24-07-2015, 09:57   #14
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

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...taking the line off completely, & towing it behind the boat for a mile or three, will help to remove some of the semi built-in twists...
It will also make it stiff as a board.
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Old 24-07-2015, 18:50   #15
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Re: Twisted mainsheet problem

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It will also make it stiff as a board.
That's why the mentioned, line washing thing, comes in handy. It takes all of the salt, & other stiffening agents out of a line. At least in my experience.

I could explain more on high end boat equipment, & line care... Including how on some yachts, such relates directly to safety. But apparently, such isn't (seemingly) well received, herein.
Though I'm curious to hear as to how you propose to remove instances of severe, internal hockling, in a line.
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