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Old 19-06-2016, 20:56   #1
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Question: leading the mainsheet aft

A lot of boats have the mainsheet traveler ahead of the companionway and the sheet is led up to the boom, forward to the mast, down to another block on the cabin top and back to a winch beside the companionway.

I single hand and do not want to have to get up, with one hand on the tiller and stretch to sheet the main. Here is my idea:

My idea is kind of a reversal of the system above. Instead of the sheet coming up to the boom forward of the traveler, have it come up aft of it and then along the boom to the aft end and then down to my aft deck. This places the sheet where I want it: near at hand while seated at the tiller, just like my jib and furler line.

I do not think I have ever seen this setup, but I sure hope it is a workable idea, as I am running out of other ones.

If you see any issues with this idea, please let me know.
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Old 19-06-2016, 21:20   #2
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

Take a look at the pictures of mainsheet travelers on the Harken site. They show many examples.
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Old 19-06-2016, 21:29   #3
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

I love the end of boom mainsheet with the traveller at the back of the cockpit on my Alberg 30. Wouldn't work with shorter booms but having the sheet in your hand as well as the tiller is great. End of boom gives you plenty of leverage too so pulling it in on a 4 to 1 arrangement is a breeze.

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Old 19-06-2016, 21:41   #4
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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I love the end of boom mainsheet with the traveller at the back of the cockpit on my Alberg 30. Wouldn't work with shorter booms but having the sheet in your hand as well as the tiller is great. End of boom gives you plenty of leverage too so pulling it in on a 4 to 1 arrangement is a breeze.

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My situation is that I have put a pilothouse on and it comes aft over the bridge deck, where the original traveler was located.

My current idea is to put the traveler on the pilothouse roof. I have some aluminum interior framing to handle this. But, in most installations like this, the sheet is run forward to the mast, down and back to beside the companionway, or in my case the aft edge of the pilothouse roof. I want it to run aft along the boom and down to a sheeting point on the aft deck. My boom is long enough to accommodate this.

You could think of it as boom end sheeting, with a traveler at mid boom. As the traveler and vang tackle are holding the boom down, I can have a fairly high turning block aft which will allow me to build a bimini in the future.
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Old 19-06-2016, 21:51   #5
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

Hi Ecohawk. Have you considered a traveler-less system of twinsheeting like a lot of French Cats (Catana, Otremer) use? I have changed a few friends boats and they love it. A great advantage is that if you use a continuous line, instead of 2, you have less mess in the cockpit, as one line pays the other takes. Also the boom position is then controlled by 2 lines not 3. Many other advantages, like using as a preventer, a hoist, etc. I can explain more if you like, or just use the search function here for "twin sheet"
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Old 19-06-2016, 22:27   #6
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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Hi Ecohawk. Have you considered a traveler-less system of twinsheeting like a lot of French Cats (Catana, Otremer) use? I have changed a few friends boats and they love it. A great advantage is that if you use a continuous line, instead of 2, you have less mess in the cockpit, as one line pays the other takes. Also the boom position is then controlled by 2 lines not 3. Many other advantages, like using as a preventer, a hoist, etc. I can explain more if you like, or just use the search function here for "twin sheet"

Yes, I have looked into the double ended sheeting like you are describing and double sheets. While I have no experience with a traveler, I was looking for a way to use it that meets my requirements.

The first being to be able to control the main sheet from aft, near the tiller, while seated.

The second is that I intend to put a bimini on this boat and most boom end sheeting systems impedes this.

So, my idea, while it looks a bit like boom end sheeting, can have the aft attachment point quite high, which benefits installing a bimini, whereas the other methods: double ended and double sheets, both need to be led low to allow holding the boom down and to eliminate twist. In my idea, the existing vang and the mid boom traveler are providing this service.

Mind you, I could install either a double ended or double sheets on my pilothouse and lead the two sheets aft, along the boom, as I have described earlier for the traveler system. It would provide the same benefits, but at the cost of extra sheets to deal with. One sheet can be trouble enough.

Thanks for the response.
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Old 20-06-2016, 09:44   #7
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

I have exactly the rig that is shown from Harken, and it's great. The leverage at the end of the boom is maximized, so a 2:1 purchase is all that is needed. The boom must be long enough to have the mainsheet drop close to vertically into the cockpit or you start to pull OUT on the end of the boom instead of DOWN. You can dead-end one of the two sheets so that you only use a single winch, or you can split it up P and S like shown (which is what I have).

A traveler and a powerful vang are great additions, even though the lateral arc of the traveler is limited. My traveler is about 5.5', and is always in use.

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Old 20-06-2016, 09:48   #8
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

"A lot of boats have the mainsheet traveler ahead of the companionway and the sheet is led up to the boom, forward to the mast, down to another block on the cabin top and back to a winch beside the companionway."

The reason mid-boom main sheeting/traveler systems run the sheet to the mast and then down and back to the cockpit is to avoid interference between sheeting and traveler position. If you run the sheet aft on the boom with the traveler attached mid-boom, the sheeting will need to be adjusted whenever the traveler is. BTW, with the sheet run to the mast and back, the mainsheet winch can be pretty much any where you like in the cockpit; it doesn't need to be mounted next to the companion way.
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Old 20-06-2016, 10:17   #9
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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Originally Posted by Chuck Hawley View Post
I have exactly the rig that is shown from Harken, and it's great. The leverage at the end of the boom is maximized, so a 2:1 purchase is all that is needed. The boom must be long enough to have the mainsheet drop close to vertically into the cockpit or you start to pull OUT on the end of the boom instead of DOWN. You can dead-end one of the two sheets so that you only use a single winch, or you can split it up P and S like shown (which is what I have).

A traveler and a powerful vang are great additions, even though the lateral arc of the traveler is limited. My traveler is about 5.5', and is always in use.

Chuck Hawley
Alerion Express 38 Yawl "Surprise"
I am thinking I need to restate my design criteria:

1.) I want to put a permanent bimini on this boat. A main sheet led down will constrain how far aft I can run an effective bimini.

2.) I have 32" high pipe lifelines and a sheet coming from a low point aft will chafe, when off the wind.

3.) I want to have the main sheet run aft, adjacent to my tiller.

The boom already has vang tackle. The 4' traveler on the pilothouse will provide mid boom support, similar to the original design. Leading the sheet horizontally aft from the end of the boom will not supply any 'support' of the boom when close reaching or close hauled, but some support when off the wind.

And it will allow me to have the bimini I would like. And it appears to meet my design criteria.

So, my question is not "how should/could I sheet my main?", but "If I sheet my main as described, might there be any problems?"

So far, a couple of cruising buddies seem to think it is a unique idea and that it should serve my needs. I was hoping folks here might have an opinion.

Thanks for the response.
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Old 20-06-2016, 10:40   #10
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

With any sheet coming down from the aft end of the boom, just beware the accidental gybe and the movement of the sheet across the helm position. Has caught people out before now.
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Old 20-06-2016, 12:19   #11
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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With any sheet coming down from the aft end of the boom, just beware the accidental gybe and the movement of the sheet across the helm position. Has caught people out before now.
Good point.

As I am intending on having my sheet points raised above the aft deck (12" minimum, and possibly 20") to keep the sheets clear of the lifelines and this will remove accidental gybe danger, even if I am standing at the tiller.

All of my previous boats had a traditional bridle to the end of the boom. It was handy to be able to grab a handful of sheet to soften the swing across the cockpit on gybe. My proposed design does not have this feature as readily available.

BUT, you have jogged my thinking into another direction.

If you take a look at this double sheet setup
Avocet, a Chrysler 26 sailboat - DOUBLE MAINSHEET
you will see that he has his sheets located on the cabin top, forward of his companionway, similar to where I was planning to mount the traveler on my pilothouse. I could locate a double sheet system at the end points of my proposed traveler location on the pilothouse.

BUT, he terminates cleats his sheets at the aft edge of the cabin top. For me, I would have to be standing, one hand on the tiller and stretching to reach the cleat point. A very unstable position in rough weather. This is exactly what I am trying to eliminate!

So, if I installed a similar double sheet system, but, running both sheets up and aft, ALONG THE BOOM, as proposed in my posts above, gives me a very similar system to the one I proposed with the traveler.

And I am realizing that it has a couple of advantages:

1.) I would not have to go forward to make adjustments on the traveler. The double sheet system offers most, if not all, of the 'adjustability' of the traveler, without going forward. And, not going forward is a big plus for me.

2.) When intentionally gybing, one can harden the lee sheet and haul it in as the gybe progresses, reducing how far the boom swings across center on the gybe. This offers 'some' help in reducing the shock of a boom swinging from one side to the other on a traveler.

You have got me seriously considering replacing the traveler (which I have not yet mounted) with the double sheet system, and living with extra sheets in the cockpit. I have long thought those "sheet bags" hung in the aft corners of the cockpit were a good idea for controlling sheets.

Thanks for the response.
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Old 20-06-2016, 12:45   #12
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

very common on log boom boats like a cal 40 but there is too much friction on what you propsoe
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Old 20-06-2016, 13:08   #13
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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very common on log boom boats like a cal 40 but there is too much friction on what you propose
I agree that there will be more friction than I would like. But, this will have about the same friction (based on the number of blocks) as my friend's Islander 36. His main sheet comes up from the traveler to a block forward on the boom, to another block on the boom at the mast and then down to another block on his cabin top and back to the winch beside the companionway.

So, his goes forward and then back and mine will go aft and down.

In the future, I can reduce this with better blocks with larger sheaves, etc. And if I have to push to boom out in light airs, I can live with that.

I have never had a winch for the main sheet on any of my old boats, but I will set things up so that I can easily use the windward jib winch if that is needed.

I will consider that when designing my sheet anchor points on the aft deck. Thanks for triggering this detail.
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Old 20-06-2016, 21:01   #14
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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So, my question is not "how should/could I sheet my main?", but "If I sheet my main as described, might there be any problems?"
I don't think it will work very well and here's why. When the mainsheet is led forward from the traveller position the distance is fixed from that point to the mast and aft to the winch or cleat. The distance doesn't change whether the boom is centered or when running with the boom all the way out.

With what you plan the distance of line travel will change continually with each adjustment. You will not be able to lower the boom with the sheet without bringing the boom closer to the center of the boat.

Why not change the mainsheet to the aft end of the boom?
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Old 21-06-2016, 12:10   #15
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Re: Question: leading the mainsheet aft

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I don't think it will work very well and here's why. When the mainsheet is led forward from the traveller position the distance is fixed from that point to the mast and aft to the winch or cleat. The distance doesn't change whether the boom is centered or when running with the boom all the way out.

With what you plan the distance of line travel will change continually with each adjustment. You will not be able to lower the boom with the sheet without bringing the boom closer to the center of the boat.

Why not change the mainsheet to the aft end of the boom?
This is exactly the kind of response I was seeking! And it has encouraged me to look at some issues I was ignoring.

To answer your last (and easier) question first, I am not currently considering traditional end of boom sheeting because I have hopes of putting a bimini on this boat, at some point. That sort of sheeting, because it relies on the sheet being led as vertically as possible, severely limits how far aft I can bring a bimini. My plan allows me to have the aft sheeting points higher.

I live just across the Salish Sea from you, on the Sunshine Coast, and keeping out of the 'liquid sunshine' has become my passion.

I think that moving the boom "down but not in" is a common, unavoidable occurrence, no matter what sheeting system is used. A traveler helps some, but mostly when the boom is sheeted in. When the boom is right out, only a vang will pull it down.

I see my idea adding three things to a conventional traveler system, such as the one you described: 1.) it adds a 2:1 purchase; 2.) it adds friction, which is a part of any purchase; and 3.) it moves the main sheeting point aft, which is my prime goal.

I have changed my plan from a traveler on the pilothouse roof, to a double sheet system, mounted in the same location, and both sheets led aft on the boom. One feature of the double sheet system is that one can pull the boom down with the lee sheet and control the horizontal position with the weather sheet. In this way, it has most, if not all of the benefits of a traveler, and it does not require one to move forward to make adjustments, and not moving forward is another of my goals.

But, maybe I am missing something here?

Thanks for the response.
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