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Old 01-06-2006, 14:30   #1
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Broken Dutchman Lines - What Did I Do Wrong?

Another day underway and my Out of Commission list keeps growing... god I love boats!!

Pretty sloppy weather - inexperienced sail handler (me) out there in 20kts. Nice down-wind run across the bay, then the trouble started. I have a Dutchman flaking system on the main w/4 different monofilament lines attached to the topping lift and running down to the boom. Looks to me like 100 lb test mono at least. Pretty sturdy stuff - but not sturdy enough for me

I have a single reef point and had it (the reef) in due to the conditions. My assumption is that I did not have the main tight enough against the reef points and that allowed the sail to billow out too much. The resultant pressure is what broke the Dutchman lines.

But... I'm not really clear about how to go about preventing this from happening all the time. Do I have to release / slack the topping lift every time once I have the main up? Seems like that could interfere with the top of the sail in its own right. The documentation I've found on the web says that it all works on its own and I should not have to slack the topping lift.

The Dutchman lines do seem a bit old and discolored to me... and I'm betting that they are no where near new. I suspect, however, that it was just my inexperience that somehow caused this. Here's a few pictures of the result:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/attachm...man1_thumb.jpg

http://www.cruisersforum.com/attachm...man3_thumb.jpg

So - any ideas on how I keep this from happening ?
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Old 01-06-2006, 14:36   #2
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Old 01-06-2006, 15:15   #3
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Mark,

I suspect that you need to slack off the topping lift which loosens the monofiliment lines. I have had two of these systems, dating back to the introduction of the concept and the only broken lines occured in/at the pocket clamp on the foot.

You want to adjust the lines to be taught when raising and dropping the sail and slack at other times... sailing.

Tighten up your topping lift, open the vang to raise the boom and adjust the dutchmen lines to be taut for raising and lowering the sail.... then to sail slack off the topping lift and or tighten the vang as necessary.

If you are setting reefs and want a nice tight foot and flat sail (of course)... once you have dropped the sail to the reef point you again need to loosen the topping lift and then winch in the tack and clew and tie the reef knots.

The Dutchman lines should ONLY be taut for raising and lowering the sail...and the boom "raised" up for hoisting the main or setting a reef.

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Old 01-06-2006, 15:23   #4
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I follow what you're saying.. however in my configuration I do not have a rigid boom vang or any other way to raise the boom upward. Only the topping lift or sail can impart upward force on the boom. I have a boom crutch arrangement to pull down on the boom and help flatten the shape.

So If I adjust the Dutchman lines to be semi-taught while raising / lowering the sail, how do I keep the force off of them while raising? Can't slack the topping lift lest the boom comes down on the bimini...

Almost seems that if I get any sail flogging at all before I can tension it against the boom, I'll have broken Dutchman lines each time.
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Old 01-06-2006, 15:35   #5
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second topping lift?

Mark,

I have a rigid vang which can support the boom and not a chance of the boom hitting the dodger. I have always been able to set a reef with the topping lift raising the boom AND tensioning the Dutchmen lines. But to clean up the foot and flatten the sail I then slack the topping lift and tension the tack and clew. If you don't slack the topping lift, you could snap the lines... But you probably want to replace the lines. They are 100# monofiliment.

You may need to adjust your Dutchmen lines so that with the sail flaked on the boom AND the topping lift RAISING the boom the Dutchmen lines are taut. This is the boom position and the proper tension of the Dutchmen lines for raising and dropping the main. For sailing the topping lift is slacked off and the sail AND the vang will control the flatness of the sail by moving the boom down.. or letting up to spill wind

Can you do what I described?

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Old 01-06-2006, 19:13   #6
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Jef has it right. Not a vang issue. The sail holds up the boom. When the sail supports the boom, ease the topping lift so there is no tension on dutchman. When the sail is not holding up the boom, the topping lift does. ( I have been known to forget to tension the lift before easing the halyard - my bad) When the topping lift is supporting the boom, dutchman lines should be under a little tension.
You described you dutchman filament as yellowing. That's way past replacement time. Treat it like fishing line - when it is rough to the touch, time to replace, when it is yellowed, it is ancient. Easy to order and replace.

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Old 01-06-2006, 23:44   #7
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You should not need to readjust the topping lift each time you raise the sail. When the main is raised, it should take the load from the topping lift and slacken the dutchman and the reverse when you lower the sail. I had a dutchman for 12 years and never had to adjust the topping lift. As for the replacement of the filaments, I found weed whacker line to be a suitable replacement. I mentioned it to the dutchman dealer at a boat show. He told me that Dutchman filament has UV inhibitors and the other lines do not. He sent replacment filaments at no charge.
The best thing I did with the Dutchman, was to replace it with lazy jacks when ordering a new sail. It just never worked right.
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Old 02-06-2006, 08:27   #8
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Many thanks for the responses here.

OK I think I understand the concept ... except that it seems to me that if you are not pointed directly into the wind when raising / lowering the sail you will invariably break the Dutchman lines. Or if you let the sail billow out too much at any point the same result is likely.

I guess that's a GOOD thing and the ultimate 'carrot & stick' approach to teaching me how to trim the main

Info I've found on the web also indicates that you should not have to adjust the topping lift at all once you're setup right. The attachment 'flaps' at the foot of the sail are supposed to provide slack in the lines when the sail is tensioned. That's the 'sweetspot' I'll try to adjust my rig for.

A related question now comes to mind... should I have a shackle on the main halyard? Right now I just tie a bowline to the sail head when I get underway (I move the main halyard away from the mast to avoid that incessant slapping against the mast in port). I know that tying a new bowline every time I raise the sail may change the distance from the masthead sheave to the sail head - depends upon how large or small I make the loop in the bowline. This could change the geometry and require me to readjust the topping lift each time.... and that affects the Dutchman lines... yadda yadda...

So do I really want to put a snap shackle on the main halyard? If so what type (snap, bow, 'D') shackle is best for this application? How do I guess what working load / size shackle to use?
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Old 02-06-2006, 18:59   #9
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Mark,

Here's the deal with the topping lift. When you hoist a big heavy main you don't want extra weight... such as a boom which is not "supported" by a rigid vang, a crutch or a topping lift. When hoist the main if you tight the topping left... it is essentially carrying the weight of the boom and all you lift is the weight of the main.

YES you DO need to be bow to eye of wind to hoist the main.. or at least the main can carry no wind when hoisting it. So you could release the main sheet and the sail should "weathercock" and not trim... or billow out as you put it.

YES ... once you get the topping lift set to carry the weight of the boom.. you adjust the lines at the foot ONCE and leave them and you are now good to go.

We park our halyard which DOES have a wichard shackle which is a quarter turn and the haylard has a small eye and is capitive on it) The h;ayard is parked on the pushpit when it is not used. The halyard is internal so there is no banging on the mast. Other halyards are pull away and tensioned with shock chord to prevent them from banging the mast. Halyard slapping is very poor yacht decorum in a marina or anchorage.

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Old 03-06-2006, 06:50   #10
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Mark - Knots in a line reduce the strength of your line by about 40% - splices only about 20%. And you are right - you probably don't tie your bowline the same each time and you will have difference which COULD effect how your Dutchman works. FYI, like Jim, I also use lazy jacks (moveable not fixed).

Good Luck!
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