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Old 22-10-2012, 17:18   #1
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Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

I know it's very unsalty, but on my previous boat I had a single headsail sheet that was cow hitched to the clew. It worked perfectly and showed no signs of chafe in several years even though I never changed the position of the bight. On my new boat I have two sheets and bowlines of course, and also an inner forestay. I'm thinking the cow hitch is less likely to get snagged on the furled staysail than the bowlines do. Anyone else use the cow hitch on their headsail sheets?
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Old 22-10-2012, 17:26   #2
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

I do.
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Old 22-10-2012, 17:28   #3
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

I use a buntline hitch. It is a small lightweight knot. You will have to cut it off if left on for a long period.
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Old 22-10-2012, 17:51   #4
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

I whip or splice an eye in mid-sheet but yeah.
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Old 22-10-2012, 18:02   #5
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

Mobius brummel splice. Yes, it works with double braid.
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Old 22-10-2012, 18:11   #6
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

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I know it's very unsalty, but on my previous boat I had a single headsail sheet that was cow hitched to the clew. It worked perfectly and showed no signs of chafe in several years even though I never changed the position of the bight. On my new boat I have two sheets and bowlines of course, and also an inner forestay. I'm thinking the cow hitch is less likely to get snagged on the furled staysail than the bowlines do. Anyone else use the cow hitch on their headsail sheets?
The problem with a cow hitch is that the only way to get it off after a while is to cut it. Use two bowlines and you'll be able to undo them. You'll be glad you did next time you need to change headsails or whatever.

With two bowlines, the trick is to offset the knots on the two.
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Old 22-10-2012, 18:36   #7
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

I use a single line tied with a cow hitch aka Lark's head. It unties easy enough for me. I like it because bowlines leave tails and knots that hang on the inner forestay. This is cleaner and work fine.
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Old 22-10-2012, 18:52   #8
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

Yep, I ilke it. It doesnt snag near as bad on a cutter as a couple of bowlines . Just cut it off after a couple of years if you must. You only lose about 8" of length! (Try a fid first!)
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Old 22-10-2012, 18:55   #9
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

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Originally Posted by Sabbatical II View Post
I know it's very unsalty, but on my previous boat I had a single headsail sheet that was cow hitched to the clew. It worked perfectly and showed no signs of chafe in several years even though I never changed the position of the bight. On my new boat I have two sheets and bowlines of course, and also an inner forestay. I'm thinking the cow hitch is less likely to get snagged on the furled staysail than the bowlines do. Anyone else use the cow hitch on their headsail sheets?

Is a "cow hitch" like a baggage tie? On my old boat I had one very long sheet on my main headsail, put on with a baggage hitch.

On this boat I have two shorter sheets, tied on with bowlines. We were out in very (VERY) light air last Wed. nite and someone had to be constantly up by the mast to get the knot off a shroud. Caught every single time. I really don't think the baggage hitch would have. I never saw any wear either, by the way.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:10   #10
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

G'Day Greg,

A different approach that we have used successfully is to put an eye splice in the end of each sheet and use a smooth shackle to attach them to the d-ring in the clew of the sail.

People are always bleating about getting hit by said shackle, but on our boat, and likely yours the clew has a big s/s ring (that would hurt just about as much with or without the shackle) and it is located so high above the deck that getting hit isn't possible anyway

But we still have to roll up the genoa to tack it with our Solent rig. GGrrrr!

Cheers,

Jim.
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Old 22-10-2012, 19:50   #11
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

Jim, I do the same thing (eye splices in sheets) but use a dyneema lashing (or dyneema soft shackle if I have any idea of changing jibs) to attach to the jib clew, rather than the shackle. I have been replacing metal shackles all over the boat.


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G'Day Greg,

A different approach that we have used successfully is to put an eye splice in the end of each sheet and use a smooth shackle to attach them to the d-ring in the clew of the sail.

People are always bleating about getting hit by said shackle, but on our boat, and likely yours the clew has a big s/s ring (that would hurt just about as much with or without the shackle) and it is located so high above the deck that getting hit isn't possible anyway

But we still have to roll up the genoa to tack it with our Solent rig. GGrrrr!

Cheers,

Jim.
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Old 22-10-2012, 21:48   #12
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

VALIS often uses a cow hitch (A.K.A. Lark's Head, Luggage Tag) on the headsail sheet. It works pretty well and is less likely to hang up on shrouds, staysail, etc, when tacking.

I've found that after a couple of weeks on the same tack the cow hitch will creep, and one sheet will be a few inches longer than the other. I suppose this could depend on the type of line you use and of course the loads.

When the sheets start showing a little wear, I cut the cow hitch and tie the other ends to the sail with bowlines or buntline hitches. By end-for-ending the sheets this way, relatively fresh line is moved to the chafe points and I get another season out of the sheets. I originally make my sheets a little long, so I have enough length to cut and tie the bowlines.
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Old 22-10-2012, 22:08   #13
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

I find it pretty easy to open even a quite frozen cow hitch with a good marlinspike. If you can't undo a cow hitch, what will you do when you encounter a knot that really locks up? I think people these days are in too much of a hurry to whip out a knife instead of a good quality spike, and no I don't mean a cheap folder. This is what I use-
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Old 22-10-2012, 23:00   #14
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

Hey Minaret, what's that spike made of?

Looks cool, and might well double as a weapon! 'Course, that means that the overzealous LEOs might book ya for carrying it!

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 22-10-2012, 23:55   #15
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Re: Cow Hitch on Headsail Sheets ?

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Hey Minaret, what's that spike made of?

Looks cool, and might well double as a weapon! 'Course, that means that the overzealous LEOs might book ya for carrying it!

Cheers,

Jim

It's a Marlin's bill. The best material ever discovered for this purpose IMHO. I went into it a little more here-

Knife


If you want one I'll send you one at cost. I believe that's about $60-$80 US. They are super nice. Once you use a real Marlinspike there's no going back. I still keep regular steel ones around for when I have to really reef on large line, but I have yet to break a Marlin Bill and I have several and use them all the time. Perhaps you fish enough that you can acquire your own? Or already have?
I doubt anyone would ever hassle you over one, they are obvious works of art. Instant conversation starter as well.
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