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Old 23-04-2024, 16:49   #1
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What's a traveler actually doing?

Help me I'm inexperienced and dumb. If I have a vang, what is the traveller doing and how much is my sailing experience going to change if I install one? My Macgregor 26D doesn't have one, and I'm wondering what I'm missing out on. My very naÔve understanding is that the mainsheet is controlling how far from amidships the boom travels, and also provides some downward force. My primary downward force is probably coming from the vang when I need it. So if the mainsheet has the horizontal covered, and the vang has the vertical, what's the traveler actually doing for me?
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Old 23-04-2024, 17:56   #2
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

You aren’t missing a thing and a traveller will only make your sailing experience more complicated. And your boat’s structure is probably not suitable to mount a traveller anyway.

A traveller as a sail control is more of a racing thing and is used for fine adjustments of the boom’s horizontal position when you are sailing upwind. When a gust hits and the boat heels, easing the traveller to move the boom to leeward and depower the mainsail, then bringing the boom back towards the centreline after the gust is more efficient (boat speed is faster) than easing the mainsheet for the gust and bringing it back on after the gust. Using the traveller means that the mainsail shape stays the same (its fastest shape for the conditions) regardless of the boom’s horizontal position.

The vang is generally kept loose when going upwind so it doesn’t interfere with the mainsheet’s primary job of controlling the vertical position of the boom. It’s only when the boat bears away such that the boom goes beyond the traveller track that the vang takes over controlling the vertical position of the boom, with the mainsheet now controlling the horizontal position.
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Old 23-04-2024, 18:08   #3
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

Traveller allows constant leech tension while adjusting the main.
This promotes smooth air flow over the leech which provides the bulk of your drive to windward.

Traveler allows easier set up for the next board.
Pre tack bring the traveler up.
Tack and fall off a little
As the boat regains speed bring the course back to close
hauled as you bring the traveler back up then trim the jib.

It's like changing down a for a corner then running back up through the gears as you accelerate

Close to broad reaching traveler allows for a shorter main sheet making gybes easier to control
by reducing the amount of sheet to bring in then release.

Traveler allows the main sheet to take some of the vertical load
relieving the vang which can experience high loads as its mechanical
advantage is less than the main sheet further aft on the boom

P.S. I run some vang up wind as it reduces the vertical load on the traveler cars making it easier to fine tune
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Old 23-04-2024, 18:19   #4
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

In general you are right that the vang can or at least should be able to handle leach control even when close hauled, though I always hate putting a lot strain on a vang. It makes more sense to pull down on the outer end of the boom from a perspective of strength when close-hauled. That way the boom is only stressed in terms of compression. I don't have a traveler and I wish I did. (It's not very convenient for me as I need easy access to the stern.) With a traveler you can bring the boom to the centerline if needed for getting the best upwind performance. When I am trying to get out of my harbor, with the usual wind direction, I usually need an angle of attack on the main I can only get by man-handling the boom over to the centerline.
Which boats have the u-shaped traveler for the mid-boom main sheet? I know Stars had them for the vang, but I thought there were boats that used the same idea for the mainsheet. Seems to kill two birds with one stone.
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Old 24-04-2024, 09:16   #5
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

Rucksta laid it out neatly. Thus the experience of hot racing sailors in hot racing designs.

For thee and me, you in a McG 26 and me in Fraser 30, there is wisdom in remembering that for 20% of the cost (whether in money or effort) required to reach perfection, you get 80% of perfection - whatever that may be ;-)

Put another way: To get "wonderful" will cost you five times as much as to get "adequate". McG26s and Fraser 30s were never meant to be more than adequate for cruising, and the stuff you learn, and must insist on if you are a racing skipper, is just money and effort up the flue for a cruising skipper.

Go with what you boat has and enjoy your cruising. If it's mind-blowingly exciting racing you want, get a racing dinghy in one of the olympics classes. Or a Galway hooker :-)!

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Old 24-04-2024, 09:31   #6
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

Thank you all, this is much more clear to me now. For my boat and use, I'll pass on the traveler. It's not a convenient install and I don't need one more thing to trip over on my way into the companionway .
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Old 24-04-2024, 11:49   #7
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
You arenít missing a thing and a traveller will only make your sailing experience more complicated. And your boatís structure is probably not suitable to mount a traveller anyway.

A traveller as a sail control is more of a racing thing and is used for fine adjustments of the boomís horizontal position when you are sailing upwind. When a gust hits and the boat heels, easing the traveller to move the boom to leeward and depower the mainsail, then bringing the boom back towards the centreline after the gust is more efficient (boat speed is faster) than easing the mainsheet for the gust and bringing it back on after the gust. Using the traveller means that the mainsail shape stays the same (its fastest shape for the conditions) regardless of the boomís horizontal position.

The vang is generally kept loose when going upwind so it doesnít interfere with the mainsheetís primary job of controlling the vertical position of the boom. Itís only when the boat bears away such that the boom goes beyond the traveller track that the vang takes over controlling the vertical position of the boom, with the mainsheet now controlling the horizontal position.

That is the simplest understandable description of the purpose/use of a traveller that I have ever seen!! Thank You!! / Len
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Old 24-04-2024, 12:12   #8
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

I used the traveler on my boats when I raced especially downwind with the spinnaker up to set the main just like I wanted it.

I used the downhaul also and mast rotator for both upwind and downwind.

The boat I have now, a Bristol 27, doesn't have a traveler or a vang.

I just tightened the luff with the downhaul unless it's really light then I might ease it off a bit and ease the mainsheet.

Basically, I control the main with the mainsheet.

The good news is I have three sets of reef points now instead of just one.
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Old 28-04-2024, 07:57   #9
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

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Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Basically, I control the main with the mainsheet.
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that seems so,,,, so old fashioned.
Me too though.
I use the old way of block(s) at each quarter, the mainsheet forming two legs of a triangle with the boom.
It works well enough, and the set-up already has the geometry should a double-sheet be wanted.
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Old 03-05-2024, 06:55   #10
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

Everyone seems to miss the obvious one. In over 60 years of sailing, the only broken booms I have seen, excluding gooseneck failures, are breaks and cracks at the vang attachment (vang tang somehow sounds strange). The amount of force should not be underestimated, especially if using the vang to control the leach in higher winds.

Additionally, that traveller, when used properly, reduces the amount of mainsheet that has to be handled during jibes. Jibing from one downwind tack to another means hauling in a lot of mainsheet to both control the speed and force on the boom fittings. Failure to haul in the sheet when jibing means having a lot of line flung uncontrollably around the cockpit to potentially snag not only people, but winch handles and winches. Using the traveller eliminates a lot of unecessary effort and is much easier on the fittings.
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Old 03-05-2024, 07:00   #11
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

The basic answer of what a traveler does is that it allows you to alter the sheeting angle of the main sheet. Imagine that you're somewhere between a broad reach and close hauled. The amount of tension you want on the leech of the sail varies, as does the amount of "belly" in the sail and "twist".

At the same time you want to maintain a certain position of the boom relative to the wind.

You adjust the leech tension by, yes, pulling down on the leech. Many different devices can do that, though the main sheet is, by far, the strongest of these. However, how do you maintain the proper boom angle while still applying more or less tension on the leech with the main sheet? If you tighten the main sheet, that will bring the boom in. It's a puzzlement!

However, by moving the position of the block on the deck where the main sheet comes through, you can adjust the ratio of "pulling sideways" and "pulling down" exerted by the main sheet. The more you move that block to be under the boom (wherever the boom needs to be for the wind angle), the more the main sheet pulls DOWN rather than ACROSS the boat, thus tightening the leech.

In short, that's why we have travelers - so that we can change the ratio of down versus across.

Will a vang do the same thing? To some extent, yes, though it is exerting that force more towards the midpoint or even closer to the mast than most main sheets. The leech has more leverage, pulling further out on the boom. For this reason, often, vangs are used in light winds.

For most people, especially casual cruisers, a traveler is "Just another damn rope to deal with" (yes, people, I know it's a line, not a rope) and not worth the effort.
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Old 03-05-2024, 07:22   #12
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

This site can be hilarious.

When trying to deal with some weather-related issues a few years ago a LOT of the advice I got was to get a travler. How it was of vital importance.

Now I am not saying you should get one as your McGregor and my 20 tonn cutter with 520 ft of main are vastly different boats and our sailing experiences are different.

Eventually it comes down to you and your priorities. But I suspect it is overkill for your situation.

Mostly I am saying opinions expressed on these forums are from the sailing perspective of the poster who may not share your perspective or experience.
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Old 03-05-2024, 07:22   #13
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

I changed boats a few years ago and went from having a traveler to no-traveler, and I quite miss its convenience. The traveler would allow me to pull the sail closer to the centerline than I can now with mainsheet only. Also, it would allow me to swing my main out while going downwind and I could limit the travel so in the event of an accidental gybe the main would not go past center, which I judge to be much safer. Using a preventer is the alternative, but is more work to set up.

I find I can control sail shape easily with the vang and no traveler so that doesnít seem to me to be an issue.

The differences are not enough for me to try to retrofit a traveler, but I do miss it.
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Old 03-05-2024, 07:48   #14
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

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The traveler would allow me to pull the sail closer to the centerline than I can now with mainsheet only.
Of more importance to your upwind performance is the ability to take the traveler above centerline while having the mainsheet a bit eased when you want some twist. In heavier breeze some twist is a great way to keep the heel under control without luffing some or all of your main.
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Old 03-05-2024, 08:34   #15
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Re: What's a traveler actually doing?

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Originally Posted by trswem View Post
Help me I'm inexperienced and dumb. If I have a vang, what is the traveller doing and how much is my sailing experience going to change if I install one? My Macgregor 26D doesn't have one, and I'm wondering what I'm missing out on. My very naÔve understanding is that the mainsheet is controlling how far from amidships the boom travels, and also provides some downward force. My primary downward force is probably coming from the vang when I need it. So if the mainsheet has the horizontal covered, and the vang has the vertical, what's the traveler actually doing for me?


First off, why not read some sailing books and sailing tactics, then go on the boat and use the new knowledge....
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