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Old 21-07-2020, 08:46   #1
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Understanding what this is?

As someone who is completely new to sailing, I have still come to understand that often terminology is important - and knowing what to even call something is equally important.

A number of sailboats I have looked at over the years (yes I am a lurker/dreamer), have had the mainsail attached in the cockpit on some type of traveler. See picture/attachment below of a Contest 36s.

My question is - does this type of configuration of the mailsail have a name? What are the main advantages or disadvantages of this type of connection?

Appreciate any assistance in understanding that you can give.
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Old 21-07-2020, 09:53   #2
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Re: Understanding what this is?

A traveler in the cockpit allows for "end boom" sheeting, boats with a cabin top traveler utilize "mid boom" sheeting. Mid boom found on many cruising boats for easy cabin access and keeps the mainsheet out of the cockpit. End boom gives a greater mechanical advantage and seen mostly on boats for racing or high performance cruisers.
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Old 21-07-2020, 09:58   #3
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Re: Understanding what this is?

Thanks for the reply Calif.Ted! I definitely wouldn't think to call a Contest 36s a high performance cruiser - but I suppose this configuration would give you very close control over the main if short handed.
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Old 21-07-2020, 11:44   #4
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Re: Understanding what this is?

I am not very clear about your question (as you seem to have already answered it yourself). But here is my try:


The image shows a bridgedeck mounted traveler.


Yes. It is very useful as it gives you one more way to trim the main. It allows you to pull the boom DOWN rather than at angle.



The traveler can be mounted:


- ahead of the hatch, on cabin top (Bavarias, Bene, etc)
- on the bridgedeck (ehn present, on many Dutch / Scandinavian, UK boats)
- on a bridge/plank mounted in the cockpit,
- behind the cockpit (many cats, many racers and very beamy boats).


When mounted as shown on a Contest it has two drawbacks:


- it is in the way of the cabin access,
- on most boats, when running, the sheets will interfere wit the coaming and dodger,


Given two boats, one with out traveler, I would absolutely like to have the traveler.


Here: https://www.naturepl.com/cache/pcache2/01358103.jpg you have a traveler at its best - long, curved, not interfering with other elements. Cream.


Cheers,
b.
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Old 22-07-2020, 10:01   #5
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Re: Understanding what this is?

Cruising boats usually want cockpit covers that keep sun and rain out of all or at least most of the cockpit. Depending on where the cockpit is located w.r.t. the rig, you'll see both end-boom and mid-boom arrangements that allow the traveler to be placed either in front of the dodger or behind the cockpit cover. Center cockpit makes it easy to use end-boom sheeting since the cockpit is far forward closer to the mast. Aft cockpit often uses traveler just forward of the dodger.

Some boats have a mid-boom traveler that is placed in the cockpit very near the companionway. A better place for mid-boom sheeting is to top of the cabin forward of the dodger if possible. That's because having the traveler in the path of people using the companionway can be deadly. We had a crewman break his arm because, even repeatedly being told to keep clear of the sheet during a jibe, he stuck his arm into the companionway entrance during the jibe. It was not fun.
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Old 22-07-2020, 11:25   #6
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Re: Understanding what this is?

Thanks everyone for your help in understanding - book smart wise - what this is and if it's desireable. The location is definitely not very desirable to me. But as a follow up - can you modify a sailboat like the Contest 36s to have the traveler in a different location (or for that matter - any sailboat)? And would it have sailing and design implications if you modified it? I've been lookign hard at a Pretorien 35 that has the same set up and wondered if I could modify it without a major loss in performance or a huge setback in my wallet

(Moving a bit more into an acedemic debate here)
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Old 22-07-2020, 11:49   #7
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Re: Understanding what this is?

The other thing to understand about where the main sheet attaches to the boom is how it effects pulling the boom down. the reason for having a traveler is that when you tighten it you pull the boom down and make the main flatter. This allows for better sail shape and more power upwind. You also need to control the angle the sail makes to the wind, roughly the very front of the main (luff) points almost directly into the wind. With a single main sheet fixed at one point on the center line you can't adjust sail shape, if you haul in the sail angle changes with the shape. With a traveler you set the sail shape with the main sheet and separately change the angle by sliding the traveler across the track. As an aside also means you can 'dump' the main by sliding the traveler to the end and rapidly spilling the wind out of the sail when beating.

What to look for;
A traveler at the end of the boom has the most power and can easily give a very flat sail for strong winds. The further forward it is the less power you get.
The further forward the traveler is attached the further out the mainsail can go and still have its shape controlled by the main sheet. When you get well off the wind the main is no longer directly under the boom so now only controls the sail angle. Down wind you flatten the sail with the cunningham (or kicking strap). That is the tackle close to the front of the boom but because it is well forward it has a lot less power.
A good compromise is a main sheet about 2/3 out along the boom, hence on the bridge deck but it tends to be the most in the way in the cockpit!
On some traditional boat you may see a tackle from the gunwale (edge of the deck) to the boom used to flatten the sail when reaching. Works well buy lots of boats don't have strong enough gunwales.
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Old 22-07-2020, 12:27   #8
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Re: Understanding what this is?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulseer View Post
Thanks everyone for your help in understanding - book smart wise - what this is and if it's desireable. The location is definitely not very desirable to me. But as a follow up - can you modify a sailboat like the Contest 36s to have the traveler in a different location (or for that matter - any sailboat)? And would it have sailing and design implications if you modified it? I've been lookign hard at a Pretorien 35 that has the same set up and wondered if I could modify it without a major loss in performance or a huge setback in my wallet

(Moving a bit more into an acedemic debate here)
There are some very good answers here in this thread about sail shape and controllability with various traveler locations.

What I didn't see is discussion of the mechanical advantage issue and how that affects your ability to relocate the traveler.

Let's say the boom needs a downward pull of 200lbs to trim the mainsail all the way in while sailing in a moderate breeze. That's 200 lbs at the end of the boom. If you try to obtain that same mainsail trim by pulling down at the middle of the boom you'll need 400lbs. That is basic physics. Mid boom sheeting therefore requires more pressure on the sheet to obtain the same sail trim. To make it possible the system will commonly have multiple falls (parts in the sheet and multiple blocks). Where as an end boom sheeting system might be 2:1 to a winch, the mid boom could need 4:1 or 6:1 because you lose a lot to friction with each fall or block. AND, pulling the mainsail in with mid boom sheeting means you pull in 2 or 3 times as much line, so it's slower. AND, the attachment to the deck or cabin top has also to be stronger. AND usually there is not as much room for a big winch on the cabin top under the dodger, so those types of arrangements often have undersized winches. Needing someone to grind a small winch for 30 seconds to a minute to get the main all the way in is not much fun for that person.

So relocation of an end of boom traveler to a mid boom position is going to involve some engineering and some compromises.
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Old 22-07-2020, 13:55   #9
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Re: Understanding what this is?

And, I might add, ask yourself how big a problem it really is.

We have the traveler in about the same position as yours. There's a canvas section that zips in between the dodger and bimini, to install it we have to disconnect the traveler and swing the boom out to one side. So, it can't be used when sailing but is great when at anchor.

In my "perfect" boat the arrangement might be different, but it's a pretty minor inconvenience for us. Others may disagree.
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Old 22-07-2020, 14:20   #10
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Re: Understanding what this is?

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Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
And, I might add, ask yourself how big a problem it really is.

We have the traveler in about the same position as yours. There's a canvas section that zips in between the dodger and bimini, to install it we have to disconnect the traveler and swing the boom out to one side. So, it can't be used when sailing but is great when at anchor.

In my "perfect" boat the arrangement might be different, but it's a pretty minor inconvenience for us. Others may disagree.
In my opinion the advantages of end of boom sheeting far outweigh the inconvenience of not having a full bimini connected to the dodger. I have also seen that the canvas part connecting the bimini to the dodger has an opening for the mainsheet, so you don't have to disconnect it.

We also have end boom sheeting, but no bimini at all. If we are at the helm we are in the open. However that means we can see the mainsail, the mast head, and get a clear view of the jib, and in general, better all around visibility.

Just because every other boat you ever saw has a cockpit totally enclosed by canvas doesn't mean that it is the only option. Sailing is an outdoor activity. We like to be "out there" in the open. If, on a long sail, the sun is too much, we rig an awning under the boom and over the cockpit. On those days we are not steering, the windvane is steering. We're just sitting in the cockpit under the awning. But when the day is great and we want to have fun sailing, we leave the awning down, and often fold down the dodger too.
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Old 26-07-2020, 07:28   #11
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Re: Understanding what this is?

Just wanted to thank everyone for their thoughts on this thread - it's all food for thought and very much appreciated!
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