Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Snag Reduction--Or Tacking Without Tears

Tacking a boat is a time when all kinds of mischief can occur. With all the sails and sheets loose and being blown/flogged around, it is amazing sometimes what Murphy can pull off. Over at Sail Delmarva, Drew implements one of his typically elegant solutions to keep him in check:
Snagging the lazy genoa sheet on the mast-mounted winches has been my curse since the first day. The clew is just above the winch, and when it slides across the mast during a tack it just loves to loop over the winch, necessitating a trip forward. If I'm lucky, the boat doesn't fall into irons.

I tried a few simple bungees and covers for the winches. No luck. I tried better technique; OK when the wind was light, but otherwise undependable. I tried a line from the spreaders forward to the tramp; too hard to get the tack around. Finally I spent some time looking at it and found a simple solution that works the charm.

The Deflector. I ran a 40' length of 1/4 spectra double braid that I had left over from the end of the self-tacker traveler, through the lazy jack pad eye at the spreaders, and down to the other end of the traveler. It is tensioned with a truckers hitch, but not too tight, as the forces could get out of control. This keeps the sheets away from the winches AND away from the salon hatches , allowing them to remain open even when tacking. I thought it might be in the way, but in fact it makes a nice hand hold in an otherwise precarious area.

The sheet is held far away from the mast and hatch.

However, there is a significant tendancy for the clew eye and soft shackles to jam against the new deflector stays. I tried a few things before coming to a simple and entirely satisfactory solution; the sheets are now attached to the tack via a trianagular sliding bridle.

The Bridle. an 18-inch spectra climbing sling did the trick. It is luggage tagged to the eye and then each sheet is attached with a separate soft shackle. If there is any tension at all on the lazy sheet, the sling opens up into a triangle and sail clew is NOT forcibly dragged across the stay, only the sling. The clew eye is always free to move forward, away from the stay. Additionally, the shackles do not pass all at once, but rather in succession, reducing the drag.

 A bit tricky to see, but both sheets are attached NOT to the clew, but to the sling, along which they are free to slide when tacking. Both are attached with soft shackles; this is required because the windward sheets are inside the shroud and the reaching sheets are outside the shroud.

Not a single snag over many tacks in many wind conditions, from ghosting to 25 knots. Why does it take so long to learn simple things?

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