Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Moderator: GreenLake

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby K.C. Walker » Thu Oct 27, 2016 2:29 pm

I was just thinking about the fact that I mostly single-handed this summer and often that is how I sail. I realize that I had planned to replace my jib ratchet blocks with auto ratchets. Of course that would be ideal but I realize that when single-handed I usually cleat one sail while playing the other sail. There are times when I need to play both sails and steer at the same time and that gets to be quite a handful.

I tend to play the sail that has the most power. So with the standard suit of sails I would be playing the main and cleating the jib. This seems to work out fine for me until it gets really hairy and then I turn on the ratchet blocks for the jib and hold it so that I can dump it quickly if need be. When I use the UPS, it has more power than the main so I tend to cleat the main and play the UPS, again until it gets too hairy then I hand hold both.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby GreenLake » Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:04 pm

I'm working on a technique to play both sails at the same time using one hand (the other is on the tiller).

After getting basic trim on both sheets, I hold them in one hand at a point parallel to or a bit forward of the CB swivel, which is aft of the jib fairlead. By moving that hand forward, I can slacken the jib sheet while keeping the tension on the main, and the reverse for moving backward. Pulling in tightens both sheets, and pushing out dumps both.

It's even possible to change the relative trim by twisting my hand a bit and grabbing one of the sheets again a bit higher up without letting go of the other. Alternatively, I'll rely on the bungee tiller tamer for a sec, or even sit briefly on the tiller extender, and use both hands to set a new basic trim.

Last time I tried it, the wind was very unsteady (=gusty) with large changes in wind speed and direction and very sudden onsets. I seem to recall putting a reef in the main to make things more manageable, even though the top wind speeds were not that dramatic (about 14 measured on shore). I really enjoyed being able to depower both sails at the same time (or equivalently trim both as the wind angle changed).

Ratchet blocks on both kept things so that I could continue holding both sheets.

I have to add that I don't have/use hiking straps, so that puts a bit lower limit on how much wind I can hold, but after I bit of practice (and sailing behind a headland for a slight decrease in wind speeds) it was quite enjoyable, but still a bit nerve-wracking because the gusts were so violent and upredictable in nature.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby K.C. Walker » Thu Oct 27, 2016 10:19 pm

Yes, gusty conditions like that are exactly when I want to hold both sheets in hand. I had not thought about how I play each individual sheet when holding both but I do it pretty much like you. It's sort of like keeping the same arc for the sheet that you don't want to adjust. I have the clutch on my tiller tamer set stiff enough so that I can let go with no movement of the helm. That lets me keep my steering hand on the hiking stick in the microphone position and be able to use a couple of fingers to adjust the lines in my sheeting hand.

I do use hiking straps and feel they are an incredibly inexpensive and easy to install performance improvement. As you say, it does limit how much wind power you can handle. It does require having a long hiking stick, though. I have mine set up so that I can sit all the way forward with knee pits at the coaming and be able to lean out if need to be. Obviously, if I have an able-bodied crewmember to block the spray it's even more fun.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby GreenLake » Fri Oct 28, 2016 12:20 am

Constant arc. That's what I meant.

Hiking straps: my setup reflects typical conditions I sail in. Most of the time they would not be needed - I've used them on lighter, more responsive boats, so I agree with you, they do make a difference. A few times a year, I could use them.

I've thought about fitting a really long dual hiking stick (tiller fits in the middle) so that I don't tangle the stick in the traveler. So far, every time that has come to the top of the list, some required and urgent maintenance item has displaced it from the queue. Would have to be long enough to rest on the coamings with the tiller hard over. However, I'm afraid it would stick out too far for close quarter maneuvering. (There's a lot of that in our beer cans - sometimes I feel like the "Endurance" in the pack ice between all the big boats at a mark rounding).
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby K.C. Walker » Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:20 am

I guess I sometimes forget that my boat's a hot rod. I rarely sit on the seats. About the only time I would be doing that is ghosting or deep downwind in light air. Most of the time I'm sitting on the side decks and often hiked out in the straps. With approximately 220 ft.² of upwind sail area available, it's definitely a lively boat.

I can just get my extended hiking stick through between the sheets by first pointing it through when tacking, the tip right next to the boom block and the helm hard over.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby GreenLake » Sat Oct 29, 2016 12:22 am

Hot rod! I like it.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby DigitalMechanic » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:16 am

I am probably late on this one, but here are my 2 cents. I think we had a 10+ page discussion on this back when I first joined the forum (covered jibs and vang etc as well). Thanks again everyone! Based on the long conversation, and a little collaboration with another sailor here in Jax, I changed over to an upward facing swivel cleat (not sure that it matters, but in case it does my boat uses mid-boom sheeting).

1. With the cleat facing downward, adjustments to the mainsheet "auto cleat". You cannot ease the sheet back out quickly if you over compensate. This was annoying to me.
2. With the cleat facing downward, and you get hit with a puff, it is a real PITA to get the dang thing un-cleated quickly (I would literally kick the sheet to pop it lose at times).
3. With the cleat facing downward, and you get hit with a puff while hiking, it was not uncommon to have to come down into the boat to release it, shifting weight in = more healing in a puff = scary (at least to me). Basically, an unnecessary shift of weight with negative impacts.
4. With the cleat in a 360 degree swivel, tacks and gybes are easier, as the sheet follows you as you re-position.
5. With the cleat in the up position, especially when hiking, it is easy to release and de-power.
6. With the cleat in the up position, you can hold the sheet in hand un-cleated. You cannot do that with a downward facing cleat ;)
7. With the cleat in the up position, you have to pull down to cleat. This requires more effort. Obviously this is preference from one person to another, but I prefer the path of least resistance to lean toward releasing the sheet. Up and and out = easy to de-power.

All in all, I am very happy with the new setup, it is probably my favorite mods. I feel like I have a lot more control, and am able to quickly respond to changes that need to happen. This makes me a less panicked skipper, and I am relaxing more when I am on the water, lol ;)

In short, I vote +1 for upward facing cleat.

DISCLAMER: I did have what I think is the original 40 year old fiddle/cleat combo thing, so more modern cleats probably would have made things I found annoying less pronounced (but I doubt they would have gone away).

2185
DigitalMechanic
 
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:00 am
Location: Jacksonville, FL

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby GreenLake » Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:06 pm

Nice summary.

Throw a ratchet block in the mix and the range of conditions that you'd want to hold your sheet in your hand increases, so optimizing for that makes even more sense.
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby DigitalMechanic » Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:06 pm

GreenLake wrote:Nice summary.

Throw a ratchet block in the mix and the range of conditions that you'd want to hold your sheet in your hand increases, so optimizing for that makes even more sense.


Oh yeah! I can ramble on about a bunch of other mods to fix inefficiencies, lol. But was trying to focus on that stupid cleat that drove me mad at one time, lol.

+1 for the ratchet as well. A must if you want to hold the sheet for more than a few seconds at the time.
DigitalMechanic
 
Posts: 373
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:00 am
Location: Jacksonville, FL

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby GreenLake » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:12 am

A few seconds? I once sailed 5 miles upwind on a single tack on a friend's DSII that had that type of cleat, holding the mainsheet in my hand the entire time to feather in the gusts. Don't know what the wind speed was, but I remember it was a challenge to keep the boat flat even with plenty fixed and movable ballast (crew). I can manage to hold a sheet without ratchet blocks if I have to, but having to constantly kick the sheet free of the cleat got really annoying...
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby K.C. Walker » Wed Nov 16, 2016 10:07 am

I once read an article by a high-ranking Thistle sailor about how he eliminated having a cleat on his main sheet and only used a ratchet block. He indicated that this is common amongst the top Thistle sailors. His opinion was that a cleat is only useful between races for parking. His thinking was as soon as you've cleated the main sheet, you've stopped playing it. Cleating and un-cleating is a distraction and takes your attention from outside the boat (particularly for the down facing cleat), whereas using a ratchet block and not cleating at all becomes very instinctual.… And, when things start getting exciting is when I least want these distractions.
KC Walker, DS 1 #7002
K.C. Walker
 
Posts: 1335
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 10:50 pm
Location: North Stonington, Connecticut

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby GreenLake » Wed Nov 16, 2016 2:11 pm

There are certainly times, other than "parking" where cleating a mainsheet is very appropriate. Racing would perhaps not be such an occasion, but cruising, especially in moderate conditions, can be a different matter. I treasure the memory of a particular night cruise, where I was able to trim and cleat both main an jib and set the tiller tamer "just so" that the boat sailed itself in a gentle breeze. Sitting on the rail, looking up at the stars, while feeling the boat responding by itself to slight changes in the wind - magical. "Playing" the main or any other sheet at that time would not have improved the experience. :D
~ green ~ lake ~ ~
GreenLake
 
Posts: 6067
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 3:54 am

Re: Playing the mainsheet with the stock block

Postby talbot » Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:32 pm

I almost wonder of O'Day got a deal on a bunch of swivel cams and just threw them on all their boats. Our 21' Precision has a bottom-release cam, but that's because the sheet belays above the cockpit--as it does on larger O'Day boats with aft-stay mounted cams.

The default when you tension a sheet on a small boat should be to pull it straight through or out of the cam jaws so it doesn't jam inadvertantly. If the sheet leads below the crew doing the drimming, the cams should be on top. If the sheet leads above the crew, the cams should be on the bottom.
talbot
 
Posts: 783
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2007 3:37 pm
Location: Eugene, Oregon

Previous

Return to Seamanship and boat handling

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron