Rigging Small Sailboats - Part 2

Rigging Small Sailboats Part 2

.....standing rigging

The STANDING RIGGING consists of the wires that hold up and support the mast. Because the mast is in compression and tends to buckle or bend, the standing rigging helps to control the bending. Some small sailboats do not use any standing rigging, and these are said to have free standing unstayed masts (see Figs.2-4 and 2-5). The calculations and methods of figuring the strength of spars and associated rigging are very technical and involved, and should not be undertaken by the novice. Rig your boat as the designer or manufacturer recommends; don't make shortcuts. The material used for the standing rigging is wire rope, usually made from stainless steel, although regular or galvanized steel wire rope is available. Wire rope is measured by the diameter and specified by the composition of the wires used to make up the wire rope (see Fig. 4-1). For example, wire rope designated 1 x 19 would consist of one wire made up of 19 strands. This type is the most common for standing rigging because it is not flexible and is strongest. Another type designated 7 x 19 consists of 7 ropes each consisting of 19 strands. This type, while not as strong, is used where flexibility is important. On boats which use wire rope halyards, the 7 x 19 wire rope is utilized.


FIG. 4-1 -Wire rope for rigging is generally in two configurations; stiff and flexible. FL-. 4-1 'a'shows a length and section of 1 x 19 wire rope which is considered stiff. The length is made up of 19 individual strands and is the type usually used for stays. Fig. 4-1 'b' shows a length and section of 7 x 19 wire rope which is a flexible type commonly used - for halyards. The length is made up of seven ropes each consisting of 19 strands. FIG. 4-2 & 4-3-Common methods of joining fittings to wire rope. Fig. 4-2 'a'shows a swaged ball which can be readily connected to a shackle or forked jaw. Fig. 4-2 'b' shows a swaged fork or jaw and a swaged eye commonly used to connect to tangs, turnbuckles, chainplates, etc. Fig. 4-3 shows a typical Nicopress fitting. The wire rope passes around the thimble and the end is clamped with the special clamp shown. Flexible wire rope is best used with this type of fitting.

Obviously fittings must be attached to the wire rope for it to do a job, and these fittings can be attached by any of several methods. One method is to SWAGE the fitting to the wire rope. Swaging means that the fitting is compressed cold between a pair of dies., Fig. 4-2 shows some swaged fittings commonly used on small sailboats. Another method is the NICOPRESS fitting, a patented method which uses a sleeve wrapped around the wire forming an eye, and gripping both strands together, as shown in Fig. 4-3. A special vise-like tool is, used to clamp the junction tight. With the Nicopress junction, a THIMBLE (grooved metal ring in the looped eye to prevent chafe) must be used. Because of the bend required in the wire rope at the thimble, flexible wire rope such as 7 x 19 should be used for ultimate strength at the junction.

Special patented-type swageless terminals are also available for joining fittings to wire rope. One type forms a mechanical joint by use of a sleeve barrel fitted over the wire rope and a plug which is inserted into the end of the wire rope. A socket with the fitting attached to it is screwed into the sleeve. The plug inside the sleeve is compressed tightly against the wire rope strands, thereby forming the connection. With this type of junction, the fittings can be disassembled from the wire rope and reused, whereas the swaged fitting cannot. While this type of fitting can be done with ordinary hand tools, a great deal of the strength of the fitting depends on the ability of the person making the junction. Usually swageless fittings are bulkier and heavier than swaged or Nicopress fittings, although arguments exist as to which is stronger. In all cases, the strength of the fitting depends on the quality of the craftsmanship.

A method rarely used today for attaching fittings to wire rope is the zinc socket type connection. This method uses molten zinc poured into the fitting to hold it in place. While still used on some "character" boats and commercial craft, it is considered less reliable than any of the above methods.



FIG. 4-4 Typical standing rigging configurations. The rig in "a" uses jumper struts which are splayed out diagonally from the mast in order to clear the shrouds. The jumper stays reinforce the mast from the pull caused by the mainsail, as the forestay does not go to the masthead. If the jib is used, this boat would be a jibhead rig. The rig shown by "b" is a typical masthead sloop rig common on boats about 17' and larger. The rig shown by "c" is a typical jibhead rig. The bridle on the backstay is optional and is usually used to provide clearance for an above deck tiller. This arrangement could also be used to provide an adjusting mechanism for varying backstay tension as is common on competitive sailboats. Spreaders and additional shrouds may be used as required on some jibhead rigs.

The STAYS are wire ropes that support the mast in a fore and aft direction. Technically speaking, any wire that helps support the mast can be called a stay, but in our discussion, we will refer to those at the side of the mast as specifically SHROUDS, described later. Reviewing Fig. 4-4 will aid in following this discussion on stays.

The FORESTAY supports the mast from the forward side and is usually attached to the hull near the forward end of the boat. On a jibhead rig the forestay is attached to the mast about 7/8 the way up from the base. On a masthead rig the forestay attaches to the masthead. On catamarans because of the twin hulls, the forestay often intersects with a BRIDLE, and the bridle is attached to the bow of each hull. A bridle is a line secured at each end with attachment by another line to the middle of the bridle. Some catamarans use a beam between the hulls at the bow and attach the forestay to this beam at the middle in the conventional manner. On single hull boats, the forestay is connected to the hull at the STEMHEAD (forward point of the hull usually at the deck). The forestay must be capable of withstanding considerable strain. The other stay on masthead rigs that complements the forestay is the BACKSTAY. The backstay supports the mast from the aft side, and runs from the masthead to the aft end of the boat. Some backstays connect to a bridle arrangement such as used on the forestay of catamarans previously mentioned. When the bridle is used on the backstay, in most cases it is to allow clearance at the tiller where it pivots across the deck. A backstay is not usually required on small jibhead rigs, but is virtually always used on masthead rigs. Not all backstays are fixed in position. Those that are not, are called "running backstays" and are usually associated with boats of a size not covered in this book.

The stays that support the mast at the sides are called SHROUDS, and it is not correct to call them "side stays" or any other name when they are being referred to specifically. As mentioned previously, not all boats use stays, but boats using a forestay will invariably have at least one shroud per side. When a backstay is not used, the shrouds must take most of the forward tension set up by the forestay, and hence are usually set somewhat aft and outboard of the mast. With jibhead rigs on small boats, there is usually only one shroud per side, attached part way up the mast at some predetermined point. The shrouds are attached to the hull by using CHAINPLATES (shown in Fig. 7-1). Chainplates are straps of metal bolted to the hull to take the strain transmitted by the shrouds.

When the mast requires additional support, two or more sets of spreaders are required, especially on boats which also use a backstay. The set of shrouds which pass through or across the spreader tips and attach to the masthead are called the upper shrouds. They are usually located in line with the side of the mast functioning along the gunwale or rail of the hull or cabin side. The shrouds that join to the mast at the spreader connection are called the lower shrouds, and may connect to the hull forward or aft of the upper shrouds. In some boats it is not uncommon to use two sets of lower shrouds, joining the hull at least several inches apart from each other outboard. The reason shrouds should preferably not junction at a common point is in order to distribute the mast loads over a greater area of the hull.

The shrouds usually attach to the hull via the chainplates, while the forestay attaches to the stemhead fitting, and the backstay to a backstay tang or chainplate. At the spreaders, the upper shrouds should be protected from chafing where they move at the spreader tips. This is best accomplished by-using non-chafing spreader tips. The spreader tips themselves should be rounded or smoothed so as not to chafe or snag the sails.


FIG. 4-5 The turnbuckle allows stay tension to be adjusted. This turnbuckle fastens to the chainplate with a jaw fitting and pin, and is swaged to the wire rope stay. Once adjusted, turnbuckles should be locked in position to prevent them from unscrewing. This is also important during transport and storage as it is easy to lose turnbuckle parts and not always easy to replace them.

As mentioned previously, sometimes supplementary stays are required, and these are usually the diamond stay or jumper stay. They use the same type of wire as other stays although perhaps not as heavy, but they never junction with the hull. All stays and shrouds should have some means of adjustment, and several methods for providing this are commonly used. The most familiar item is the TURNBUCKLE (a fitting with a screw link for tightening the stay) which is available in a variety of types. A typical turnbuckle is shown in Fig. 4-5. Turnbuckles can be attached to the wire rope stays with either a swaged fitting or Nicopress eye and thimble. If the unit is swaged, the turnbuckle must be free to pivot so no bending will occur where the wire enters the swaged area. This is accomplished by using a swivel connector which is integral with the turnbuckle. All turnbuckles should have a means of locking them once the stays have been adjusted. Turnbuckles usually have a jaw and pin which connects them at their lower ends to the chainplate or deck fitting.

Another method of adjusting stays and shrouds is with a STAY ADJUSTER (see Figs. 3-4 and 6-2). The stay adjuster consists of a shaped section of metal, usually stainless steel, with several holes for adjustment. The lower end of the stay adjuster is pinned to the chainplate, while the stay is attached with a pin through any one of the holes in the stay adjuster which give the proper adjustment to the stay. Stay adjusters are less costly than turnbuckles, and when used, no turnbuckle is required for the respective stay. However, stay adjusters are not capable of varying tension on the mast as are turnbuckles, and for this reason, it is common on simple rigs using three stays to use stay adjusters with the shrouds, and a turnbuckle on the forestay which is used to vary the tension once the proper adjustment is set up in the stay adjusters. Once set up, there is no need to ever readjust the stay adjuster, even though the slack stay adjuster to leeward when sailing on a tack could be set up tauter (assuming both sides are readjusted equally) thereby putting more tension in the rig. On rigs with multiple shrouds plus forestay and backstay, it is desirable to use turnbuckles on each stay instead of stay adjusters in order to set each stay properly. It is possible to connect stay adjusters to deck plates in lieu of the chainplate thereby eliminating the need for the chainplate. But, chainplates are more desirable as they distribute the strains imposed by the stays over a larger area.

Another more elaborate device for stay tension adjustment is somewhat like the stay adjuster, but consists of a lever actuator which gives extra power in tensioning the stay. These are called HYFIELD LEVERS (Fig. 4-6) which come in a wide variety of types and sizes, and are often used for tensioning problems other than with stays. Hyfield levers are usually associated with competition-type craft where immediate stay adjustment is required.


FIG. 4-6 Hyfield levers allow tension to be varied, such as along stays. Many types and sizes are available, but are usually only used on competition boats.

A last means of attaching stays is by means of a simple rope lashing. The rope is merely lashed through rings or thimble eyes attached to the chainplate or bridle on catamarans, and at the lower ends of the stays. Rope lashings should be polyester lines which will not stretch, and should be of ample size. Stays can be attached to the mast in several different manners, part of which may be dictated by whether the mast is made of wood or aluminum. In most cases the stay must be fitted with some form of an eye which will allow it to be attached to the mast via a fitting such as the tang or masthead. As shown in Figs. 4-2 and 4-3, these methods can be a conventional eye, fork or jaw, or a ball joint connected to a fork strap or eye strap. On masthead rigs, it is desirable to give the backstay and fore stay a universal action at the masthead attachment. This can be done with the ball joint type fitting, or by the use of a TOGGLE (a swivel connector as shown in Fig. 3-9). The reason is to prevent bending of the wire rope where it joins to the fitting attached to the wire rope.

..running rigging

FIG. 5-1-This neatly rigged boat (Glen-L 11) is ready to receive the sails. The running rigging is clearly shown. This mainsheet rig is like that shown by Fig. 5-4. The clew outhaul slides on a track with a line securing it to a jam cleat on the side of the boom. The aluminum tubing boom is held in position by the main halyard. The main and jib halyards are neatly coiled in position on the mast. Note the tracks with sliding cam cleats on each side of the centerboard for controlling the jib sheets.


The RUNNING RIGGING consists of the lines used for hoisting and controlling the sails directly, or indirectly such as through control of the boom. The boat in Fig. 5-1 shows many of the lines used for the running rigging in position. The running rigging moves about the boat, or can be moved. The LINES are usually made from ROPE. Once the rope becomes operational in the boat, it is then referred to as a "line". This then is the difference between line and rope. Most lines on small sailboats are made from synthetic twisted or braided rope, such as polyester or polypropylene. Nylon is usually not a good line because it stretches too much. Ropes of natural materials such as hemp are seldom used anymore. Wire rope is sometimes used for some running rigging, but must be connected to rope at the moving ends that must be handled. A type of rope made especially to be easy on the hands is called "YACHT BRAID" or other similar proprietary name, and is more costly than the normal braided line. Rope sizes are commonly noted by the approximate diameter of the rope, even though it was once common to give the size by the circumference.


The lines used for hoisting and lowering the sails are called HALYARDS. The halyards run up and down the mast across a sheave (pronounced "shiv") at or near the top of the mast. Halyards that are outside the mast are called "external" halyards, and those that run inside a hollow mast are called "internal" halyards. Halyards on small boats can be made of rope, and often stainless steel wire rope is also used. When wire rope is used, it should be the flexible type such as 7 x 19. In the case of wire rope halyards, a portion of braided or twisted rope must be attached to the running end so the crew can handle the halyard without injuring their hands. The braided rope is then attached to the wire rope either with a Nicopress eye, or by a special splicing. On large boats, special halyard winches designed for wire rope preclude the need for a rope tailing.

Several methods are used to attach the halyards to the head cringle of the sails. Probably the most common method is the use of a SHACKLE, a "U"-shaped fitting with an openable pin at the open portion of the "U" which passes through the head cringle (see Fig. 6-2). The halyard is attached to the shackle either with a spliced eye, Nicopress eye, or it is sometimes merely tied by a knot. A better method when wire rope is used is to use a ball joint with the shackle fitted onto the wire rope halyard before the ball has been swaged on (see Fig. 4-2 'a'). When wire rope halyards are used with a ball joint, a HALYARD HOOK should be used near the masthead. This fitting prevents hoisting the sail beyond a predetermined point up the mast. Sometimes an additional halyard hook is located near the mast base for the running end of the wire rope halyard with another ball swaged at this end to secure the halyard.

Another method used to attach halyards to sails is with BRUMMEL HOOKS (as shown in Fig. 5-2). These are special patented fittings used in pairs which allow quick attachment once you get the hang of using them. The Brummel hooks come in a wide variety of sizes and types which can be used for other situations as well as with halyards. One hook passes through the cringle at the head of the sail, and another goes through the eye at the end of the halyard, or can be merely knotted to the halyard. The two connect with a twist of the wrist.


FIG. 5-2-Brummel hooks are patented fittings used in pairs. They are used to secure lines together or lines to other items such as sails. A twist of the two hooks is all that is required to join or release them.


The lines used to control the trim or position of the sails are called SHEETS. The line used to control the mainsail is called the MAINSHEET, and the line used to control the jib is called the JIB SHEET. Rope is used for the sheets, and "yacht braid" type is often used because it is easier on the hands and does not kink or jam as easily as twisted rope. Because the force of the wind on the sails is often greater than the strength of the crew, it is often necessary for the sheets to have a built-in "mechanical advantage." This is where the various blocks (or "pulleys") and winches come onto the scene in various configurations to ease the work of the crew.

rig5-3.jpgFIG. 5-3 - Various tackle configurations. The power of a tackle depends on the number of "parts" in the tackle. Actually, 'a' is not really a tackle as the block merely changes the direction of the line, thereby affording no gain in power. Fiddle blocks are shown for clarity where two sheaves are used, though double blocks, with side by side sheaves, would give the same result. The arrows show the direction the line will move when pulled.

When the sheets are lead through a system of blocks, a TACKLE is formed that, depending on the number of "parts," will decrease the effort required to do the work. This is called "mechanical advantage" and is shown by Fig. 5-3. All main sheet configurations are nothing more than variations on these basic tackles, even though the location of the various blocks may disguise the number of parts used in the tackle. In figuring a tackle, it is usual to deduct 10% from each "part" per block to allow for the friction caused at the sheave in the block. Also note that the more parts in a tackle, the more line you must have and consequently the more line you will have to pull through the tackle to move the object a comparable distance.

Sheet rig types come in an infinite variety of configurations, and some of the more common main and jib sheet rigs have been shown in Figs. 5-4 through 5-13. To run the sheet through the blocks is to REEVE the sheet, and it is a good practice to knot the running end of all sheets so they will not inadvertently pass through and out the blocks, causing loss of control of the sails.


FIG. 5-4 - Ratio 2:1. A simple mainsheet set-up which uses a rope or wire rope traveler. Although the traveler is shown deadending to eye straps, one end could be made adjustable by belaying to a jam cleat. The mainsheet can be held by hand or a block or cam cleat can be used as shown in Fig. 5-5.

Note that in many cases the mainsheet forms, or is used in conjunction with, the TRAVELER. The traveler lets the mainsheet rig or unit move or "travel" from one side of the boat to the other. Travelers can range from the combination mainsheet/ traveler type, or a simple length of line, or very elaborate fittings complete with tracks using blocks with ball or roller bearings and lines to control them.


FIG. 5-5 - Ratio 3:1. The mainsheet is used as the traveler in this rig.


FIG. 5-6 - Ratio 2:1. This mainsheet is also used as the traveler, but requires at least some aft deck area. The main feature of this layout is the minimum of hardware required. Because the sheeting lead on the boom is at the aft end, roller reefing can easily be incorporated by hanging the side shackle block from a swiveling tang on the end of the boom.


FIG. 5-7 - Ratio 4:1. This mainsheet rig is handy to use where roller reefing is desired. It would be possible to mount the lower fiddle block to a track so it could to move each side with the boom, acting as a traveler. If roller reefing is not used, the mainsheet arrangement could be located at some location along the boom, although this would increase the effort required to move the boom.


FIG. 5-8 - A system similar to Fig. 5-7, but using a rope or wire traveler similar to Fig. 5-4. This arrangement could also be located at the end of the boom for use with roller reefing. A cam cleat could be used at the swivel block so that the line need not be hand held.


FIG. 5-9 - A rather elaborate system in that the traveler can be adjusted with lines each side via cam cleats. The fiddle block with cam cleat is used so that the line need not be hand held.

Winches ease the work required in pulling or trimming the sheets, such as on jib sheets, as in Fig. 5-13. A winch gains mechanical advantage due to its gear ratio, diameter of the handle, and by the drum diameter of the winch. To determine the mechanical advantage (or power ratio), use the following formula: Radius of handle divided by the Radius of the drum X the Gear ratio = Power ratio. This means that power can be gained by either increasing the gear ratio, or radius of the handle, or decreasing the drum radius, or a combination of all three. Usually the drum radius should not be decreased because the winch will then do the work more slowly. On small boats such as being discussed here, most winches will not have gears and are thus referred to as "direct drive" winches such as shown in Fig. 5-14. Often used on small boats are winches which do not have handles either, and these are called "snubbing" winches (Fig. 5-15). Winches are usually relatively expensive items, and because mechanical advantage can be gained by other means, they are considered "deluxe" equipment on boats under about 25' in length.

FIGS. 5-10 through 5-13 show various jib sheet configurations. Jib sheets are usually two part lines secured at the mid length to the jib clew cringle usually via a shackle. This means that the hardware to control one side of the jib sheet will be duplicated for the other side; in other words, each side of the boat will have the fittings shown.


FIG. 5-10-A fairlead on a slide allows adjustment of the jib sheet lead point via the track. The sheet can be hand held or belayed to a cleat at some convenient point.


FIG. 5-11-Similar to the foregoing but the line is belayed with a cam cleat mounted directly on a slide which runs on the track.


FIG. 5-12 - This system provides a power advantage of 2 to 1 (before allowing for fiction) to the jib sheet. The pad eye is mounted outboard of the track and two bullet blocks are shackled to the sail (one for each sheet for each side of the boat). The line then passes through a fairlead slide on a track and then aft to a jam or cam cleat. Optionally, the cam cleat could be mounted on the slide as for Fig. 5-11.


FIG. 5-13 - This jib sheeting method gains power through the use of a winch. The power of such a rig is directly dependent on the power of the winch that can be varied to suit. A fairlead on a slide could be used on the track, however, the swivel block reduces friction and chafe. A snubbing winch is shown in this example, although a winch with a handle can be used. The line must be belayed to a cleat beyond the winch. Note that the lead from the swivel block to the winch is fairly horizontal, as it should be.


FIG. 5-14 - This is a typical example of a ratchet winch, which uses a handle, for controlling jib sheets.


FIG. 5-15 - A typical snubbing winch as used for jib sheets on small sailboats. No handle is used.


The sheet used to control the jib must be lead to a point on the boat that affords optimum setting of the jib (if one is used). If a Genoa jib is used, a separate sheet lead must be determined for this sail also. Since the jib sheets are in two parts (one for starboard, and the other for port), a lead point will be located on each side of the boat. In determining the lead points, the designer probably uses a formula similar to that shown in Fig. 5-16, which is at best always an approximation. Because methods used to determine jib sheet leads are approximations, and because no two sails will trim the same, it is best to make the sheet lead point adjustable by using lengths of tracks and sliding fittings attached to them. Another method for determining the jib sheet lead, at least on small boats, is to actually sail the boat with the jib in position and thereby determine the optimum setting in actual use. When the optimum point has been located, mark with a pencil and attach the appropriate fittings to the deck.


FIG. 5-16 - A common method used for locating the jib and Genoa sheet leads is graphically shown. The results are usually acceptable, but it is wise to use tracks so minor variations in sheet lead can be made.



Not all boats use downhauls or boom vangs, but they are used enough to warrant discussion. A DOWNHAUL is merely a line used to haul down on something, usually the tack of the sail, or the boom where the tack of the sail is located (see Fig. 3-12). A boom downhaul fitting or eye is often a part of the sliding gooseneck, to which the downhaul is attached to prevent the gooseneck from sliding up the mast. Once the sail has been hoisted with the halyard and pulled taut to a cleat, the downhaul can be used to gain further tension along the luff of the sail by pulling down and making fast to a cleat. Naturally, a similar downhaul could be used on the jib. A special type of downhaul called a "CUNNINGHAM" requires that the sail have an additional cringle usually located several inches above the tack cringle. The "Cunningham" is usually used on competition boats where more shape control of the sail is desired along the luff, but because of the racing rules, the boom cannot be hauled down below a certain pre-designated point.

A BOOM VANG (also called a "go faster" and "kicking strap") is a device that performs several functions. The boom vang is a tackle arrangement (see Figs. 5-17 and 5-18) connected at one end to the mast near its base, and with the other end preferably about 1/3 the distance of the boom aft of the mast. The boom vang helps take the undesirable "twist" out of the sail on all courses off (or away) from the wind, flattens the mainsail on a tack (sailing in the direction of the wind), and prevents the boom from lifting in case of accidental jibes (the boom moving rapidly from one side to the other when sailing downwind).

rig5-17.jpg rig5-18.jpg

FIG. 5-17 & 5-18 - Two boom vang tackles with fittings. The upper block is attached to the boom, while the lower block is fastened to the mast base or near the mast base on deck. These boom vang tackles could also be used for mainsheet rigs if desired. Fig. 5-17 (left) has a power ratio of 3 to 1. Fig. 5-18 (right) has a power ratio of 4 to 1.


In order to figure a tackle to control a mainsail, for example, you must first know the area of the sail. Once the area of the sail is known, figure the "load" caused by the wind on the sail. In figuring for a mainsail which has the mainsheet lead at the end of the boom, figure wind load by multiplying the sail area by 1.5 lbs. per square foot. If the mainsheet leads to the boom midpoint, multiply the sail area by 3 lbs. per square foot. (For figuring the jib or Genoa, also multiply by 3 lbs.) Actually, these factors are only estimates by rule-of thumb and allow a safety factor in consideration of varying sailing conditions, rig designs, and wind forces up to 20 knots, but the results will usually be close enough.

If, for example, a mainsail has 100 square feet of area, the mainsheet load at the end of the boom would be 100 square feet multiplied by 1.5 lbs. and would equal 150 lbs. Obviously, in order to control this sail it would require 150 lbs. of "pull" at times on the sheet. So to reduce this effort, we devise a tackle. But how many "parts" should be included in the tackle? Again a rule-of-thumb is used which says that most people can pull 30 to 50 lbs. on a line BY HAND. If using a cam cleat on the end of a line, this figure can be increased, say up to 75 lbs. or more for he-man types! But, in most cases, it is good to stick to the 30 to 50 lb. range, if practical.

The ability of a tackle to do work depends on the number of "parts" or lengths of line BETWEEN the blocks as shown in Fig. 5-3. The more parts, the easier will be the job, but consequently the longer will be the length of line AND TIME to move the load or boom a given distance. To determine the effort required on the line when rigged in the tackle, divide the total wind load by the number of parts in the tackle. For example, using our 100 square foot sail, divide the wind load of 150 lbs. by 4 (if we wanted a 4-part tackle) and arrive at 37.5 lbs. of pull required to move the boom or load. However suitable this figure may be, we must DEDUCT a certain amount that will be lost due to friction caused by the sheaves in the blocks, and other factors that take away from our gain in mechanical advantage. Again another rule-of-thumb is used which figures a 10% loss for every sheave used in the tackle. Therefore, with a 4-part tackle which has four sheaves, multiply each sheave by 10% for a total of 40%, which is then multiplied against the total wind load (40% x 150 lbs.) for a total of 60 lbs. lost to friction and other losses. (While the 10% figure is not technically exact, it is close enough to use as a practical short cut, and it does yield conservative results.) To the result (60 lbs.) add 150 lbs. (wind load) for a total load of 210 lbs. Divide this figure by the number of parts in the tackle (4) for a result of 52.5 lbs., or just about the maximum for holding a sheet by hand in a 20 knot wind. If we use a jam cleat to secure the sheet, this tackle will prove sufficient to do the job under just about all conditions short of having to reduce sail area. This example can be used to figure other tackles as well. In summary:

To figure power loss in tackle:

To figure load on end of sheet which crew must handle:

.....deck fittings


"Deck fittings" is a general classification for all hardware used with the running or standing rigging, as well as the spars, even though the fittings may not always be mounted to the deck. Deck fittings may be located on cabin tops, cockpit members, and centerboard trunks as well. There are endless numbers and styles of fittings available, and the number of new fittings and inventions, plus modifications to existing ones, is constantly increasing. We will attempt to describe those which are most generally used in the size sailboats under discussion.


A BLOCK is a wood, metal, or synthetic casing that contains one or more grooved pulleys called sheaves. Blocks are the primary pieces of equipment in the running rigging, and come in a wide variety of sizes and types. Besides adding mechanical advantage to the running rigging, blocks are used to change direction of the line passing through them. Conventional blocks must be attached to something in order to work, and the most common method used is by a shackle that is usually an integral part of the block. Three types of shackles are used; front, side, and swivel shackles. Fig. 6-1 shows the difference between front and side shackles, but the trend is to fit blocks with adjustable shackles which can be mounted either with a front or a side shackle using just one block or with a swivel shackle. A front or side shackle is used to keep the block in one position or plane of reference, whereas a swivel shackle allows the block to turn to any position.

rig6-1a.jpg rig6-1b.jpg
FIG. 6-1 - The anatomy of blocks. Not all blocks have all of the above parts. Some blocks have shackles that swivel or are adjustable to either side or front shackle locations. A block with one sheave is a single block; with two sheaves a double block; etc.


FIG. 6-2 - This drawing shows hardware items and how they function on the boat. Note that all lines used to control various functions of the rig lead to a point convenient to the helmsman.

A BECKET is often fitted to blocks at the opposite end of the shackle. The becket is a fitting on the block onto which a line with an eye, or another fitting such as a hook, can be attached, as in forming a tackle. Some of the common blocks are illustrated in Fig. 6-2.

A FIDDLE BLOCK as shown in Fig. 6-3 contains two sheaves, one above the other with one usually smaller in diameter than the other. It looks like a "fiddle." A fiddle block may have a becket as well as a cam cleat arrangement (see Fig. 6-4) for use with main sheets and boom vangs. A CHEEK BLOCK (see Fig. 6-2) lays flat to its base, with the base being fastened to the deck. The cheek block is commonly used to change direction of a line. SWIVEL DECK BLOCKS (Fig. 6-5) have a base which fastens to the deck and allows the block to assume a near-vertical position capable of swiveling in any direction. A BULLET BLOCK is a single block of small size which usually has no shackle (see Fig. 5-12). The top of the bullet block is usually shaped to attach through the eye of a line, an eye strap, or to a boom bail. A TRAVELER BLOCK is one with two sheaves, one above the other, and with one at right angles to the other (see Fig. 6-2). One sheave is for the traveler, and the other for the mainsheet. No shackle is used. Sometimes two bullet blocks interlocked at the straps can be made to form a traveler block.

When wire rope is used, blocks must be used which are intended for this material. Some blocks are available which have sheaves suitable for use with both rope and wire rope. The sheaves of these blocks have a regular groove for the rope, and a narrower but deeper groove within the regular groove to suit the wire rope.


FIG. 6-3 - A typical example of a fiddle block.


FIG. 6-4 - A fiddle block with a built-in cam cleat which can be used with various mainsheet and boom vang rigs.


FIG. 6-5 - A swivel deck block allows the sheave to turn to the proper direction for the line leading through it.


FIG. 6-6 - The cams of the cam cleat hold the line but it can be quickly released with a flick of the wrist.


FIG. 6-7 - This is the deluxe mainsheet cam cleat which swivels, allows a fairlead to the main sheet and belays the line so it does not have to be hand held.
photo courtesy Schaefer Marine Products


FIG. 6-8 - A swiveling mainsheet cam cleat mounted on a bracket on the daggerboard trunk. The mainsheet passes through the into the cam cleat. The looped wire (right) prevents the line from jumping out of the cleat when released. Note the pin on the daggerboard trunk to "lock" the daggerboard in position.


A CAM CLEAT is a fitting used to belay (halt and secure) a line. The line passes between two serrated cams which allow the line to be pulled through in only one direction. To release the line, it is pulled up and out of the cams. Fig. 6-6 shows a typical cam cleat. Cam cleats often have a fairlead to guide the line into the cams. Regular cam cleats are normally mounted flat to the deck. A cam cleat arrangement is often attached integrally to a fiddle block for adjusting a boom vang or main sheet. A deluxe fitting is a swiveling mainsheet cam cleat (Figs. 6-7 and 6-8) which comes with a block and a fairlead to change direction of the mainsheet, leading it into the cam cleat. The benefit of this fitting is that the helmsman need not hold onto the mainsheet, but it can he released in an instant by giving it a yank upwards. It also swivels so the sheet will be at hand on any tack.


FIG. 6-9 - A selection of tracks and slides. Some are of stamped metal while others are extruded; aluminum, stainless steel, and plastics are common materials used. The slides shown are designed to fit the tracks.


TRACKS are formed metal or plastic rails on which fittings can be attached to allow them to move. A piece of track is used where it is desirable to have the position of the fitting adjustable. Tracks can also be used to attach the sail to the spars in some cases. Tracks are commonly used for the jib and Genoa sheet leads which pass through fittings attached to slides moving on the tracks. These fittings can range from a fairlead slide, or a block on a slide, or even a cam cleat on a slide. Some typical slides and tracks are shown in Fig. 6-9. Tracks are also used for the clew outhaul slide and for sliding goosenecks. When the gooseneck mounts to a slide, a downhaul is used as well to allow for adjustment. Jib and Genoa tracks, and tracks used for travelers should be fitted with stops at the ends to prevent the fittings from sliding off the tracks. In selecting tracks, remember that the fitting to be used must be made to fit the type track being used.


CLEATS (Fig. 3-19) are fittings to which lines are belayed and secured. With small sailboats, a common cleat is a JAM CLEAT. These allow a line to be taken through or turned around the jam cleat in such a manner so that it will not slip free. Jam cleats are commonly used to secure halyards and sheets. Many kinds of patented-type jam mechanisms are also available which are often referred to as "jam cleats" because they perform the same function.

FAIRLEADS are actually any fittings which give a "fair lead" to any line (see Fig. 6-2). Fairleads are usually eye-shaped fittings which minimize or prevent chafing of the line which passes through it. Fair fairlead (left) and leads usually change the direction of the line passing through them as well. As noted previously, a block can be used to change the direction of a line also, thereby making it a type of "fairlead" too. Fairleads can be fixed to the deck, swiveling, or mounted on tracks.

EYES such as PAD EYES, DEAD EYES, and EYE STRAPS are used to secure a line or a fitting to the boat (see Fig. 6-2). Many types are available to fulfill a variety of functions. Pad eyes, when fitted with a shackle, can secure a block to the hull and allow it to adopt the right position for proper sheet lead. Deadeye straps are often used to secure a traveler line or mainsheet to the hull. The traveler or mainsheet is knotted to prevent it from coming through the eyes.


Some comments on winches have been made previously. The variety and type of winches available to the sailor is enormous, but for the small boat sailor, winches usually are restricted to the smaller sizes used to control the jib and Genoa sheets. Winches can be used for the halyards, boom vang, and mainsheets, if desired. On small boats the cost is usually prohibitive, and the extra power gained is not required, as these lines can be handled by the crew or by other means, such as tackles, equally well.


FIG. 6-10 - The rudder is connected to the boat with gudgeons (the fittings on the boat) and pintles (the pin fittings on the rudder). They allow the rudder to swing freely in order to steer the boat


Small sailboats usually have rudders which are called "outboard" rudders because they hang onto the aft end of the boat in full view. Boats which have rudders under the hull and the rudder stock passing through the hull bottom are said to have "inboard" rudders, but these are usually associated with large boats. The ordinary small boat rudder is attached to the boat with fittings that also allow the rudder to pivot or turn. These fittings are called GUDGEONS and PINTLES. These are arranged in pairs, with the gudgeons usually being attached to the boat, and the pintles fastened to the rudder. The pintles are strap-like fittings with the rudder fitting between the straps, and with a pin at the forward edge which fits into the "eye" of the gudgeons (see Fig. 6-10). As with most fittings, many sizes and types are available. Often gudgeons and pintles come in pairs which have a long pintle and a shorter one. These types make it easier to put the rudder on the boat, as the long pintle will be in position first, thereby acting as a guide for the short one. If both pintles are the same length, both must fit into the gudgeons at the same moment, which is frustrating at times, especially when trying to place the rudder in position when afloat. Because many small boat rudders are made of wood, the tendency is for these to float up and out of the gudgeons, of course, making for an immediate loss of steering and much embarrassment. A device called a RUDDER STOP can be used to prevent this from occuring. These are standard marine hardware items very simple in nature.

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FIG. 6-11 - This special factory-made kick-up rudder fitting incorporates the rudder gudgeons and pintles. The fitting mounts to the transom of the boat but allows the rudder to be removed. This fitting is normally used on small boats only.

For small sailboats which land on the beach, it is desirable to have the rudder "kick up" when approaching shallow waters. Special "kick-up" rudder fittings such as shown in Fig. 6-11 are available, which also have the gudgeons and pintles attached as an integral unit, and perform this function. With a little effort, you can make your own "kick-up" rudder similar to the detail shown in Fig. 6-12.


FIG. 6-12 - One method of making a kick-up rudder using wood. When the pin is removed, the rudder will automatically come up when hitting the beach.


FIG. 6-13 - This tiller extension was made by merely cutting the tiller in half at the forward end and fastening it with a bolt. A more convenient type uses a swivel connection in lieu of the bolt for universal action. The line shown is a rope traveler which can be adjusted in length and is secured to the jam cleat on the deck.

The rudder is controlled by a handle called the TILLER. Sometimes the tiller passes through a hole in the transom (back of the boat), but usually it is located above the aft deck area and pivots up and down so the crew can move about easily. The length of the tiller is best determined in actual use, so it should be made longer than necessary. It's much easier to cut off a long tiller than to add length to a short one. A device recommended for easier control, especially when tacking or sailing to windward, is a TILLER EXTENSION or "hiking stick," an example of which is shown in Fig. 6-13. When sailing to windward in a small boat, the boat usually heels considerably and the crew must lean out to windward (or "hike out") to counteract this. In order to hang onto the tiller in this position, an extension is required, fixed to the forward end of the tiller and preferably fitted with a universal-type joint. Naturally, the length of such a unit is best determined in actual use, so it is best to get a long one which can be cut, instead of getting one too short which can't be added to.

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