Taming the halyard's long tail

  • 13 Apr 2021 15:28
    Reply # 10307777 on 10305133

    Thanks, everyone, for setting me straight. I cheerfully acknowledge my ignorance and inexperience and setting out (ultimately boneheaded) ideas like this is helping me learn.

  • 13 Apr 2021 09:30
    Reply # 10306627 on 10305133
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    using the tail of the halyard as a downhaul is a good idea, generally. I used that on the jib of a Bermudan rig I had, to pin it down on deck without having to go forward. It could probably also be useful on the mainsail of some boats. However, these are one-part halyards.

    The devil is in the details  -  read friction.
    That’s one reason why I only use 3-part purchase on the sheet of my rigs. It saves spaghetti in the cockpit, and the reduced friction (compared to 5-part sheet) allows the sail to swing out in very light winds. I have used two main ways of taming the tail of the halyards of my boat. On my first junk, I coiled it, clockwise. When the sail was to be reefed or furled, I placed the coil over an inverted bucket to let the rope uncoil in anti-clockwise direction. It worked, kind of, but was not bulletproof. The bulletproof method has been to stuff the rope into a bag (..do not coil the rope first, and then stow it...). I have also seen JR halyards being rolled up on reels, sitting on the pushpit. With the halyard out of the way, I let the sheet lie around on the cockpit floor. Only when the sailtrip is over do I stow that in a bag and dump it into the cockpit locker.

    Sooo, avoiding friction has highest priority on my boats. One must keep an eagle eye on any friction sources when planning where the ropes are to go.

    Not rocket science, really, but still important.


    Last modified: 13 Apr 2021 16:09 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 13 Apr 2021 09:16
    Reply # 10306596 on 10305133

    I use these for all my tails which are flaked down out of the way.

  • 13 Apr 2021 07:50
    Reply # 10306291 on 10305133

    Doug, your downhaul would add an enormous amount of friction, making even more parts necessary in the halyard tackle. It's not very effective as a downhaul, either. Whenever I've tried combining downhauls by spans or tackles, I've given up and gone back to one downhaul per batten.

    A better approach to minimising the halyard tail length is to minimise the number of parts in the halyard: using a 3:l halyard and adding a self tailing winch when the load gets too great for hand hauling is, I find, the best all-round compromise. 

    But please, rig it and take it to sea, then come back and report. I think you'll find that ideas that sound good ashore quickly dissolve when they come into contact with seawater ;-) 

    Last modified: 13 Apr 2021 07:56 | Anonymous member
  • 13 Apr 2021 05:44
    Reply # 10305794 on 10305133

    Some good lateral thinking but sounds quite complex to me. By the time 'Footprints' sail was fully hoisted we had about 40 meters of halyard tail. I used to just coil it and lay it on the deck below the halyard winch, with the bitter end on the bottom. When the sail was dropped the halyard seemed to just lift itself quite well a coil at a time. I never seemed to need a downhaul to bring the sail down. Having a heavy yard helped with that. I have noticed though that simply flaking a halyard, or the mainsheet tail into a bag or bin, rather than coiling it down, seems to help the line pull back out without tangling.

  • 12 Apr 2021 23:55
    Message # 10305133

    I have an idea that might tame the great lengths of halyard that accumulate in the cockpit when a junk sail is raised.

    If the tail of the halyard is attached to/becomes the tail of/ a multipurchase downhaul, almost all the halyard can be taken up in the multiple downhaul loops attached to the bare battens of a SJR where they pass the mast. With (for example) an 8-panel sail the end of the downhaul is attached to the bottom batten/boom (8), passes under a block at the deck, goes up to a block on batten 7, down to the deck again, up to batten 5, deck, 3, deck, yard, deck. The last downward pass from the yard goes under one more block and the downhaul tail becomes the halyard tail; there is no bitter end to either line. For 8 battens at 5ft spacing and a 5:1 halyard purchase, this reduces the halyard tails from 200 ft of loose end to a loop of at most 45ft, including a bit of margin to have some slack at the tightest point reached in mid-haul.

    Only this loop of halyard/downhaul tail needs to be managed at the helm station. When hoisting the sail, the downhaul camcleat needs to be released so that the yard can lift the sail, but conversely if the halyard is released its tail can pull more line from the downhaul through that camcleat without the helmsman needing to take any action. This allows an emergency stop just by releasing the halyard's camcleat.

    For reefing, the halyard is paid out and the downhaul pulled in, pulling every other batten down until it lands in the sail catcher. Once a batten lands, the downhaul tail supply rate drops relative to the halyard's constant tail demand, and the loop of excess cord shrinks. When the yard lands in the sailcatcher, only the extra loop of tail remains. Thus there is never a huge inventory of cordage to be stowed at the helm. The total number of downhauls on the battens can be selected to provide a reasonable (although varying) match to the amount of halyard tail that is freed up when the yard is lifted. By threading the downhaul through the battens' blocks from the bottom up, as each batten lands the downhaul no longer needs to move relative to it and can't get bound up to prevent hauling on the still-aloft battens.

    If the downhaul is tightened before gybing, it should serve as a fan-up preventer by holding the idle battens down. The bottom batten/boom can be supported by a collar around the mast, no mast lift is needed, and the boom can be as close to the deck as desired. No allowance should be needed for a vang since the downhaul and the offcenter weight of the sail will hold the boom down against the collar, and the entire sail forward against the tight-fitting batten parrels.

    Last modified: 13 Apr 2021 03:06 | Anonymous member
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