Mainsheet Block Vs Cam Cleat

Discussion in 'Sunfish Talk' started by imported_Matt, May 4, 2009.

  1. imported_Matt

    imported_Matt New Member

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    My boat currently has no type of mainsheet system other than the little clip on the lip of the cockpit. I want to be able to go hands free at times. What is the best system to go with? Does the standard harkin 019 or any block for that matter "lock"? Thanks!
     
  2. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    I would go with a Harken ratchet block, the one that comes with the Sunfish Pro does not have a cam cleat with which to lock off the mainsheet. I would not want to have a cleat of any kind for this purpose, if you cleat the mainsheet off you can be sure that act will be followed shortly by a good gust, and by the time you uncleat the sheet you will be swimming. In light conditions you can go hands free by either stepping on the tail of the mainsheet or holding it in your teeth. The ratchet block will minimize the force required to hang onto the mainsheet.
     
  3. Wavedancer

    Wavedancer Upside down? Staff Member

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    I agree with Zeppo. If I want to drink or eat, I just let go of the mainsheet for as long as it takes. And I don't like cleats for another reason: Going upwind, I need to sit and slide around where the cleats are typically located.

    Regarding blocks, if you search the Forum, you will find several fairly recent threads. Nothing wrong with the 'classic' Harken Little Hexaratchet 019 block.

    PS: My 2006 fish came with a Ronstan (ratchet) block.
     
  4. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    Swivel Base with Cam Cleat

    There are times you need to cleat off. If you want to be able to release quickly, you can adjust the pads on the cam cleat to make it fast and easy to disengage. Block is a Harken ratchet block. Swivel base is a Harken 205.

    I have two boats set up this way, and plan to change two more to match.


    [​IMG]
     
  5. fbjru

    fbjru Member

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    I would not recommend any type of cleat that swivels around the main block. You can't properly play the main because those cleats are hard to release. I would recommend just the Harken 019 or equivalent. If you MUST have a cleat mount two on the deck on either side of the mainsheet block
     
  6. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    Not true. You are making a few false assumptions.

    First, it is not true that these are hard to uncleat. You can chose pads to adjust the cam cleat angles to make it as easy or as hard as you want to cleat or uncleat. Pads are included with the purchase, and other types are available to suit your needs. As I have mine set up, I found I did not need to make any changes, I tossed the spare pads into my parts bucket. I have used these on keelboats with their typically higher loads. In any event, it is very easy to release and I like it that way.

    Two, I have no difficulty playing the main, as I don't use the cleat except when I want the sail cleated. You imply that having a cleat means you must use it all the time. In no way does this make it "difficult" to "play the main" unless you foolishly cleat off when it is not appropriate. Do that once, and over you go, and you won't do it again.

    Three, when I want it cleated, I want it cleated--easily, and from any position on the boat. Side mounted cleats are a PITA for mainsails, and are only appropriate for jibs.

    I personally don't like cleats on deck. They are hard to use, relatively speaking, need a fussy angle to engage, and are more difficult than swivel base and cam cleat arrangement, and they require holes to be drilled into the deck,which ruin the appearance of the deck, decrease the resale value of the boat for people who don't like them.

    Finally, a swivel base mainsheet cleat arrangement can be swapped for any other configuration.

    The whole idea of rigging is to set the boat up to be easy to use. When you make blanket statements like yours, without qualification, you confuse those who don't know better. Boats can be rigged to suit the sailor. Sunfishes are cheap boats. It is affordable to put the best hardware on these boats--carbo blocks, swivel bases and stand up ratchet blocks.

    Many people like a single ratchet block and no cleat. That would be my preference, except for the rare times I want to cleat off.

    Because I do like to cleat off occasionally, when grabbing a drink, eating lunch, making adjustments to the rig while under way, for example, I need a cleat. As for the location, that is a matter of preference. If someone wants to ruin their decks with deck mounted cleats, that is their choice.

    Here is one example. With a standard ratchet block. Pads for the cam cleat base, did not require any changes.
    [​IMG]

    Here is one with a carbo stand-up block. Pads for the cam base, did not require any changes. But you can make changes to suit your needs to make it harder or easier to engage/disengage. I found them to be perfect as is.
    [​IMG]

    What a swivel base with ratchet cleat gives you is this: everything a standup ratchet block gives you, plus the option to cleat off and uncleat, from any where on the boat, effortlessly.

    One final point is that you must have the proper length separating the standup block from the base. Here is how mine are rigged. Note I will be swapping the ringy dings for cotter pins. Ringy dings will deform and fail eventually, due to contact with the spring. Cotter pins bent tight with the excess cut off, solve this problem, and also make these hard to steal.

    [​IMG]

    I am picky about how my boats are rigged. I also use oversize carbo blocks on my boom, and a thicker line for easier handling on that one boat. In my experience the Harken 205 coupled by two shackles to a 55mm standup ratchet , carbo or standard block is clearly the best mainsheet system going. I have both types, standard and carbo, and prefer the carbo block because it is light and looks great.
     
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  7. Zeppo

    Zeppo Member

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    This business about mainsheet control systems is one of personal preference, the question that has arisen out of this is, Do the Sunfish Class rules allow for a variety of mainsheet systems? The Sunfish is about a basically rigged as they come, this is good in that it prevents the techies with more money than skill from trying to buy a win. However there are some cheap bits that if they could be added would make things a bit freer running, such as small blocks for the outhaul and cunningham, these are dirt cheap, but are they class legal? There is no point slapping hardware all over the spars and deck if the stuff ain't legal, this just affects the resale of the dinghy as a "Sunfish"
     
  8. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    I don't know anyone who races these boats. Racing seems to be focused with Lasers not Sunfishes in my area. I suspect this is true elsewhere. Also, Sunfish racing seems to be weakly organized as a class. Some clubs have events. Few events are posted except the big ones. I recently wrote the class secretary and asked about qualifying and was referred to the website and, frankly, I could not find any clear guidance on this. I had specific questions. Why would they not give answers or revise the web site to be more clear.

    Every other class I've raced in, was overtly helpful with regards to anything that would improve participation. The Sunfish class doesn't seem to give a rat's ass about being helpful. I turned me off from the idea. I was on the fence about racing Sunfish. Now I'm not. From that perspective, the class is a failure, and it is no wonder the Laser class is doing better.

    I've seem some interesting races listed over on Long Island. That seems to be a strong area for Sunfish competition, and fun too! I wish we had events like the "Around Shelter Island" race over here. Would I participate? Much depends on whether I'm working that weekend or not--I usually work on the weekends. However I might make time if I could use my normal sails and bring along all my boats and a few friends to participate.

    On the Sunfish, most people have colorful, pretty sails and prefer these to racing sails. If I knew of more Connecticut sailors, I'd try to organize some kind of event--sans class legal sails--more of a fun event. I know of a nice venue for a variety of such races. That takes people and boats. There does not seem to be an organization for this.

    So anyway, if you are not racing at the national, regional, or international level, who cares about class legal requirements? Why not put on micro blocks for your Cunningham and Outhaul. If I were you, I'd do it. I have a Cunningham and Outhaul on one of my boats. I'm not sure I see much benefit to those controls. I will however, take your advice and make those changes. Why not make the boat perfect?

    Now, if I were seriously racing I'd have a complete second rig, with a racing sail, set up to comply with racing rules.

    Regarding the mainsheet system. That is easy to take off for resale. I think most people would like a nice mainsheet system. I'd take that over a perfect hull.

    Regarding your interesting question about mainsheet systems with respect to class rules.

    I looked it up, here is what the rules say:

    3.1.1 One single mainsheet block fitting of any type with or without an integral or attached jamming device may be mounted on the deck or cockpit lip.

    So my system, or anyone's system is fine. Choose a simple bronze hook or a fancy swivel system--the choice is yours.
     
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  9. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    Here’s a setup I've found workable.

    Put a ratchet block (your choice) on a small swivel base (any make that fits) by swapping out the bullseye for an eyestrap. The low profile base places the cam cleat well below the mainsheet’s exit from the ratchet block so it helps to avert unintentional cleating when partially hiked out. This works very well for a deck mount setup.

    The cleat’s base plate can even be angled down a little to facilitate release from a moderate hiked out position. Keep in mind the base plate still has to clear the deck in its turning arc so don’t angle it too far. It’s not recommended to cleat the main sheet in heavy air or gusty conditions, though this is a self-correcting tactical error as previously pointed out.

    In competition or on days of strong wind the cam cleat can be turned away, 180 so only the block is used, further reducing the threat of the mainsheet getting hung on the swivel base and cleat.


    BOM (2009 APS catalog)
    Mainsheet Block H019 Price: $57.21
    Swivel Base w/ Carbo-Cam and Bullseye H241 Price: $55.38
    Eyestrap $2
    Spring $2
    Short screws $.80
     

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  10. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    Brilliant idea Wayne!

    Saves some money and I'm sure it works great too.
     
  11. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    Thanks ... but I can't take the credit. The low profile swivel base with a bullseye -or- block -or- ratchet block has been in use by Sunfish sailors for over 30 years.

    Now if you are really cheap and can't seem to kick the habit of cleating when you shouldn't, this is another solution. This is my '78, the boat I lend friends and use for lessons.

    The other picture showing outboard "V" or Clam Cleats is the only setup that you can cleat and un-cleat while fully hiked out ... if it's setup properly ... note the angled risers under the cleats.
     

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  12. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    That is not a bad option. I rather like it.

    How often do you need to cleat off? Not very often.

    It is out of the way, cheap, and the only trade-off is you might have to fuss with it to cleat off and actually look at what you are doing.

    Having the cleat out of the way, is a good thing. Also, it is light.

     
  13. Wayne

    Wayne Member Emeritus

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    I rarely cleat off, my arms and hands are accustom to holding the sheet for extended periods. Not a strong-man thing, more a dicipline you gain with practice. ...and there's always the old stand-bys: leg wrap, denture crunch, butt pinch, toe grab, and foot hold for quick position changes in the cockpit.

    I cleat when I heave-to or when the wind is light ... when I'm sitting down in the cockpit, PFD for a backrest, feet up on the deck, racing the flotsom and Water Striders.
     
  14. NightSailor

    NightSailor Captain

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    Re: Mainshhet Block Vs Cam Cleat

    I have toes of steel myself. Teeth work too, but I don't recall using them on a Sunfish.

    Last year, I found a brand new seat cushion to a powerboat floating around. I use that on light air days and put my butt in the cockpit well--pretty comfy, and it keeps my butt dry.

    One thing I wish I had was a depth sounder. Sunfishes are great for scouting areas that are too shallow for keelboats. I've gone into some places on the highest springs that are impossible to venture any other time. I'd actually like to have a data recorder and use a Sunfish for surveying.
     

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