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Question on a mainsheet block

Mainsheet cam block Or ratchet block


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    8

Nick137

New Member
Hi, I'm a fairly new sailor. I started maybe 3-4 years ago with my father's sunfish he had as a kid and I grew to really enjoy it. I recently bought another sunfish and I would like some sort of mainsheet block to help with lessening the load I have to use when holding the mainsheet rope. I sail on a fairly windy lake and would like to work my way up to sailing on Oneida Lake a very very windy lake based on me going to the beaches there. I have found two options for what I think would work. The first is a mainsheet cam cleat and a ratchet block. I have read around a bit on here and still can't come to an answer on which one I should get. Please if anyone on here could help me out it will be much appreciated.
 

tag

my2fish
Ratchet block is your best option, especially if it will be very windy. The sheaves are grooved to help reduce the line pull that your hands see.
With the other option, you're at risk of the cam cleat keeping the mainsheet set when a wind gust hits and you'd be more likely to capsize.
 

Sailflow

Active Member
What lake do you sail on?

Rachet

 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Remember, there are two popular sizes. I have the larger one (70mm?), but think the small one would be better. (Not having used the smaller block). :oops:
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
Remember, there are two popular sizes. I have the larger one (70mm?)
There are indeed two dinghy-relevant size ranges: 40-45 mm sheave diameter, and 55-60. There are 70 mm+ ratchet blocks, too, but that's getting into keelboat territory :rolleyes: We don't use those even on the Lightning.

I'm not sure about the Sunfish, but in the Laser the 55 mm Ronstan and the 57 mm Harken are probably the most popular. I have an older model 40 mm Ronstan, and have been very happy with it. Few others seem to use the smaller sizes though for some reason.

The block on that Sunfish Direct page looks like the Harken 2135 (if "overall height" is actually the sheave size), and is a good choice.

_
 

Fremont

Active Member
I just bought this one. I had fitted just a 57mm block with no cleat, but the long tacks we had on Lake Superior made me decide to add one with a cam cleat.
 

Nick137

New Member
What lake do you sail on?

Rachet

I sail on lake delta as it's a few minutes from me. The lake has a big main part but then goes to a fairly big and long channel that has all the wind blowing east into it.
 
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Nick137

New Member
I see everyone that has replied to this thread is recommending the ratchet. Can someone give me some links on what I'll need to buy to install it and which ratchet to go with?
 

chris williams

Active Member
I sail on lake delta as it's a few minutes from me. The lake has a big main part but then goes to a fairly big and long channel that has all the wind blowing east into it.
Nick, did your dad sail at Lake Delta YC by any chance? If so, we might know each other. That is where I grew up. The club had an active Sunfish fleet up til the mid 80s.
 

Nick137

New Member
Nick, did your dad sail at Lake Delta YC by any chance? If so, we might know each other. That is where I grew up. The club had an active Sunfish fleet up til the mid 80s.
I think so my grandfather was a member there around that time and lives very close to it.
 

tag

my2fish
That setup looks nice as I can lock the mainsheet at times but the cam isn't in the way. Thanks for the picture!
Yeah my older Sunfish is set up with the Harken 150 cam cleat. Photo is prior to me installing the spring.
C1C0C27B-F947-43C8-BE11-66DB4D07E6A0.jpeg

That cleat doesn’t fit/seat quite as nicely on the rolled edge style cockpits so on my newer Sunfish… I just left it off.
 

Fremont

Active Member
That setup works of course, but a strong gust can flip you before you have a chance to uncleat it. There are two setups with pix in this thread that use cleats but make it much less likely you will flip. Replacement for stock swivel cam cleat
The nice thing about this cleat is that it’s quick and easy to cleat and to uncleat since it rotates towards me and I just pull the sheet up or down. Similar to other dinghies I sail.
 

Weston

Well-Known Member
The nice thing about this cleat is that it’s quick and easy to cleat and to uncleat since it rotates towards me and I just pull the sheet up or down. Similar to other dinghies I sail.
If you keep your hand on the mainsheet, I think it is a rare wind shift that would cause you to capsize due to having the mainsheet cleated. The danger that I've found with a mainsheet block cleat is accidental cleating when coming about. The mainsheet locks the sail in too close to centerline before you have completely repositioned your body as a counterbalance. This is especially true when two people are in the boat.
 

Monsterfish

New Member
Ratchet block is your best option, especially if it will be very windy. The sheaves are grooved to help reduce the line pull that your hands see.
With the other option, you're at risk of the cam cleat keeping the mainsheet set when a wind gust hits and you'd be more likely to capsize.
Yep, the cleat got us at the beginning of this season on Round Lake, NY. We flipped as a strong gust came over and the main sheet was cleated. However, I still did not replace the cleat with the ratchet block. I find it useful when the wind is really low as well as sailing downwind. If the winds are strong I thread the main sheet through the eye but do not run it through the cleat. That way I control it by myself and adjust it accordingly.
 

Monsterfish

New Member
Uncleating your mainsheet from one of those things while hiking out is hard.
Totally agree. When the hull of the boat is tilted and you are hiking, the "simple" lifting up of the mainsheet to release it from the cleat is not that simple and holding it out is cumbersome and not practical...
 

mixmkr

Well-Known Member
I agree....the pic with the cam cleat on centerline, on the lip of the cockpit edge couldn't be in a worse position. The original hook isn't too bad in that location, but unless you're in calm conditions, that centerline cleat is asking to be dumped. Cam cleats positioned on each side, as far outboard as possible to install, with the nuts still on the deck underside, but accessible from the cockpit, would be a much better option.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Cam cleats positioned on each side, as far outboard as possible to install, with the nuts still on the deck underside, but accessible from the cockpit, would be a much better option.
From pictures, I recall that's your setup.

Curious--as the gelcoat specialist on this forum, have your cam cleat locations shown any gelcoat "spider" cracks?

(Every time I drill a hole In my ex-racer Sunfish, spider cracks appear: Perhaps a history of "tacking abuse" is a factor).
 

Monsterfish

New Member
I agree....the pic with the cam cleat on centerline, on the lip of the cockpit edge couldn't be in a worse position. The original hook isn't too bad in that location, but unless you're in calm conditions, that centerline cleat is asking to be dumped. Cam cleats positioned on each side, as far outboard as possible to install, with the nuts still on the deck underside, but accessible from the cockpit, would be a much better option.
Not sure about that. I have a cam cleat on the centerline, on the lip of the cockpit edge cushioned by 3 layers of rubber and hermetically sealed. Works very well. No spider cracks, no pressure on the deck.
 
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mixmkr

Well-Known Member
L&vw....countersink screw holes to prevent stress cracks. Sometimes they're just unavoidable....depending on location. None of my "new" hardware has caused cracking, at this point in time.

My objection to centerline, non swiveling cleats is that you normally have to lean in to uncleat. That sometimes is enough to get flipped...not to mention the extra second or two..which may be too late. Also, if hiking...youre way out of position.
Now...if it's blowing, cleating is "at your risk"...even for short times on "safe" tacks.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
My ex-racer Sunfish is a 1977.

Similar spider-cracks aren't as frequent on my other four Sunfish--FWIW. (So you may be onto something!)

I checked my 1977 and 1978 Sunfish for "soft spots" of the hull. Except where the two bailer surfaces touch, both Sunfish have "soft" surfaces their entire length..
 

Fremont

Active Member
I installed the Nautos 4266 ratchet block with cam cleat. (I can’t get photo bucket to work) and sailed it yesterday in gusty, flukey winds. It made a huge difference! I feel in control of the boat so much more. It made it easier to deal with gusts, a quick tug and it uncleated, and I could quickly cleat to change my grip on the sheet. This block has a ratchet also, so that took off a lot of pressure. Not legal for racing I guess.
The other huge improvement I made was putting a 24” bungee around the tiller. Hook each end in the bridle eyelets and put a single wrap around the tiller. Holds the tiller in place, provides self centering, but easily slides for large rudder movements. This is the best $1.79 I’ve spent in my life.

 
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