ratchet block/cam cleat /swivel base diagram?

I agree, Fred, that simpler is always better. But I'm not sure that tying a slip knot with two hands addresses the "need 3 hands" problem (never was very good at the surgeon's one-handed knot). ;) Wrapping the sheet's OK, but I had in mind something really quick, like when I have to snag my hat that went into the water on the last tack!

Wayne, this was a bit of a slog, but after running into the first obstacle, it was clear this wasn't going to be straightforward. Options were either to bail and try to return the swivel base (good luck) or go for "the whole enchilada". Couldn't help myself. I just had to see if it was possible! It is possible, just not very smart! :)
From a purely simplistic standpoint, what's the downside of forgoing the cam cleat/swivel arrangement and just using one stbd- and one port-mounted clam cleat at the front edge of the cockpit? Is it the clutter? The need to drill and seal four more holes? The reach to the front of the cockpit when seated at the rear? It just seems much easier and cheaper and would work fine for those instances where you temporariliy need that third hand.


Member Emeritus
From a purely simplistic standpoint, what's the downside of forgoing the cam cleat/swivel arrangement and just using one stbd- and one port-mounted clam cleat at the front edge of the cockpit? Is it the clutter?
It's all very subjective... All the setups work, each has its pros & cons. You choose what suits your sailing style.

Sailors with experience tend to know just what they want. New sailors want the "best" tricked out boat without first establishing a personal style, or in the case of this thread, an attempt is made to combine attributes ... directional access, quick cleating, avoidance of accidental cleating. A minor debate seems to ensue when inputs converge from all the different perspectives.

For me, outboard cleats get in my way ... I sometimes want to sit in that spot.



Active Member
After reading this thread three years after it was a hot topic, and already having the major parts I thought I'd give this a try. The biggest unsolved problem seemed to be the top of cam fairlead. Without it no swiveling, but if its installed it is seriously in the way. To get around that I fashioned a bail out of nickle copper brake pipe, which is very malleable, that is roughly 2 inches tall. I made the angle block under the cam from 3/4 mahogany decking scraps and added another small block in front of the cam to keep the block from hitting the cam. I'm not sure its needed but I can remove it after testing next spring. I also put the next size smaller shackle on the block to lower it about 1/4 inch.
side view.jpg bail.jpg
Wow, blast from the past! Nice to respond to a thread that includes sage advice from Wayne...

You know, after I went through this exercise, I discovered that I almost never cleat anyway, so it really wasn't necessary, but was fun working out the problem. If anything, I'd probably do what tag did and just put a cam where the "hook" is now and call it good. However, I've already drilled the holes for the swivel and being the OCD kind of guy I am, I'd feel compelled to fill them and try to make it look like they were never there (unlikely at my skill level). But I'm thinking about painting the deck anyway, so maybe that's what I'll do.

I think this is exactly what Wayne was talking about in his post. Before we know what we need, we try to get what we want. I'm not sure I need much more than a ratchet block (the hook's pretty lame IMHO) and maybe a cam cleat where the hook was...

Sail on!


Active Member
As I said, I'll report back on this after I try it out next year. If it doesn't work well or I don't like it, I can go back to either the original swivel cam or the block, no damage was done to either of them to build this. I didn't bend the cam bracket and didn't drill into or scratch the deck. If the bail is not the right height I can make a new one and install it in 20 minutes. The information by the many posters in this thread helped a great deal.


Active Member
I finally took the Sunfish out for a sail in Buzzards Bay yestarday. The combination ratchet block & swivel cam worked very well and needs no modification. (see post 67 above) The tall bail kept the block and cam properly oriented. The primary benefit was one handed sheeting in. It took quite a bit of effort to figure this out so I'm not sure the benefit to effort ratio makes it something I'd recommend for people to try but I'll certainly keep it on the boat.