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Ratchet block with cam

BobMcT

Member
I have a new Sunfish that came with a 57mm ratchet block. I was thinking about replacing with a 57mm ratchet block with cam. In normal use, the ratchet block is great, but I'm tired of holding mainsheet in my teeth to change grip or open the bailer, etc. Anyone had experience with these? Recommend?
 

BobMcT

Member
I'd seen those on the forum, but didn't want to have to change any mounting. I could just swap out the block for one with the cam cleat on it. I was curious as to how well that type functioned. Yes, the Harken ratchet with cam is expensive, but they are really good quality. I'm ok with that if it adds enjoyment to sailing the boat.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
1) Never hold any rope in your teeth, ever. Use your tiller hand for the sheet if you need to do something else with your sheet hand.
2) The issue of using an "integrated" sheet cleat (such as in the Harken 2138) comes up regularly. It doesn't work very well on a Sunfish/Laser -style boat mainly because of the "wobble", meaning the large distance between the cleating and uncleating positions as the block (and the cleat with it) moves vertically. It's also hard (maybe impossible) to find a cleat angle that would work in all situations.
3) If you still want cleats without changing the ratchet block attachment, you have to go for one on each side deck. On a Sunfish you may need some risers under them.

_
 

BobMcT

Member
On my 1980s Sunfish, I replaced the original fairlead with a swivel cam cleat like one below. They didn't use blocks on them like today. I really liked it and didn't have a problem with it as it was easy to release or use without locking. I like having a ratchet block on my new one, but do miss having a cam to use occasionally. I would assume you could use the block easily without locking in cam. I was hoping there was someone on the forum that has installed a 57mm ratchet block with cam. The Harken 2138 is the one I was looking at. I've found it for under $150. Expensive, but even not using the cam, it's a better block than the one that came with the boat.
SUN-91063-228x228.jpg
 

Weston

Well-Known Member
On my 1980s Sunfish, I replaced the original fairlead with a swivel cam cleat like one below. They didn't use blocks on them like today. I really liked it and didn't have a problem with it as it was easy to release or use without locking. I like having a ratchet block on my new one, but do miss having a cam to use occasionally. I would assume you could use the block easily without locking in cam. I was hoping there was someone on the forum that has installed a 57mm ratchet block with cam. The Harken 2138 is the one I was looking at. I've found it for under $150. Expensive, but even not using the cam, it's a better block than the one that came with the boat.
View attachment 54114
My first upgrade on my '71 ("Ruby") was to add the above swiveling cam cleat that you show above.
A year later I replaced it with a 57mm ratchet block.
Like you, I found there were times I wanted to cleat. I tested a ratchet block with an adjustable cam cleat (similar to the Harken 2138 you mentioned in your earlier post) and found there were times when tacking that the cleat would engage unexpectedly resulting in a capsize or near capsize.

So when I replaced Ruby with a '77 (Sevens), I settled on the 57mm ratchet block (mounted on the hockey puck stand) with 2 deck mounted clam cleats with risers. The clam cleats don't accidentally cleat but still give me a place to cleat off the mainsheet when the wind is not too crazy and I want to take it easy or have a free hand to adjust the outhaul or cunningham. Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 12.08.33 AM.png

Similarly, my '76 Super Sunfish is rigged with deck cleats for the traveller, but when I rig it with a standard Sunfish lateen sail, I use those deck cleats. That's what's in this picture:
Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 12.02.58 AM.png


... a lot of words and pictures for me to just end up agreeing with LaLi's recommendation #3. :)
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
On my 1980s Sunfish, I replaced the original fairlead with a swivel cam cleat like one below. They didn't use blocks on them like today.
The Harken 240 is actually fine in the sense that the cleat doesn't move up and down when using it.

I was hoping there was someone on the forum that has installed a 57mm ratchet block with cam.
Andyatos was using, and arguing for one a couple years ago here. Watching his own sailing video though, I was pretty convinced that it's not a good solution. The angle of the sheet between the cleating and uncleating directions looked impractically large (meaning, hard/impossible to use in a hiking position). But he might join this discussion himself to tell more.

If you're buying an H 2138 anyway, I think you should try it in the upward-cleating mode (as I believe it's supplied) with the cleat arms swung way up, closer to vertical than horizontal. You might find an angle where you can play the sheet freely while hiking, cleat it while sitting up, and still not unintentionally cleat it when pulling upward while going downwind. Maybe.

_
 
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andyatos

Well-Known Member
Andyatos was using, and arguing for one a couple years ago here. Watching his own sailing video though, I was pretty convinced that it's not a good solution.
I find it fascinating that Lali has left out of his posts on this subject of how much I like the Harking 2138 that he has never actually used one. But I have to say my favorite quote of his on this subject is, "I'm pretty sure the cleat does the wrong thing at the wrong time...".

"Pretty sure" Lali? So, this is based on personal experience with the hardware in question, correct? Oh no, that's right... you've never used one.

But not to worry Lali, I'm just horsing around with you. :cool: You are truly a veritable walking encyclopedia of all things sailing and are also a tremendous and valuable asset to this and other forums. I mean that sincerely. :)

So let's base this discussion on some personal experience. Here we go. Again.

I became aware of the Harken 2138 when another forum member years ago shared how much he liked it after making adjustments to it. I experienced the same thing. Which was at first I didn't like it much but after adding some of my own ideas and fine tuning the angle that the cam cleat has relative to the block and to the sailor, it worked great. As I've said before, I now can't imagine not having this block and cam cleat combo. Here's what I did to fine tune the 2138.

The first was matching what I saw in the other sailor's photo of the Harken 2138. That is, flipping the cam cleat so it faces up and removing the fairlead. Here's Gregory Matous' original post.

Next I added 2 springs between the deck and the bottom of the block. This was to reduce the "wobble" factor that Lali talks about. Another important factor is the angle that the cam cleat has to the direction of pull of the main sheet from the sailor. If that angle is too high, cleating the mainsheet in the cam cleat is very easy but uncleating takes a very dramatic vertical pull. If that angle is too low, uncleating is very easy but cleating requires a motion where you are pulling way down towards the floor of the cockpit.

That's why the block and cam cleat combo comes with a wide range of adjustment for the cam cleat angle. Once you find the sweet spot in between these two extremes, cleating and uncleating is a snap. The further away you are from the block, the more up or down motion you need to make but I have not found this to be a problem at all. Even when sitting as far back on the stern as I can, cleating and uncleating is not a problem. The greatest factor that assists with this is the stiffness of what ever it is that is holding the block and cam cleat vertical. I my case, it's two springs.

Another element is the direction of pull that the main sheet coming from the forward sheave on the boom has on the forward side (bow side) of the block. The stock position of this forward sheave on the boom tends to push the cam cleat side of the block downward. The included video below shows what I did to eliminate this tendency.

I've sailed with this block extensively in a wide range of conditions. Sitting in the stern away from the block, sitting well forward, ghosting in super light air and finessing is very strong winds. And I'm still loving the Harkin 2138 (I've got them on 3 boats). For example, in just one of the locations I've sailed with it, we do a 6+ mile run up the Russian River where most of the sailing is running. And there's times and parts of the river where it's scary windy. As in gusty, death roll windy. While running I sail those sections with the mainsheet cleated almost exclusively while sitting way back because of how easy it is to uncleat the 2138. And yes, when a huge, powerful cats paw comes swirling up the river behind me, I uncleat the main sheet, let the blast pass then cleat it again.

On the return leg down the river and upwind, I also spend a large amount of the time with the main sheet cleated. Again because of how reliably and quickly I can uncleat when I need to. Here's some video where I show the adjustments I've made.

At 8 minutes 24 seconds in this video there's footage of me sailing back down the river on the upwind leg. It's a windier section so I've got the sail depowered some with my adjustable outhaul and cunningham as well as sailing sheeted out a bit. Notice how I'm sailing this section with the main sheet cleated in the Harking 2138. Why? Because I trust the reliability of how quickly I can uncleat it. I also have the tail of the mainsheet sitting on the deck right next to my leg where I can quickly get to it if I need to.

The Harken 2138 took some tinkering and adjustment but I can't imagine sailing without it.

Cheers,

- Andy
 

BobMcT

Member
Andy, I really appreciate your posting a detailed experience you had with the Harken 2138. I didn't think about the angle coming off the boom. When I have some time I need to look at current angle and possibility of moving boom block. Obviously this is a lot different than having the swivel cam cleat that although it swivels, it doesn't change angle like one mounted on the block itself. I do miss the cam cleat of my old Sunfish, but like the ratchet block on my new one and don't think I want to give that up.

Once you got the angle from the boom you liked, was it easy to sail using the ratchet block and not getting locked in cleat? Your video showed you tacking and leaving it locked.

Again, thanks for an alternative viewpoint.

Bob

Edit add: After writing post I looked at my 2022 Sunfish and it appears the boom block is a lot further forward that the one on your boom. It's a LOT closer to downward to the block, maybe just a little less than you mod. I wonder if that's enough to make the 2138 work ok.
 
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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Edit add: After writing post I looked at my 2022 Sunfish and it appears the boom block is a lot further forward that the one on your boom. It's a LOT closer to downward to the block, maybe just a little less than you mod. I wonder if that's enough to make the 2138 work ok.
[/QUOTE]
I haven’t watched the video, but the boom blocks apparent different location could be because the two of you might have the gooseneck in very different locations.
 

BobMcT

Member
Good point. I noticed that his boom was marked and he was running on about 17". I'm probably not more than an inch off that (18"). I plan to check the angle and measurements a lot closer next time I take the boat out.
 

Weston

Well-Known Member
I haven’t watched the video, but the boom blocks apparent different location could be because the two of you might have the gooseneck in very different locations.
Beldar, I have seen a lot of inconsistency, as to where the boom blocks are mounted on sunfishes over the years. I have had a 66, 71, 76, and a 77. The forward boom block on the older Sunfishes (who am I kidding, these are all old, lol) … The forward boom block on the oldest of my Sunfishes was further back, closer to the stern when compared to the newer Sunfishes that I’ve owned. When I saw AndyAtos’ videos, I moved the forward boom blocks forward to get a better angle on the ratchet block. I found that improved my experience.
 

Dickhogg

Active Member
I'm tired holding mainsheet in my teeth to change grip or open the bailer, etc
I don't understand why you would ever need to hold a sheet with your teeth. The way I learnt to sail I always have the sheet in hand. I have deck cleats, I don't use them very often, but if I do I still keep the sheet in my hand. Probably the only time I would let go of it is if I am stopped and the sail is unpowered.
 

BobMcT

Member
I don't understand why you would ever need to hold a sheet with your teeth. The way I learnt to sail I always have the sheet in hand. I have deck cleats, I don't use them very often, but if I do I still keep the sheet in my hand. Probably the only time I would let go of it is if I am stopped and the sail is unpowered.
I find myself doing that occasionally when I need to take in the mainsheet. I did it as a kid also. It was easier and faster than moving the sheet to the hand holding the tiller so I could take in more. On my 80s Sunfish I added the swivel jam cleat which I loved. I didn't have a ratchet block until this new Sunfish. It's great but still need a way to get a hand free sometimes.
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
Try to minimize holding the sheet with your teeth; your dentist will approve.
The proper procedure is to take the sheet to your tiller hand when you need a free hand.

On the other hand, I remember a video moment where Laser great Robert Scheidt did use his teeth to hold the sheet for a moment.
 
When I learned to sail you were taught to sheet with your teeth. I’ll never change - it’s the best way to add a “3rd hand.” However, I now have a full set of dentures. While I usually use poly grip, I’d I know I’ll be sailing I use the g-flex West epoxy - so far my choppers have never come loose using that stuff.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Hey Bob McT, How's Mary Esther doing? And by new boat do you mean new-new boat?

That Harken 2138 will work if you sail as a double, but not if you sail as a single and like to stand.

1957 Sunfish Ad.jpg

Skipper now uses the crook of her knee(s) for sheeting in.

One thing with the Bullseye Swivel Base with 150 Cam-Matic, on high wind days you can take advantage of just the bullseye fairlead by running the sheet backwards through the fairlead, skip the cleat altogether. The same thing could be done with the Ratchet Block - Swivel, Cam Cleat.

 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
After writing post I looked at my 2022 Sunfish and it appears the boom block is a lot further forward that the one on your boom. It's a LOT closer to downward to the block, maybe just a little less than you mod. I wonder if that's enough to make the 2138 work ok.
I think it probably would be ok. The good part is, you can just adjust the angle of the cam cleat to compensate for how much the main sheet that's coming down from the forward pulley on the boom is forcing the cam cleat side of the block downward.

Tinker with that cam cleat angle adjustment a lot until you find the sweet spot that's right for you. I encourage you to bring a screwdriver with you while you are sailing and adjust it during your sail. I also suggest that you explore the range of cam cleat angle that makes it difficult to cleat or uncleat the main sheet. Just make sure you do this in light winds or when you are close to the block. That way you won't get surprised some time when you are further away from the block and it takes you several yanks to uncleat because you haven't got your adjustment just right yet. :eek:

I think it's better in the beginning to have the cam in a position where it's a little bit harder to cleat it but really easy to uncleat it. Once you get used to this Harkin, you can raise cam cleat a bit so it's easier to cleat. :)

Cheers,

- Andy
 

BobMcT

Member
Definitely referring to “newest” boat. Mary Esther is fine although not fun sailing in the Sound with northerly winds - especially in the Narrows. I may hold off trying a ratchet block with cam until Spring. In the meantime, I’ll practice moving sheet to tiller hand. I can’t promise I’ll never use the teeth cam.
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Once you got the angle from the boom you liked, was it easy to sail using the ratchet block and not getting locked in cleat? Your video showed you tacking and leaving it locked.
Actually, before I moved the pulley on the boom forward to right over the block, the main sheet was causing the cam cleat side of the Harkin (the stern side) to be pushed downward towards the cockpit floor. So, this made it really easy to uncleat but hard to cleat. Moving the boom pulley forward brought the Harkin more upright when loaded by the main sheet.

Once you have the block and cam cleat adjusted to where you know that you are going to be able to uncleat in almost any situation, you can then sail with it locked but it's important to have the tail of the mainsheet nearby so that if you have to quickly uncleat you just grab the mainsheet tail next to (or even on top of) your leg and give it a yank.

When the conditions are acceptable, I will frequently leave the mainsheet cleated when I tack and just bring the tail of the mainsheet across the boat with me. I'm not suggesting you do this but I haven't taken an unscheduled swim with this approach. Yet! :cool:

Best,

- Andy
 

norcalsail

Well-Known Member
Andy and I set up my Sunfish with the Harken cleated block. The way it's angled down makes it easy to uncleat even when hiked out. I've posted photos of it here when the subject comes up. Under the right conditions, I also like to leave it cleated when I tack, as Andy showed me. It works great.
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
When I learned to sail you were taught to sheet with your teeth. I’ll never change - it’s the best way to add a “3rd hand.” However, I now have a full set of dentures. While I usually use poly grip, I’d I know I’ll be sailing I use the g-flex West epoxy - so far my choppers have never come loose using that stuff.
Reading this actually made me laugh out loud.

I think that Jeff Scott, who's videos I loved watching while he was producing them, has to be the King of Teeth Cleating. Check out his videos. Here's one where he gets right to it. :D

- Andy
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
I think that Jeff Scott, who's videos I loved watching while he was producing them, has to be the King of Teeth Cleating. Check out his videos. Here's one where he gets right to it. :D
Oh my, that guy could really use some coaching :confused: It looks like his disturbingly extensive teeth cleating derives from his weird way to hold the extension, which makes it hard to use that tiller hand for the sheet. If he's not willing to change his steering technique, at least he should fit a pair of deck cleats...

Repeat, never hold any line in your teeth. Ever.

Also, never wear sandals on a sailboat! If you've tried it, you know why.

_
 

Weston

Well-Known Member
Here's another twist on the ratchet-with-cam-cleat story...

I've got a Super Sunfish that I also like to rig as a standard Sunfish. Currently, I have a Harken 'hockey puck' mount that doesn't need any springs to hold the mainsheet block up. This makes it easy for me to swap out the fiddle block w/becket that the Super Sunfish requires with the Harken ratchet block that I use for the Sunfish. I am toying with the idea of getting a fiddle block that has a 57mm ratchet block, becket, and cam cleat, so that I can use it for both the Super Sunfish rig and the Std. Sunfish rig interchangeably. Obviously when using it on the Std. Sunfish rig, I'd only feed the mainsheet through the ratchet block and cam cleat. But when rigged for the Super sunfish, the mainsheet would use the becket, the small block and the ratchet block. I'm looking at the following options:
  • Viadana 57mm fiddle block with ratchet, becket and cam cleat. link
  • Nautos 92703 (link)
  • Harken 2676 (link)
The photos show what I have today, rigged for both the Super and Std Sunfish rigs.

Any thoughts?

IMG_0353.jpg
 

Attachments

LVW

Active Member
It would save having to buy a cam cleat, but won't you find its slightly added bulk annoying--when it's not needed--on the Sunfish rig? :oops:
 

Weston

Well-Known Member
It would save having to buy a cam cleat, but won't you find its slightly added bulk annoying--when it's not needed--on the Sunfish rig? :oops:
Good point. It is possible the top of the fiddle block might want to catch the mainsheet at an inopportune time (when using it with a standard Sunfish rig). However, I think I will appreciate the holding power of the ratchet block when rigged with the Super sail. The fiddle block gives a 5:1 assist, but in heavy winds it is tiring to hold on to. That's when the ratchet on the fiddle block would be nice.
 

BobMcT

Member
I went sailing for a few hours today and now throughly convinced I have to have a cam cleat. I like the ratchet block but my 80s Sunfish with the swivel cam cleat and no ratchet was far more pleasant to sail. Contrary to some members opinions, there are times I absolutely will briefly hold mainsheet with my teeth to quickly get a better grip, close bailer, etc. I stopped that when I added the swivel cam cleat to my older Sunfish as it was no longer necessary. Plus, there are times you can leave it cleated and relax - maybe even drink a beer.

I noticed today that the block on my boom is already in the perfect position i.e. going directly down to the ratchet block. So, I plan to add the 2138 Harken ratchet block with cam cleat to my boat. The fact that the cam angle can be adjusted so it is easy to release makes it a no brainer. Also, I don't have to drill any holes or add any other hardware. Plus, the Harken Carbo Ratchet is much better than the Nautos that came with my new boat.

I really appreciate all the input on this thread. I've read all and weighed responses to my preferences. Thanks again for all the input.
 

BobMcT

Member
Reading this actually made me laugh out loud.

I think that Jeff Scott, who's videos I loved watching while he was producing them, has to be the King of Teeth Cleating. Check out his videos. Here's one where he gets right to it. :D

- Andy
Actually, before I moved the pulley on the boom forward to right over the block, the main sheet was causing the cam cleat side of the Harkin (the stern side) to be pushed downward towards the cockpit floor. So, this made it really easy to uncleat but hard to cleat. Moving the boom pulley forward brought the Harkin more upright when loaded by the main sheet.

Once you have the block and cam cleat adjusted to where you know that you are going to be able to uncleat in almost any situation, you can then sail with it locked but it's important to have the tail of the mainsheet nearby so that if you have to quickly uncleat you just grab the mainsheet tail next to (or even on top of) your leg and give it a yank.

When the conditions are acceptable, I will frequently leave the mainsheet cleated when I tack and just bring the tail of the mainsheet across the boat with me. I'm not suggesting you do this but I haven't taken an unscheduled swim with this approach. Yet! :cool:

Best,

- Andy
Andy, any chance you could post a pic of the cam cleat position you found worked the best for you. It might be good to have a starting point and realized due to boom block, etc., my position might have to be different. I was just wondering how far from where it came originally you needed to move it.
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Andy, any chance you could post a pic of the cam cleat position you found worked the best for you. It might be good to have a starting point and realized due to boom block, etc., my position might have to be different. I was just wondering how far from where it came originally you needed to move it.
Here's a couple of pictures of my Harken 2138 today. I haven't changed the angle of the cam cleat in years.

Notice the block has 2 springs supporting it. One of smaller diameter positioned inside the larger outer one. Also notice two black loops of line holding the cockpit side of the outer spring in place.

I'll talk about those two points and "moving the forward boom sheave position" this weekend.

Cheers,

- Andy1-side.png2-rear.png
 

andyatos

Well-Known Member
Andy, didn’t realize you turned the cam cleat upside down from how it comes.
View attachment 54198
Yup. In the first photo of the Harken 2138 I ever saw, I noticed the person who posted about the block that he liked so much had flipped the cam cleat over. And removed the fairlead. There's all kinds of little things that need to be done to get it to perform. I call it the, "Frankenstein Block".

- Andy
 
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