Ratchet Block

Thread starter #1
New Sunfish owner. My sunfish came with just a simple swivel block for the mainsheet, in front of the cockpit. It can be difficult to pull in the sail sometimes, and I was wondering if a ratchet block would be worth it? At $75 or so. Also would a block like that be able to just be set to hold the sail when you are heading on a course with stable winds?
 
#2
this is my preferred setup (shown on a Minifish, but the same block is used on a Sunfish). the H150 cam cleat can be installed the lip of the cockpit in your Sunfish, if you want an option to cleat the mainsheet, but preferably you should only use the cleat in lighter winds, as you otherwise lose the ability to spill the sail if hit with a big gust of wind. for my newer Sunfish, I didn't bother adding the cleat.

a ratcheting block like the one shown has grooved surfaces on the inside of the sheave that grip the mainsheet, and effectively reduce the load that your hands see... it has "holding power", so to speak. the ratchet block is a definite improvement from a free spinning simple block.

 
#4
Realize the ratchet block will not make pulling in easier, but rather reduce the amount of force to HOLD the main sheet versus free wheeling thru a typical block. A ratchet will not cleat the sheet so you can let go (unlike a self tailing winch). Only create friction to reduce the opposing load. You will need a cleat of some sort to free your hands....another discussion when or if that is advised
 
#6
No.... it's not tough if you can put a nut on a bolt with a washer. ...you'll need access behind the cleat. I personally don't care for the cleat that way, as if you're hiking out, you won't reach it...or leaning in may contribute to a capsize if you're already healing an amount. Don't cleat it in those winds, you say?.... eh?
On one of my fishes, I have this setup....since replaced with a ratchet block. I actually like the hook. My knees are fine, thank you.
 

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#7
I like the idea of using the cleat to take a quick break but tend to want more constant control of the mainsail. Might not use one too much and not sure if it would be worth adding one. I like mixmkr's photo, the old Sunfish in Wisconsin has a hook like that.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#8
With a swiveling cam cleat and ratchet block, in gusting winds, I wrap several turns of mainsheet around my hand. (Bypassing the cam cleat). Depending on the "hit", I'll release one, two, or all :eek: of the turns. In moderate winds, I'll cleat the mainsheet, while keeping the unstressed line in hand; in my case, this relieves cramping of the hands. You should possess quick reaction time when using the cleat.

The way it's constructed, a ratchet block (by itself) relieves some strain—either by increasing the radius and/or small nicks to slow the line through the block. My most-sailed Sunfishes have both cleat and ratchet block on a swivel, and miss those dearly when sailing a different Sunfish.

I say, spend the money! :cool:

(And this advise comes from a cheapskate). :D

.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#9
Ratchet blocks are a step up from free running blocks. If your boat still has the sheet hook you can use that as well.

If you are going to change the set up and want to "set to hold the sail when you are heading on a course with stable winds" then you might consider a swivel cam cleat. They were on boats for many years and are around $70 new, also show up on ebay from time to time. One trick for those on heavy wind days is to run the sheet through the opposite way, so it stays clear of the cam cleat and will not jam.

Swivel Cam Cleat Installation

Swivel Cam Cleat

Cheers
Kent and Skipper
 
#12
Hey Norcalsail, nice avatar photo :)

What did your new boat come with? Ratchet block, recular block, sheet hook?

K
The avatar of the boat is good but the deck is not such a great backdrop! I think mine has a ratchet block as it can be locked with an off/on switch but no spring like what is shown above. I remember the Laser in Wisconsin has a cleat that I liked. Wish I had pulled that thing out this last visit...
 
#13
Ratchet blocks are a step up from free running blocks. If your boat still has the sheet hook you can use that as well.

If you are going to change the set up and want to "set to hold the sail when you are heading on a course with stable winds" then you might consider a swivel cam cleat. They were on boats for many years and are around $70 new, also show up on ebay from time to time. One trick for those on heavy wind days is to run the sheet through the opposite way, so it stays clear of the cam cleat and will not jam.

Swivel Cam Cleat Installation

Swivel Cam Cleat

Cheers
Kent and Skipper
The lake in Wisconsin where I have my only Sunfish sailing experience is a good sized lake and great sailing, boating and swimming. On larger lakes, I may really want a cleat to hold a course. Lake Tahoe is about four hours from here and I would really like to sail there! Thanks for the installation vid. I am pretty handy-quite a bit of construction experience but hesitate to want to do anything like drill into the hull. I'll check it out now! Phil 20180722_183138_resized_1.jpg 20180722_183138_resized_1.jpg
 
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#14
The picture from the dock shows about halfway across the lake. The two docks to the east are neighbors that have been there close to 100 years. I have a picture of a bald eagle sitting next to the stone wall to the left. A beautiful place, loons calling in the early morning... land and housing soooo much cheaper. I love northern California for the lakes rivers and mountains but could end up here. The weather is tougher of course but the mariarch of the family next door has lived here her whole life and she is in her nineties!
 
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