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To Mast Cleat or Not To Mast Cleat…

…that is the question!

Many threads have brought up the option of adding a mast cleat, but it may be good to have its own thread to discuss the pros and cons of adding one if your Sunfish doesn’t already have one for those weighing this option.
 
From what I’ve been seeing so far in threads, it seems that…
Pros:
- Can take stress off the deck cleat..?
- May help reduce the risk of rigging coming undone in a capsize (if someone can elaborate)…?
- Frees up the deck fairlead and cleat to alternatively be used for a vang rigging

Cons:
- Placement is important for class legality
- Limits gooseneck mobility, so placement needs to consider intended max sail height and gooseneck placement
 

Charles Howard

Active Member
Saltydog87

The standard rigging puts the load of the rig on the fairlead and cleat. On older boats with wood backers this has caused failures. Also, with standard rigging the mast is forced into the mast step which has caused failures and if the mast cap is missing is it like a router bit. I have seen boats missing the deck cleat as it pulled out and people jury rigging to sail so if they do capsize the rig could fall out. It does not clear up the fairlead or deck cleat the mast cleat is taking the load of the rig, you still have to take the tail to the fairlead and cleat.

If you vang, you are running the halyard that is deck cleated back to the fairlead over the gooseneck back to the fairlead and back to the deck cleat so there are a lot of line going to the fairlead and deck cleat.

Racing, the cleat has a a placement for legality and also practically. The mast cleat works for racers. We rig our sail to a certain height. We move the gooseneck between each race and are not limited in mobility. We are also putting huge loads on the fairlead with vang pressure so being able to remove the rig pressure to the mast and lessens the pull on the fairlead and the push in to the mast step. The mast cleat works for a standard race setup or jens or combination.
 
Thanks for the thorough response! Are there any practical disadvantages to the mast cleat, or should this be an absolutely recommended upgrade for boats that don’t yet have one?
 

tag

my2fish
I personally feel it should always be done. it’s a relatively cheap part and eliminates the majority of the halyard line pull on the deck.

There are some that feel it weakens the mast. As such, I’d mount it close to the 48” limit per the Sunfish class… gets it further away from the higher bending moments down near the gooseneck.
 
I’m going to link this thread, which had some great tips regarding adding the cleat:

 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
I wouldn't loose sleep over this issue; for decades, a cleat wasn't legal and sailors did OK without it. But a cleat can be helpful IMHO (and I did install one).
 

4cpus4me

Active Member
+1 for the cleat IMO. It's very satisfying to hoist the sail and quickly have it cleated off to the mast while I tend to the rest of the deck rigging at leisure.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
There are some that feel it weakens the mast. As such, I’d mount it close to the 48” limit per the Sunfish class… gets it further away from the higher bending moments down near the gooseneck.
That would be me, writing in 2014 at Cleat on Mast

Confirmed this year by Lee Montes' YouTube at

Fast-forward to 6:30, where he describes a new "hack" which involves using only a short piece of line to reduce force on the deck cleat.

Watch long enough to view his one mast (of two masts) that has fractured at the mast cleat. :eek:
 
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Amfab

Member
I put a cleat on my Minifish because there is no block before the deck cleat and they have a tendency to pull out with a lot of upward force. Once I did it I found it makes things so much easier that I put one on the Sunfish.
One place it makes life easier is putting the sail up and down from the water.
I sail in Baja, and I will moor the boat 50 yards off the beach for the day so I can go out several times a day without dragging the boat up onto the beach each time. Raising or lowering the sail from the water with the jam cleat on the mast is much easier than with a deck cleat only.

-Andrew
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Watch long enough to view his one mast (of two masts) that has fractured at the mast cleat. :eek:
In my experience mast-breaking is a salt-water problem. Masts on freshwater boats don't seem to break. Although I do recall L and VW's boat getting hit by a Micro Burst :oops: that folded his mast like an old toothpick :eek:
 
That would be me, writing in 2014 at Cleat on Mast

Confirmed this year by Lee Montes' YouTube at

Fast-forward to 6:30, where he describes a new "hack" which involves using only a short piece of line to reduce force on the deck cleat.

Watch long enough to view his one mast (of two masts) that has fractured at the mast cleat. :eek:
I like this hack - and will undoubtedly try it - but I’m not sure that it would take as much force off the deck cleat as a mast cleat would. Unlike a mast cleat, it won’t take on 100% of the force, but rather set up for a 2:1 purchase with a slip knot higher on the halyard. It’s been a while since I have done pulley physics calculations, but it might reduce the force by 1/2…? Still a great and inexpensive alternative to the mast cleat!

Rewatching the video again, he does acknowledge that it is a force reduction and not 100% like the cleat. Then again, that may also help with the whole mast snapping concern.
 
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kebwi

Member
I added a mast cleat a few weeks ago and took it out for the first time two days ago. Worked like a charm. I had already previously replaced the single brass block at the deck (not a bullseye) with a double block, so now I can cleat the halyard on the mast, continue to the deck, up around the gooseneck, back to the deck, and finally cleat off behind the mast. Voila.
 

Weston

Active Member
I installed mast cleats on both my 71 and 77. I find it easy to use and I like the idea of taking the pressure off of the deck fairlead. I just bought a 75 Minifish and will very likely put a mast cleat on it as well. Like Amfab said, the Minifish needs a mast cleat even more than a Sunfish because there is no deck fairlead. It is awkward to attach the halyard directly to the deck cleat.
 
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