What is the proper way to use swivel cam cleat?

Thread starter #1
Howdy,

I hope all is well. I was wondering if anyone knows the "correct" way to use a swivel cam cleat. I swapped out the original ratchet block with one because I like cleating in on tacks to relieve the strain on my hand, however, the first time I used it it caught the cleat on a jibe going down wind and wound up putting me into a death roll of shame. How do you guys prevent it catching when you don't want it to?

I have devised a ghetto method using a car upholstery plug placed into the cleat to prevent it from grabbing, but this means I have to stop, go to irons, and then mess with it, to change "modes". Surely there is a right way to do this.

Also, what is that little metal hook on the rim of the cockpit for? Is that so that supposed to be so you can relieve pressure on your hands when using the original ratchet?

P.S. I know that some people put in extra cam cleats on the side of the deck for the purpose of being able to cleat off, but I don't want to add any new holes.
 

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LaLi

Well-Known Member
#2
the first time I used it it caught the cleat on a jibe going down wind and wound up putting me into a death roll of shame. How do you guys prevent it catching when you don't want it to?
I can't really picture your problem here. When you're going downwind, the sheet shouldn't cleat by itself as you're pulling it constantly upward. And when gybing, you might actually want to cleat it so you don't lose it and cause a death roll by having the sail go too far forward!

You're most likely doing something with the sheet that you shouldn't, and no gadget is going to solve that. You're pulling the sheet down at some point when you shouldn't. I'd like to be on a coach boat to see you gybe, but you need to figure this out by yourself for now :D Did it catch in only one gybe? What about the next ten or twenty gybes? What were you doing differently?

what is that little metal hook on the rim of the cockpit for? Is that so that supposed to be so you can relieve pressure on your hands when using the original ratchet?
It's the original Sunfish "ratchet", meant to be used with no other fittings, with the sheet coming to it directly from the boom.

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Thread starter #3
I guess I don't pull it upwards enough, but either way I really don't want to risk it catching. I kind of "fell off the horse" at the end of the season and no i've been hesitant to get back on #embarrassment. Maybe I'm sitting too far back so that the angle is to shallow? I usually sit towards the back of the cockpit.
 

LaLi

Well-Known Member
#4
Maybe I'm sitting too far back so that the angle is to shallow?
Not a big enough effect. Your body position would be a factor only if you had your whole sheeting arm at or below the cleating level, that is, you were hiking nearly horizontally. Always pull the sheet (or any line for that matter) towards your shoulder; it's the easiest for your muscles. Going downwind and sitting normally, the sheet should touch the cleat-top fairlead all the time. That said, you might want to bend the cleat arm a bit downward, mainly for easier uncleating upwind. The optimal angle would be such that the sheet just barely fully drops into the cleat when pulled athwartships against the gunwale.

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beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
#5
In my opinion those center cleats are recipes for capsizes. I’d put the ratchet back on and put on side deck cleats Your boat looks likes it’s from the 80s so at 30 plus years what’s another couple holes? If you don’t want to do that I’d bend the cleat down (which is no easy task) to make it harder to cleat and easier to uncleat. .
 
#6
I agree with Beldar the Conehead. put the ratchet block back on and replace the hook with a cam cleat. with it positioned as I've shown, you really can't cleat (easily) while hiking out, but if you're drifting along in a light breeze, it's easy enough to cleat the line while you reposition, grab a drink, etc.

oh, and add the stand up spring (I did... just not for the photo I'm adding)

sunfish mainsheet.jpg
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#7
Generally speaking, you move forward when heading upwind, and back when running before the wind.

With my various catamarans, I had enough time to "whip" the line out of the cams; but frequently, with a Sunfish, you have only a split-second. In locations of frequent wind-direction changes, there's no relaxing of your guard. :oops:

I'm sailing presently with the same swivel cleat as yours—and have no problems. You could modify its metal plate [backing] by flattening it in a hydraulic press. This would put the cams into a shallower angle, so release of the sheet would be much easier. Alternately, there are plastic "wedges" you could install under the swivel cleat base—or make one out of wood, plastic, or polyethylene cutting board—one dollar at Dollar Tree stores. ;)

A.793_m[1].jpg

The hook is foolproof, but clearly inferior when compared to any cam-cleat.
 
Thread starter #8
I agree with Beldar the Conehead. put the ratchet block back on and replace the hook with a cam cleat. with it positioned as I've shown, you really can't cleat (easily) while hiking out, but if you're drifting along in a light breeze, it's easy enough to cleat the line while you reposition, grab a drink, etc.

oh, and add the stand up spring (I did... just not for the photo I'm adding)

View attachment 31067
Howdy, I wouldn't mind this arrangement, but do you have to drill new holes or does one of the cleats line up perfectly with the pre-existing homes?
 
#9
I don't think the Harken 150 cam cleat holes line up exactly with the hook holes, but it was probably close. either way, it's on the cockpit lip, so easy to access the back side to put a washer and a nut. and any hole, or slot than ends up there due to existing holes, will be covered up by the cam cleat base.

this is my setup on a Minifish - it gives you all the relevant part numbers:
 
Thread starter #10
I don't think the Harken 150 cam cleat holes line up exactly with the hook holes, but it was probably close. either way, it's on the cockpit lip, so easy to access the back side to put a washer and a nut. and any hole, or slot than ends up there due to existing holes, will be covered up by the cam cleat base.

this is my setup on a Minifish - it gives you all the relevant part numbers:
Thanks, I like that setup. I just want to cleat off in a light wind.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
#11
In my opinion those center cleats are recipes for capsizes. I’d put the ratchet back on and put on side deck cleats Your boat looks likes it’s from the 80s so at 30 plus years what’s another couple holes? If you don’t want to do that I’d bend the cleat down (which is no easy task) to make it harder to cleat and easier to uncleat. .
Here's what one Sunfish looks like with side cleats. (Click on the "Clam" cleats, here and scroll down).
 

mixmkr

Active Member
#14
I've been out in some serious winds with this setup... Still use the "hook" sometimes and the blocks as since been replaced with a ratchet style. I'll cleat in if the winds are "steady"...even in a blow. It's when things get shifty and puffy, that cleats put you in the water. If I'm hiking out and have to lean in to uncleat with a center mounted cleat, that can lead to a dunking too. These side cleats are thru-bolted as far outboard as the cockpit will allow for access to the underside.
…oh..... I think having the little "strap" over a cam cleat on a Sunfish can ask for trouble too. Great way to accidentally "grab" the mainsheet or jam on a "hockle"..., just when you need it to run free.... quickly!! ;-)
 

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mixmkr

Active Member
#15
Also...I did move the block hanger (strap) on the boom...forward, up next to the sail clip, so the tiller extension could clear, while fully extended. That made a big difference. I like the length of the tiller extension, but it would sometimes hang up trying to pass it thru when tacking. Problem solved just by moving the boom attachement point forward about 5-6 inches.
 

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#16
Don't know quite what your problem is. I have used the swivel clam cleats on all my Fish and on Force Five's and Lasers. What you never do is let go of the sheet in heavy air. When it is cleated keep tension on the sheet, when you feel the boat starting to heel excessively lift up on the sheet. It will uncleat immediately. You then let out on the sheet as necessary pulling back in and recleating as the puff eases. When sailing in heavy air I usually have a couple of wraps of the sheet around my hand. In a puff I lift up on the sheet and when it uncleats I let go of a wrap or two. I have used the set up with a ratchet block and clam cleats on the deck but I found it awkward to use.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#17
Howdy

The challenge on all sailboats is sheet management, lines can get tangled in fairleads, blocks and cleats at inopportune moments. Wrapped around the tiller, your foot, PFD, hat, etc...Ask us how we know.

We like the swivel cam cleats for the reason you mentioned. We also have a ratchet block on one boat and like it too, and two Sailfish with no cleats, blocks or hooks. You are using it the correct way, and just like you "mind your tiller" you must "mind your sheet." During any tack the sequence we verbalize on a two person boat is the preparatory command "Ready About" meaning everyone is ready for booms to swing, sheets are uncleated and folks are ready to shift weight as needed. Then the command of execution is "Helm's a'lee" meaning the helm is put to the lee side and the boat tacks. Once on the new tack the crew can settle back in, adjust sail and cleat at your own risk. The gybe is a variation of the same maneuver with attention paid to not putting downward pressure on the sheet or letting the sail catch and drag the sheet into the cleat. The boom is drawn in keeping tension on the sheet then let out, don't let the boom swing uncontrolled from one side to the other without control.

When the winds are gusty or high, we have run the sheet through the fairlead the opposite way of how it normally goes, so that the sheet does not go through the cleat or get caught in it. In any cleat/block/hook configuration it is best to keep excess slack out of the sheet so tangles don't form.

Also, what is that little metal hook on the rim of the cockpit for? Is that so that supposed to be so you can relieve pressure on your hands when using the original ratchet? Yes, it also changes the sheet angle to the boom to keep it from lifting.

Jump back on for some practice!
 
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