Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cleats for the jib/genoa sheets

When I obtained Little Grace the cleats for the jib/genoa sheets looked like this.

As you can see there was a plate of aluminium bent up at the aft end under the clam cleats. It seems reasonable to assume that it was intended as a retainer for the sheets once they were cleated. The implication being that without it the sheet could be accidentally released. Apart from being ugly the system seemed to undermine the quality of quick release the clam cleat provides. 

In addition there seemed to be a drawback in the use of clam cleats if someone was single handed at the helm. Concentration would be required to locate the slot when sheeting that might not be available in a tricky situation, when the action itself might be difficult. As a consequence of these considerations I fitted horn cleats before I launched Little Grace for the first time in 2010. 

I had become accustomed to these on bigger boats and had seen them fitted in photos of other Alacritys. My logic was that getting turns and figure of eights around a cleat while concentrating on something else and holding the tiller with the other hand should be perfectly possible. It was but the system had its drawbacks. Firstly it was apparent that the time it took to uncleat could be a drawback in a tricky situation, such as being overpowered. Secondly I could see that whoever was crewing quickly became bored with cleating and nucleating O,X,Os on short tacks. Given the nature of the boat I realised I had to think back to my dingy sailing days for these dynamic lines rather than my big boat days. 


The obvious alternative that would provided quick cleating and release was cam cleats, which I had on my dingy and have used on Little Grace for the light wind sails. However, the cockpit combing is not very wide so fitting would either have to be at the wrong angle for the line from the winch or inside the cockpit combing facing back up towards the winch. The wrong angle was a non starter and fitting them inside the cockpit would have meant that valuable backrest space or, when lounging, leg comfort would have been compromised. The system would also have the issues of alignment associated with the clam cleats and fitting fairleads would prevent handing the line to and from the winch.

One of the benefits of horn cleats is that they can be used across the cockpit if the heel of the boat makes it prudent to sheet on the windward side, which means crew weight does not have to move to leeward to uncleat. Additionally the line can be handled with ease from an uphill helming position.  

As a compromise between the need for quick release and the other requirements discussed above I settled on jam cleats. The video below shows one being used across the cockpit for another reason. No this is not a new version of a lazy sheet; the rest was well deserved.

The video below shows the port cam cleat (for the light wind sails), the jib sheet cleat and their positions relative to each other and the winch.

No comments:

Post a Comment