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RS CAT 14 Question


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I just took my RS CAT 14 out for its maiden voyage this last weekend. Loved it. But one thing confused me:

The cams on the main and jib blocks all faced downward. This is opposite of every boat I've ever sailed before. Block cams usually face upward to allow for easy uncleating when you need to suddenly dump wind from the sails. I'm not sure how I would uncleat the mainsheet when out on the wire with the mainsheet block cams facing downward.

Is this just a catamaran thing? Do all CATS have their block cams facing downward? Am I missing something here?

Thanks for any input you guys/gals might have.

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You might get more answers on the multihull forum.  Cats tend to have the jaws facing down because this works better with the way they are used.  Most (before someone jumps in not all)  cat sailors will tell you to avoid cleating the mainsheet.  The cleat should be rotated up so you have to go out of your way to cleat it.  Jibs typically do get cleated but facing the cam aft means to can easily uncleat when towards the back of the boat (where you're likely to be if the shit is about to hit the fan).

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1 hour ago, SCARECROW said:

You might get more answers on the multihull forum.  Cats tend to have the jaws facing down because this works better with the way they are used.  Most (before someone jumps in not all)  cat sailors will tell you to avoid cleating the mainsheet.  The cleat should be rotated up so you have to go out of your way to cleat it.  Jibs typically do get cleated but facing the cam aft means to can easily uncleat when towards the back of the boat (where you're likely to be if the shit is about to hit the fan).

I don't think I explained myself well. The cams on the mainsheet block face downward, i.e. toward the trampoline. So, there is no way to NOT cleat the mainsheet. If you hold the rope at a height that is above the mainsheet block (which is pretty much always), then the mainsheet will go into mainsheet cams and thereby become cleated. This will happen whether you want it to or not. Again, if your hand is above the height of the mainsheet block, then the mainsheet is going to become cleated.

To uncleat the mainsheet from the mainsheet block, you have to lower the rope to BELOW the height of the mainsheet block, which is - of course - harder to do the further you are from the block.

Perhaps I need to post a pic.

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40 minutes ago, dgmckim said:

@DTA are you talking about this?

@dgmckimYES!

The traveler block (with the red line) is set up as I expected. Cam teeth face upward. So, I can very easily uncleat the traveler line by tugging on it when my hand holding the red line is above the height of the traveler block.

But the mainsheet block has the cam teeth facing downward, toward the traveler block. So, if you are sailing and your hand holding the mainsheet (black line) is above the height of the mainsheet block (which is basically always) then you cannot help but cleat the mainsheet line into the block. Inversely, to uncleat the mainsheet line from the block it is exceptionally difficult because you have to pull on the mainsheet line while your hand that is holding the mainsheet line is below the height of the mainsheet block. As you can imagine, this becomes increasingly difficult to accomplish the further your hand is from the mainsheet block. So, I found myself having to reach all the way to the other side of the boat, until my hand was mere inches from the mainsheet block, to uncleat the mainsheet and thereby allow the main sail's clew to move further from the mainsheet block.

There's clearly something here that I'm not understanding. This is totally backwards from all my monohull sailing.

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This picture should illustrate what I'm talking about above. Ordinarily, with every cleated sheet on a monohull I've sailed, doing what I'm doing in this picture would UNcleat the line from the block. But on this boat, doing what I'm doing in the picture below CLEATS the line into the block.

 

 

Mainsheet Block Problem (small).JPG

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If you slacken the 4 bolts holding the arm that cleat is on and rotate the arm upwards as far as the slots allow. Does that put the cleat above the normal sheeting angle. If so to cleat you pull sheet in from a higher angle to and to uncleat you flick sheet in a downward direction. 

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As GBR says, it seems that your problem is the cleats being set too low.

The reason for the "upside down" cleats is because they are above the surface which you are sitting on, or if you are on the trapeze, well above your trapeze angle. If they were the "right way up", they would be impossible to uncleat. Get it set right and when you are sailing along normally, it won't cleat unless you lift the sheet into the cleat. Even if you have a conventional cleat on a dinghy, you should have it set so that when simply holding or playing the sheet, it cannot cleat and it should take a positive movement to cleat it. If the angle of the cleat makes it cleat automatically, that is bad.

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3 hours ago, GBR2083 said:

If you slacken the 4 bolts holding the arm that cleat is on and rotate the arm upwards as far as the slots allow. Does that put the cleat above the normal sheeting angle. If so to cleat you pull sheet in from a higher angle to and to uncleat you flick sheet in a downward direction. 

^^^^ This ^^^

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3 hours ago, knobblyoldjimbo said:

In other words, yes pretty much every cat has it this way. The other way doesn't work particularly when the traveller is out.

Yes. Every cat has it this way, except for those that don't have a cleat :-)

Move the cleat angle up, as suggested, so it'll be harder to cleat, easier to un-cleat. And practice the whipping/lashing motion downward that uncleats it. 

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11 hours ago, A Class Sailor said:

As GBR says, it seems that your problem is the cleats being set too low.

The reason for the "upside down" cleats is because they are above the surface which you are sitting on, or if you are on the trapeze, well above your trapeze angle. If they were the "right way up", they would be impossible to uncleat. Get it set right and when you are sailing along normally, it won't cleat unless you lift the sheet into the cleat. Even if you have a conventional cleat on a dinghy, you should have it set so that when simply holding or playing the sheet, it cannot cleat and it should take a positive movement to cleat it. If the angle of the cleat makes it cleat automatically, that is bad.

Nailed it. Everyone is a little different in the exact angle they want (differences in Trap heights and whatnot). I want it to take a real concerted effort to cleat it. Once you're used to it, jumping on someone else's boat that cleats too easily will get you everytime. 

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DTA - do tell us about how that little cat sails. You are a pretty big guy - does it feel powerful enough? What's the fun factor compared to the other RS vessels in your fleet?

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Thanks all for the input.

@GBR2083 - I think I understand what you're saying now. There's some mechanism whereby I change the angle of the mainsheet block. So, instead of it being parallell to the tramp (which makes it exceptionally difficult to NOT cleat the mainsheet, and also exceptionally difficult to UNcleat the mainsheet), I can customize it to angle upwards a bit. That way, specific effort would need to be taken to "whip" the mainsheet upward into the jaws of the cams, and no skill at all would be required to pull the mainsheet out of the jaws of the cam and thereby uncleat the main. When I get home from work, I just need to jiggle with the block to see how to achieve this change in angle. Same problem, of course, with the jib sheet blocks as well. But I suppose your suggested solution for the mainsheet block would also apply to the jib sheet blocks. Looks like I'll be in the garage w/ my boat for a couple hours this evening.

@bill4 - I'm still totally disoriented right now by this change in block thing described above. I thought for sure that the manufacturer/distributor had rigged everything wrong. Coming from a monohull background, where EVERY block is uncleated by whipping UPWARD, and cleated by pulling downward, it felt like I was in an inverse sailing universe while trying to sail the RS CAT 14. So, my first time out, I only had the mainsail up while I tried to figure out WTF was going on with all these upside down cleats. So, way too early to compare w/ my other sailboats. 

But, apart from the above bizarre reverse cleating issue, there were a lot of other strange things that I had expected to be strange. It is weird not having my feet a foot or two lower than my butt (as is the case in a monohull). It was also weird not feeling like I was on the verge of capsizing all the time. I mean, I got competent on an Aero 9, and I was always confident that I would never capsize when sailing in less than 20 mph winds on an Aero (unless surfing), but I always had to continually balance and re-balance on an Aero in anythong over 12 mph to keep from capsizing. In contrast, the RS CAT 14 was clearly not in any danger of capsizing. Of course, I was only in ~10-12 mph winds, but it was a strange feeling NOT having to do all of the little micro-balancing one does in a monohull. I could just sit dumbly, with no micro-weight balancing, and the boat would cruise along just fine. I guess it's kind of the difference between a motorcycle versus a four-wheeler. Very interesting feeling. 

I've probably got another full day of sailing with just the mainsail, to get used to this upside down cleat thing, and try to develop automatic muscle instincts with its reversed operation from monohull cleats. Then probably a couple days sailing with the jib and its accompanying upside down cleats. So, I'm probably a month or two away from being able to give any assessment of the boat that's worth hearing.

But I can see that it will eventually serve the purpose for which I bought it: long sailing trips (> 6 hours) to isolated locations for overnight camping. It's just going to take a while to get there. But I think I'll be in good shape to do the Texas 200 with this boat next summer.

http://www.texas200.com/

 

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16 hours ago, A Class Sailor said:

As GBR says, it seems that your problem is the cleats being set too low.

The reason for the "upside down" cleats is because they are above the surface which you are sitting on, or if you are on the trapeze, well above your trapeze angle. If they were the "right way up", they would be impossible to uncleat. Get it set right and when you are sailing along normally, it won't cleat unless you lift the sheet into the cleat. Even if you have a conventional cleat on a dinghy, you should have it set so that when simply holding or playing the sheet, it cannot cleat and it should take a positive movement to cleat it. If the angle of the cleat makes it cleat automatically, that is bad.

AClass, I'm pretty sure I understand what GBR is saying, and I intend to sail this thing the way CAT sailors do with their crazy upside down cleats, but I don't understand your comment: "If they were the 'right way up,' they would be impossible to uncleat." 

If the cams were the 'right way up' (i.e. facing upward toward the sky as is the case on my RS700 and my Laser Vago), then I would cleat the mainsheet as I do on those boats: pull on the mainsheet with my hand holding the mainsheet as close to the deck of the boat as possible. And uncleating would be simple as well, the same way I do it on the RS700 and the Laser Vago: pull the mainsheet upward so that the mainsheet line comes up and out of the jaws of the cams on the mainsheet block. This is exceptionally easy to accomplish because when sailing your mainsheet hand is virtually always above the height of the mainsheet block. And on these monohulls there is no changing the angle of the mainsheet block cams upward or downward - the block cams are always parallel to the deck of the boat. So, just the slightest tug on the mainsheet whilst your hand is above the height of the mainsheet block will pop the mainsheet out of the cams.

Anyway, I think I understand what GBR is saying. I'm going to resist my initial impulse to re-jigger these cleats so that they all behave in the same manner as monohull cleats. Although I was mightily tempted to do so, I'm going to just learn the way that CAT sailors have (apparently) collectively decided that block cams should be oriented. This upside-down-cam stuff is very very weird, but I don't doubt that the collective wisdom of that community (cat sailors) is richer and worth more than my own impulses and intuition.

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I'm not much of a cat sailor, but did sail a Dart 18 on a lake in Maine for a number of years and the main sheet cleat was configured the same way yours is.  It was a bit odd at first, but it did work extremely well.  A quick flick of the wrist was all it took to uncleat it, and in a puff, you want to uncleat it FAST!   So I'd recommend figuring out how to set the angle and set it as high as you can while still being able to get it in the cleat with a reasonable amount of effort on the wire or from the rail.  I think  you will find that it becomes 2nd nature quite quickly.

Cat sailing is strange at first.  I didn't think I'd like it, I thought beach cats were for west coast folks who couldn't keep a monohull upright.   Funny thing happened, though.  I found that it was a ton of fun!  I miss that boat and wish we still had it!

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Let me give this a whirl, DTA. The difference is the cleat on the Aero (and most monos) is stable and mounted. So when you flick the mainsheet, the block/cleat stay put and the sheet pops out. The ones on cats are "floating" with the block and cleat held upright by a spring. If they are "the right way up",  when you flick upward to uncleat, the entire assembly moves, and you are actually jerking towards the load, making uncleating very difficult, especially if this is exacerbated with a bad angle setting..  When they are "upside down", you uncleat opposite the the load and with the help of gravity as well. So, chances are with the correct angle it will be very easy to uncleat.

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1 hour ago, bill4 said:

Let me give this a whirl, DTA. The difference is the cleat on the Aero (and most monos) is stable and mounted. So when you flick the mainsheet, the block/cleat stay put and the sheet pops out. The ones on cats are "floating" with the block and cleat held upright by a spring. If they are "the right way up",  when you flick upward to uncleat, the entire assembly moves, and you are actually jerking towards the load, making uncleating very difficult, especially if this is exacerbated with a bad angle setting..  When they are "upside down", you uncleat opposite the the load and with the help of gravity as well. So, chances are with the correct angle it will be very easy to uncleat.

I see now. Thanks. I was on the verge of unscrewing the block and re-assembling "right side up". Glad I didn't!!

So, your explanation makes sense for the mainsheet block, but not the jib blocks. I presume the thinking was/is: "Well, we *had* to do it that way for the mainsheet block, so we might as well do it the same upside down way for the jib sheet blocks as well. Better to have everything upside down rather than some blocks upside down and some right-side-up."

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That does sound odd - assuming the fairlead/cleat is solidly mounted. Maybe you can post a photo of that for comment. But no upside down photos of an upside down object. :D

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4 hours ago, DTA said:

If the cams were the 'right way up' (i.e. facing upward toward the sky as is the case on my RS700 and my Laser Vago), then I would cleat the mainsheet as I do on those boats: pull on the mainsheet with my hand holding the mainsheet as close to the deck of the boat as possible. And uncleating would be simple as well, the same way I do it on the RS700 and the Laser Vago: pull the mainsheet upward so that the mainsheet line comes up and out of the jaws of the cams on the mainsheet block. This is exceptionally easy to accomplish because when sailing your mainsheet hand is virtually always above the height of the mainsheet block. And on these monohulls there is no changing the angle of the mainsheet block cams upward or downward - the block cams are always parallel to the deck of the boat. So, just the slightest tug on the mainsheet whilst your hand is above the height of the mainsheet block will pop the mainsheet out of the cams.

I have an additional take on to add to what bill4 said. A significant issue is the height of the cleat in relation to the sailor. On the Vago and RS700, the cleat is at the same level as you are either hiking or trapezing so you don't need to lift your arm very much to uncleat. On the cat, if you are hiking or trapezing properly, the cleat is above you. Look at both your mainsheet and jib sheet cleats. They are 4-6 inches above the deck. If the cleats were what you call the right way around, to uncleat, you would need to lift your arm up really high. It might be fine if you are sitting upright on the tramp, but not when hiking.

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Just try it. It's only a bit of fiddling. I recall doing it, then rapidly putting it back. Can't remember what the actual issue was. Also tried the block with the cleat on the boom with the same result.

Presumably your setup has a ratchet block as well.

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DTA,

to further confuse you....

on bigger kite cats (F18, Tornado etc).  Where the main will get cleated more often.  It is not uncommon to add spacers to the cleat giving you a wider range of motion where it won't accidentally cleat while still have a cleat available when needed.  Always supplied like this (cleat at 90 degrees), probably because the people in the factory have never used one but the first thing most people do is undo the screws and rotate 30-40 degrees (anticlockwise in this photo).

56-9953.jpg

 

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I tried angling the mainsheet block up last night, but it's some weird European screw. Or maybe it was a hex-head. Whatever it was, it wasn't a flathead or phillips, which is all I had on me.

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2 hours ago, Martin T said:

Looking at your picture they seem to be Torx screws. Sometimes you can get an Allen Key to fit.

In the UK I come across these screws often, my Smart car seems to be made of them!

Thanks!!!!

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Thanks much for the advice. I angled the mainsheet block upward and everything worked fine!

Kind of odd that the mainsheet block manufacturer would ship the block in horizontal mode rather than angled-upward mode. I can't see how any catamaran sailor would find it useful in the horizontal mode.

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I am pretty sure the my Hobiecat 16 is set up the same way, ages since I last sailed her.   I tend to use the traveller more..as this is the 'main sheet' so the main sheet becomes the vang, if you see what I mean.  I set the traveller, then adjust the mainsheet to get the leach set all nice.    To adjust the main while out on trapeze I tend to 'snap' the rope out of the cleat.  Quite a heavy rope anyway.

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  • 1 year later...

This is an old thread, but I'd like to breath a little life into it.  DTA, any update now that you are on your third season of sailing the RS14 Cat?   I ask because we are picking one up next week.  Any tips/tricks on rigging or sailing?  Any other RS14 Cat sailors out there?  

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9 hours ago, Champlain Sailor said:

This is an old thread, but I'd like to breath a little life into it.  DTA, any update now that you are on your third season of sailing the RS14 Cat?   I ask because we are picking one up next week.  Any tips/tricks on rigging or sailing?  Any other RS14 Cat sailors out there?  

DTA is MIA - it would be good to hear from him. Are you there @DTA ?

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