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Mainsheet bridle to clear up cockpit?


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Thinking of ways to make my boat more accommodating for non-sailor passengers, as we typically go out with 6-8 people.  In an ideal world I could manage things from behind the wheel and allow the passengers to enjoy the full cockpit.  Right now the main/traveler system really gets in the way.  

A couple of owners ago, there appears to have been a mid-boom sheeting arrangement installed, but this puts the traveler waaaay too far forward for my taste due to the long companionway hatch.  It does allow a proper dodger to be fitted, but that's not a high priority for me now.  

I'm contemplating instead a simple dinghy-style bridle system like the one in the below picture, with dyneema strops anchored somewhere on the coachroof forward enough to allow relatively easy companionway access but as far aft as possible - probably a couple feet forward of the current traveler.  Note that the boom is ~18" higher than pictured with the main hoisted.  

I'm not 100% sure of the mainsheet routing, but likely forward to the mast and maybe all the way back to the helm position - probably only one side, not the German style.  

Thoughts?  I'd need a couple of reinforced padeyes on the coachroof to give it a try.  I could even keep the existing traveler and pin the block back to it whenever I wanted the extra control.  I haven't seen this type of setup often on bigger boats, so there's probably a reason for it - what does the brain trust say?

 

IMG_0560.JPG.2feb4eac4593188003c29dab6fce60b4.JPGimage.png.9d34c94af9ec19597d52b18228dd4cb8.png

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Well, you aren't going to be hauling the mail to windward with the bridle as it is as it'll never be getting the boom to centerline, perhaps you keep the traveler and can swap systems as the mood strikes you.

On our Bene 43 (Cruising pig dog of a yacht) it has a sort of mid cabin bridle arrangement that is simple but it drives me insane having the boom so far to leeward. I added some snap shackles to the arrangement and I keep a line /strop  handy, for long tacks when going far away I attach one part of the bridle to the windward cleat on the deck down near the rail, with a little vang sheeting I can centre my boom and actually point a bit. It's not particularly disruptive to the structure or layout of the boat. Sadly it has to be swapped to the other side of the boat manually each time I tack, thus I only use it for passages, long hauls etc.

Just be sure your anchor points are up to the job, you have your main sheet tension, plus a multiple because of the angled bridle pulling on your anchor points and you'll be pulling harder than today as you are only part way along the boom, so to get the same leech tension you'll be wanging on it. Try to let the bridle sit almost as high as you dare, you'll get the most point out of it. If you do a split tail on the mainsheet also as a bridle, you'll get the most centering of boom possible.

Try before you drill.

good luck

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Why does a cruiser need a traveller? Onliest time is when you are racing in under 12 K. upwind.  Most production sailboats have a wider sheeting angle, and don't need to pull the main away from the jib Take it off. Cleaner deck, fewer stubbed toes, less crap on the deck. I cannot see why everyone believes they need one. 

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Just tie it off in the center of the existing traveller. So it never slides. Plus, never ever gybe without a pro on that mainsheet, always tack around. Happy guests.

Having experienced the SD pleasure fleet in breezy conditions, say greater than 10 knots, it is probably best to strike the sails to prevent mayhem.

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Thanks all.  Seems like it's worth a shot.  If you look at the pic above with the bridle, it seems to me that if you've adjusted it properly such that you can just barely get the main block-to-block, you'd have the boom pretty close to the centerline - closer than if you'd just sheeted hard with the existing traveler in the centerline position.  The geometry is helped by my relatively low boom.  

2 hours ago, blunted said:

If you do a split tail on the mainsheet also as a bridle, you'll get the most centering of boom possible.

I'm not sure I follow - could you elaborate?  

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Only issue I can see is when you have borne away.  The windward leg of the bridle will be right across the companionway.  I'm not sure that non-sailing guests will like that much, as they scuttle to and from the head, or more usefully to and from the galley or bar area.

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31 minutes ago, P_Wop said:

Only issue I can see is when you have borne away. 

Yep.  That's gonna figure into how far forward I should put the bridle.  Just noticed the drawing of my boat on sailboatdata.com has a line that looks like it represents the location of the cabin top traveler that had been previously mounted.  I could use that same location for the padeyes I suppose if the coachroof and boom have been designed for those loads.  

I was originally thinking of a spot about halfway between the two mainsheet locations.  

 

image.thumb.png.a4b84a9e0b4b30b1d8c83df2049be451.png

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2 minutes ago, socalrider said:

Just noticed the drawing of my boat on sailboatdata.com has a line that looks like it represents the location of the cabin top traveler that had been previously mounted.  

I think that line is actually the leech of the 150% genoa, rather than a mainsheet system.

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7 minutes ago, P_Wop said:

I think that line is actually the leech of the 150% genoa, rather than a mainsheet system.

Doh!  You're right.  That makes a lot more sense.  I have a 120.  And am apparently easily confused.  

That is about where the old traveler was tho.  

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I would just leave it all as it is, as others have suggested.  Center the traveler when sailing and lock it off hard.  Use the vang as needed, and perhaps beef it up a bit, i.e. add some more purchases and better blocks, assuming it's block-and-tackle and not hydraulic, and the boom can stand it.  Double-end the final purchase and lead the tails back to cam cleats on the sides of the coaming near the helm.

Much more cheaperer.

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A single point mainsheet in a cockpit is the most convenient and least intrusive arrangement for a cruiser, but needs  high loadings to get a boom anywhere near the centreline. 

A bridle works well because it has less inherent main sheet load and less is passed onto to the hull. The closer to the boom the better. But is slightly more intrusive than single point.

A traveller system offers the best control for the most cost and cockpit intrusion.

Why not just barberhaul either single point or bridle  (the windward strop) to windward somehow? Cheapest traveler of all. Don’t need it, don’t use it. And if you are smart, you can set it up it so that you only need to barberhaul one standing part of a one point mainsheet system?

Think outside the box....

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As said above, I am not sure what's so wrong with a traveller.

What about a 2 sheets system? One sheet at each extremity of the traveller, handy when you want to gybe and controllable from the wheel. When one of the sheets is not used, uncleat it at the boom with a fast shackle. On a downwind leg you can also use one of the two as a preventer/kicker.

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2 hours ago, Panoramix said:

As said above, I am not sure what's so wrong with a traveller.

What about a 2 sheets system? One sheet at each extremity of the traveller, handy when you want to gybe and controllable from the wheel. When one of the sheets is not used, uncleat it at the boom with a fast shackle. On a downwind leg you can also use one of the two as a preventer/kicker.

I've never understood the benifit of 2 sheets. Twice as complicated to get the twist and boom position right and two sheets to ease. Not to mention two sets of blocks and sheets to buy and maintain.

I like a traveler. I can understand cruisers putting something simple on the cabin to away from the cockpit.

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4 minutes ago, European Bloke said:

I've never understood the benifit of 2 sheets. Twice as complicated to get the twist and boom position right and two sheets to ease. Not to mention two sets of blocks and sheets to buy and maintain.

I like a traveler. I can understand cruisers putting something simple on the cabin to away from the cockpit.

I think that the point is that you control the main all the time during a gybe and the boom is more stable upwind in lightwind conditions especially if you have several spots to attach your sheets to. It is also easier to have spares as it is symmetric. As for the mainsail shape, basically the leeward sheet controls the twist so you can control power with it. Not a racing setup though as obviously you have less fine control over the exact boom location.

I also like a traveler. The 2 sheets system sometimes make sense in specific cases, it was relatively common in the 80s on self built (French) blue water boats.

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I like travellers. that said I'd just leave it off to leward when taking out guests and keep the path to the companionway clear. I think you'll loose so much leverage on the boom if you go mid boom. They just dont work well if you need to trim a main. . Your pad eye arrangement best be rock solid.

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15 minutes ago, Panoramix said:

I think that the point is that you control the main all the time during a gybe and the boom is more stable upwind in lightwind conditions especially if you have several spots to attach your sheets to. It is also easier to have spares as it is symmetric. As for the mainsail shape, basically the leeward sheet controls the twist so you can control power with it. Not a racing setup though as obviously you have less fine control over the exact boom location.

I also like a traveler. The 2 sheets system sometimes make sense in specific cases, it was relatively common in the 80s on self built (French) blue water boats.

How do 2 sheets help you control the boom in a gybe more than a tied off traveller or a sheet on the cabin top? Them you have 2 ropes to try to ease fast.

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17 hours ago, socalrider said:

Thinking of ways to make my boat more accommodating for non-sailor passengers, as we typically go out with 6-8 people.  In an ideal world I could manage things from behind the wheel and allow the passengers to enjoy the full cockpit.  Right now the main/traveler system really gets in the way.  

A couple of owners ago, there appears to have been a mid-boom sheeting arrangement installed, but this puts the traveler waaaay too far forward for my taste due to the long companionway hatch.  It does allow a proper dodger to be fitted, but that's not a high priority for me now.  

I'm contemplating instead a simple dinghy-style bridle system like the one in the below picture, with dyneema strops anchored somewhere on the coachroof forward enough to allow relatively easy companionway access but as far aft as possible - probably a couple feet forward of the current traveler.  Note that the boom is ~18" higher than pictured with the main hoisted.  

I'm not 100% sure of the mainsheet routing, but likely forward to the mast and maybe all the way back to the helm position - probably only one side, not the German style.  

Thoughts?  I'd need a couple of reinforced padeyes on the coachroof to give it a try.  I could even keep the existing traveler and pin the block back to it whenever I wanted the extra control.  I haven't seen this type of setup often on bigger boats, so there's probably a reason for it - what does the brain trust say?

 

IMG_0560.JPG.2feb4eac4593188003c29dab6fce60b4.JPGimage.png.9d34c94af9ec19597d52b18228dd4cb8.png

That bridle set up is going to send some of your non-sailor guests flying when they trip over it.  Beyond the upwind performance issues that have been mentioned, you're also going to lose the ability to easily trim and shape the main at all points of sail.  In my opinion, you should move the traveler forward if you're going to do anything, but your current set up may be the best if you're shorthanded.

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27 minutes ago, European Bloke said:

How do 2 sheets help you control the boom in a gybe more than a tied off traveller or a sheet on the cabin top? Them you have 2 ropes to try to ease fast.

The new sheet (windward before gybe) brings the boom to the other side while the old one which has been released slows down the boom through friction. When the boom goes past the centreline, the new sheet happens to be trimmed nearly right, the boom carries on and then you just have to release a bit of sheet to trim the main. The old sheet to windward on the new tack is now useless and you can rig it as a preventer.

There is a logic, especially on a long distance cruiser.

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I understand the feeling that the mainsheet purchase is just in the Fuc%ing way all the time.

You have am outboard (Toe -breaking) rail that is pretty strong and secondary's near the wheel.

Why not: run a line forward to toe rail (in one and out another for strength)  to a snatch block and then to the boom block and back to the rail for a 2 to 1 purchase?  

do it on the other side and Bob is your uncle.

 

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1 hour ago, RumLine said:

That bridle set up is going to send some of your non-sailor guests flying when they trip over it. 

I don't see that - the bridle would be atop the coachroof, not obstructing the decks at all, which is how people get to the bow.  

57 minutes ago, SailRacer said:

Why not: run a line forward to toe rail (in one and out another for strength)  to a snatch block and then to the boom block and back to the rail for a 2 to 1 purchase?  

Now *this* would create an obstruction if I'm understanding you correctly.  

I definitely want to avoid a double mainsheet system for a number of reasons.  Last thing I need is another 50' of line in the cockpit.  

Here's my takeaway so far: 

1. Step one is to leave the traveler, but run the main to the mast and back to the helm.  This will significantly de-clutter the cockpit and improve safety relative to the current setup with no performance loss.  

2. Step two is to experiment (before drilling) with a bridle system to see if I can find a location far enough aft to maintain reasonable control over the boom but forward enough to be out of the way of the cockpit.  One thought is to use fast shackles on the bridle at the padeyes so that I can remove the windward bridle section if I'm deep downwind to keep the companionway clear.  This would be a challenge in high winds, but I'm not going to be taking non-sailing guests out in those conditions anyway.  

3. Step three is to make this permanent if it makes sense.  I can still keep the traveler and quickly move the block (fast shackle) there if I want the extra performance.  

Thanks guys this is really helpful.  

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16 hours ago, socalrider said:

Thanks all.  Seems like it's worth a shot.  If you look at the pic above with the bridle, it seems to me that if you've adjusted it properly such that you can just barely get the main block-to-block, you'd have the boom pretty close to the centerline - closer than if you'd just sheeted hard with the existing traveler in the centerline position.  The geometry is helped by my relatively low boom.  

I'm not sure I follow - could you elaborate?  

Your rigger needs to splice in two thinner lines as the tail of your sheet. with a nice taper. The idea is that where it splits should get "eaten" by the last block of the boom when you sheet tight. I've used this on skiffs, 470's and other types of boats. Combine with blocks on bridle and it's the best centering you can get absent a traveler. Check the cheeks on your last block are up to some side load / friction. A plastic block might get worn down by the bridle lines, some snatch blocks are better suited as they are designed for some off axis loading.

Make sense?

2091145194_Splitmainsheet.thumb.jpg.b8a130f2916315e194cd1fe994fe0765.jpg

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34 minutes ago, blunted said:

Your rigger needs to splice in two thinner lines as the tail of your sheet. with a nice taper. The idea is that where it splits should get "eaten" by the last block of the boom when you sheet tight. I've used this on skiffs, 470's and other types of boats. Combine with blocks on bridle and it's the best centering you can get absent a traveler. Check the cheeks on your last block are up to some side load / friction. A plastic block might get worn down by the bridle lines, some snatch blocks are better suited as they are designed for some off axis loading.

Make sense?

2091145194_Splitmainsheet.thumb.jpg.b8a130f2916315e194cd1fe994fe0765.jpg

Very clear now - thanks, that's really slick.  Ever seen it used on a mid-sized keelboat?  

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If you go with the bridle, make really sure the padeyes are well reinforced. As noted above, your main will be trying to rip them out with every puff, and based on your photo,   trimming the sheet will be putting 4:1, plus the effect of the boom’s lever arm being closer to the gooseneck, onto the fittings. Even if the sail had mid-boom sheeting before, the load would have been spread over the whole traveler, instead of just the two points you’re planning to install. 

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10 hours ago, Tunnel Rat said:

Get a longer boom (and bigger main) and move the traveller behind the wheel.  All problems solved, but a whole host of new problems to deal with :D

Perfect!  Then all that's left to do is move the keel back a few inches.  

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Moving the main sheet to mid-boom and losing the traveller at the same time is a double whammy in terms of getting the boom easily to or above centreline. 

SoCal, I'm not sure if this would work with your boom height but your consideration of the bridle reminded me of this guy, who kept it pretty simple, kept the bridle near end boom, and led the bridle to the coamings on each side of the cockpit. He reinforced the underside of the coamings where maybe one could go the further step of adding backing plates. 

The first part is of re doing a quarter berth for storage...halfway through he shows you the bridle set up, and then sailing with it.

 

 

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Edit: just reread OP and maybe the solution in the video is more of  a German style and not a single main sheet but check it anyway...it looks like a decent solution 

 

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7 hours ago, fufkin said:

Edit: just reread OP and maybe the solution in the video is more of  a German style and not a single main sheet but check it anyway...it looks like a decent solution 

 

Thanks - I like it and I think I could get pretty close to boom end sheeting if I put my padeyes far back on the coachroof. The split tail solution would work well, and I could fast shackle the tails so as to move the windward lead when off the wind to clear the companionway. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I removed the traveler from my Olson 40. Instead, I use dual main sheets: port and starboard, each simply 1:1 to self tailing winches.

Each Dyneem a (slippery) main sheet dead ends to a pull-pin car on the toe rail track, leads through low friction rings at the end of the boom (could easily be led mid boom, and I might soon try that), forward along the boom to low friction rings at the gooseneck, then outboard and down to rings on the shroud chain plates, then aft along the side decks to the self railing main sheet winches (Harken 46) either side of the cockpit near the helm. I spliced Dacron tails to the sheets: slippery dyneem a through all rings, double braid Dacron live just around the winches.

Good: Cockpit is clear of all that anti-social, uncomfortable, dangerous traveler. Less strings! No vang, preventers, traveler control lines, blocks, and main sheet length. Less weight. Fully controlled gybes. Easy to get the clew of the main exactly where I want it in all conditions:light, heavy, beating, reaching, running. Many fewer holes in the deck.

Wash: cost is less for everything except more for the second main sheet winch. 

Bad: It takes much longer —several boat lengths — to get the main right after a mode change: tack, gybe, leeward or windward mark rounding.

So for racing, a traveler is better, as the time to complete a mode change while racing has a big and direct effect on tactical positioning and time around the course.

For non-racing, it’s much better.

 

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39 minutes ago, carcrash said:

Each Dyneem a (slippery) main sheet dead ends to a pull-pin car on the toe rail track, leads through low friction rings at the end of the boom (could easily be led mid boom, and I might soon try that), forward along the boom to low friction rings at the gooseneck, then outboard and down to rings on the shroud chain plates, then aft along the side decks to the self railing main sheet winches (Harken 46) either side of the cockpit near the helm. I spliced Dacron tails to the sheets: slippery dyneem a through all rings, double braid Dacron live just around the winches.

Very cool, thanks.  Surprised you're able to do away with the vang entirely - can you get enough leach tension even if the boom is forward of the pull-pin cars?  Or does that never occur?  Do the dual mainsheets impede access to the bow?

I'd love to see some pics if you have them! I found some pics of an O40 cockpit on Yachtworld (https://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1984/olson-40-3215068/) and it seems like you'd end up with the mainsheet lines running right through the cockpit & also interfering with the lifelines when the boom is out. 

 

O40.jpg

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The mainsheets do go across the cockpit, which is why it might be better to move them forward towards mid boom.

Its really not bad now, however, since the mainsheets are 1:1, so only need to be eased several (6-8) feet on one side, and brought in the same on the other, during a gybe. Only two feet change in mainsheet for a tack. The things I did wrong was choose dark grey for the dyneema, which "looks cool" but is almost invisible. I should have used brightly colored dyneema, like red, so people would see them in their peripheral vision.

The mainsheets barely hit the lifelines even when sailing very deep, because the stanchions lean a bit outboard.

I was expecting to need the vang, but have found that I only use the vang to hold the boom up, acting as a topping lift, and have never needed or wanted to use the vang for its normal use, never need it to add leech tension. I recently removed the tackle from the vang.

I need to take some pics ... the ones I have really don't illustrate how the mainsheet works in practice.

From the above pic, you can see that the traveler destroys the comfort and utility of the cockpit.

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