Leading the Outhaul Aft
Monday, June 16, 2003

During the winter, I decided to have my mainsail converted to a loose foot.  Loose foots are all the rage now, and with good reason:  it makes adjusting the shape and draft of the mainsail much easier, and allows a fuller shape in light winds.  Last season, I had revamped the outhaul system, adding a nice 3:1 tackle on the boom and a cam cleat near the forward end of the boom to secure the outhaul; with the boltroped mainsail foot, this worked fine, as there was less need to adjust it often.

With the new loose foot, two issues immediately became apparent when I began sailing in the 2003 season.  First, there was more of a desire--and more of a need--to adjust the outhaul tension often, depending upon wind strength and apparent wind direction.  Going forward to adjust the outhaul from the forward end of the boom was inconvenient at best, especially single-handed.

Also, without the friction of the boltrope holding the foot of the sail in place, I noticed increased difficulty adjusting the tension of the outhaul under load (as the wind increased).  It was possible with the 3:1 advantage I had, but if I could add more, so much the better.

After putting off the project for a month or so, I finally determined to just do it once and for all, and dedicated a glorious Monday for the job.  I had spent several weeks contemplating the project, and in preparation thereunto I had ordered two blocks from Garhauer:  a double block for the base of the mast, to replace a single block that was already installed there (for the cunningham lead), and a new single block to install in order to allow the outhaul to make the turn downward from the gooseneck.  More on this later.  After a couple weeks, I received my blocks, which finally spurred me on to schedule the project.  I chose a beautiful, sunny, dry, dark blue day, and I was in no hurry to wiz through the job; just being on the water was so pleasant.

I began by purchasing locally a few items that I needed, including 40' of 7/16" line for the outhaul control (larger line equals more comfort for the hands, so I went up one size from what I probably needed), a small cheek block to install at the end of the boom, and, because I had been a bit concerned about the strength of some 1/4" Sta-Set that I was using at the clew end of the mainsail, I bought 12' of 1/4" T900 line, a Spectra/Kevlar high load line.  I knew that I already had a small Harken block, which I would need, left over from some other project.  I planned to reuse certain components from my existing system as well--the block and tackle on the boom, a bullseye fairlead, and a Schaefer cam cleat.

After moving the sail out of the way to expose the port side of the boom, where the existing outhaul tackle lay, the first step was to remove the parts I intended to reuse from the boom.  It was a simple matter to strip out the line and unscrew the cam cleat and bullseye from the boom.  I also removed the ancient, I'm-amazed-this-didn't-break-after-all-this-time turning block from the end of the boom, which would now enter graceful retirement in my spare parts box.  Of course, it seemed that I needed to open ever locker on board and remove every single tool box in order to do this particular job, so the cockpit and cabin soon became cluttered with gear, open toolboxes, and line..

3cleats-61603.JPG (188765 bytes)
Next, I installed the cam cleat on the cabin trunk at the forward end of the cockpit, next to the two that were already in place there (boom vang and cunningham).  Fortunately, I actually had two bolts the right size for the job (but only two), since I had not purchased any.  I even had the proper fender washers and nuts; my huge fastener box pays dividends.  During some of my earlier pondering of the project during the previous weeks, I had already determined the best layout of the new line, and knew exactly how I wanted to run it aft.  

linesaft-61603.JPG (171215 bytes)Because of the situation at the mast base, it made the most sense to move the existing boom vang line to the newest (most inboard) cleat, with the new outhaul running to the middle cleat.  To complete the hardware needed to run the lines aft, I installed one more bullseye on the forward end of the cabin trunk, in line with the existing two.  I rerouted the boom vang line through the new fairlead and aft to the new cleat.  I bedded both pieces of new hardware in polysulfide. 
(From left to right in the photo:  cunningham, outhaul, and boom vang)

IM008738.JPG (162337 bytes)Next, I installed two new blocks at the boom end:  a Harken cheek block (new) on the side of the boom, and a small Harken turning block (left over from something else) on the clew of the sail.  By installing the block on the sail, and dead-ending the line at the end of the boom, I effectively created a 2:1 purchase there, where previously existed only a 1:1.  I ran my new Spectra line through the blocks, determined the appropriate length, and secured it to the boom end fitting with a stop knot.  I left the excess line hanging off the end of the boom while I worked on the rest of the setup, just in case I needed to adjust the length at all.

doubleblock-61603.JPG (144292 bytes)I replaced a snap-shackle turning block at the base of the mast, which I had installed to run a cunningham during the first season, with a new double turning block from Garhauer, and  ran my new outhaul line through from the cockpit.  

turningblock-61603.JPG (165632 bytes)I now had to determine the location for a new turning block, needed to direct the outhaul down off the boom and into the double block at the base of the mast.  By running the line through the block and adjusting the position by eye, I found the right spot and installed a strap eye on the mast to secure the block in place.  I installed the strap eye with 1/4-20 machine screws into tapped holes.

With the requisite blocks installed, I ran the new line through the boom tackle in a dry run.  Once I determined the location of the line, I installed two fairleads on the boom to hold the line nicely in place between the mid boom-mounted tackle and the gooseneck.

outhaultackle-61603.JPG (150725 bytes)     fairleads-61603.JPG (150616 bytes)     IM008744.JPG (165045 bytes)

Finally, having determined the final locations for hardware and lengths for the lines, I cut (with difficulty--need a sharper knife) the Spectra line off at the end, and whipped the newly cut end.  The main adjustment line--the one leading to the cockpit--is overlong at the moment, but I will live with it for a while to determine how much excess I want to leave before cutting it.

Although my total project time (3.5 hours) was surely stretched out because the day was simply so pleasant, it was still amazing how long everything took--gear removal, installation, tool layout, cleanup, etc.  I'm sure the job could have been done more quickly--but what was the rush?

As of this writing, I have had little chance to test the new outhaul setup; my first sail afterwards involved only a brief time under full sail (during which the new tackle seemed to work admirably), as the wind piped up and I tucked a reef in the main.  Should I discover that any significant changes are necessary for full functionality, I'll post the details here.

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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