TWEAKING NEW LUNACY: Mainsheet Modification

Lunacy under sail

Now that I’ve got the new boat on the Left Side of the Pond I’m starting to think seriously about how I’d like to change it. Of course, I’ve been thinking about making changes all along, even before I accepted delivery, but I do believe you should first spend some time sailing a boat the way its builder and designer intended before you start mucking with things. Presumably they had their reasons for doing what they did, and you should strive to understand those before making alterations.

My first modification pertains to the mainsheet, the run of which can be easily followed in this fantastic photo taken by Clint Davis, from a boat called Corsair, when we crossed paths between Bermuda and Newport last month. Many thanks to Clint for sharing this (and a few other pix)! It is always great thing when you can score off-the-boat images of your own boat under sail.


Here’s a close-up view of the original mainsheet run:

Old mainsheet run

This is a complex eight-part rig for a double-ended sheet that runs to pretty beefy winches on either side of the cockpit. The advantage of having so many parts, of course, is that you get a lot more leverage when hauling in the line, but the disadvantages are: a) you have to haul in a lot more line to enjoy the advantage; b) there’s a lot more friction in the run, which makes it harder to ease the sheet in light-to-moderate conditions; and c) it is much easier for the parts of the line to twist around each other as the sheet is being worked. With this rig, I found during our transatlantic trip, that last point was particularly troublesome. To minimize the twisting it was necessary to flake out the sheet in figure-8 coils almost every time we made an adjustment to it. This is OK on racing boats, where crews are large and like to show off doing that sort of thing, but is less OK on a cruising boat, where crews are smaller and lazier.

I scratched my head for a while pondering how to simplify the run and came up with this:

New mainsheet run

A very straightforward four-part run with four fewer blocks involved. A lot less friction and a lot less potential for twisties, but also, of course, a lot less mechanical advantage. I’m not too worried about that, because of those winches I mentioned, but we’ll see how it goes. So far I’ve only tried it in light conditions, where it works much better than the original rig. The real question is how it will work in heavy air.

The next rigging mod, once I can get someone to haul me up the mast, is to make the two-part main halyard and one-part halyard and see how that works.

Meanwhile, I’ve got the boat parked at the Maine Yacht Center, where hopefully we will come up with a Final Solution to the flooded-engine problem. I’ll give you a full rundown on that when the time comes.

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7 Responses
  1. Tim

    Beautiful boat Charles. One of these days I’m stopping at MYC to check her out…
    Question: I’m considering going from a bridgedeck traveler to this type of arrangement. Do you feel this rig brings the boom near enough to center when close hauled? I’m having trouble committing because I use the traveler all the time, but the extra space in a little cockpit sure would be welcome…

  2. Don Joyce

    Charlie, although it works now, are the blocks sized to take the greatly increased loading. I’m sure the deck attachments are solid. Not so sure about the boom attachment.

    As noted, very very beautiful!


  3. Charlie

    @Tim: You can get the sheet to centerline, or near enough. What you can’t do is take the lead to windward of the centerline, like you can with a traveler, to put more shape in the sail in light air.

  4. Robin Hartley

    We just bought the 44 that was for sale in Annapolis. Totally agree that there is plenty of resistance in the multi block original, especially in light airs. Be interested to know how your change works out.

  5. RDE

    Hi Charlie
    I seem to recall that Hawke, a fractional Van de Stadt 47 footer with an aluminum hard dodger had a traveler on the dodger top. And the Bob Perry 59 I brought up from Panama had the traveler on the hard dodger. So that should be an option on NewLunacy. If nothing else it would get the sheet attachment nearer to the end of the boom where it belongs

    I’ve always felt that spaghetti was for eating rather than for filling the cockpit! So I like the minimum # of purchases for a main sheet system, combined with a big winch. Had a 42 footer with a 360 foot main that I rigged with a 2 part tackle led back along the 17′ boom to the gooseneck, then back to a winch on the cabin top. Worked great mainly singlehandling for 7 years without a single jam. In particular I liked the fact that I could haul in the sheet as fast as the boom moved when jibing by myself and always execute a soft jibe..

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