Latest News: Forums Technical Adding a topping lift

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  • #4393

    I’ve been thinking about adding a topping lift, primarily to make reefing easier. Without it, I end up having to drop the boom onto the gunwale whilst I hook on the horn and tighten up the reefing clew line (which is led through a block to run inside the boom, securing to a cleat at the inboard end). A topping lift would allow me to just scandalise the main and then mess around with the halyard etc to my heart’s content, continuing to sail the boat on the foresail throughout.

    However the masthead is not set up for two lines- just a single block for the main halyard. So I am thinking about having a topping lift that is tied on to the masthead, runs down to the outboard end of the boom, through a turning block and then is cleated at the gooseneck. This avoids any lines flapping around on the outside of the mast.

    Any reasons not to rig the topping lift in such a way?

    #10613

    Hi, We have fitted a topping lift by threading a cord through the hole through the mast at the forestay attachment point, and attached a running block to the cord on the starboard side, the topping lift runs through the block and it works fine. In use we leave the topping lift slack enough not to interfere with the sail set, and it works when reefing on starboard tack. Hopes this helps. Vince W7584

    #10615
    tempest51
    Member

    What’s wrong with just screwing a cheek block to the masthead side with a cleat somewhere near the gooseneck?

    #10616
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    Because at the goose neck the mast is stressed the most. Put your cleat anywhere but there.

    #10617
    tempest51
    Member

    Well it has worked perfectly well for me, let’s not complicate things and just enjoy sailing…so put the cleat on the deck?

    #10618

    OK so it looks like my idea is a bit unusual. I thought it would actually be considerably simpler, actually, as the line length would be significantly less, and I would rather mess around with a block on the end of the boom that one on the mast somewhere.

    #10620
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    @tempest51 wrote:

    Well it has worked perfectly well for me, let’s not complicate things and just enjoy sailing…so put the cleat on the deck?

    Once upon a time, a sailor we both know well, decided to run the spinnaker boom down haul over a sheave up in to the mast, with a bungee cord up to the hounds. A much nicer solution compared to running it along the CB case, as most of us do, wouldn’t you agree? This sailor recently had to buy a new mast because it snapped at the hole he made for the sheave just above deck level. I am sure you can find his report somewhere on one of the W-web sites.

    The area between the goose neck and the deck is where our masts are stressed the most. I would avoid drilling holes in that area. Below deck there is enough mast available to stick stuff to. The side of the tabernacle is another good spot to attach stuff to or, as you suggested, the deck.

    A line that runs through a cheek block at the mast top is not only a nice topping lift but it doubles as a spare halyard as well. And thirdly you can use it to hoist the association’s pennant while sailing, or Christmas tree lights while night sailing on new years eve. These double functions is what most cruisers appreciate. But do carry a boom strut. A topping lift is only good to keep the boom up if you need to drop the main quickly. It prevents fouling the helm or, if you have one, the engine. As soon as the boat is ship shape we tend to put too much force on the main sheet to stabilise the boom. To avoid stressing the mast I prefer to put my boom strut in and release the topping lift as soon as circumstances allow.

    #10621
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    I seem to be struggling with the main premise of the original post, namely the need to avoid involving the gunwhale when reefing. This isn’t usually a problem, is it? If you slacken the kicker, tension the reefing line, then loosen the halyard, the boom is only ever at or above its normal height. Shaking out a reef is the same sequence in reverse. There’s a bit of tweaking in reality, but I can’t help thinking that a topping lift is another extra complication. (I find a certain beauty in simplicity in a small boat).

    #10622

    @Dave Barker wrote:

    I seem to be struggling with the main premise of the original post, namely the need to avoid involving the gunwhale when reefing. This isn’t usually a problem, is it? If you slacken the kicker, tension the reefing line, then loosen the halyard, the boom is only ever at or above its normal height. Shaking out a reef is the same sequence in reverse. There’s a bit of tweaking in reality, but I can’t help thinking that a topping lift is another extra complication. (I find a certain beauty in simplicity in a small boat).

    Maybe I’ve spent too much time on bigger boats with all their extra bits of string.
    Surely if I put any tension on the reefing line, it’s going to become a real struggle to get the tack horn on? I always put on the horn first and then crank up the tension on the reefing line, which of course is giving me a 2:1 advantage.
    And as soon as I let off the main halyard the weight of the boom takes over and thunk, down it goes.

    #10624
    Swiebertje
    Participant

    Here (PDF allert) is how some of us do it
    More on reefing here.

    #10626
    Dave Barker
    Keymaster

    Aha! – that’s where the tweaking comes in – you’re right, you may have to pause at about 90-95% fully tight on the reefing line (boom is now up in the air, i.e. scandalised), then drop the mainsail to hook the cringle onto the horn (boom is now slightly below normal height, but not much), then completely tighten the reefing line. Depending on the position of the reefing horn I admit that there is scope for the boom to drop fairly low, although not enough to persuade me to fit a topping lift (yet). But if it works for you (and especially if you’re used to having one available, because of your previous sailing experience) why not? Go for it!

    #10630

    Thanks for the pdf- thought I had read everything ever written on Wayfarer reefing systems!

    My own setup is broadly similar to Swiebertje’s, but with some differences.

    At the inboard end of the boom, my reefing horn is made from a stainless shackle which I have cut down, and is attached using a bolt which replaces the split pin holding the tack of the sail. I wanted to have the hook on the boom rather than on the mast because most times when I put in a reef it is before I am underway, and this seems much easier to do prior to hoisting the sail. However a hook on the mast would probably be slightly better places for getting tension on the sail, so it is a compromise. Also, by using an old shackle as the basis of the hook, I have a neat solution but it is quite a tight fit on the cringle and it can be a struggle to hook on. Hence I would not normally try to hook on if there was any tension in the foot of the sail.

    Towards the outboard end of my boom, I have put ‘exit blocks’ on the upper face of the boom. It is a similar section to Swiebertje’s, but Proctor rather than Selden. The reefing lines then run internally. They emerge from the underside of the boom via a slot, and are secured in a clam cleat. At the moment I have only one cleat which secures the outhaul, reef 1, or reef 2, depending on which is in use. I am going to modify this to add another cleat to allow both reefs to be set at the same time. I will also need a second reefing horn to achieve this.

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