Latest News: Forums Cruising Bow Fairleads

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  • #4280

    I have read a few threads on this topic after searching on Fairleads. A few people seem a bit anti open cleats on the bow to guide the anchor/mooring rope, I see a few on images on the website and in the mag that show what appear to be black plastic open fairleads, any idea where to obtain them?

    I am keen to avoid chafe of the edge of the deck, so a plastic tube clipped on seems a good idea but necessitates a scramble onto the fore-deck to fix and then movement of the tube could still wear away at the finish (which in my case is paint). I once met Frank and Margaret Dye and they had a piece of stainless steel sheet, hammered and folded over the edge of the deck up at the bows with an aluminium deck fairlead. Anything Frank did is good enough for me but I want plastic not ali (and certainly not SS).

    If people have a better idea, could we share some ideas? Do you have any views on the pros and cons?


    Plastic open Fairleads are rubbish, when stressed they open all too easy. Get decent ALU ones instead that do not bend open when stressed. In any case you have to get the type with overlapping ends. The more overlap the better. Also note that Starboard types differ from Port types. If you use a Starboard type on Port the line will easily jump out. If correctly placed you have to bend the line over 90 degrees, relative to the normal pulling direction, to get it in or out of the Fairlead.


    I fitted a pair of open fairleads to the bow of my composite MkI. If you use a thick enough mooring rope it is very unlikely to work its way out. For the paranoid, you could use two mooring ropes, one either side. The only times I have had the rope come out have been when the boat has been on a running mooring at low tide and there has been a big angle on the rope (from a high point on the shore)- amd this was only when I had pulled the boat in to the shore, steepening the angle.

    For chafe protection, I used a strip of coated alu from an old venetian blind. It was already curved, and just needed a little more persuasion to fit the curve of the gunwale running strip. I epoxied it in place and I think it looks fairly smart- better than plastic, anyway.


    Thanks chaps, I found a nice dinky pair of anodized aluminium fairleads, just under 75mm long for about £22 and they are now screwed on the boat. I suspect they are lighter than a pair of glass-filled nylon fairleads of the same size.

    They got their first try out on Monday, anchoring down at the far end of the reservoir for a laze in the sun, I have to say that anchoring with sails up is an interesting experience and we found quite a few things not to do next time.


    I have never tried that, I guess you have to, sort of, heave to ?
    Is there some kind of equilibrium between the anchor pulling and the wind trying to sail the boat ?


    Well I now know what it feels like to be a kite, the boat wants to go but the anchor has other ideas…

    If anyone has advice to offer based on better knowledge and experience please contribute your techniques. This is what we did…

    First thing to do (next time) is to tie a float on the end of the anchor line and do not tie it to the boat. That way when it all starts to go wrong you can just let go and come around again.

    Heaving to in the conventional sense does not work very well as the boat will “fore-reach” making slow progress across the wind.

    What we did was to turn head to wind, let the genoa fly (when I get roller furling that will be better), and sheeted the main in tight to centre the mainsail and while I concentrated on keeping the bows to wind the crew dropped anchor and put the rope into the fairlead quickly to ensure that the pull of the anchor was applied on the centre line of the boat.

    I think the worst moment was once the anchor was down but the sails were still up and drawing; there was a certain amount of misuse of the english language. We learn from experience.

    We then dropped the main into the boat then rolled it up from the head down and laced it to the boom.

    We then enjoyed a leisurely lunch, discussing how the heck we were going to get under way again.

    To answer that, to simplify matters I put the boom on it’s crutch while the main went up with the genoa flapping. Once we had the main up, the genoa was loosely sheeted to drive the boat slowly over the anchor and the crew pulled up the anchor while the helm released the mainsheet and took down the crutch. Next time I will have a bucket ready to drop the anchor into as time spent trying to get the mud off the flukes was time spent not sailing properly.

    Using the crutch in this way is probably not practical in all situations and it helped that we had three in the boat so an extra pair of hands was available to help.

    How do others do it?


    preparation – we lead the warp through the fairlead before we start – make sure you get everything the same side of the shroud.
    The key thing is to stop the boat sailing – for still water or wind with tide – once you are head to wind and you have started to pay out the warp – Release the main sheet, ease the kicker (de-power the sail) raise the centreboard (and rudder) keep your weight forward in the boat.

    Have an escape plan in mind

    Drop the main in open water and sail to chosen spot on Genoa (lea shore landing style) – this also works for wind against tide.
    With practice you can sail upwind on just the genoa

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