Latest News: Forums Technical Fairleads and…fairleads

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  • #3841

    W7913 (a mk2)is an ex-school boat and had a fairly minimal fit -out when I took her on. Over the latter part of last season I made some simple inprovements that gave results out of all proportion to the cost. Things like replacing the crusty old alloy mast sheaves with nylon, fitting a wire jib halyard and highfield, and a kicker with a reasonable amount of thrutch (only 6:1, though) and finally a Barton furler (which does what I want it to do, ok?) all added up to a huge transformation. She rigs and sails very sweetly. Not championship stuff, maybe, but very satisfying.
    She just needs some bow fairleads, but how do I fit them? I’m in no shape to crawl under the foredeck, and chimney sweeps come a bit larger these days. Do the fairleads need a backing pad or would big screws and those plastic wing-nut things do? How do I hold a pad under the deck while I drill/screw /bolt into it?
    While I’m thinking of fairleads, I might just fit inboard genoa fairleads and jammers if the budget will stretch. What’s the best way to fit them to the side benches? Any thoughts on a block instead of a fairlead? how about a ratchet block and no jammer? All friendly fire gratefully received…

    Bob Harland

    I think you would get away without a backing pad for the fairleads on the bow.
    There should be quite a bit of GRP to screw into. The position of the fairleads – close to the edge – probably means you cannot get a pad underneath anyway.

    Use some self tappers to fasten, bed the fairlead with some sealant.
    There is no direct pull on the fairlead so that should be fine.

    For genoa sheeting a simple solution is usually good enough for a family boat.
    These combined fairlead/jammers work pretty well;
    Once you start adding ratchet blocks the costs go up – and you also use more space in the boat.
    In terms of where to fix them, there is a photo here;
    Assuming you have wood side benches then screws are fine to fit them – the screws will need to go about 3/4 depth of the wood.
    I would advise against ratchet blocks on their own – unless you don’t like your crew.

    hope that helps.


    Thank you! That’s good news.
    I have it in mind to do a bit of racing (well, transom-following), hence the inboard sheeting. I wondered if a C section track between the bench slats and minus one end-stop would allow me to fit the fairlead slides for the round-the-cans stuff, slipping them off and using the existing deck-mounted fittings when day-sailing with a full crew.
    Is this feasible, and how would I mount the track?



    It is feasible to mount between the slats – I used a hardwood strip betweeen the slats to get the track (similar to that suggested by Bob) to the correct height. See picture.

    I needed an extra cross-piece under the slats to support it, and a fair amount of angle packing between the sliding plate and the cleat to get the cleat to a practical angle.

    The track isn’t able to sit completely below the level of the slats, but this is a neat arrangement, and a good deal more comfortable to sit on than if it is mounted on top.

    Colin Parkstone

    A couple of point of help I hope friends,

    Howard, If the picture of the genoa tracks was taken in the direction of the bow, I think you will find that the fairlead and cleat is on the wrong side as the thicker end is made for the sheet!! May be a bit easier for the crew that way!!

    Forbes, When drilling and screwing self tapping stainless screws into gell and GRP laminates, may I recommend that you first drill the pilot hole then countersink that hole to the overall width of the screws shank.
    This hopfully stops the fine thread of the screw from lifting and braking out the gell around the screw which is a common problem with Gel.

    If you have to put a backing pad behind any fitting which is hard to get to and glue,try this!!

    Drill small pilot holes through the fitting to be fixed and also right through the gel and laminate.

    Pass string through these holes and pull to the nearest access.

    Pass the string through the backing pad in holes drilled the same distance apart as the holes in the deck, panel or fitting.

    Then put glue ect on the pad,pull through to the fixing point and hold it behind the fittings hole till the glue has dried.

    Cut off string and screw fitting into gel and pad.

    Hope this helps ????

    C P 😕



    Many thanks. The string tip is useful too.



    Thank you all for those wise words. I’m glad I joined the association.

    May I pick your brains some more?
    If I’m fitting bow fairleads, I’m thinking of dropping the hook for the odd picnic. Has anybody got any good tricks for launching/ recovering the anchor without ripping grooves in the bows?


    Hi All.
    I have a (possibly controversial??) thought:
    It appears that most people have the Genoa fairlead set as far aft as the track allows.
    It also seems that people who are more interested in comfort than strict performance (I include myself in this) worry about the comfort of the crew sitting on the track.
    So – if mostly the track is set aft, and if comfort is important, what would the impact be if the track were replaced with a swivel cleat fitted at the aft end of one of the side benches?
    Perhaps something like:
    I would welcome your thoughts!! 🙂


    You’ve touched a nerve, there, JonW.
    I’ve never seen a race-rigged Wayfarer, but looking at the recommended positions, if I understand them correctly, there’s a three inch range fore’n’aft, followed by the advice ‘if in doubt, ease’. For my purposes, something like that, perhaps mounted on some kind of keyhole plate, would do the job. A tired genoa or a hard-pressed crew could account for most of that range of movement. The track, I assume, spreads the load.

    If it’s controversial, I suppose they’ll keelhaul us together…

    Colin Parkstone

    Some ideas for the above that have popped into my head,!!

    If your looking for comfort on the side benches,does the sheet and track have to be on the seat, how about cutting the genoa to a shape for the best position of the cleat ???

    That position may be forward on the benches in the area forward of the shroud line across the boat.

    Yes!! The sail plan may change but your be alot more comfy!! and if your sailmaker is like mine they would be happy to help!

    Or how about putting an inline sheave in the gap between the bench slats and having the sheet lead to a cleat UNDER the bench. Most fittings companies make a cleat platform to hold a cleat in a horizontal plane.

    If all this work on the side benches cuts into the woodwork,consider making a compleat new set for the boat that suit you and then will not destroy the standard set.

    C P


    Certainly, the range of movement I need to shape the full genoa is quite small.

    However, I’m one of those cruisers that use roller reefing. My practical experience is that I need lots of fairlead position adjustment to get the reefed sail into an sensible shape. Have you considered this issue?


    It’s a ripstop Mac. genny about as old as the boat. The main is still in remarkably good shape but the genoa has been ravaged by various elements, not least mice, to judge from the patches. Im more inclined to replace it than recut it.
    I’m aiming for a cost-effective compromise.
    I’m using a furler, tensioned by a Highfield. As our old works engineer would put it “We’re not buildin’ Concorde, tha knows.”
    Purpose-built benches with flush fairleads could well be an option, as could the swivel cleat.
    I suppose my philosophy with this boat is to make the best of what she’s got, rather than trying to make her into a new boat. In automotive terms, a carb. clean, new plugs and points, rather than a new engine.
    Am I worrying too much about this. Should I just accept the loss of pointing ability with the outboard fairleads and try to sail the beats free and fast?
    Just now, with horizontal snow whipping across tthe local reservoir and a wind-chill around -8, I suspect there’s still time to mull-over an acceptable solution…


    We’ve had our boat for about 5 years and although I intended to fit bow fairleads, I’ve managed to get by without. The only time I really need one is when anchoring, so instead of fitting a failread on the bow (with all the problems of pads, bolts, nuts and chimney sweeps) I just tie a bit of string around the forestay and the anchor line. I used to use a bit of shock cord, but it wasn’t necessary. (If you keep the loop to about 8 inches diameter, there’s hardly any snatch as the boat swings on the anchor.)


    I like a fairlead for the hook. But use an open one. In all but the bounciest conditions this should hold the warp in place. Then when you haul up the anchor, you lean over the bows and lift the warp clear and bring it back to the side of the boat where you can haul in the last bit while keeping an eye on it.


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