- jib halyard
- foresail halyard
- mainsail peak halyard
- mainsail throat halyard
- mainsail topping lift
- the topsail halyard
- the topsail downhaul
- the topsail outhaul
- single mainsail sheet
- two jib sheets
- single foresail sheet
- two backstays
- mizzen halyard
- mizzen sheet
Not to mention the lines that terminate on the main or mizzen booms, or on the bowsprit:
- bobstay line
- bobstay tricing line
- mainsail outhaul
- mainsail reefing line
- mizzen lazy jacks
As part of my 'no-drama' sailing program (more on that, soon), my goal is for each of these lines to have it's own dedicated cleat or belaying pin. I might even label them (... no, probably not!)
The point is, when you need to peak up the mainsail, it's a heck of a lot easier if (1) you know where it's belayed, and (2) the topping lift isn't tied on top of it.
Furthermore, you can imagine how difficult it is for a solo sailor to manage all these lines. A typical tack involves:
- putting the helm over
- half-way through the tack, when the sails are slack:
- tighten the (new) windward backstay
- release the (new) leeward backstay
- release the jib sheet
- heave in the opposite jib sheet
- breath again
I've already built one cleat -- a boom cleat for the mainsail outhaul -- so I have a bit of experience with this... not a lot, but enough to get me going.
For my first jam cleat, I chose a pattern for what I believe is a Butler Cleat... a jam cleat designed by the famous 19th century canoeist, Paul Butler. I'm still trying to track down a definitive source for this pattern, but here's the pattern that I have:
Then I just layer it on a piece of scrap oak and traced around it with a pencil. This is no-drama building, so I didn't go crazy with this.
|'Template' on scrap of Oak|
|Roughly cut out|
Again, maybe 10 minutes.
|After a bit of sanding|
Since this was literally the first jam cleat I'd every actually seen, I really wasn't exactly sure how it would work. I wasn't even sure which direction it should point, or wether the rope should pass through the jamming side first, or after going around the 'horn' side first.
I had my theories, but I wanted to test them out before installing the cleat. So I screwed it down to a piece of scrap wood and played around with it for a bit.
Pretty obviously, the line should pass around the horn, first, then through the 'jammer'. I also discovered it worked great with lines from 5/16" or 3/8" line. For my 1/2" main sheet, I'd probably want to scale it up a bit.
|Testing in shop|
|Paste-wax and bronze screws|
|Installed and working!|
It was a real joy to complete a project in one easy evening. The old timers designed cleats in all sorts of different specialized shapes, but none of them look hard to make. If you're looking for a quick and cheap way to improve your boat, building strong, good looking wood cleats is a great option.
And if you use scrap wood, they're practically free! What more could you ask for?
If this inspires you to build any, please send photos and I'll post them to a future blog.
>>> Next Episode: Helena Gets a Notion