Running Rigging

Integral Soft Shackle on your Sheet

Having a soft shackle at the end of your line is a great asset. A soft shackle lets you securely attach a line to something without the need for a knot. This means that anyone can connect the line without you needing to check their work for a proper knot.

What could fail with a soft shackle on an eye splice? Easy: someone could drop it overboard!

The best way to make a bullet proof soft shackle is to have it permanently attached to the end of your sheet. Making the soft shackle integral to the sheet itself!

How to Install a New Halyard

Whether you are installing an additional halyard or your old halyard broke and fell out of the mast and onto your deck, you are now faced with the dilemma of “How do I install a new halyard?”

This video goes over the basics as well as a few tricks that will make installing a new halyard as easy as possible. Like most projects on a boat where you are required to go aloft, there is no “easy”, but these tips will make it “less hard”.

Rope Cleaning Station

Ropes become lines the moment they enter the vicinity of a boat (unless you are the select few ropes that remain a “rope on a boat”). The trouble is, these sheets, halyards, jacklines, and other control lines all get dirty over time. Between the salt that gets into the fibers and the algae that grows on them if they don’t dry out enough, the lines become filthy!

When you remove a line from a boat and turn it back into (dirty) rope, you may want to clean it. Washing machines are not a good idea as all the agitation will form infinite knots in your ropes. Many detergents (especially fabric softeners) will actually weaken the strength of the rope. You are pretty much left with the option of a bucket filled with Dawn Soap and water.

You could simply mix the rope around in the bucket for a while and try to work the dirt out of the rope fibers the best you can, but this will end up with a dirty rope where the only thing that came out in the wash were the good intentions.

The next option is to add a brush to the equation. A good scrub brush will help loosen and remove dirt and other contaminates from the rope and its fibers, but scrubbing a rope can be rather challenging.

A friend of mine made this apparatus to facilitate the cleaning process of his jib sheets. The brushes are simply clamped to a sturdy table, allowing him to work the rope through the brushes with both hands to really clean them up well. The rope that is waiting simply soaks in the soapy water of the bucket, helping to loosen any filth that is on the line.

Photo and idea courtesy of: Scott Erwin

Photo and idea courtesy of: Scott Erwin

As the rope gets cleaner, the water can be changed out to prevent the clean rope from stewing in the old filthy water. The process really makes an impossible task much easier, and the end result is a much cleaner jib sheet once it is returned to it's home on the boat.

Theory of Winged Sails

What do sailboats and airplanes have in common? They both rely on airfoils to generate lift!

Sails produce lift in a horizontal fashion while airplanes produce lift in a vertical fashion. Now, if airplanes and sailboats are both using airfoils to generate lift, why do wings look so different from sails?

Well, the answer is complicated. First off, they really shouldn’t look that different. Airplane wings are “wings” because that shape produces more lift and less drag, making it a much more efficient system and thus has been widely adopted on all airplanes.

Sailboats struggle with a thing called “Traditional” which is a nice way of saying “I won’t put that newfangled gizmo on my traditional boat!”

As a result, airplanes moved on to wings instead of sails long ago but sailboats remained in the past.

The only word strong enough to break tradition is “racing” and winged sails have burst into that scene with fury due to their incredible boots of efficiency. A wing sail will generate many times the lift of a similar sized sail, meaning that the same surface area can be used to produce more power without increasing weight, and as a result, greatly increase speed.

Hull speed was a global governor to sailboat speeds, which halted the desire for super-charged winged sails, as there was no way to exceed this speed limit. That was until foiling became commonplace on racing yachts, where this added power means insane top speeds! The only way to be faster than your competition is to have a better sail, and so the arms race of sail design is back on and winged sails are leading the pack.

The reason winged sails haven’t been fully adopted by every marina dwelling racer is the issue with stowage. Sails can be furled or flaked, winged sails are somewhat of a structure, and stowage of them is rather complicated. Until this aspect gets ironed out, winged sails might not be an option you can check the box next to on your new yacht at the boat show; but give it time.