In addition to wire rigging, (standing rigging) which holds the masts up, a boat needs running rigging, (ropes) which operate the sails and booms, including the square sail and yard. I wanted all lines to finish up in the cockpit, so nobody, (usually me), had to venture on deck in either inclement weather or rough seas.

   Roller furling certainly makes sail handling quicker and easier, in that it is not necessary to pull the sails up and down every time you want to change a sail or reef. But they also need more control lines and when you have five roller furling sails, this can become a little complicated. Luckily, the Down East 45 cockpit has a wide empty area either side of the companionway, originally used for only a couple of lines. I proposed to bring in twelve.

    This drawing shows my plan for routing these lines


   The main components of this maze are:

          • The control lines, sheets, furling lines, lifts and braces.
          • Numerous blocks, (pulleys).
          • Two banks of rope clutches.
          • Two self tailing winches.
          • Two rows of belaying pins.

                                                   CONTROL LINES:

Over-top-blocks    The controlling lines are double braid polyester 3/8”,  1/2” and 5/8” diameters, depending on their job. These ropes are exceptionally strong with very little stretch, and also nice and smooth on the hands.

    It would be boring to explain the uses of all these individual lines, but in general they are: (a) four furling lines which wrap the sails up round their stays, (b) three outhauls which unroll the sail, opposite to the furling lines, (c) three sheets, which control the booms, (d) two square sail furling lines which roll the Fore Course squaresail up and down.

    In addition, there are five other control lines, (sheets), which are bent on the clews of the sails and lead into the cockpit through running blocks to their own winches mounted on the cockpit sides.


   These are roller bearing pulleys which lead lines along the deck and eventually to the cockpit. I have a total of twenty two blocks, in singles, doubles and triple combinations.

  I could not find suitable blocks to carry my lines up and over the coach-roofs into the cockpit. So I made my own, using very small diameter sheaves. I made one single sheave block, a double, a triple and a row of six. Making these babies in my garage was quite therapeutic, and they work marvelously well and were featured in an article in Good-old-boat magazine January 2015. Click here for a reprint of the article.

 ropedeck                                                                                                                                     ROPE CLUTCHES:

    These are exactly what they sound like—clutches which allow ropes to slide through, but lock the rope when the lever is operated. They allow multiple lines to be used on a single winch. When a line is correctly tensioned on the winch, the lever is applied which locks the rope and it can be removed from the winch and coiled round a belaying pin.   

   Not all lines need to be attended at the same time of course, and I arranged them so each sail’s lines are next to each other. Still, this means a lot of winch winding; for example, it takes 19 turns to wind the Fore Course square sail up into its yard.

winchrite1   I therefore invested in a ‘Winchrite’. This is really a powerful right angled electric motor with an adapter which fits into the hole in the top of the winch. As well as being variable speed it is also reversible, so a two speed winch can be worked in the slower but more powerful direction. This effectively converts all our cockpit winches into electric winches and saves a lot of effort and much faster than hand cranking. The machine is extremely well made and some sailing friends, Vic and Sandy on Wind Wanderer, have used one to cross half the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, and it's still going strong.


Winches    Some of the winches were seized up when I bought the boat, and a few rachets were broken. They were all Lewmar, so I bought spare parts, then had all the winches re-chromed, along with all other deck hardware. This really improved the appearence of the boat.

                          BELAYING PINS:

This is just my way of keeping the lines tidy and I also enjoyed turning them on a friend's lathe. This is now the “rope deck”

Articles by Roger appear regularly in these boating magazines, about improvements to Britannia and other nautical matters

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