In gusty conditions, my usual sailing position is up on the windward
gunnel at the traveler, steering with the tiller extension. Quite
often, I will pull the traveler car up the track to weather and then
let out enough mainsheet to center the boom. This geometry permits
the boom to rise a bit to put some twist in the upper part of the
mainsail to spill wind. I would imagine your IMF mainsail with no
battens would be very sensitive to this trick. With no battens, your
mainsail should twist & spill wind like mad. With only a 2:1 block
and tackle on the traveler car, I've never had mine jam when I wanted
to dump it. In fact, just the opposite.
With only 2:1 rigging and the traveler car pulled up to the weather
end of the track, dumping the traveler seems to let the boom out
faster than letting out the 4:1 mainsheet. After the gust has passed,
the 2:1 rigging lets you get the traveler car back into position
faster than the mainsheet too, assuming you're strong enough. My
wife and sons complain the 2:1 rigging isn't enough mechanical
advantage for them to use when it's really windy.
I wish the traveler control lines were led around a block at the end
of the traveler track so you could pull on the control line from in
front of the traveler instead of from the side. Even sitting up on
the windward gunnel, you have to reach around the end of the track to
use the clam cleat and it's a little awkward.
This winter, I have a project planned wherein I'm going to take
Harken 256 (port) & 257 (starboard) traveler control cars and machine
out the bottom so they fit over the round Rhodes 22 traveler bar
instead of the proprietary Harken traveler track. I'll thru bolt
these modified Harken cars in place of the present clam cleats at
each end of the traveler bar.
I'm expecting this modification will get me several advantages:
- 1. The control line will now be one continuous loop, instead of two
separate lines. The mainsail trimmer will not have to leave the
windward gunnel in order to manipulate the leeward traveler control
- 2. The Harken 256 and 257 control cars have built-in ball bearing
blocks and a 356 Cam-Matic cam cleat on a pivoting arm. This
combination of features should permit the traveler control line to be
operated from an ergonomically better position in front of the
traveler, hopefully without an unacceptable increase in friction.
- 3. I'm hoping the helmsman will be able to move slightly forward for
a better view of the genoa telltales and to be more nearly
perpendicular to the end of the tiller for good steering. It may
even be possible to play the traveler while seated in the cockpit!
- 4. I'm hoping the improved ergonomics will give my wife and sons the
extra mechanical advantage they need to operate the traveler in heavy
Sounds like maybe the moving parts on your traveler car could use a
little TLC. My traveler car rolls pretty freely, even under load.
If it didn't, then, I would thru bolt a section of Harken 154 small
boat traveler track to the existing traveler rod & use one of the
ball bearing Harken traveler cars along with the 256 and 257 traveler
control cars. This configuration is probably the ultimate Rhodes 22
traveler. But, as I said, my traveler car rolls pretty easily, even
under load, and I don't think it's necessary to go to the Harken ball
bearing traveler cars.
By the way, sailing in gusty conditions is a proactive as opposed to
a reactive activity. By that I mean you need to be scanning the
surface of the water out to windward looking for the dark patches
that signal a gust. On Dynamic Equilibrium, anyone who spots the
gust will call it out and count it down as it comes in. The helmsman
prepares by heading off the wind a bit if possible and the sail
trimmers ease out on the sheets and traveler. When the gust hits,
the boat is already pre-configured to accelerate rather than heel.
After we've sucked every last knot of boat speed from the gust, we
point back up and spend our hard won kinetic energy to climb to
windward. Gusts are not something to be feared; but, rather handy
little packets of energy that need to be harvested and used.
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
24 Sep 98
I understand what you're doing, Roger, but how do you find time to
dump the traveler in a gust? Mine tends to be a little "sticky" due
to the various forces vectoring on it. It seems that all I can do is
shove the tiller to round up and dump some main sheet at the same
time...if all else fails, I dump some jib as well, but this all takes
time. Haven't tried dumping with the traveler though. Do you think
it would work satisfactorily with a standard batten (non IMF) main?
General Boats' Sail-Ease
1) What it is:
Sail-Ease is a main sail control system. Its purpose is to apply a
"constant" tension to the main sheet and in turn maintain the trim of
the main sail. The theory is that a gust of wind will increase
pressure on the main sail, which will be transferred to the main
sheet, and the Sail-ease will release some line to maintain the
"constant" tension, spilling some air and preventing the boat from
over heeling. It reminds me of my dingy sailing days, keeping the
main sheet always in my hand. I have been using "constant" in quotes,
in truth it is a spring that has a force curve depending on the load.
The unit is a spring-loaded tube with a line that will compress the
spring when withdrawn, its range of motion is about 3 feet but the
useful range is about 16-24 inches. There is an adjustment on the
unit to allow different stiffness settings (not normally changed).
On The Rhodes22 with IMF the unit was mounted on the boom forward of
the aft cleat using aluminum standoff brackets. The brackets were
pop-riveted onto the boom. The unit was then slid into the brackets
and tightened down. The line from the unit was lead aft into a
turning block attached to boom end and down to and attached to the
The two forward under side cleats should be relocated to the side of
the boom. Installation time was about 45 minutes with 15 minutes
spent finding the mounting location. I believe the unit is "user
installable". For a neat appearance, the bracket should be bent to
conform to the shape of the boom. The unit with brackets drops down
about 4 inches. You do have to watch your head a little more.
Clearance was checked for the pop-top (high and low mast) and the
bimini. There should be enough room left on the boom for a future
boom-vang. With a little engineering and customer demand the unit
could be incorporated into the boom itself.
3) Close hauled and a close reach performance:
This test was in winds of 10 knots with gusts to about 15 knots.
Full IMF main and full 110% jib. Using the stiffer spring unit. The
unit performed to theory. After setting the course and sail trim the
unit would release the main sheet in a gust of wind. By setting the
tension using the main sheet the amount of heel was controllable with
"smoother" transitions. It allows more reaction time in changing
winds and the ability to ride out a short gust without rounding up or
changing trim (within limits). The crew will get thrown around the
boat less. The skipper can sheet in as hard or soft as they wish (up
to the limits of the spring).
Overall it is a WIN on a Rhodes 22. The unit is not a panacea the
boat still needs to be trimmed and reefed to the conditions and the
unit has a limited range of motion. The unit with stiff spring seems
to react in the 15-20 degrees of heel (a function of the spring and
the heeling forces. adjustment).
4) Down wind and a Broad reach:
Little if any effect, the unit needs about 22 pounds of sheet
pressure to react. I am still waiting for a 20+ knots day when I can
push the unit on these points of sail.
5) Tacks and Jibes:
It helps with what I describe as the butchered tack. The one wherein
crew is a little off guard and the boat heels quickly on the new
course. It buys a little time for the crew (or skipper) to sheet in
the jib correctly and settle in before going under the leeward seat.
The same goes for a jibe. Overall control and stability are better
maintained. The unit also has the advantage of shock absorbing,
helping to take the shock load off of the rigging. For the Rhodes 22,
with the mainsheet mounted to the backstay, this might not be an
issue but it should help prolong the life of the rigging, chain-
plates, boom and gooseneck.
I have a Navico TP300 Tillerpilot on board. I found Sail-ease and
the Tillerpilot a good mix. The Navico had a problem keeping on
course in gusts (it would round up), and I would limit its use going
to weather. I found the unit improves its performance and I am
exploring this further.
7) Faster sailing:
The unit maintains the boat at a more constant heel, giving the sails
a better aspect to the wind (also some help with wave motion). I
don't think a racer would use this, but as a cruiser not wanting to
fiddle every few seconds, I think it gave me better overall speed. I
was setting my course, dialing in the sails and maintaining overall
speed with little lost for over heel or rounding up. I cannot prove
this with out running two boats exactly the same side by side and it
might be true because I want it to be, but my seat-of-the-pants
conclusion is the boat felt faster than normal.
8) Poor man's boom vang:
The way the traveler, mainsheet and the loose-footed sail work leads
to some interesting properties. I find I am more comfortable
sheeting in the main/traveler tighter because the system has more
give then the main sheet alone (stress to rigging and other parts).
In addition, the tension is more constant as I change tacks using the
traveler. I think the IMF main is setting better but I need to play
more to get a feel for it.
9) The Sailing Expert:
An expert sailor (or expert Rhodes sailor or Stan) can control the
boat for very little heel in almost any wind. By balancing the sails,
controlling the boom height, sail trim and course the Rhodes 22 is
stable. The problem is the lazy sailor or the novice or intermediate
might not have every thing in control, the unit could add a margin.
It could also lead to leaving too much sail up for the conditions.
It might make a novice taking the helm much easier (like share the
fun or taking a break). A consideration might be the spouse and kids
that might not have the same feel for quick advances in heel, keeps
them and you sailing more.
Bottom line is I like it and want to try it out some more.
Very interesting. Where can I purchase a Sail-Ease? I remember you
telling us about it in previous posts; but I deleted them. On
Dynamic Equilibrium, I sail to windward by playing the traveler in
gusts. With my fully battened mainsail, the mainsheet is more of a
sail shaping control. Is the Sail-Ease adaptable to the traveler?
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
I pull out my boat around November each year. When I get it home, I
take the mast off the boat and lay it across my back deck. Then I
lubricate the entire mast, shrouds and fittings with WD-40. I guess
the lubricant you're talking is different than WD-40. When I put it
back in the water around April, I clean off the WD-40 and wax the
I assume the lubricant you're talking about would not stain my sail.
I will have to try some of that stuff; the mainsail gets hard to
raise by the end of summer.
So they're called slugs not slides/shackles. When I don't know the
right word I make up one.
WD-40 is not what you want. It won't last a week in the sun. West
Marine sells a mast slot cleaner/lube kit called super sail or some
such. It is a fabric slot slider that you lube, attach a downhaul to
and run up and down the mast slot to clean and lube it. You can
really tell the difference after 2 or 3 trips up and down with the
sail. The lube is jelly-like and silicone based. The whole business
is less than $10. If you can't find it, I will get the name the next
time I'm at the boat.
Lots of questions: Do you have slides on your mainsail? I am running
the mainsail rope up the mast slot (no slides/shackles). I would have
to convert my main to the slides/shackles with a stop to keep the
main hooked to the mast. The shackles go about every 2 feet don't
they? Wouldn't this be my first step before I try to run the halyards
to the cockpit?
Finally, did you do it yourself or send it to a sail shop? How much
did it cost?
About two weeks ago I had slugs put on the new/used main I bought
from GB. They are spaced about 18-inches apart. The cost was about
$95 at my sail chandler using grommeted slugs, not sewn.
To keep the gooseneck below the mast opening, I tied a running stop
knot on the boom "downhaul" line. My old sail was all above the slot
and I had a stopper pin in the mast. You can also use one of the
mast stops from Davis for the same purpose
Slugs are definitely worth the investment. The sail goes up easier
and slides down most of the way.
Have you cleaned and lubed the mast groove (and subsequently, the
bolt rope)? It's really important to get some slot cleaner/lubricant
and apply it 2-3 times to get the slugs good and slippery!
I ran the main halyard and boom "downhaul" back to the starboard aft
side of the cabin top. Can run it all standing up in the cockpit and
hold, more or less, the tiller via the hiking stick at the same time.
I am thinking about adding a Harken 'Dutchman' mainsail flaking
system. Anyone have experience with installing and/or using one?
s/v "Sailsman's Bounty" 1984