Cleat to lock mainsheet?

Hi All

I could do with a jammer/cleat to lock the mainsheet sometimes as it's a bit of a pain holding it when I'm covering a long distance on my own. Any recommendations on what to buy and where to fit it?

My current mainsheet setup is pretty standard for a Mirror I think - it starts tied onto one side of the stern/transom, up through a pulley on the end of the boom, down to another pulley on the other side of the transom and up into your hand.



62816inBerlin's picture

That's worth a discussion. In a light boat that can be blown over very quickly, jam cleats are a risk if you get too complacent about using them.
With the "traditional" sheeting arrangement you describe, it's difficult to find a suitable place for the mainsheet cleat, the more modern sheeting where the mainsheet comes from the centre of the boom is better suited for cleating but then you have to maneouvre around the sheet in the cockpit.
I've wanted to free my hands occasionally and resorted to various tricks until I saw this video: (about 42 seconds into the clip) . A simple slip knot over the block holds the sheet. a tug on your end unties it : quite adequate in low wind conditions. I copy the method now, as can be seen at about 1'25" into my test video .

Once again, thanxx for drawing my attention to the edit permissions issue!

Gernot H.

beermatt's picture

Yes I wondered about the risk of capsizing with the sheet locked into something, I think the key is to make sure the end of the mainsheet is always readily accessible so you can snap it out of the cleat very quickly if you get a surpirse gust of wind or something. You could still even keep the rope in your hand - it's much easier to go ferreting around in your bag for a drink or putting a jumper on etc holding the mainsheet loosely, than it is controlling it under tension.

The slip knot in the video is a genius idea! Sometimes the simple ones are the best lol. Still not as quick and convenient as a cam cleat but I'll probably give that a try before doing any modifications.

62816inBerlin's picture

... will be to try the bungee "self steering" setup seen in the first video. As the film shows, the skipper is happily peeling and eating a banana as the boat sails along.
Last year I simply let the boat drift with the sails flapping to allow me to pull on my parka when the rain started, but it was already blowing so hard that I wouldn't have taken the chance with a cleated-down sheet anyway. The scene between 9 and 10 minutes into was taken about a quarter of an hour after I had put on my rain gear.
We have very tricky wind conditions on the local lake. That's one reason I look forward to our messabout meetings nearer the coast. However this year we're going to sail on the "Schlei" which runs across Schleswig-Holstein and I fear that the conditions will be similar to those here in Berlin.

Looking forward to Spring...

Gernot H.

I copied the following from an OMDA friend of mine. Put a strong velcro (hook and loop) one half on the flat end of the tiller extension and the other half on the gunnel. The same other half goes on the other gunnel as well. Then just attach the tiller extension to the gunnel. Actually it is a good idea to put a several inch strip on each tiller extension end so you have some adjustment on the self steering.


Hi, Do not use any sort of jamming devices. In among other dinghies for instance in thi International Optimist, a special ratchet block is used. The block runs freely, when you tighten up your sheet. When something happens or you wish to loosen the sheet, the Wheel Locks and the rope slides over the small dents on the block.
The system was first invented by the famous Danish dinghysailor Paul Elvstrom and can be supplied from Harken.

beermatt's picture

Yeh good point. I'd considered a ratchet block before, your post made me decide to give it another quick search (ebay) and I've won one on auction pretty cheap :) I'll report how I get on with it.

If I understand correctly the idea of a ratchet is just to make it easier to hold and more difficult for the sail to pull itself out. Useful, but not a solution if you're on your own on a long trip and need two hands for something. I guess your point about jamming being a bad idea is referring to the risk of capsize, but still think that as long as the rope is easily accessible to quickly snap out of the cleat it's not a big problem. Just have to be careful not to get complacent.

I haven't got as far as self steeting yet but probably will do. Pete's velcro suggestion sounds easy to implement I think I'll be giving that a try at some point!

The only time I needed to use both hands to do something was to raise the spinnaker and insert the spinnaker pole. I put a knot in the mainsheet so that the mainsail is fully let out the knot hits that ratchet block and does not let the mainsheet out any further. When I do this I also set the self steering to keep the Mirror in the direction I want.

I think, You understood my point.
Thinking of another possibility:
On older fishing dinghies in Denmark with a smack rig, the boats had a metal peg at both sides under the gunwale where the sheat was turned once around and jammed ("locked") by a slip hitch. You had both hands free for fishing and could easily loosen the sheat by a quick pull at the free end of the sheat.
I only think this will funktion with the sheat mooved forwards, German Sheating.

About steering: a piece af bungge cord folded at the middle is attatched at the bottom where the aft flotation tank meets the side tanks (mounted at an open angle). Mount with screws in the frame. With a tackled eye at the middle.
If You need free hands for something, just tighten the bungge rope and slip the eye over the end of Your rudder handle.
Ole "Baadsen" Madsen, Denmark