sail controls and deck equipment

Once you've determined the preferred sail and rig plan the decision making process for the arrangement of the deck equipment becomes pretty straight forward.

The are three big decision points in the deck plan that basically set the scene for the equipment you will need and where to locate it. 


1. The first is how many halliards and reefing lines you wish to lead back to the cockpit, if any. This basically boils down to whether you are happy to cleat halliards and reefing lines on the mast or whether you prefer lines to come back to the cockpit so you don't have to go forward to change sails or put in a reef.


2. The second is the tack positions for the headsails, Whether you need a long bow pole, either permanently fixed or retractable. This decision relates back to the selection of headsails, and if you are going to have an asymmetric downwind sail as well as a Code Zero then you will most likely require a reasonably long bow pole.


3. The third decision is whether to have the working headsail sheeting to a self tacking track, and if it is; whether the sheet will go up the mast and back to the deck and aft to the cockpit, or go forward to the tack point before returning to the cockpit.


Bringing lines aft to the cockpit is convenient, especially if you are doing a lot of short handed or single handed sailing. Cleating them off on the mast saves purchasing additional hardware, reduces friction in the system and minimises weight by reducing the line lengths and hardware requirements. Cleating lines on the mast is more attractive option if you have, or are setting up for a rotating rig, but beware of positioning winches on the mast where they can catch genoa sheets when tacking. Some sail makers I know place an outright ban on winches on the mast for this reason.

Bow Pole setup on trimaran Venom

Venom's deck layout was the result of a number of meetings that included the rigger, Joel Berg, the builder Jamie Morris, the sail maker Ben Kelly, and the on most occasions the owner Bob Dunn, all four being experienced multihull sailors.

There is any number of ways to send dagger controls aft. Using soft lashings as shown here avoids the need for making sure that hard blocks are mounted  to lead the control lines cleanly for various height adjustment of the dagger board,

Leading sheets and halliards down to deck level is a complication best avoided. Most cruising cats have done away with the genoa sheeted to the cabin top and instead have a self tacking track forward of the mast for the jib and a code zero sheeted to the deck beside the cabin.

A lot of lines coming aft can use up a lot of deck space. double stack organisers can help to minimise the problem

Deck hatches are a major challenge when you're running lines aft to the cockpit especially if you don't have sufficiently wide side decks, but they're essential for getting air flow into the aft cabin on a cruising cat and they need to located as far forward as possible over the aft cabin berth, a feature that seems to be overlooked by quite a few of the production cat builders.

Mainsheet setup on Barefoot 40. A 2:1 main sheet and traveller system with a separate winch for the main sheet. You can get by with just two winches if you cleat the main sheet off, but if you like to push hard you'll pronbably prefer a separate winch for the main sheet as shown here.

Clean and compact. Chincogan 52 with lines cleated on the mast.

Two ways to keep decks tidy. Tail stowage compartment (left) and leading lines under the deck (centre).

Self tacking jib track on trimaran Rapido show adjustable clew board and sheet line going up the mast, then back down and aft to the cockpit. This is a classic example of the need to coordinate the layout and the specification of the deck hardware, the rig and the sails.

Here's a solution for keeping halliards and reefing lines on the mast, but not having a winch on the mast that might catch the sheets.

Carbon Copy uses a winch and clutches mounted on a forward facing rotation spanner.

I think this is a great solution if you have enough space forward of the mast and don't mind going forward to reef.  Lines from the mast come under the self tacking track, to winch and disappear into the anchor locker. The boat is a Chincogan 52.

Two solutions to the same problem. Exit slots and clutch locations on the left are staggered to avoid weakening the mast. On the right the clutches are mounted on a backing plate helping to distribute the load..