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Thread: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

  1. #1
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    Default Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Well, the metal ring-type mast traveler has been popular among PNW sail and oar lugsail users for a long time. Thanks to Clint Chase, I now have one for my boat, and I thought a few people might be interested in my thoughts after rigging it up and giving it a (driveway) tryout.

    Here's the traveler--a nice pre-leathered one that (for now) I have tied to my halyard with a simple bowline (easy to untie after loading).

    traveler rigged.jpg

    1. One of the often-mentioned advantages of a mast traveler is speed. Simply hook the yard up and hoist away, or lower away and then detach the yard. No knots to tie or lines to rig once the halyard and attachment point on the yard (I'm using a simple lashing) is set up.

    That's true. But for my boat, at least, it's not really any faster than my old method, which was to tie the halyard directly to the yard using a constrictor hitch. Why? Because my boat is laid out with plenty of flat space (there's a large flat in the bow, forward of the mast) to lay the yard/sail bundle. So, using my old method, I never needed to untie the halyard from the yard after dropping the sail. I just paid out enough slack so I could position the sail bundle wherever I wanted it.

    For boats that lack that option, though, this is a fast way to attach/detach the halyard.

    Here's the lashing I'm using on the yard (I could shorten the loop a bit to gain a touch more hoist height, and may do that).

    yard rigged 2.jpg

    2. Another benefit of a mast traveler is that it holds the yard close to the mast, even when the sail is reefed. Without it, a reefed sail tends to sag away from the mast, which is less than optimal. You can certainly rig a parrel or line of some sort instead of relying on a traveler ring, but the ring solves the problem quite elegantly, with no need to fuss with parrels, etc.

    That's probably the biggest benefit I'm going to see from rigging a traveler ring.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-10-2021 at 05:54 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    More thoughts:

    3. With my old tie-the-halyard-to-the-yard system, I had a really effective way to manage the yard while hoisting the sail: simply use my left hand to lift the yard, keeping it at close to the proper angle, yard peaked up. Doing this kept everything under control very nicely--it's only when the tip of the yard is allowed to stay low while the sail is hoisted that the sail and yard start thrashing around.

    However, with the traveler ring, hoisting is a bit more awkward. Why? Because it's very easy to lift the yard right off of the hook if you try to use my old "hold-the-yard-at-the-proper-angle-as-you-hoist" technique. This is a minor inconvenience--mostly just a habit I need to break. I think I'll find the necessary modifications to technique fairly simple. Probably just needing to hoist a bit first, and then lift the yard to the proper angle, avoiding lifting the yard right off the hook.

    It's also a bit awkward to shift hands around the traveler ring as you hoist the sail. With the halyard running inside the ring (I assume that's the correct way to rig it), the first initial bit of hoisting isn't smooth, because the halyard bends around the ring, forcing you to pull upward on the halyard rather than down, creating some friction where it runs over the ring. After the ring gets a little way up the mast, you can again pull downward, and the friction is eliminated.

    I'm sure there will be less friction when hoisting from inside the boat, closer to the mast--so that's another aspect that may make this less of a problem anyway.

    Here's what a hoist looks like in practice:



    You can see a bit of awkwardness as I shift my hands on the halyard to get around the ring.

    One solution might be to hoist the halyard/traveler ring up to about head height (maybe even leaving cleating it off at that height after lowering the sail) before hooking the sail on--that would eliminate the initial stages of the hoist, where the halyard rubs against the traveler while the traveler is down low. I'll try that next time.
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 06-10-2021 at 09:29 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    4. Another bit of an issue in my boat is that using the traveler means you lose just a bit of hoist height for the sail. Partly that's because I am using a bowline rather than a splice at the moment. But even with a spliced-on hook, the hook itself can't be hoisted quite as far up the mast as you can get it by tying the halyard directly to the yard with a constrictor hitch.

    For most people, that inch or two won't matter at all. But in my boat, the way I have my downhaul rigged means I need every inch of hoist height I can get.

    Here's the downhaul:

    downhaul.jpg

    It's fine for light-to-medium winds. But in heavy winds when you need lots of downhaul to flatten the sail, I barely have enough room in the system. That's largely because I'm trying to avoid a permanent metal strap as a bottom downhaul anchor (hardware there would get in the way of my sleeping platform).

    I've solved that, I think, by tying the bottom anchor loop for the downhaul as closely as I can get on the thwart--before installing the traveler, I could get away with having the bottom anchor loop floating a couple of inches above the thwart. As you can see in the photo above, I now have a way to get the bottom block right down to just barely above thwart level, which gives me enough room in my downhaul for good tension, I think.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Tom,

    I have always run the halyard outside of my traveller ring and it's never been a problem. The whole thing goes up smoothly. My halyard tie-off cleat is attached to the mast, pretty much the same way yours is.
    Alex

    "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
    - Vincent van Gogh

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Ok, so, dropping the sail. Not really traveler-related, but a possible change in technique I'll be trying out:

    5. When lowering the sail, I used to let the halyard slide through my right hand, while pulling tension on the luff with my left. Keeping this tension on the luff as you lower really tames the yard by keeping it peaked up at the proper angle, which prevents it from thrashing around.

    But I'm beginning to think that Yeadon was right (Who'd have doubted it, really?) that it's better to drop the sail by letting the halyard run freely through your hand, and not worrying about holding the luff at all. And then, after dropping it partway, grabbing the halyard suddenly to stop its descent, while at the same time (or nearly the same time) grabbing the yard with your hand for control, and then releasing the halyard again and lowering the yard/sail the rest of the way with just your hands.

    Here's what my first attempt at this looks like:



    Actually, you can see in the video that my first instinct was to grab the luff again after stopping the halyard's drop. I don't think that's necessary. Just, drop the yard until it's about head high, then grab it and wrestle it down into the boat. No grabbing the luff.

    I think this will be a faster (and probably better) way of lowering the sail in many (most?) conditions.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    4. Another bit of an issue in my boat is that using the traveler means you lose just a bit of hoist height for the sail.

    For most people, that inch or two won't matter at all. But in my boat, the way I have my downhaul rigged means I need every inch of hoist height I can get.
    Another trick to consider, if you have insufficient hoist height, is to move the sling on the yard forward an inch or two. It will gain you some height at the bottom end, at the cost of affecting the sail balance (likely increased weather helm), but if the balance is not too bad, you might be able to live with it.
    Alex

    "The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
    - Vincent van Gogh

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Quote Originally Posted by AJZimm View Post
    Tom,

    I have always run the halyard outside of my traveller ring and it's never been a problem. The whole thing goes up smoothly. My halyard tie-off cleat is attached to the mast, pretty much the same way yours is.
    Alex,

    thanks for the comment. I tried it both ways--but since I'm running my halyard all the way up the mast as high as I can get it to maximize hoist height, the halyard on the off side has to make a sharpish bend around the outside of the ring to run through the beehole if I don't run the halyard inside the ring. I'll try it that way again and see if it really matters--maybe it doesn't. But I didn't like the way it looked for some reason.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Quote Originally Posted by AJZimm View Post
    Another trick to consider, if you have insufficient hoist height, is to move the sling on the yard forward an inch or two. It will gain you some height at the bottom end, at the cost of affecting the sail balance (likely increased weather helm), but if the balance is not too bad, you might be able to live with it.
    A handy thing to keep in mind--thanks. I haven't experimented much with the placement of the hoist point anyway--my sail seemed to set very smoothly the way I first rigged it, so I never really shifted it around. I've gotten a bit lazy about paying attention to how much weather helm there is, because I almost always sail with my line-and-bungee "self steering" these days, which holds the tiller in place.

    More things to play around with!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    Alex,

    thanks for the comment. I tried it both ways--but since I'm running my halyard all the way up the mast as high as I can get it to maximize hoist height, the halyard on the off side has to make a sharpish bend around the outside of the ring to run through the beehole if I don't run the halyard inside the ring. I'll try it that way again and see if it really matters--maybe it doesn't. But I didn't like the way it looked for some reason.
    When I first rigged my boat, I had intended to use that type of traveler, but ran into the same problem with lift height you describe, Tom. I reverted to lashing the halyard to the yard using a studding sail bend (ABOK 1678). which worked well. When I recently replaced my 3 strand halyard with thinner double-braid, I decided to give it another try and it actually works acceptably. With the old 3 strand, the eye splice would jam in the sheave limiting hoist. The eye splice in the double braid was thin enough to go through the shim buying me 2-3" of hoist. The eye splice can be simply slid around the bends on the traveler to remove - simpler than untying a bowline.

    I've run the halyard both ways, inside and outside of the ring. I think I get a tiny amount more lift when inside, but it's not much.

    As Alex has suggested, I tried moving the attachment to the yard forward a bit. This buys you some additional lift, but on my boat, significantly affected the balance. Mine is a balanced lug rig, perhaps it is not as big of an effect on a standing lug rig.

    Hopefully, converting to a tidy eye splice will do the trick for you.
    - Anything you can't have fun with is not worth taking seriously.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    You can gain an inch or two by working on the spar lashing. I'd find a small ring or shackle, just a bit bigger than the diameter of the hook and lash it hard down on the yard, metal in contact with the yard.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Rigging a Lugsail Mast Traveler

    I've made a parrel bead equivalent to the hook, with a ring of parrel beads keeping a stainless snaphook close to the mast. Halyard goes in the eye and a prussik loop on the yard snaps into the snaphook.

    Another old traditonal system that can be modernized with some snaphooks is to have a little block riding on the halyard that fastens to the yard in the usual place with a snaphook either lashed to the yard or to the block. Bitter end of the halyard has a snaphook. and is run on the opposite side of mast from the yard, then hooks on a loop of line on the end of the spar. Or the snaphook can be on the end of the spar and the bitter end of the halyard has a loop. The advantage of this is that you can pull the whole mess aft to stow.
    Ben Fuller
    Ran Tan, Liten Kuhling, Tipsy, Tippy, Josef W., Merry Mouth, Imp, Macavity, Look Far, Flash and a quiver of other 'yaks.
    "Bound fast is boatless man."

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