As I mentioned at the start of the Boom vang solution post, my mainsail is a bit stretched out. The boom vang in that post was the first step at getting control over all three sides of the sail—the leech tension. Step two in this post is a trimmable outhaul for control over the foot tension. The last step is a boom downhaul for tension on the luff, which will be a future post.
Most old C-22s came from the factory with a simple loop of line between the mainsail clew and an eye strap at the end of the boom similar to the picture below. It holds the sail in place but that’s about all. You can’t easily trim it while sailing. If it’s loose enough to make connecting the clew easy, then it isn’t tight enough for moderate to heavy winds. If you take the time to cinch it up tight, you’ll have to untie it to take the sail off if you trailer like we do. By then, the knot could be hard to loosen.
The solution is a trimmable outhaul. A certain Catalina parts dealership offers a four part kit. The problem I have with it is that it doesn’t use a becket to anchor the working end of the line. Instead, their kit anchors the line at another eye strap on the boom. Fair enough, unless you have other rigging that needs to be mounted there. My design for boom rigging needed that location for the topping lift cheek block.
Taking my cue from Chip Ford and starting with a smoking deal on a pair of Harken blocks on eBay, I put together a five part outhaul that anchors the line at a becket on the forward block.
My outhaul consists of:
- Harken 085 double block with Becket
- Harken 086 triple block
- Fixed eye snap shackle
- (2) Harken 072 3/16″ shackles
- 5′ x 1/4″ New England Ropes Sta Set or equivalent. This line is white with blue flecks in keeping with the systematic color scheme that I’ll describe in a future post. Notice in the picture below that I spliced an eye in the end of the line where it attaches to the becket. You could also use a bowline knot there but I prefer the neatness of spliced eyes, particularly here at the end of the boom where four lines are attached (main sheet not shown).
Size does matter
The challenge in this setup is to get the overall length of the outhaul as short as possible. There’s only about 10″ from the clew to the eye strap at the end of the boom. If the combination of hardware is too long when you tighten the outhaul, the blocks will meet in the middle before putting enough tension on the foot of the mainsail. To solve the challenge, I used the shortest shackles I could find and I also shortened the becket on the double block. The unmodified becket had two holes in it. I cut the becket off at the farthest holes, filed the ends smooth, and remounted the becket pin and spacer in the first hole set. This combination leaves just enough space to get good tension on the mainsail foot. Another option is to anchor the working end of the line on one of the sheaves of the block itself, like Chip Ford did but that will result in a four-part system.
To make it easy to use, the working end of the rig has a snap shackle for hooking to the clew. The standing end of the line is adjustable at a fairlead cleat forward on the port side of the boom. The fairlead keeps the line captured at the boom if it gets out of hand. A foot of slack on the end makes the rig easy to trim while under sail and to loosen while removing the sail when its time to head home.
The two lines that you see hanging down from the aft end of the boom in these pictures are the working ends of the topping lift and jiffy reefing lines held out of the way for simplicity. I describe them both in other posts. To see how all four systems (including the main sheet) fit on the boom, see the pictures below.
It’s been a couple of years since I rigged this outhaul and it has worked well, if maybe too well. A five-part tackle is a bit of overkill for an outhaul. It doesn’t need that much mechanical advantage. Also, the clew grommet of my new mainsail is too thick for the snap shackle to fit through. If I switched to a larger snap shackle, it would also be longer and make the whole setup too long to fit between the clew and the end of the boom. So I decided to downsize the outhaul to the 2:1 setup shown below.
This system requires only one block with a becket and the line runs through the clew grommet itself. The line isn’t as easy to pull as before but it’s still easy enough.
I also moved the jiffy reefing hardware forward as a separate modification, which you can read about in Single Line Jiffy Reefing Made Easy.
The Bottom Line
Suggested price: $135.69
$tingy Sailor cost: $49.99