“Double your pleasure, double your fun” used to be the Doublemint gum slogan because of its double strength mint flavoring. You can double the utility of your main sheet by upgrading it to double ends. What you already have, a working end at the fiddle block that attaches to the traveler stays as it is and you can continue to use it from the rear of the cockpit. But instead of the opposite end of the sheet terminating at a becket at the boom block, it continues forward along the boom to a swivel block with a cam cleat over the front of the cockpit. This allows you or another crew member to also trim the main sheet from a forward seating position.
The main sheet tackle and traveler of the Catalina 22 (and similar sailboats) are simple and strong. Their location at the stern of the sailboat leaves the cockpit clear for comfortable cruising, just what it was designed for.
This easy upgrade opens up new possibilities without sacrificing that cruising comfort and convenience.
A double-ended main sheet gives you several benefits for cruising or racing:
- Performance — The C-22 in particular performs best with its weight evenly distributed fore and aft. If you load heavy gear in the lazarettes, add an outboard motor and fuel tank, and sit the skipper in the stern where he can command the tiller and the main sheet, the transom will sit too low in the water with the bow raised. A double-ended main sheet lets the helmsman sit forward in the cockpit and shifts some weight forward, which improves handling.
- Crew functionality — With a double-ended main sheet, a crew member in the forward cockpit can just as easily trim the main sheet as the helmsman, which allows them to concentrate on the helm and the course.
- Training — Teaching somebody to trim the main sheet is much easier if they can sit forward in the cockpit and not crowd the skipper around the tiller. It allows them to focus on the main sheet while the skipper attends to the tiller without another set of knees in the way.
A double-ended main sheet setup simply lets it be trimmed from two locations: the original location at the traveler block or from the front of the cockpit. When you adjust one end of the main sheet, the opposite end remains cleated. Both ends adjust the sheet by the same amount and have the same effect. The only difference besides location is that the traveler end of the main sheet is horizontal and the new end is vertical.
To upgrade a single-ended main sheet to be double-ended:
1. Replace the block at the upper end of the main sheet tackle (single sheave with becket) with a double sheave block.
2. Install a swivel block with a cam cleat on the bottom of the boom approximately over the companionway bridge.
3. (Optional) Replace the main sheet with a longer length to provide enough slack for a broad reach from both ends of the main sheet. If you do not replace the sheet with a longer one, you will only be able to use one end of the main sheet at a time. You’ll have to pull all of the slack through the opposite cam cleat to use it from that end.
4. Lead the upper end of the main sheet through the second sheave of the new double sheave block, forward along the boom, through the swivel block and cam cleat, and pull additional working slack.
There’s only one downside to this upgrade. It inconveniently places the swivel block where it is easy to hit your head on it when climbing into or out of the cabin if you aren’t paying attention, earning it the nickname of “head knocker.” However, the dangling end of the main sheet is a good reminder to duck under the swivel block.
A double-ended main sheet is easy to get accustomed to. You can work the wind puffs just like before and cleat the line off for steady sailing. It affords the same mechanical advantage as the original main sheet tackle (3:1). The forward seating position that it enables means that if you sit forward as the helmsman, you’ll need a tiller extension to steer. See Make a Tiller Extension For Better Cockpit Mobility for a DIY project.
When a double-ended main sheet and tiller extension are used together, you can sit all the way at the front of the cockpit, which places your weight over the keel instead of over the rudder. It also puts you in a better position to handle the primary winches and the other sail controls if you have them led aft to the cockpit like I describe in Lead All Lines to the Cockpit for Safer Sailing. Its the best position for single-handed sailing; everything is within arm’s reach.
To make this upgrade as easy as possible, I’ve assembled a kit that includes everything you need. Installation only takes about an hour and you retain your main sheet’s original functionality. For details and to place your order, click this button.
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