The factory running rigging on most small sailboats, including the Catalina 22, is minimal to keep the price low. That is, the halyards and any other control lines are only long enough to fasten them to nearby cleats. Convenience and trimming for performance are a luxury reserved for larger, more expensive sailboats.
It works okay, but it makes having a crew more of a necessity and it’s not ideal in heavy winds when getting out of the cockpit can be unsafe. For safety and to add more control lines, such as a headsail downhaul, single-line reefing, and boom downhaul without requiring more trips forward, the solution is to lead the lines aft to the cockpit. It’s also a good idea if you ever want to sail single-handed or race competitively.
Before I continue, a bit of legal housekeeping. This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. Those commissions help to pay the costs associated with running this site so that it stays free for everyone to enjoy. For a complete explanation of why I’m telling you this and how you can support this blog without paying more, please read my full disclosure.
Led where, exactly?
The biggest issue with leading the lines aft on a C-22 is the question of where to run the lines aft over the cabin roof. There’s very little room on the first generation design with a pop top. The handrail takes up much of the width of the available space and leaves only about enough room for two lines, one on either side of the handrails. Models without a pop top leave more room to work with.
The problem is worsened by the curvature of the pop top and the handrail that makes guiding the lines through fairleads almost a necessity. Some owners run the lines on top of the pop top where there’s more space, but that’s not a good solution.
For starters, it makes raising the pop top even more difficult due to its interference with the lines. Second, the pop top isn’t a very strong structure on which to mount the deck organizers and cleats. It’s held in place with the two loose-fitting, hand-tightened hatch dog bolts.
One practical solutions is to keep the lines on the cabin roof but to remove the handrails to make more room for them. I’ve rigged Summer Dance this way and after several years, I haven’t missed the handrails. They’re generally too low to be very useful anyway.
The first piece of hardware that you need to lead your halyards and other lines aft is a halyard plate under the mast step. A popular online Catalina parts retailer sells a mast step halyard plate that is the best choice for C-22s although Garhauer Marine sells universal models.
A halyard plate has holes in its edges where you can attach blocks to turn the lines outboard from the mast toward deck organizers. It’s easy to install and requires no hole drilling. Just unstep your mast, remove the mast step, and place the halyard plate under the mast step before you replace it. Be sure to seal around the roof penetrations here and under all hardware that you install with butyl tape or another premium sealant.
Triple threat deck organizers
Deck organizers are sets of sheaves mounted on the forward corners of the cabin roof that turn the lines coming from the halyard plate aft toward cleats or clutches at the cabin bulkhead. These are the next pieces of new hardware that you might need. You should have at least one sheave for every line that you are leading aft. I prefer Harken 38mm triple sheave deck organizers rather than the dual sheave ones from that popular online Catalina parts retailer that are typical on C-22s.
Dual sheave deck organizers can limit your rigging options. Triple sheave organizers give you more options for whatever you decide to add in the future, for example, a cruising spinnaker. I use all six sheaves on Summer Dance.
Installing deck organizers can be a little tricky. Their placement and the fasteners that you use are important. The organizers need to be angled so that the lines exiting the organizers are the right distance apart to fit in the space that you have to run them to the bulkhead cleats or clutches. Angle them too much and the lines can chafe against themselves or on the edges of the organizers. Don’t angle them enough, and the lines can rub against the pop top or the roof gutter.
The organizers should also be as far aft on the deck from the halyard plate as possible to increase the angle of the lines going through the organizers. That will lower the friction added by the deck organizers. A tip that I use is double-sided carpet tape to stick them to the deck and experiment with different placements to find the best location before mounting them permanently.
Use 3-1/2″ through-bolts, fender washers, and lock nuts (or lock washers and acorn nuts), not wood screws to mount the deck organizers and cleats or clutches. They will be under a lot of force from the lines running through them and the hollow core roof is not strong enough to hold the force otherwise. For a tip on drilling accurate holes through the roof so that there is equal space on the underside for the fender washers, see Accurate hole drilling.
Double barrel line guns
The last issue to resolve for this project is which cam cleats or clutches to install on the cabin roof. Most C-22’s that I’ve seen have some combination of cam cleats, clam cleats, or clutches installed on the roof or over the edge of the roof on the top of the bulkhead. The problem again is, the handrails take up too much space.
Some C-22 owners solve this problem by trimming off the last loop of the handrails. Without shortening the handrails, there isn’t enough room on the roof at the bulkhead to mount cam cleats or clutches and barely enough room for clam cleats, which are harder to adjust. But if you remove the handrails completely, you have more options.
To fit three lines and cleats or clutches on each side of the roof, you have to get creative. My solution was to install one dual cam cleat on each side of the roof. Each takes less width than two single cam cleats. I did need to grind a little relief in the pop top edge for the cams but it’s not noticeable. I use the cam cleats for the lines with the highest tension on them. For additional lines that need almost no tension (for example, a headsail downhaul), you can mount a clam cleat on a nearby stanchion as shown below. Other options are a regular clam cleat on the roof slightly forward of the dual cam cleat or a lateral clam cleat mounted vertically on the upper corner of the cabin wall.
In my opinion, line clutches aren’t as practical as cam cleats. Clutches were designed to work with cabin top winches. They require one hand to pull or winch the line and the other to operate the clutch. Cam cleats let you keep both hands on the line and pull harder, eliminating the need for cabin top winches and saving time.
The last part of this project is all new lines. I’ve compared prices from several eBay sellers with the 20% discount that West Marine sometimes offers. The best bargain, however, is when West Marine features bulk rope in their holiday and random Fantastic Friday sales at 40% off. That beats all other online prices.
Following is a table of the line sizes that are plenty long enough to lead aft where applicable and for splicing eyes if you choose to do so.
|Foresail sheet (single, long enough to cross-sheet)||1/4″-3/8″||70′|
|Spinnaker sheet (single)||1/4″||90′|
|Boom downhaul (2:1)||5/16||12′|
|Boom topping lift||1/4″||10′|
|Jiffy reefing (single line, incl. bunt lines)||1/4″||45′|
If you look closely at the table above, you might be curious about the 8mm halyards. I prefer the larger diameter for a better grip, which lets me get the halyards tighter without resorting to cabin top winches. For external halyards, 8mm is larger than the standard equipment 1/4″ masthead sheaves. They will fit in internal halyard sheaves, by the way. If you don’t have internal halyards, you can install Oversize masthead sheaves.
To finish this project, I recommend that you learn how to splice eyes in double braid line. I use them everywhere I would normally tie a bowline knot except at the traveler dead ends. Knots let the car travel farther there. I whiplock all the other ends to prevent fraying. To help organize the lines at the bulkhead, you can install sheet bags or line hangers like shown here.
Taking the easy route and buying kits is convenient but expensive. Besides, kits seldom have all of the features that you might want. Stingy sailors seldom take the easy route. You can easily purchase all of the parts that you need for this project online. For your hardware needs, consider using the $tingy Sailor 10% discount from Viadana USA.
Your new rigging will work great and really add to your sailing enjoyment. Personally, I can do almost everything from the cockpit now and there’s no excuse for not trimming the sails properly. It looks sharp, is organized, and helps immensely when sailing single-handed, especially when racing.
Would you like to be notified when I publish more posts like this? Enter your email address below to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. You will also receive occasional newsletters with exclusive info and deals only for subscribers and the password to the Downloads page. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time but almost nobody does!