Duncan Kent investigates many ways a yacht owner can make life that little bit simpler
Have you ever been on board your yacht and thought to yourself, ‘There must be an easier way of doing this’?
Whether it’s adding the magic muscle power of electric winches, windlasses and furlers, installing thrusters to aid berthing or simplifying deck gear layout to reduce friction, there’s a lot you can do to reduce the stresses and strains of handling your yacht.
Reducing the load and effort doesn’t mean you have to sell the boat you have for something smaller – a 25ft boat can be a lot harder to sail than, say, a 35-footer due to the reduced stability and lack of deck space.
There are myriad ways to lessen the effort required for hoisting, trimming, tacking and reefing, and they don’t always depend on electrical or hydraulic assistance.
1. Reduce friction
Could the line leads be simplified? Are the sheaves free running and in good shape? Change out old, worn blocks with new roller-bearing equivalents or low-friction rings. Consider fitting a PE mast track to make raising the mainsail easier.
2. Sail plan
Do you need a 150% genoa all the time or could you sail with a smaller jib, perhaps even consider fitting a self-tacker? To make up for the loss of sail area, you could use a furling off-wind sail, like a gennaker or code zero, when you need to.
Consider a bow thruster to make turning in tight marinas a doddle and eliminate stressful berthing situations. Fitting a stern thruster as well will enable you to spin the boat in her length or hold the boat against a pontoon without the worry of her being blown off.
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4. Anchor windlass
Raise the anchor and all its chain at the push of a button. Controls for the windlass can also be fitted to the helm for when sailing shorthanded. If you plan to go long-term cruising, an electric anchor windlass should be a necessity for those who prefer anchorages to marinas.
5. Electric Winches
Either convert every winch on board to an electric winch by using an electric winch handle, fit new electric winches or modify existing winches to assist with a multitude of sheeting and hoisting tasks.
6. Regular maintenance
Making sailing easier needn’t cost the earth. Keep deck gear running smoothly by washing salt out of swivel bearings and blocks after a sail and help their lifespan. Service winches every season to make their operation smoother.
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