Deck layout

Some aspects of the deck layout are fixed – the location of the jib tracks, for example, since the previous owner put solid glass instead of core where they go. Similarly the stanchion base locations are fixed, etc. But some aspects of the deck layout are open to interpretation, and since the boat currently doesn’t have many holes in the deck – and those that exist in the cabin trunk and cockpit area are easy to fill with a paint job coming right up – I need to do some design work before I start the work.

I’m prepping the boat to put the core in and to lay up the top skin, so now is the time to know how the cabin top will be laid out. The biggest variable here is what I’m going to do with halyards and reefing lines. The boat was set up with at least some of it led back to the cockpit, and the winches that used to be on the mast were mounted on the cabin top (there were two per side, a pair of 26’s and a pair of 16’s, I think). There was no real organization to it, though, and no line stoppers, so once something was on the winch it stayed there (particularly crazy in the case of the roller furling jib, but there you go).

How to decide?

My last boat didn’t have anything led back, and I loved the lack of clutter in the cockpit – there were two jib sheets, a mainsheet, and the jib’s roller furling line – that was it. Even the traveller had no lines (which made it essentially fixed, unfortunately) – so things were really clean. Having since sailed on a friend’s Catalina 38 with everything coming back, managing lines in the cockpit was a real problem (not insurmountable, just something I wasn’t used to). All of those lines in the Catalina were manaed on the bulkhead at the end of the cabin – right where any instruments that I’ll want to mount will go. Without a binnacle, options are more limited. Do I want a bunch of lines hanging around in the cockpit?

On the other hand going forward to tie in a reef on a 38’, 16,000 lb. boat with wide side decks to tie in a reef was pretty cushy. On a 30’, 8,000 lb. boat it will be less fun (although the Yankee is a very stable boat for its size, so it won’t be so bad, really). As far as I’m concerned this is where having everything led back really shines – reefing time. Especially the third reef, should you need it – that’s when you least want to be on deck!

There are some extra expenses associated with leading things back, also – you need the hardware (many turning blocks at the base of the mast, a pair of organizers (one per side) to aim at the winches, stoppers) and you need to tie the cabin top down to prevent the force on the lines from lifting it. Those are reasonably minor in the big picture, though – so I’ll try not to consider them in my decision.

So it comes down to clutter vs. reefing convenience, unless I’m missing something. Which sounds like a safety issue, doesn’t it? Which should make the choice easy. But I’m not convinced that it does. I think the lines in the cockpit actually present a hazard. There would be 7 lines just for reefing and hoisting the main. And if you’re leading some back, surely the spinnaker halyard and topping lift and staysail halyard would come back? How about the boom vang, and cunningham? The outhaul? That makes a total of 13 lines on the cabin top, dangling into the cockpit. And if things really get rough (like when you’re putting in the third reef) you’re probably going forward anyway to deal with getting a smaller jib in place since a roller furling jib generally won’t dial down small enough for the sort of conditions that warrant a third reef – at least not and keep any shape at all.

I think that with jacklines, a tether and a harness, going forward to reef should be fine. With an autopilot it will still be easy to singlehand, as ‘Otto’ can take the helm while you dash forward to deal with whatever needs dealing with. And life in the cockpit (which is where most of the time on the water is spent, right?) will be much more pleasant without an additional 13 lines running in, requiring storage.

There. A decision! I’ll report back in a few years once I see if it was the right one!


Your thoughts?