Traveler

For the record, here’s some views of the old traveler, which I have to decide whether to re-install or replace. Tempting to replace it with a nice new one – on the other hand there may be other things that are more important to spend the money on.

The car:

It’s bearings (which are just metal wheels running on metal axles – no rollers or ball bearings):

The track:

I’ve decided to scrap it, for two reasons: 1) it wasn’t all that great to begin with – bearings are only just adequate, the whole thing is a bit worn; and 2) while recoring the cabin top I had to remove the towers that support the ends and give the traveler most of its strength, so re-using it would mean rebuilding them which doesn’t make sense to me.

This leaves me wondering what to replace it with. There are plenty of companies making travelers which can span over companionways the way the old one did – even better, since they don’t require support in the middle, which I believe is the system the Yankee had in it’s MkIII rendition. Garhauer seems to make one for a reasonable price (~$500), Schaefer makes one for an unreasonable price ($2000+), and Harken, Lewmar and others seem to come in in the middle.

But… Do I want to put the traveler back where it was, and keep mid-boom sheeting? I’ve never been a fan of mid-boom sheeting – I prefer end-boom. End boom in the Yankee would put the traveler right in the way of enjoying the cockpit – and would possibly even get in the way of the tiller, so that’s no good. How about 3/4’s of the way back? That’s right around the end of the cabin top, where it would be in the way of the companionway. Unless, of course, it were on an arch over the companionway, just above the dodger – then it’d be out of the way and no trouble, but ugly, like a Hunter with it’s arch. But what if it were attached to a hard dodger? That could be perfect, assuming that the dodger was made strong enough, and that it didn’t look horrible, which most homemade hard dodgers do!

I’m leaving this here for now, and I’ll revisit again later, but at this moment in time I’m liking the idea of a hard-dodger-mounted traveler, if I can figure out how to do it nicely, and gain enough confidence in myself to believe I can pull it off!

Update:
I’ve given up on the idea of a hard dodger-mounted traveler, since I doubt my ability to build a hard dodger that doesn’t wreck the boat aesthetically. Should I find that I really do want to do tons of bluewater sailing and that a hard dodger is worth the penalty in appearance I’ll revisit again – but for now, no hard dodger.

I also considered making the rigid arch above the companionway integral with a soft dodger – basically a permanent dodger hoop, but large and strong enough to support the traveler loads. But that is also likely to end in a cosmetic disaster – and possibly a structural one, too, since the loads would be fairly great and I’m a learning boat construction guy. So no go on the arch, also.

Which leaves it at replacing the existing traveler on the cabin top. A brief flirtation with making it more streamlined by following the curve of the cabin top ended with the realization (prompted by others wiser than I) that as you released the traveler off centre you’d end up needing to let the mainsheet out to keep the same mainsheet tension. That doesn’t sound like fun, so a flat, normal traveler it is.

I’ve shopped around a bit, and it looks like Garhauer’s winning in terms of cost and product. Their UR1 risers and MT-UB1 traveler


will replace what I had very nicely, only better. The risers won’t obstruct forward vision in the same way that the original blocks did, but are just as strong. The new traveler uses ball bearings on the car and sheaves to keep friction down, and the lines are run such that they can’t foul themselves and require sorting out. I think it’s going to be great!

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Your thoughts?

  1. Concerning your choices in a traveller. I favor the Garhauer solution since that’s what I did for my boat. The curved track solution is tempting since it is less obtrusive; however, the curve instills different tensions in the mainsheet since the middle of the curved track is closer to the boom, and it would be awkward to rig windward car control lines. Frankly, without the ability to easily adjust the traveller car to windward when needed, to my mind, negates the usefulness of a traveller. Also, just my opinion, but I would steer clear of aluminum if you build the curved traveller.

    Good luck with it,

    David

    David Browne · 31.07.09 · #

  2. Hmm. Not sure that it wouldn’t work to have control lines with a curved traveler – here is an example of one where it does: http://www.vermontficks.org/northernlight/traveler.html – but… That person says how glad they were to get rid of it and install a Garhauer! I also note that with the dodger right behind it the difference in aesthetics is pretty much eliminated.

    As you point out, though, with a traveler whose ends curve down you need to loosen the mainsheet as you move off-centre - this is quite true - and sounds like a pain.

    I’m leaning toward the Garhauer – especially since it’s out-of-the box, but want to think it through before ordering. Seems good right now, though.

    Thanks for the feedback, David!

    Chris Campbell · 31.07.09 · #

  3. Chris,

    Here is some info on the Garhauer risers I bought:

    http://bristol29.com/Projects/Exterior%20Cabintop%20%20Projects/exterior%20cabintop.htm#Installing_a_Traveler_Riser_

    I think you will be very impressed with the quality and construction.

    Best regards,

    David

    David Browne · 3.08.09 · #

 
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