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Help to keep the boom under control

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What is the issue?
We have all been in the circumstance. It is dark, conditions are rough and you are tired and not feeling the best. You put off reefing an hour ago because it is just too much hard work fighting the main sail and you hoped it would back down. But now it is too late – you have to get it down and it is going to be a real battle. Sound familiar?

Why address this?
Anything that makes mainsail handling without sacrificing rig simplicity is a major sailing win.

How to address this?
One of the best approaches to calming the boom so that reefing is easier is to implement a boom gallows.

Figure 1 shows a picture of a friend’s excellent boom gallows that I have to confess I coveted each time I saw. Fighting with a boom that is snapping back and forth, even the distance of twenty centimeters either way, when reefing is highly difficult and potentially dangerous in boisterous conditions. It prolongs the job significantly. Fastening it down in the boom gallows and getting the boom steady make it significantly safer and easier to deal with. This makes a valuable contribution to slab reefing.

The strange thing I have to add at this point is I actually have in-mast furling. Yet I am still thinking of implementing a boom gallows, in fact a pair of them if I can. The reason for this is the benefits go far beyond sail control on a cruising vessel. This is particularly the case with my vessel where I have a high boom and plenty of clearance.

First and foremost a solid boom gallows is a great safety feature. It will protect the crew in the cockpit should the boom ever fall down and offers a strong handhold when going about the boat in stiff conditions. It also provides an excellent grab hold for coming aboard from a dinghy.

Secondly, and again assuming you have a high boom, they offer a completely reliable place to fix an awning or cockpit cover to protect the crew from the elements. This can also be turned to your advantage with a mosquito net. It also offers a much more reliable place to mount a light to illuminate the cockpit and or a safer place to hang a storm light.

Finally it also allows you to fix the boom down when you are using the mainsail as a stabilising sail in a roll. One of the most infuriating noises is the mighty smack-crash reverberating throughout the vessel of the tightly sheeted boom slamming over the last few inches that cannot be removed. No matter how hard the main sheet is cranked in there will always be those final few inches of play. The only way that can be pacified is with a boom gallows.
Boom gallows need not be an as elaborate an affair as presented in figure 1 which is in keeping with the traditional vessel photographed. The can be easily made from a stainless curved steel bar as presented in figure 2, mounted forward and or aft of the cockpit.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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