The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Tips, Tricks & Thoughts:

deck gear

  • Block Stand-Up Hack

    Our J/109, in common with most boats with spinnakers, has turning blocks for the sheets that must reorient to loads from different directions, depending on the point of sail, and therefore uses loose blocks on pad eyes.

    The problem with this is that spinnaker sheet blocks tend to bang on the deck with motion, in use or not.

    Stand-up springs won’t work because they are always trying to force the block into an upright position, so will mess with the lead angle, particularly in light air. Ditto shock cord to a lifeline, which is often used.


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  • Cool New Winch

    One of the most important advances in sailing hardware in my lifetime was the self-tailing winch. If you came to sailing after these came on the scene you will not fully appreciate them, but, trust me, suddenly having both hands free to put our full weight on the handle was game changing, particularly for shorthanded sailing where there is rarely another crew around to tail.

    But since then—some 40 years ago if memory serves—not much has changed in winch design…until the Ronstan Orbit™ Winch.

    I have not used (or even touched) an Orbit Winch, but being able to easily slip the line without removing the handle looks to me like one of those seemingly insignificant features of deck gear that’s actually a game changer.

    As significant as self-tailing? Probably not, but then few things are.

    And being able to pull the winch apart for service without tools is cool, too.

    Right now the Orbit is only available in smaller sizes, but I’m guessing that will change—Ronstan and Andersen are sister brands.

    If I needed a new winch in the sizes available, I would be looking hard at the Orbit.


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  • Check For Correct Winch Pawl Springs

    We have to check everything on a new-to-us boat.

    The top spring is for Lewmar, the bottom for Harken. All of our Harken winches had a mix of both. Trust no one, least of all boatyards who will often use whatever is to hand.

    Would the wrong spring cause the winch to slip? Probably not, but this is important stuff and should be done right.


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