The Building of Aslan
A Simple and Elegant Topping Lift
A topping lift is a line that helps hold up the boom anytime
the sail isn't all the way up. It eases motoring around with the
sail flaked and tied off to the boom, and makes it much nicer when raising
the sail ... otherwise, the boom rests on the cabin top separating folks
in the cockpit from each other. I have been satisfied to simply use
the peak halyard as an impromptu topping lift, which works fine when the
sail is tied to the gaff and the boom with sail ties. But when I
go to raise the sail, and loose those ties, it is inevitable that anyone
else in the cock pit gets a face full of sail. Plus, a topping lift
is absolutely necessary to be able to "scandalize" the sail by dropping
the gaff a bit ... the boom can remain in place instead of crashing
down onto the cabin top. I didn't want to add a lot of complicated
rigging to make a topping lift, and with the light loads of the Weekender,
John Henry's elegant solution as found on the Weekender
Boatbuilding site works great (see the message thread titled "Clever
Topping Lift"). I modified it slightly as shown below.
||We start with a plastic jam cleat. This one runs about $3 at
West Marine. You can see that I am using 1/4" three strand line.
I drilled out the aft mounting hole of the cleat slightly to accommodate
the line, then rove the line through and made an eye to splice the cleat
onto the line.
||This shows how the other end of the line (the "bitter end" in sailor-speak)
is rove through the cleat. First the bitter end is led through the
eyebolt on the end of the boom, then comes back to the jam cleat as pictured
here. The bitter end is then tied off to the top of the mast (I put
it between the peak and throat halyard blocks as shown below).
||Here's a pic showing the basic concept. The line is spliced around
the aft part of the cleat, goes through the eyebolt and then is rove through
the jam cleat. To make a "fair lead" I used a round "rat tail" file
to smooth the edges of the forward portion of the cleat where the line
goes under the forward mounting hole.
||Here's the "bitter end" spliced around a stainless thimble and positioned
between the peak halyard and throat halyard blocks. You can see the
black felt marker I used to get the spliced eye at the right point in the
line. I started with 20 feet of line, and spliced the cleat to the
line first. It would have been easier to make this connection first,
and then splicing the cleat onto the line could be done from the ground
(I had to fold the mast, tie off the line, raise the mast, and repeat ...
until I found the right spot to put the eyesplice in. It worked but
I felt a little silly for not being able to see it would be easier to start
at the top. When I finally found the right spot, I used felt marker
to mark the line.) The mast is folded down (again!) in this view.
||Here's how it looks with the mast up and the topping lift loose.
I have about 10" of line to lower it some more if I wanted to. The
crossed "sticks" supporting the boom is my boom crutch, which is only used
when the boat is out of the water (they tie off to the aft cleats).
To raise the boom with the toppping lift, you simply grab the black plastic
jam cleat and slide it up the line. To lower it, you grab the plastic
jam cleat, lift is slightly, then slide it back down.
||Here you can really see how the topping lift is attached to the cleat,
is reeved back to through the eyebolt, and then back through the jam cleat
and up to the top of the mast.
||Another view showing the plastic jam cleat in the topping lift line.
The only concern I have is that eventually, the plastic jam cleat aft
mounting hole, where I attach the topping lift, may break. It feels
very strong right now, but plastic has a tendency to become brittle.
When (if!) it does, I'll spring for an aluminum jam cleat (about $10.)
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