Topic : Help / Advice Please

I have a Proctor Mk XII (Sail No 1301 - Harlequin) which I have sailed with no success at LTSC for the past couple of years without too much success. Primarily this is because I am a poor sailor with very little idea of the intricacies of preparing and sailing a boat but the boat is in need of some repair and upgrade. However, this year, I am hoping to change some of that and would like ideas / suggestions on what to do to repair / prepare the boat that would then lead to me being a better sailor - hopefully.

I have been fortunate to find a chap called John Freeman in Peacehaven who is willing to help me restore my boat but besides the woodwork, there is still an awful lot to improve on. Please find below my list:

I have a 2:1 kicker but have seen upto 16:1 kickers. For a wooden boat (ca 1961) what would be the best arrangement?

I have no cunningham fitted - again what would be the best system to fit?

My outhaul is fairly rigid ie once set, that's it until the end of the race - again, ideas please?

My main, jib and spinnaker halyards are pants. I have seen wire and cascade systems (for the main and jib) on some of the newer boats (RS 400s) in LTSC but wonder if these systems would be suitable for an old wooden boat? All the halyards come out the back of the mast foot and this makes it difficult to rig up and get a good tight main / jib. I have seen the halyards come out the side of the mast foot, which seems an excellent idea.

I have no idea how to set up a decent jib sheet arrangement so that my poor wife can happily sail with me without me shouting at her to "jib in" every 2 mins - she's gradually shifting over to become an RS 400 crew.I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't rigged up a cleat or jammer for her. I have seen systems that run to a block on a runner placed in the hull and then up to the side deck and a jammer cleat. Is this normal and is there a specific measurement for where to place the runner?

Do I need adjustable shrouds. Currently mine are fixed but are on a 12" runner which I can easily adjust during a race (but wouldn't know what I was doing if I did!)

I have a horrible mast gate, which nobody in Loch Tummel Sailing Club has seen the likes of before. I'll try to explain it the best I can. Beneath the foredeck, there is an V shaped support from the deck down to the "keel". At the top of the is fitted an Aluminium V with a slot for the mast at the bottom of the V. This is hinged so that it lifts from the vertical to the horizontal and the mast is then slotted in and secured with an aluminium plate across the back of the mast. I can then adjust mast bend with a couple of wooden chocks which, once fitted prior to launching, can not be adjusted during a race. I feel although there is strength in the two V arrangements, a rigid set up incorporating the whole deck structure would be stronger and easier on the eye. Is this arrangement unique to my boat, or is it a feature of this age of boat.

I'm not certain about my spinnaker system and am a bit scared to try it out. I have one 6 foot wooden pole and a small spinnaker. My problem here is storage, deployment, jibing etc. Pretty much everything to do with the spinnaker. In fact, my spinni has now rotted away as I've been reluctant to try it!! Any advice, ideas (besides "give up sailing") would be gratefully received.

I don't want to set the world on fire but I would like to compete with other racers at my club. I'm also very keen to try to keep modifications to the era of my boat and not refurbish it so that it becomes a mish-mash of stlyes and ages.

If you have any advice or ideas, they would be gratefully received. If you can answer all or some of my queries, superb, and many thanks.

Many thanks


Posted: 16/02/2009 10:38:53
By: Stuart Moore

Posted: 16/02/2009 12:27:27
By: .
Hi Stuart,

I have a 2:1 kicker but have seen upto 16:1 kickers. For a wooden boat (ca 1961) what would be the best arrangement?
I'm assuming that you have a keel-stepped aluminium mast (?)
The kicker at 2:1 is too weak - try a 3 part purchase. Then take the free end to a small block, this then splits (one to each side of the boat).That will be 6:1 or better. The kicker is atacehd to the mast, so there's no additional load on the hull.

Main halyard - only neede to pull the sail up the mast. Use a clam cleat near the foot, lock it in, then pull the boom to the gooseneck. Adjust the luff tension with the cunningham.
Jib Haliard.
On an older boat, this will adjust the rake of the rig. You will need some form of purchase to ensure it's tight.
On our old Merlin (Smokers) the jib haliyard was set up tight (2:1 purchase), then the shroud adjusters used to tension the rig.
With the older hulls (i.e. high bow tanks), the hull flexes, so the that the lee shroud will always be slack (no matter how much tension you have - it's one of those things you'll have to live with!).

Spinnaker haliyard - exits the mast above the jib halyard. Boats with spinnaker chutes have it rigged from the foot of the mast, aft along the plate case to a turning block on the aft end of the plate case, then back to through the chute to the downhaul patch on the spinnaker. En route there's usually a cam cleat. Without a chute, I think ou'll still need the downhaul - members with a longer memory than myine can help!

Jib sheets:-
the easiest arrangement is to have the sheet tied at the jib clew - this gives a continuous loop for the crew (no loose ends in the bottom of the boat).
Jib sheeting is idiosyncratic, but you'll need to anchor the fairleads somewhere strong. Usually there's a laminated plinth for them. You do need some form of jambing cleat/rachet block for the crew...
You will also notice that as you ease off the mainsheet, the rig will loose tension and the jib luff will sag. This makes the jib shape fuller - hence the "in an inch" problem. It's characteristic of the older designs, and isn't easily cured.

The mast gate arrangement sounds a one-off - possibly an attempt to strengthen the hull from flexing and closing. If it's sound, then I'd suggest leaving it alone for the time being.

Do have a look at the "Rigging guide" on this forum - it has pictures which are worth lots of words.

If you're nearer a Merlin club, then arrange to have a visit (take the camera) - owners always like to talk about their boats!

Colin (3387)

Posted: 16/02/2009 13:11:26
By: Colin
The most helpful thing would be to look at other boats of the same age. Remember the rules are very free in a Merlin with regard to how many cleats/blocks you have and where to put them, so don't fret about exact measurements for the siting of jib cleats.

Since you probably can't view any other vintage boats, lets start an appeal for owners of boats in the 1xxx range to email in some photos of their running rigging systems. Email to me and I will put them into the gallery on this website for everyone to look at.

Posted: 16/02/2009 15:56:01
By: Mags
Colin / Mags

I'd always heard that Rocket owners were very helpful! Many thanks for your advice/photo appeal, both gratefully received. I like the idea of photos then I can really see what is being advised. Once complete, I'll send a few pics of my own so people can see the results.

Many thanks


Posted: 17/02/2009 09:44:49
By: Stuart Moore
I'm just re-fitting ut an old merlin and I looked at some similar boats recently.
A lot of the old merlins cleat the jib through fairleads on the edge of the foredeck, I am not keen on this as it means you can't adjust the fore/aft lead so I am going to fit a track with blocks on the floor inside of the hull. Most of the old boats on the river are sheeting so the jib clew is about 11 to 12 inches from the mast when in tight.
We have a single pole spinnaker and I am going to rig a simple downhaul and uphaul and store the pole along the boom with a simple loop. My advice if you are new to spinnakers and you don't have a chute is to pull the sail up on a run behind the main then pull it round once it's up. Take it up and down on a dead run this way until you gain confidence. make sure the crew holds the sheet and is ready to release if you get a gust. Merlin mains with the unusual leech need a good kicker system, I have found the leech is very sensitive to kicker and I would suggest a minimum of 12:1, a cascade is a good option as its smooth to operate and powefull. The best advice is to go and look at lots of boats, not just Merlins!

Posted: 17/02/2009 09:50:17
By: DaveC
I also meant to mention that appropriate control systems (and simple things like jib cleats) will also make your sailing 10 times more enjoyable! Never mind the speed, you'll have a much better time when the boat is easier to control.

Posted: 17/02/2009 09:51:02
By: Mags
Here's your first submission - thanks to Chris Balmbro.

Posted: 17/02/2009 10:18:09
By: Mags
Jamb cleats for the jib sheet are a must.
They can either be positioned on the windward side deck, or on the leeward side near the pulley for the jib.
Windward: easy jambing when siting out, not possible to jamb in light winds or when sitting back. Easy to release when sitting out.
Leeward: not easy to get the angle right for all sitting out / sitting back positions. Not always easy to un-jamb at the vital moment. Geting the lead correct, while at the same time still allowing an adjustable sheeting position, probably requires at least 2 pulleys per side.

Posted: 17/02/2009 13:31:59
By: CJ
Jib sheeting.  Pretty much whatever you do with the sheet afterwards the standard sheeting point is to a turning block on a longitudinal track screwed down to the 2nd land (plank join) out from the keel.  Then to a turning block somewhere else near the side deck or a sheave through it and a cam cleat nearby at the right angle for the lead.  There are lots of variations, the key is to be able to UNCLEAT the jib from the sitting out position easily.  Most of us are now using a continuous jib sheet so the bight runs through the middle of the boat you will never lose it down the bailers etc, and the 2 ends are tied at the clew of the jib.

A cascade kicker with the final purchase twinned to the 2 sides is what you want. The 1st block at least probably the 2nd also need to be high load and you need hi-tech low stretch string like Vectran/HMPE for the 1st bit of the purchases, the strop length is critical and can only be sorted out with the boat rigged, you need to be able to let it off enough to get the boat rigged in the 1st place and to be able to pull on as much tension as you need to bend that Proctor D mast when it is blowing a bit - LOTS. If you are controlling mast bend at deck level with bits of wood wedged into the mast gate I'd suggest you continue, it will work OK if set up properly. The mast shouldn't "pant" going to windward, if so you need a bigger chock. If the bottom of the mast is dead straight or even slightly inverted you need a smaller one.

Both cunningham and outhaul can be rigged very simply indeed on an old boat, you can have the cunningham going up from the gooseneck, over the pulley and down to a clam cleat on the other side, will need a bit of a yank to get it on but it has the benefit of simplicity. Outhaul you need a minimum of a 4:1 on arranged inside the boom, running to a cleat on the underside of the boom. You won't miss it that much initially if you just set it up for the day with knotted string and a notch on the end of the boom and just go sailing and work on boat handling. This generation of boat usually had a highfield over-centre lever on the jib halyard screwed into the track of the mast below the gooseneck and the shrouds on a pinned rack below the deck. As long as the mast rake is set up right this will suffice. Changing it will need quite a bit of engineering and a lot of high load blocks and string. Fiddling with mast rake is really not that useful in an older boat with a hog stepped alloy mast. Keep your transom-sheeted main as pulling your mainsheet down really hard at the transom will bend the mast to depower the main better than anything else. You could put a rachet block on it.

If you do not have a spinny chute you do not need a downhaul on the spinny, just a single-ended halyard that runs really easily, you need ball-bearing blocks and sheaves here including at the top of the mast where the old one may well have seized solid and need replacing. The jamming cleat is usually on the front of the centrecase and the lead needs to be good so it goes into the cleat automatically when you hoist. Spinny up, pole on, pull on the halyard fast as you can (helm's job), spinny down, crew pulls on sheet then foot of sail and bundles into bag from Ikea attached to aft edge of foredeck. A little plastic prong running forward from the jib tack fitting stops the sheet that is round the forestay falling over the bow.

Have a look at some of the advice sheets from the race training on the site - even better, consider making the trip to Rutland Water in May.

Andrew 3511 (& in the past 3347, 3202 2315 & 1498)

Posted: 17/02/2009 14:45:03
By: Andrew M
Andrew / CJ / Dave C

Great advice. Thank you. Now I feel as if I've got SOME idea.


Posted: 18/02/2009 00:30:55
By: Stuart Moore
My wife's just suggested that I could call in (around April - we have a family party in Fife) - while she goes to the dress shop in Pitlochry, I could make my way over to Loch Tummel!

You will find that the PY handicapping system is not good for the older boats - it relates more to the newer ones which are a fair bit faster and probably driven by some really good sailors - look at their record in other classes. Convince your sailing secretary to use the vintage handicapping system.


Posted: 18/02/2009 08:35:58
By: Colin
There are a couple of Merlin sailors/members at Tummel - I met them last year at the Scottish Merlin Traveller and I am sure that they will be willing to help too.  I will be going to Pitlochry (not at the dress shop) around Easter time too but my experience is limited to very old Merlins.

Posted: 18/02/2009 08:55:03
By: Garry R
Fully agree Andrew's advice. Having had windward side jib jammers on 2789 (hull built by John Freeman) and a deck sheeve above the track and leeward side jammer on 3112 I would definitely go for the latter. A windward side jammer only really works in steady strongish winds while for the rest of the time you will be continually on at the crew to keep the sheet tight while beating and he/she will be thinking of how nice it would be to strangle you with the loose end instead of concentrating on sail trim. Both my boats have had sided control lines (from out to in) for kicker, spinnaker downhaul, Cunningham & mast ram/strut running through sheeves at the mast foot and below the centre thwart to jammers on the aft side of it. I usually only neeed to adjust the outer 2 while sailing unless the weather changes a lot.
Enjoy, Peter 3112

Posted: 18/02/2009 15:33:57
By: Peter 3112


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