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Main Tack Main and Peak Halyards

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The main or throat halyards are generally rove through a treble block at the masthead, and a double block on the jaws of the gaff. The hauling part of the main halyards leads down the starboard side of the mast, and is belayed to the mast bitts. The main purchase is fast to the standing part, and usually consists of a couple of double blocks, and the lower one is generally hooked to an eye bolt in the deck on the starboard side. In vessels under 15 tons it is unusual to have a main purchase, and when there is no purchase the upper main halyard block is a double one, and the lower a single. However, many racing 10-tonners have a main purchase, and the 5-tonner Freda has one. The principal object in having a main purchase in a small craft is that the mainsail can be set better, as in starting with " all canvas down" the last two or three pulls become very heavy, especially if the hands on the peak have been a little too quick; and a much tauter luff can be got by the purchase than by the main tack tackle. Of course the latter is dispensed with in small vessels where the purchase is used, and the tack made fast by a lacing round the goose-neck of the boom. By doing away with the tack tackle at least 6in. greater length of luff can be had in a 5-tonner, and this may be of some advantage. The sail cannot be triced up, of course, without casting off the main tack lacing ; but some yacht sailers consider this an advantage, as no doubt sailing a vessel in a strong wind with the main tack triced up very badly stretches the sail, and looks very ugly.

The peak halyards in almost all vessels under 140 tons are rove through two single blocks on the gaff and three on the masthead, as shown in Plate I. and Fig. 30. Some vessels above 140 tons have three blocks on the gaff, and in such cases the middle block on the masthead is usually a double one. The standing part of the peak halyards to which the purchase is fast leads through the upper block and down on the port side.


common practice in racing vessels now is to have a wire leather covered span (copper wire is best) with bull's-eye for each block on the gaff to work upon, and this plan no doubt causes a more equal distribution of the strain on the gaff.

The main tack generally is a gun tackle purchase, but in vessels above 60 tons a double and single or two double blocks are used. In addition, some large cutters have a runner rove through the tack cringle, one end being fast to the goose-neck of the boom, and the other to the tackle. In laced mainsails the tack is lashed to the goose-neck.

The main sheet should be made of left-handed, slack-laid, six stranded Manilla rope. The blocks required are a three-fold on the boom, a two-fold on the buffer or horse, as the case may be, and a single block on each quarter for the lead. Yachts of less than 15 tons have a double block on the boom, and single on the buffer.

Most American yachts have a horse in length about one-third the width of the counter for the mainsheet block to travel on. For small vessels, at any rate, this plan is a good one, as the boom can be kept down so much better on a wind, as less sheet will be out than there would be without the horse. A stout ring of indiarubber should be on either end of the horse, to relieve the shock as the boom goes over.

The mainsail outhaul is made up of a horse on the boom, a shackle as traveller, a wire or chain runner (attached to the shackle, and rove through a sheave hole at the boom end), and a tackle. (See Plate I.) In small vessels the latter consists of one block only ; in large vessels of two single, or a double and single, or two double blocks. The old-fashioned plan of outhaul, and one still very much in use, consists of an iron traveller (a large leather-covered ring) on the boom end, a chain or rope through a sheave hole and a tackle. This latter plan is perhaps the stronger of the two; but an objection to it is that the traveller very frequently gets jammed and the reef cleats have to be farther forward than desirable, to allow the traveller to work. Sometimes, instead of a sheave hole, the sheave for the outhaul is fitted right at the extreme end of the boom, on to which an iron cap is fitted for the purpose.