You and your sailing crew are short tacking up a narrow channel with shoals to the left and moored boats to the right. You get your crew ready for the next tack, come about–and the head sail sheet jams onto the sailboat winch! What would you do next?
Jammed turns on a head sail sheet winch-called “overriding turns”-are caused by a sheet line that leads at a downward angle to the winch drum. When this happens, the wraps on the drum can bunch up so tight that they are almost impossible to remove. Use one of these fast, easy methods to remove an override:
1. Luff Up Method
a. Point up into the wind for a few seconds to luff the head sail and take tension off the sheet.
b. Remove the turns by hand.
c. Fall off the wind and build up speed for the next tack.
2. Line and Block Method
a. Tie a rolling hitch onto the jammed sheet between head sail clew and winch.
b. Mount a snatch block aft of the jammed winch.
c. Lead the line to the snatch block and to an open winch.
d. Grind on the winch to remove all tension on the jammed sheet.
e. Remove the override by hand and re-wrap the sheet onto the winch.
3. Emergency Method
a. Cut the jammed sheet forward and aft of the winch.
b. Lead the bitter end of the cut sheet through the block and around the sailboat mast.
c. Tie a rolling hitch onto the leeward sheet. You can tack with this rig until you clear all dangers.
Prevent Future Sheet Jams
Avoid future overrides by leading head sail sheets in an upward direction to the sheet winches. Use one of these easy techniques:
* Reposition each Genoa block along the track to bring it closer to and lower than the sheet winch.
* Insert an intermediate block between the existing Genoa block and the sheet winch.
Sailboat winch overrides are part of life on any small cruising or racing sailboat. Learn how to sail a boat better than ever before by planning for the unexpected with fast, easy techniques like these.