Friday, December 23, 2011

Midship cleats?

Whispering Jesse docked at Spring Cove Marina in September 2011
With Whispering Jesse safely slipped at the Delegal Creek Marina in Savannah, my thoughts have turned to boat improvement projects. The list is long, but one of the simpler projects would be to add midship cleats for securing spring lines.

Unlike most modern sailboats, which feature a toe rail mounted around the perimeter of the deck, our 1980 Valiant 40 features a full cap rail. It essentially lowers the deck about six inches below the top level of the hullsides, offering protection from slips as well as a place to stand on the leeward beam when the boat is heeling. There are hawseholes at the bow and stern to accommodate bow and stern cleats for securing dock lines, but there are no hawseholes at the beam, obviously, because the beam is frequently underwater while the boat is underway.

Thus, there are no cleats amidship, and spring lines must be rigged from the bow or stern, as shown in the photo above. This is inconvenient for a couple of reasons. In some docking situations, the spring lines end up being excessively long, reducing their effectiveness at holding the boat in place. And because of their position, the spring lines tend to rub against the hull and cause minor damage, especially when they are occasionally dipping into the water, picking up sediment and sea life. Before Mike and I moved Whispering Jesse to an adjacent slip at Delegal Creek Marina the morning after our arrival there, the overnight rubbing of a spring line caused some damage to the boat's adhesive name letters on the port side near the stern. So adding a pair of midship cleats might not be a bad idea.

Stainless steel cleat manufactured by New Found Metals
Searching the Internet, I found that New Found Metals (, the manufacturer of our boat's spiffy new stainless steel portlights, also makes ten-inch stainless steel cleats that look just like our boat's stock ones. I'm thinking they could be attached directly to the cap rails, but I will get advice from a boatyard first. It might be more prudent to mount them to the deck, near the closely-spaced chainplates on either beam, and then also attach chocks on the cap rail to limit chafing.

It's looking like Nan and I will be headed out to Savannah in early April, along with assorted family members, to work on the boat and do some sailing to nearby destinations, perhaps Tybee Island or Hilton Head Island. I will keep you posted on plans for the trip, as well as on other future boat projects.

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