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Installing a Windward-Sheeting Traveler

by Rob Van Name

(Copied from old J/30 website)


Last summer, after many seasons fighting with a traditional traveler setup, I installed a windward sheeting traveler. An extra incentive was provided by the J/30 class rules which had been modified to allow the use of a windward sheeting traveler. The windward sheeting traveler allows for easy adjustment of the traveler after a tack by automatically releasing the leeward traveler line when the windward traveler line is taken in. This means seconds are saved not having to release the leeward traveler.

Enough with the theory. The installation is fairly straightforward. You will need to purchase the windward sheeting traveler car and most likely an appropriate length of traveler track. On my boat the traveler car rides in a channel at the aft end of the bridge deck. The windward sheeting traveler car I selected ( Harken HK1509/HK1577 ) is wider so the traveler car had to be raised up to clear the channel. To accomplish this a 1/2″ by 2″ wide by 5 foot piece of teak was placed in the bottom of the traveler channel and match drilled to the hole pattern of the old traveler track.

Now carefully install the windward sheeting traveler car onto the traveler track and put some tape on the top of the traveler track only by each side of the traveler car to prevent the car from escaping. The traveler track ( I used Harken HK1511 tall track ) was then installed using the existing hole pattern. Using the tall track has the additional advantage: no fixed hole pattern – the fasteners to be placed anywhere along it’s length ( no extra holes & no new leaks! ). Be sure to apply a generous amount of marine bedding compound under the teak & traveler track. Try to get the traveler track fasteners ( stainless 1/4″ hex head bolts ) the correct length. it took me three tries to get the length right…. also do not get too carried away tightening these bolts because if you break them you get to remove all the fasteners to get the traveler track out because the bolts slide in from either end of the track. ”

Finishing touches: install end stops on the traveler track. This is required to prevent the traveler car from running off the end of the track. If this happens the fairly expensive plastic ball bearings will escape from the traveler car and head for the nearest over board drain. I also installed new traveler line which is one piece and 30 feet long for my boat.

Sailing with the windward sheeting car is quite a pleasure and you will be able to use all that extra time saved in the tacks to look for wind shifts or sail trim. Some have suggested that the helmsman, given enough instruction, could operate the traveler. On our boat the jury is still out on this aspect…

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