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What is this mystery block?

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Solitude:
We have a 54 with the same set-up.   Our solution is to attach a block with a soft shackle on the center part of the port and stbd mid-boat cleat.    We run the staysail sheet through the "mystery block" then to the blocks attached with the soft shackles then to the turning block at the stern then to a winch.   It works for us.  We keep the blocks on the cleats all the time and suspend them off the deck via a bungie to the lower lifeline.   

Daniel:
Ken,

different people have different experiences, what else is new in sailing?  :)

I agree with you: the lower the angle of the sheet, the lower the stress on the "bridge" over the openings of the toe rail.

Besides the practical experience, I always like to subject issues like that to sound engineering considerations. When we installed a removable forestay and therefore running backs, we installed 2 appropriately sized stand-up blocks on the aft deck to redirect the running back-stay to the winch. Each stand-up block came with 4x 1/4 SS bolts. Compare that to the, maybe 1/4" aluminum "bridges on the toe rail. Again the angles of the back stays is much more vertical then the angle of a gennerker sheet, but still. Personally I would not take the chance.

As to "where else to attache these blocks", see above: 2 permanently attached stand-up blocks on the aft deck, with an oversized backing plate.

Best



KSabatini:
Thank you for the catch on the brand, It rings a bell and yes, they are excellent, well made blocks.

I don't necessarily disagree re: a boom vang, not sure why one would attach it to the toe rail unless you were running and in such a case the making sure to use sufficient angle (attaching well forward of the mast) to minimize strain.

I do however strongly disagree re: the use of the toe-rail on these boats for this purpose.  We have used these blocks for many years racing our previous boat and very regularly on this boat with light and heavy air, good and bad weather.  Many many sailors I know use the toe rail exclusively for this purpose on many boats.

As always, provided proper maintenance ( of the toe rails and all other proper maintenance is performed as should be) there is more than sufficient load bearing on these toe rails for this duty.

I would however advise that absolute verticle load be avoided where possible.  Strength is maximized at angle as well as load distribution.  We always run our lines on as deep an angle as possible to lessen load on hardware, proper sail trim and minimizing strain on man and machine.   ;D

Lastly this duty is exactly what these blocks are designed for.  I certainly would not think of attaching them anywhere else for such a purpose. 

Of course this is all opinion and conjecture... with quite a lot of experience influencing my blabbering. LOL. ;)

Ken

Daniel:
Based on past experiences on my Hylas 46-11 as well as other Hylas, I would strongly recommend NOT to attached any kind a block to the aluminum toe rail that will have substantial loads, such as downwind sail sheets. I have seen the top of the toe rail bent twice, in fairly benign conditions. They are not designed for such load.

I have also seen owners/skippers attach the boom vang to the toe rail to act as preventer. Really bad idea, if you ever dip the boom into the water, one of 2 things will happen:
- the top of the toe rail will break off (most likely scenario), or
- the boom will break at the connection with the boom vang.

Either case will seriously ruin your afternoon.

Daniel Wolff

joel:
Those look like older Wilcox Crittenden snatch blocks.  Great blocks! 

Does the toe rail handle the load ok? 

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