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Topping Lift?

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We have the same setup you describe on our H-46 with the rigid vang (Selden Boomkicker 30) and a very heavy duty topping lift.  I thought this was sort of redundant myself when we bought the boat three years ago.  However recently our vang's gas cylinder blew out - releasing a messy mass of oil onto the deck at the base of the mast and then went limp - no longer supporting the boom.  Having the topping lift at that point was a lifesaver as there would have been no easy way to support the boom with the main rolled up.

Replacing the cylinder is fairly easy if you can ever get the part from Selden.  It is also possible to get the cylinder from the company that actually makes it (Aratron AB) which as I recall is in Sweden.  I wound up getting the Selden part because it was difficult to tell exactly which Aratron part we needed and there was no clear way to order directly from the manufacturer.  For what its worth and based on my research, the cylinder is an Aratron AB GSSV14-300 30  Newton model. You can also get the stiffer 50 Newton model if you like. But I digress.

Aside from helping with sail shape, furling, etc, we also use the topping lift for going up the mast when we need to get at the aft side of things.  Also, as far as I can tell, it would be the only way to hoist a trysail if you had one.  One other thing is that leaving the boom otherwise unsupported with anything other than the rigid vang for long periods probably wears that gas cylinder out faster and when it breaks you'll hope you're on the boat at the time like we were because the heavy boom came to rest on the bimini.

H-46 Santosha #34

I can't advocate for removing the boom Vang. How else do you pull the boom down when sailing downwind to get the proper shape in the mainsail?


Great points. We have a Stevens 47 (predecessor to the Hylas 47 and 49) with a Furlboom in boom furler.  In six years zigzagging about the Pacific fulltime here are our observations on the topping list.

- we used to use to use the topping lift to establish the correct boom angle before furling.  We then changed the gas cylinder in our Selden rigid boom to the most powerful they offer. Now the rigid vang pushes the boom up as far as the sheet or vang line will allow.
 - we normally move the topping list to the base of the mast for most passages but at anchor (where we spend most of our time) the topping lift is reattached to the boom along with a Handy Billy down to the toerail to stop the boom bouncing in the rolls. The topping lift also supports people walking on the boom for maintenance or just getting up a high concrete dock wall.
-  nice to use the topping lift for a back up halyard when getting hoisted aloft on the main halyard.
- we have never had a problem with our main halyard but it never hurts to have easy backups offshore.



Jim, it sounds like we essentially have the same set-up.  Not sure I ever thought about the use of the topping lift to position the boom for furling the main, but then again, this is my first furling main and I'm definitely still in learning mode to the nuances! 

Although there is probably plenty of redundancy with the rigid vang, I went ahead and ordered another topping lift anyways.  It may see good use as a spare halyard one day and since it doesn't interfere with the mains'l, I figured what the heck?!

s/v Nepenthe

Dan, we have a spring loaded semi-rigid vang, one that supports the boom but can be pulled down by the vang control or mainsheet. We also have in-mast furling which requires fairly precise location of the boom when furling. Locking the boom in position with the mainsheet and topping lift is convenient when furling. That, an extra halyard, and support if we need to use the boom to lift from the water is why we keep it.


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