Halyard Quick-Release Line
I made some changes to my MC to make it easier to right it in
case it ever turtles. This was prompted by watching a rescue committee
bungle a recent attempt to right a turtled MC. The water was about
48 degrees, so no one really wanted to get wet (the poor
skipper was already in the water and had to be hauled out
to prevent hypothermia).
The best way of raising the mast is to pull it up with the halyard;
however, on a Melges, the halyard is attached about 4 feet up
the mast and 2 feet in from the sides -- too far under water to mess
with. Even on a Johnson it is a long reach under water to get
to it. What is needed is a simple halyard release mechanism that
does the job without requiring the rescuers to get in the water.
I modified my boat (Melges #1521) as shown in the photograph below.
- 1/4" x 1" Fastpin (West Marine 102632 - $5.75)
- #2 Jib hank (West Marine 115253 - $ 2.69)
- 9 feet of 3/8" Sta-Set Polyester line
Melges Boat Works MCs:
Drill a 1" deep hole with a 1/4" drill in the front
of the mast at the height of the bottom rivets. (You will be drilling
through the wall of the mast and into the heel.) Insert the fastpin
in this hole. Remove the Melges-supplied shock cord from the eyestrap
on the mast and attach it to one end of the line. (I made
an eye-splice.) Run the line through the ring on the fastpin until
the end with the shock cord is even with the eyestrap on the mast.
Tie a single knot around the ring at this point. Tie the jib hank
to the other end of the line. (I also made an eye-splice here.)
Attach the jib hank to the bowplate.
Johnson Boat Works MCs:
You have two options, 1) Modify it like the Melges by removing
the shock cord from the wire halyard and attaching it to the line,
or 2) Tie a boat snap (West Marine 115568 - $1.70) at the end
of the release line for attaching to the shock cord in normal
After raising and latching the sail, attach the wire halyard to
the shock cord as you usually do. You will be pulling in the shearing
direction of the fastpin so nothing will move -- the line is strong
and should last for many years.
Turtled Condition (hope it never happens to you, but if it does...):
In case of a turtle, the halyard is released by reaching under
the nose, undoing the jib hank, grabbing the line and pulling
towards you. This action will pull the fastpin straight out of
the mast. The wire halyard line is now available to the rescuers
for bringing the mast up to the water line. The sail can then
be released and the boat righted by lifting the mast and "walking"
it toward the hull.
Good Luck and great sailing!