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Boom Brakes

Jan 12, 2011
816
Hunter 410 full time cruiser
We all know that the B&R rig is in more danger of an accidental gybe when running as the boom can't be let out as much. Recently on a 3 day passage I got caught twice by thunderstorms that resulted in a couple of nasty crash gybes. So now I'm looking into boom brakes (not preventers) for my 410. It seems they all attach mid boom, but the B&R rig is end sheeted and I don't feel the boom at mid point is as strong as one that uses mid boom sheeting.

Wondering what other B&R rig users are using as boom brakes (not preventers).
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,001
Hunter 40.5 East Greenwich, RI
I have never seen a boom brake that attaches anywhere else except mid-boom. However my wife says I live under a rock, so who knows? I have a Dutchman boom brake and I find it easy to use and adjust from the cockpit. There is a tension adjustment on the brake itself, but once that is set I have found no need to change it. I use it as a brake to control jibes both intentional and accidental and to hold the main sail out on a down wind run. I do not have a B&R rig but rather a conventional backstay rig.
 
Dec 25, 2000
3,946
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
No need for one here. Use a preventer instead. Those that I've seen connect the vang to the boom and rigged with control lines in the cockpit.
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,466
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
There was a thread recently about accidentally gybing and preventative measures here:

https://forums.sailboatowners.com/index.php?threads/do-you-accidental-gybe.197102/&highlight=allan12210


This is what I posted:

"In my case and in most others with the B&R rigging or swept back spreaders we always reach downwind anyway because I don't want to wrap the main into the spreader tips. That stays more in the boundaries of the cabintop traveler. We try and stay as far away from a gybe position as possible. And I have had a Dutchman Boom Brake for a long time. It saved us on a number of occasions when we started surfing while sailing the same route with our friend who broke his boom. Once we started to surf, we lost control and even from a broad reach we got kicked around into a gybe. The boom brake did its job. From the picture you can see how I rigged it. There is a fixed length line with an eye splice at each end that is shackled to the chainplate (replacing the clevis pin). I repurposed my vang as a cunningham with a hook through the flattening reef cringle. A separate control line is attached to the shackle on the boom brake that runs up and under the boom, forward, then down the mast, through the seahood to a sheet stopper on the starboard cabin top next to the winch. I can elevate it easily applying the required brake tension. It self centers under the boom. After a controlled gybe, I ease the control line and it follows the fixed line over and below the boom again, then I re-tighten. It also serves well as a replacement vang when I can keep the boom down. That even works upwind in really light air when every little wave bounces the boom up and down destroying sail shape. If I can keep that from happening, we can keep moving albiet slowly."
Boom Brake 1.jpg
Boom Brake 2.jpg
 
Jul 4, 2015
387
Hunter 34 Menominee, MI; Sturgeon Bay WI
Thanks for the explanation. Any pics of the vang/ cunningham setup?
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,466
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
Thanks for the explanation. Any pics of the vang/ cunningham setup?
I guess I don't have a picture of my Cunnigham. It was originally the stock 3:1 purchase vang with the control line led to a port side cabin top sheet stopper. Sort of visible in the picture. There is a non-cleating fiddleblock at the base of the mast that has an opening latch. The single block at the other end has a becket on the bottom and a releasing latch for mid boom attaching. In the old days I would unclip it from the mast and attach it to either toerail, making an effective preventer. When I got my boom brake, I added a hook on the single block as a Cunningham (now permanently kept on the mainsail). The line still comes to the the sheet stopper (labeled "Vang"). If I am not reefing, I put the hook through the flattening reef cringle. If I reef, the hook is transferred to the other cringles on the main. I never use the ram's horn hooks on the boom any longer as I tweak the tension on the luff with the Cunningham. The halyard always slips a little after hoisting. I probably need new stoppers due to wear. The Cunningham solved that problem.
Vang.JPG
 
Jul 4, 2015
387
Hunter 34 Menominee, MI; Sturgeon Bay WI
Thanks; have been using a preventer the last two years with a snapshackle block on the toe rail with line from the vang boom attachment leading back to the cockpit, but interested in this brake even though my setup seems to work well (can it rip out the toerail??)
 
Jan 22, 2008
1,466
Hunter 34 Alameda CA
Thanks; have been using a preventer the last two years with a snapshackle block on the toe rail with line from the vang boom attachment leading back to the cockpit, but interested in this brake even though my setup seems to work well (can it rip out the toerail??)
Probably not that toerail. Its bolted every 4 inches. By attaching the preventer a little forward of the boom attachment point it directs the force in an accidental gybe more along the rail sharing the holding over more of the bolts. I really like our aluminum toerails because of all the attachment points for lots of things. The only negative is the build up of dirt because they dam a bit of water draining off.

Of course, another reason I went away from the preventer was that I had to keep detaching it and going over to the low side to hook it up again after gybing. This way I can just stay in the companion way and tend the mainsheet, traveler and boom brake before, during and after gybing. Of course there is always the "Chicken Gybe" that we use as well in really heavy air.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
10,361
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
I look at the preventer as one of the tools in the sail bag. If I have a following sea, swells that I’ll be on the verge of surfing. Sailing short handed and on a single tack that will be more than an 45 minutes or so, I am going to rig a preventer. It is going to pull the boom forward. I am going to counter that force by pulling in the Mainsheet. The boom is going to stay put swung out from the boat.
Whether I’m in a Marconi rig or a B&R rig makes little difference to me. I do not want the boom to swing across the boat unless I cause it to happen. This method gives me that setup.

If I want to change course then I need to move around the boat and change the rigging to include the preventer. Controlled purposeful action.

If I will be tacking or gybing frequently then the preventer stays in the bag. It is the helm that must maintain the course so the sail does not accidentally gybe.
 
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Jul 4, 2015
387
Hunter 34 Menominee, MI; Sturgeon Bay WI
Probably not that toerail. Its bolted every 4 inches. By attaching the preventer a little forward of the boom attachment point it directs the force in an accidental gybe more along the rail sharing the holding over more of the bolts. I really like our aluminum toerails because of all the attachment points for lots of things. The only negative is the build up of dirt because they dam a bit of water draining off.

Of course, another reason I went away from the preventer was that I had to keep detaching it and going over to the low side to hook it up again after gybing. This way I can just stay in the companion way and tend the mainsheet, traveler and boom brake before, during and after gybing. Of course there is always the "Chicken Gybe" that we use as well in really heavy air.
I run a line on each side to a forward block to counter the force and back to the cockpit just like jib sheets on each side; let one out, haul the opposite in. No go forward except initial setup on a run.
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,402
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
I'm not a big fan of boom brakes for multihulls, because a wide traveler gives good control. When it gets windy or lumpy you make sure you don't have a lot of main sheet out, and multihulls tend to track straight rather than yaw. I also find it annoying to adjust the tension just so to get a textbook smooth jibe. I've tested several and didn't care for them.

But for small monohulls that are sailed short handed, I see real value as a preventer alternative. In fact, you use it sort of like a multihull uses the traveller as preventer and vang. You just crank it down firm, and if there is an accidental jibe, it is easy to release under control. Most importantly, it is simple to tend and eliminates going forward in rough conditions.

If you are worried about the strain on the boom, don't crank it down too tight. If it slides, it will be controlled. Experiment with how much it takes to lock the boom when on the edge of reefing, and use that setting. No problem.

It can also be used as a vang, though it must be slightly released and retensioned after each tack or jibe. Note the word slightly, unless you like a Chinese jibe.

It's not the same thing, but it's a lot safer than fooling with a preventer when it's blowing dogs off leashes. That's not fun on narrow decks.
 
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Jan 12, 2011
816
Hunter 410 full time cruiser
I definitely get the feeling that people have not experience an accidental gybe with a preventer when a 40 mph squall catches you. If you had you wouldn't be saying things like "I don't see the reason for a brake I just use a preventer".

I don't want to stop the gybe, I want to "soften" it and the topic is about boom brakes. I pretty much have my answer as I did a google search and read the discussions, read the test reports, and watched the videos since I posted this thread.
 
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Jul 27, 2011
3,402
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
I pretty much have my answer as I did a google search and read the discussions, read the test reports, and watched the videos since I posted this thread.
I just installed a Gyb’easy for my trip around Las Puntas (Pt Arguello and Pt Conception) later this week. The Bavaria has swept-back spreaders as well, but not so much as with your rig, plus there is a backstay. I’ll file an addendum if there is anything to report. However, a broom brake appears much more versatile than a preventer. As you said, there may be instances when the gybe should be completed, as with a sudden (violent) wind shift. As opposed to one from being slewed off course in quartering seas, etc. (I recognize that one can manually ease the preventer to allow a completed gybe, but it would take some seconds and might interfere with helming at a critical point.)

A Cat 36 MK II came through here (Morro Bay, CA) a couple of days ago. Had done a run/broad-reach down from Monterey Bay in an overnighter. SCA w/strong gusts the whole way; pretty hairy they said. Lost one of four to the mal-de-mar, so were a bit short handed for overnight. The skipper had installed a Walder-type boom brake on the C36. Very impressive piece of gear I thought w/good installation. Handled accidental gybe in 30 kt with ease, he reported.
 
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Mar 26, 2011
2,402
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
I definitely get the feeling that people have not experience an accidental gybe with a preventer when a 40 mph squall catches you. If you had you would be asking things like "I don't see the reason for a brake I just use a preventer".

I don't want to stop the gybe, I want to "soften" it and the topic is about boom brakes. I pretty much have my answer as I did a google search and read the discussions, read the test reports, and watched the videos since I posted this thread.
Perhaps. I've sailed in lots of wind, but never been caught and jibed in that much wind. But it could happen.

So why do we not see boom brakes on Volvo race boats and other ocean racers, particularly short handed? I'm not being sarcastic or pretending I know the answer, because the way they sail in big waves, it seems it might help. I'm very interested in the answer. They certainly know of them and I'd bet they have tested them; they test everything. Or do some of them? I think we can accept that they are skilled sailors and that they have experienced accidental jibes in big wind.
 
Jul 27, 2011
3,402
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
Perhaps. I've sailed in lots of wind, but never been caught and jibed in that much wind. But it could happen.

So why do we not see boom brakes on Volvo race boats and other ocean racers, particularly short handed?
Are we sure they are not used? Some of the designs also function as a vang.
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,361
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
A boom brake is another tool that can serve the sailor. It is not unlike a line wrapped once about the boom and passed through a block on the rail and back to the cockpit. It serves to control the movement of the boom. I've done that. What is now seen is gear that appears to be borrowed from climbers. And why not. They often control their decent by a brake with a wrapped line. They also use dynamic line that has a lot of stretch.

What I find as a challenge when in use on my boat are:
  1. we often use lines that have minimal stretch/give for control lines.
  2. the lines attached to the rail are an impediment to my access to the Mast or the bow.
  3. the forces of the sail at attachment from the center of the boom to the rail are great and could damage the rail and the deck.
  4. the attachment to mid boom of the boom break (should it hang up under the forces applied) are at a place there the boom is more likely to break than the boom end.
The boom break is another tool in our sail bag. We as sailors need to consider the issues, the benefits and the compromises we take as we employ these tools.
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,361
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Thank you Don. That is an innovation I have not seen used. It would serve to reduce the pressure on the mid boom.
 
Jan 12, 2011
816
Hunter 410 full time cruiser
So why do we not see boom brakes on Volvo race boats and other ocean racers, particularly short handed? I'm not being sarcastic or pretending I know the answer, because the way they sail in big waves, it seems it might help. I'm very interested in the answer. They certainly know of them and I'd bet they have tested them; they test everything. Or do some of them? I think we can accept that they are skilled sailors and that they have experienced accidental jibes in big wind.
looks that they do

https://dreamgreen.org/products/boat-parts/193-boom-brake-installation-images[URL]https://dreamgreen.org/products/boat-parts/193-boom-brake-installation-images[/URL]
 
Feb 5, 2004
3,934
Tartan 3800 Westport, MA
Thanks for this thread. I never really knew what a boom brake was, and how simple and useful they are.

So far I really like the Capt. Don boom brake. Simple, good looking, appeals to my sense of style and frugality.

I already have a couple of pad eyes that slide on my toerail tracks, a couple of snatch blocks, an available cleat or two on the cockpit coaming, and a spare length of VPC.

What size line, do you think, for a 38' boat?