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Halyard Keeping

May 14, 2021
Catalina 309 Sarasota Yacht Club
I recently bought a 2012 309 and am in the process of getting used to the boat. It is set up with halyard bags which I'm finding somewhat messy. Are there alternatives that anyone is using.

Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
There are several types of bags. Or you can roll up your halyards and hang them.

Both are better than piling them up on the sole of the cockpit.
Jul 7, 2004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
I wish I had bags for mine. But I don't know which to get and I don't want to put more holes in the 'glas for snaps.
Feb 21, 2013
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new 309!!

Please post a photo of what you have now so the forum can make recommendations. As jssailem posted there are several types of bags and options on how to neatly stow them. In my case I coil them up and lay them on the top of the cabin next to the companionway without interfering with my line clutches and winches. Do an internet search on "how to neatly stow sailboat halyards" for ideas. At the end of the day it is a personal thing.

Ward H

Nov 7, 2011
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I coil my loose lines and hang them on the cabin top winches as @Stu Jackson shows in his pic.

I had the opportunity to use rope bags on @Scott T-Bird s C320 last year and liked them so I'm going to make some up and give them a try.
To avoid putting holes in the f-glass I'll be using these adhesive backed stud fasteners from Sailrite.com. Domed Snap Studs
I've used several of them on the boat starting last year. The VHB adhesive mounting tape is holding up very well.

I used a SS version of this type of line hanger on my O'day 25 which didn't have cabin top winches. Line Hanger
They worked pretty well but I like hanging the lines from the winches better. If I need the winch I lay the lines securely on the cabin top.
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Jan 18, 2016
Catalina 387 Dana Point
Stu's pic looks nice and tidy to me. I've got bags but they're on the rooftop. Works out ok, mainsheet is a PITA to pull out of the bag because it's too long (I blame the P.O.) I'll fix that with some slip sailing to keep the boom off the lowers and shorten the sheet.

I am, however, "that guy." When sailing, the traveler control lines get tossed down the companionway. They seem to nestle pretty well on each side of the stairs, and haven't been a tripping hazard (was much worse on the C-30). I just want lines I tweak a lot to run free.

Also, while sailing, the main halyard is dropped over it's winch. Ready to drop and not getting tangled in the bag.


Feb 11, 2017
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
I use gasket hitches looped over the winch/cleat. My Islander Freeport 36 only has the main sheet on the cabin top but my C&C27 had all halyards, vang, pole lift on the cabin top and they stayed neat.
Jul 27, 2011
Bavaria 38E Alamitos Bay
I’ve concluded that neatly stowed, “organized” halyard lines for me, on the Bavaria, is about as achievable as having a bag in which me tools are neatly “organized” :banghead:. Consider what’s on the cabin top. Two Rutgerson rope-clutch banks (starboard, port) of five clutches each, plus one extra Harken clutch on port side. Outboard to inboard stb are: spin halyard, jib halyard, 1st reefing line, boom vang, main sheet. Inboard to outboard port side are: main halyard (Harken), main outhaul, 2nd reefing line, pole downhaul (when attached) pole uphaul, & boom topping lift. So ya see, having bags as shown above probably would not help much, plus add to a cluttered look. I just coil all but two of ‘em and lay ‘em up next to clutch banks.

But if I were to use bags or hooks, I would have one on stb side for the mainsheet, and one on port side for the main halyard. Obviously, the mainsheet must be free to run out. It should not be coiled and stowed like the jib halyard, etc. It just lies in a loose pile somewhere when we’re sailing. The main halyard as well when it comes to dousing the main or to reefing. The latter is also not coiled like the others. It’s more flaked and left on the cabin top inboard of its clutch.

The best cure for cockpit spaghetti, which may minimally include the jib sheets, the mainsheet, and the jib-sheet-car control lines (if not using a pole; otherwise add two more) is the crew. My lovely crew, aka Admiral, is frequently engaged tidying up the cockpit spaghetti, unless helming, in which case I’m doing it. We must face it, working a sailboat is an ad hoc affair. It’s messy.
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May 14, 2021
Catalina 309 Sarasota Yacht Club
A big thank you for the responses. Although I've been sailing for 45 years this is the largest boat I've had. For the past 12 years I had a Precision 23 so this is a big step up. Based on past experience, it will take the better part of a year before I get everything where I like it - no drilling holes or even shortening the way too long main sheet until then. The bags have no separations, just big bags. I think my wife can sew dividers which should help. I'll drop the main sheet down the companionway. I found that convenient for the Precision main halyard.

Thanks again

Ward H

Nov 7, 2011
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
Ready to drop and not getting tangled in the bag.
If you use a rope bag properly, the line will not get tangle and will come out smoothly.
The trick is to feed the line tail first into the bag and keep feeding it into the bag. Do not coil or just stuff it into the bag. If you feed it into the bag, it will not tangle. (Think of the rescue shows where they throw a rope bag over the side of a building. It doesn't tangle because the line was fed into the bag, not just stuffed in)
On my boat halyards are the longest lines in a cockpit and once sails are up all that the line is not needed for trimming sails. Same with the reefing line. Control lines that need tweaking get flaked onto the seats.
I used to drop lines into the companionway but stopped doing that when a guest tripped on a line at the base of the companionway steps. The only lines I'll drop in are the vang and outhaul. They are too short to reach the cabin sole.

The rope bags I'm making have two pockets each. Separate pockets for halyards and remaining pockets for control lines to tide up after sailing.