Help with topping lift!

May 22, 2021
3
Catalina 30 Portland, Maine
Hello!
New to the forum here, looking for some guidance with my topping lift. I have a 1981 Catalina 30' (new to me!) and the topping lift seems to be a cable from the masthead and clipped to the end of the boom, without any attached line anywhere on the boat and no way to adjust it. Just a fixed cable. When the main is raised it just flaps around with a lot of slack and cannot be tensioned. Sometimes it unclips itself and just flies around. I have temporarily taped the clasp shut and left it attached to the boom, but shouldn't there be a way to adjust this? What am I missing?

Thanks!
Andrew
 
Jul 19, 2013
317
Pearson 31-2 Boston
It would be remarkable if that topping lift doesn't come down the mast somewhere, are you certain there's no line tails whose use you've made assumptions for.

Rgeardless, it sounds like the tolling lift is long enough, that when sailing closehauled, with the main trimmed in hard, there is at least some slack in the topping lift. If so, that is how long the topping lift needs to be. The solution to the slackness in the topping lift when you ease out the main and the boom rises, loosening the topping lift, is to sister in a 2-3 piece of shock cord that takes up the slack when the boom is eased out. Tie one end of the shock coord to the boom fitting and the other to the topping lift wire, try a rolling hitch. And you can then forget about the topping lift.

There is no real need for an adjustable topping lift unless you have a boom that droops into the cockpit, say due to a long leech on the main.
 
Feb 20, 2011
7,783
Island Packet 35 Tucson, AZ/San Carlos, MX
shouldn't there be a way to adjust this?
If you want to be able to adjust it, you might cut it off a few feet above the boom and install a small block on its terminus.
From there you can install another small block with a becket on the boom end. Tie your new adjusting line to the becket, up to the topping lift block, back down and forward from the boom block to a cleat on the boom.
Piece of cake, no?
 
Jan 1, 2006
6,070
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I would venture a guess that the many, many topping lifts are not adjustable. The pig tail thing from the backstay is very common on under 30' boats.
Adjustability is a good thing especially while not sailing to pull the boom up for easier movement around the cockpit while the sail is down. It's also useful to use to stabilize the boom with mainsheet tension and topping lift tension so that people can hold onto the boom to stabilize themselves in waves while motoring or in general while moored, anchored or docked.
On my Ranger 29 I put in an arrangement as Just Some Guy described. I worked pretty well but in my version it was a bit sloppy. My Hunter had adjustability at the mast thru a line that ran up the mast, out a sheave and then down to the boom end. Since it is not a sail adjustment I didn't mind for it to be at the mast. That was a furling main which pretty much dictated the height of the boom and I didn't adjust it that much. And it was well overhead.
 
May 22, 2021
3
Catalina 30 Portland, Maine
I'm blown away by the speed of all your replies and how helpful these are! Thanks so much everyone, happy sailing
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,773
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
............I have a 1981 Catalina 30' (new to me!) and the topping lift seems to be a cable from the masthead and clipped to the end of the boom, without any attached line anywhere on the boat and no way to adjust it. Just a fixed cable. When the main is raised it just flaps around with a lot of slack and cannot be tensioned. Sometimes it unclips itself and just flies around. I have temporarily taped the clasp shut and left it attached to the boom, but shouldn't there be a way to adjust this? What am I missing?........
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new sailboat!!

Your topping lift is 1/8 inch diameter stainless steel wire per your owner's manual that is fixed to the aft end of the boom and apparently secured to the top of the mast. Suggest replacing the wire topping lift with all rope with a shackle connected to the end of the boom over a sheave (or block) at the top of mast, down the mast, exiting the mast at the boom height then to a cleat on the mast or through a block then to a clutch, cam cleat or jam cleat. Then you can adjust the boom height. Adjust it once then you will not likely have make any further adjustments and it should not flap around.
 
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Jan 18, 2016
679
Catalina 387 Dana Point
I had a C-30, and that was indeed the way the topping lift was handled. When sailing, the sail lifts the boom, not the topping lift. Topping lift holds the boom up when not sailing. And yes, it just kinda flops around behind. You could disconnect from the boom after raising the main, you could not worry about it (many, many C-30s were rigged that way), you could run an adjustable one (I have one on the 387, I let it flop around after the main is raised), you could lose it altogether.

Lose it altogether: I added a rigid vang, and removed it. At the dock, main halyard was the topping lift. Vang was plenty to launch and douse the main without the boom smacking anybody on the head.
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,079
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Welcome to the SBO Forum, we are pleased you found us. Congrats to you for your new to you boat. They are great boats.

The topping lift you have is showing you it’s weakness. When you sail the sail should hold the boom up not the lift. Removing it and hanging it on a shroud would be on option. You just need to remember to put it back on when you drop the mainsail.

Changing the wire out for a halyard makes great sense. A rope would me much easier on your sail than a wire.
 
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Ward H

.
Nov 7, 2011
3,123
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
I have a bit newer C30 but I've looked at quite a few and yes, what you have is probably what the boat came with.
I converted to an adjustable topping lift but soon found adjustment is not needed for it to work as a topping lift.
As others have said, it's purpose is to hold the boom up when the sail is down.
I set mine so the boom has a slightly greater angle than 90 deg to the mast. In other words, the boom angles down slightly but still gives me more than 6' headroom.
When I raise the main sail, the sail pulls the boom up to about 90 deg or slightly less and the topping lift goes slack. I drop the sail and the topping lift keeps it out of the cockpit. That is how it should work.

I strongly disagree with the idea of detaching the topping lift from the boom after you have raised the sail. That works for small boats where no one sits or stands under the boom but not on a larger boat like a C30 where the heavy boom will drop several feet. If you forget to reattach it and let the sail drop, the boom could cause injury to anyone in the cockpit when it comes down. There is no need to take that risk. Leave the topping attached to the boom when the sail it up.

I believe you have a couple of options:

1. Repair or replace the clasp. A carabiner or shackle will work. Since the topping lift is slack when your main sail is raised, it is not too short. If the boom is too low in the cockpit you can try to shorten the connection but do not shorten it enough so it supports the boom when the sail is raised.
2. Do as @justsomeguy suggested. Arranged some blocks at the bottom of the topping lift so that you can adjust it.
3. If you are going to do anything at the masthead, inspected the mast head to see if it has room for you to add a second sheave (pulley) next to the sheave for main halyard. I know later C30s have 3 masthead sheaves installed, one for the main halyard and two for jib/Genoa halyards. You can easily add a 4th sheave so you have two mainsail halyards. I did this and use one for the adjustable topping lift. No real need to add an external block at the masthead for this unless your masthead will not accommodate a 4th sheave.

Some sailors do adjust the topping lift as a sail trim tool, using it to lift the boom to give the sail some additional belly in light winds. There are a lot of other sail trim controls to learn first.

Rigid Vangs are nice and I agree with @Stu Jackson that Garhauer Marine is the place to go for that option but I'm sure you have other things to spend your money on so pass on the rigid vang for a while. It is a nicety, not a requirement.

Do consider Garhauer Marine for blocks and such. Quality parts for low cost.

Welcome to the forum and to C30 ownership!!!
 
Jul 19, 2013
317
Pearson 31-2 Boston
I have a bit newer C30 but I've looked at quite a few and yes, what you have is probably what the boat came with.
I converted to an adjustable topping lift but soon found adjustment is not needed for it to work as a topping lift.
As others have said, it's purpose is to hold the boom up when the sail is down.
I set mine so the boom has a slightly greater angle than 90 deg to the mast. In other words, the boom angles down slightly but still gives me more than 6' headroom.
When I raise the main sail, the sail pulls the boom up to about 90 deg or slightly less and the topping lift goes slack. I drop the sail and the topping lift keeps it out of the cockpit. That is how it should work.
....
Some sailors do adjust the topping lift as a sail trim tool, using it to lift the boom to give the sail some additional belly in light winds. There are a lot of other sail trim controls to learn first.
...
Using the topping lift for sail draft is an idea I see now and then. I've raced on quite a few race boats and different one-designs and the more serious boats will not have no topping lift at all to reduce windage, if there were any legitimate sail trim concept involving a topping lift, race boats would have one, even if removeable..

Unless you have a mainsail with a long leech resulting in a drooping boom, as you say, on a cruising boat you should be able to set the topping lift once and forget it. The risk with a practice of raising the boom with the topping lift, whether for sail trim or headroom, is if you ever forget to ease the topping lift prior to trimming the boat closehauled, you stand a good chance of breaking something. If you are lucky it would be the topping lift, if not, it will be the boom. At least, that was my experience.


For cockpit headroom when the main is furled, we simply move the traveler to the port side which pretty much frees the cockpit of boom overhang.