In an old post I mentioned the importance of preventers. But given the nature of the Never for Ever‘s B&R rig and our cockpit enclosure, I have never managed to rig one the completely satisfied me. A preventer, in case you are wondering, is a method of preventing the boom from swinging accidentally and sometimes violently from one side of the boat to another. When sailing downwind your mainsail is generally out as far as possible and when gybing (moving the sail from one side to another as your stern moves through the wind ), one always centers the boom before turning the boat to ensure the boom is moved from one side to the other under control. But in the case of an accidental gybe, the boom can fly across the cockpit generating line-snapping forces and being a huge danger to anyone in its path.
There are all sorts of fancy boom brakes available but the simplest way to rig a preventer is by tying the boom into position. The issue on our Hunter 386 is that the only place to tie off a preventer that I have access to is midway down the boom and it isn’t easy to tie that off to anyplace except the chain plates (or worse a stanchion). The angles involved don’t give me much reassurance about the rig’s ability to handle any of the massive forces an accidental gybe can generate.
Well I decided the other day to shake off the old Google-fu and see what the internet had to say. And lo and behold Selden’s website pointed out the obvious solution. Their downloadable Hints and Advice Guide from the rigging section spelled it all out and also solved a minor mystery for me.
One of the lines that came with the boat (that I had previously used to try and rig a preventer with) was a length of about 8 feet of braided line with a eye splice in one end. I could never figure out why this line was a part of the boat’s inventory, but used it as a handy line when I needed a short length. Turns out it was used as part of the preventer but not in a way I had imagined.
The line was meant to be pre-tied to the outer end fitting of the boom and then temporarily attached spliced eye end to the kicker slider. This means you don’t have to worry about accessing the end of the boom when at sea (something that due to our bimini I gave up on almost immediately).
Then, when rigging the preventer, you tie off a “preventer guy” to the loop and lead it forward to the bow cleat (or a snatch block if I ever get a spare). If the line is long enough you can lead it back to the cockpit so you don’t have to go forward to release the setup.
The manual also stated “The preventer guy must not be fitted to the centre of the boom since that could cause damage, especially if the end of the boom goes into the water as a result of rolling” which is what I had been doing and had been wholly dissatisfied with. Turns out I am getting some good sailorly instincts after all…