To recap, the 1/4” stainless steel cable that we use to raise and lower the centerboard broke back in the Bahamas in 2011. We have been sailing since then with the board pinned in the “up” position. Because there are no drawings of the cable attachment design, we have been limited to a trial and error approach, learning a bit more about the design (and repair) when we haul and launch Saralane annually. Now finally (at least since we launched in Antigua last fall) we are up and running – and what a difference the board in the “down” position makes! Weighing in at about 800 pounds, it really makes a stability difference when lowered – not to mention it helps our upwind performance. The depth of Saralane is 8’6” with the board down, and 4’9” with it up – when we are at rest.The raise/lower design is poor at best, due to the fact that the cable attaches very close to the pivot point. The result is a huge amount of force needed to tension the cable and lift the 800 pound board. From the attachment point on the centerboard, the cable runs vertically up through the cabin in a stainless steel conduit, through the cabin top, over a sheave, and then horizontally aft to a winch. A 4:1 block and tackle is also incorporated to increase the mechanical advantage.
|Stainless Steel Pipe with cable running inside up to deck|
|Cable exits pipe, runs over the sheave and along the deck|
|Cable turning aft to cockpit|
|Cable connecting to 4:1 purchase|
|Finally led to the winch (black line).|
When the board is down there is little or no tension in the system as it is essentially hanging on the pivot pin. However, when the board is up (which is most of the time) – everything is banjo tight. Most worrisome is the huge compression that is put on the cabin structure where the cable turns from vertical to horizontal, behind the mast and along the deck. Other C&C 40s with this centerboard arrangement have elaborate owner inspired bracing systems for the cabintop compression. We too are considering ways to oppose this compression, without much luck, but have settled on a tropical, warm water solution.
When we had the board pinned up all was well and we could release the tension on the cable and let the pin do the work - but the pin was very difficult to insert/remove. Now we use a simple short length of spectra line with a loop spliced at each end.
|Made up Spectra strap|
Spectra is fantastically strong (like steel) and easy to work with. When we were preparing to launch last November in Antigua, I drilled and tapped the keel (port and starboard) and inserted 3/8” machine screws with bolt heads on each side so that the heads were well exposed. I made up the spectra strap to just the right length so one loop hooked over one bolt, then passed under the keel, and then the second loop hooked on the oppsite side – simple, soft, and easy to do.
|Strap looped over bolt heads|
When we're settled in an anchorage after sailing, the board is raised with the cable and one of us dives under with the spectra and hooks it on.
|Spectra "sling " in place|
Then we release the cable and the centerboard drops a bit and rests in the spectra “sling”. We reverse the proccess when we head out. If we have a downwind sail ahead of us we don’t bother as the board doesn’t contribute anything on that point of sail.
|The board down with a chunk out of it.|
|Close up of the "bite!"|
So at the end of the day all of the centerboard hype boils down to a 12 inch piece of rope - we like to keep things simple. All of this effort would be moot if we were able to enjoy the mythical “downwind sailing” we have heard about, but now we are ready for anything.