Brail Line

One of the problems I’ve had with the spritsail is that it’s a little hard to get hoisted and set up correctly. The main issue stems from the fact that the snotter (which pulls the sprit up to tension the head of the sail) fouls on the sail’s lacing. What I’ve been doing is to hoist the sail, attach the snotter to the correct location on the mast with a rolling hitch, slip the notch on the sprit into the peak lacing, reeve the snotter through the sprit tackle, and finally tension and cleat it off. While all this is going on, my boat is banging itself into the dock or the sails are getting caught against the top of pilings. Clearly there must be a better way and eventually I read about a brail line which bundles the sail up against the mast. This will allow me to row out a bit before unfurling the sail and hopefully save my paint job.

Open vs brailed.

A closer view of the brail line setup. A light line runs on the far side of the sail from the halyard bowline to a grommet on the leech. After coming through the grommet, it goes on the outside of the sprit and back up to a 1″ diameter stainless ring tied in the halyard bowline. Then it runs down the mast to a cleat. The leech grommet should be the same distance from the peak grommet as the throat grommet is from the peak grommet.

A closeup of the throat. I kept everything tied into the halyard bowline to try and prevent as much stress on the sail as possible. I also added a patch at the leech grommet that folds around the leech to hopefully spread out the stress.

A closeup of the brail line in action.

Currently I’ve only tried this without the boom because I need to reshape the jaw/boom connection a bit. But I expect I can just push the boom up by hand while I’m brailing up the sail and wrap the brail line around it to bundle everything together.

While I was busy working on rigging everything, my shop helper was busy checking out the accommodations in the foc’sle.

After reshaping the boom jaws so they don’t chip the varnish off the mast, I tried the brail line again. It works ok, but there’s still room for improvement. It’s not too hard to hoist everything up and wrap it into a mostly compact bundle, but the main sheet really needs to be untied and taken out of the blocks before lifting the boom up. Perhaps I should make the blocks clip onto the boom with carabiners or something so the mainsheet can be quickly removed yet stay reeved through the blocks.

Testing the brail line with the boom installed.

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