Relocating the stern rail mount traveler on the Catalina 22

The Anne Marie, a 2007 Catalina MkII, came from the factory with a traveler for the mainsheet mouunted on the stern rail. In theory I thought this sounded pretty good... out of the way of the companionway stairwell below decks. In practice this turned out to be a terrible design. At the right is a picture of the stock traveler from the rear and here's a photo of the stern-rail mounted traveler under sail.

I had an O'Day 23 for several years which had a traveler mounted just behind the entry way to the cabin. This is infinitely superior to a stern mounted traveler IMHO. Although it is slightly inconvenient stepping over it to descend into the cabin, it is far more user-friendly when sailing. As you can see from the photo link above, the stern-rail mount on my 2007 Cat 22 blocks me from lifting the tiller to duck underneath it when changing sides during a tack or gybe. Thus I have to get out around the end of the tiller to switch and this renders more than 50% of the cockpit unusable for guests.

Then there is the tendency to get smacked in the head or the chest with the main sheets if you are seated in the line of fire when the boom swings across. Ouch! Also it was awkward to release the cam cleat on the traveler behind me when facing forward watrching where I am sailing, as opposed to the forward placement where the the cam cleat is in front of me. And of course the physics of a traveler dictates that a direct pull down from under the boom flattens the sail much better than an angled pull from the stern.

I sailed it just once with this stern traveler setup and decided never again. I spent a day and a half on what turned out to be an excellent modification.

First I removed the traveler track and fittings from the stern rail. I cut off the stern sail cross bar near the uprights with a tubing cutter and slipped 3/4" PVC caps over the ends. I added a couple wraps of electrical tape first to get a nice tight press fit on the caps. Looks very nice, and now I have full range of motion to lift the tiller and duck under it.

Then I cut up a piece of 3/4" starboard purchased from West Marine to fit on the useless little step in front of the companionway. I made it 5" wide. Then I drilled holes thru the starboard and the step to thru-bolt it thru the step. I mounted the stern track, fairleads and cam cleats to the starboard and bolted the whole setup to the step using ample amounts of lifecaulk. I mounted a stainless bail to the boom directly above the relocated traveler and voila... a mid ships traveler which now frees up the entire cockpit and allows me to lift the tiller when tacking and gybing as i am accustomed to doing. As it happens the step is about the exact same width as the horizontal crosspiece in the stern rail so no track modifications were necessary.

Stainless turnbuckle After the initial test sail, I realized that the cam cleat was a bit low for easy release, so I attached a 12" stainless turnbuckle, about $22 from US Rigging Supply, to the traveler car below the cam cleat and block, thus raising it up a foot or so (adjustable) and this works perfectly :-)

This design isn't ideal in terms of distance to travel, any more than the stern mount, but it certainly makes sailing a whole lot more pleasant. However, there is the desirable effect of moving the traveler forward from a geometric perspective. Consider that in the stock location your boom will be able to swing maybe 5 degrees, if kept directly over the traveler. In the new location, closer to the pivot point at the mast, this has at least doubled the arc that the boom can swing in while remaining directly over the traveler. I now have control in the new location that is equivalent to a much longer stern-rail-mounted traveler.

And while a wider traveler might be more efficent, say mounted on top of the benches like in my O'Day, mounting it on the step is a whole lot easier getting in and out of the cabin as we just normally step right from the cockpit deck over the companionway entry lip and down onto the icechest/step down into the cabin. And if you slide it to the side, it really doesn't impede getting in and out of the cabin at all.

This new approach also remedies another issue with the stock location, specifically the loading along the mainsheet imparts a rotational moment on the stock car which prevents both sets of traveler car wheels/rollers from engaging with uniform pressure, making it more difficult to adjust the traveler under load. All in all, a huge improvement over stock... Catalina Yachts, take note!

I had several other sailors comment that it looks total trick and OEM.

Here are a couple photos... the first is a close up of the remounted traveler after the new turnbuckle was added to raise it up. The second is actually two photos pasted together showing the traveler under sail on a downwind run in its original redesign configuration before the turnbuckle, running the main only with the boom way out to starboard and the traveler over to the starboard side of the step. And yes that is a snow capped Mount Hood visible just behind the starboard main stay ... in July!

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