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New Garhauer Main Traveler

John MacDougall, Annie Laurie, #26

As some of you remember, I had a main sheet block come apart ("explode" under load) when sailing downwind in the Straits of Gibraltar in Nov 2007, which set-off a chain of events that lead to traveler failure/damage…after a pleasant phone conversation with Garhauer, they sent me an entire new traveler. The new design is a beauty!!!! It is so SMOOTH, it moves like hot butter!!!! I can trim the main, moving the traveler car, without much effort at all…typically just by a tug on the traveler line, without using a winch. It's REALLY nice!!!

First off, a BIG THANK YOU to Bill and everyone at Garhauer!!!! Anyone that ever wonders why Catalina uses Garhauer (instead of Harken, etc.) for its OEM traveler, blocks, etc., well the answer is this is one incredible company!!! They stand behind their product completely and provide customers with something missing in our world today ~~~~ SERVICE!

A brief overview of what happened and how I got everything working fine again: Sailing in a nice Easterly breeze (downwind) thru the Straits of Gibraltar, we had a major failure. (All of this occurred within about 1 second, or so, so this is what I've been able to piece together.)

One of the Garhauer main sheet blocks "came apart", which in turn allowed the mainsail (and boom) to move very rapidly to leeward and, at the sudden stop, the traveler line(s) snapped, causing the traveler car to slam hard to leeward and breaking free from the traveler (destroying the car and damaging the traveler rail), and at the same time the boom swung further, hitting the aft lower shroud (no damage, except for a slight bend in the vang tube).

I DID have preventers rigged, but only the leeward preventer was tight, in order to prevent an accidental gybe. Using the preventers (with the genoa winches) allowed me to bring the boom in and control the main. Being only 10 miles from Marina Bay Gibraltar, we turned around and headed back to our previous berth there, to assess damage and make repairs. (In hindsight, if I'd had a Dutchman Boom Brake, perhaps the damage to the traveler wouldn't have occurred but foresight isn't 20/20.....LOL.)

It was the next day that one of my brothers mentioned that he'd seem some ball bearings on the deck when cleaning up a few days earlier (probably from one of the Garhauer blocks?), but had assumed it was just construction debris or some garbage from other boats nearby.

Catalina didn't have any 470 travelers in stock (still a puzzlement to me!), but Garhauer treated me like I was their best / longtime customer (even though I'd only bought 2 small things from them directly. BTW my Garhauer outboard motor hoist is GREAT!)

The guys at Garhauer were still returning from the St. Pete Strictly Sail Boat Show, but they got to work right away. They were either making other travelers and gave me one right off the front of the line, OR I believe, they went right out and made one right away, just for me (and the Catalina 470). When I called to confirm my shipping address in Gibraltar, I attempted to give Bill my credit card number (to charge everything to), and he said: "Why??, We guarantee these for 10 years, and this shouldn't have happened......so you owe us nothing..." I asked again to PAY for a new traveler, or at least for the shipping and he refused!!!! To say I was amazed would be an understatement!!!!! A $700 traveler and Overnight Int'l FedEx shipping, and they wouldn't let me pay????? Was I dreaming???? No, I was simply dealing with a GREAT company and a great guy!!!!

FedEx shipping worked okay, but took longer than specified due to the approaching weekend, and it would be the following Monday until I got my new traveler......and we had it installed in a few hours.

To finish the story, the block that came apart was in pieces and, along with my old traveler, is in the dumpster at Marina Bay, Gibraltar. But, I did a close inspection of ALL my blocks and found 2 additional Garhauer blocks that are missing ball bearings and are no longer safe to use. I replaced them in Gibraltar with Harkens (all I could get there), but brought them home with me to send to Garhauer and I suspect I'll get a couple of new Garhauer blocks in return.

Well, that's the rest of the story. I hope it may help convince some of you how great Garhauer is!!!!!

(Click on picture for full size)

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As for running rigging set-up…I have the standard main (non-furling), and have found that I've needed to tighten / adjust the main outhaul only occassionaly, so I leave the main outhaul line at the mast, and can easily adjust it there when needed. Also, I changed the main sheet to a single-ended set-up after only owning the boat a few weeks.

These two changes helped "un-clutter" the running rigging immensely, as well as freed-up some sheaves and rope clutches.

So, for what's it worth, on board my Annie Laurie, #26, here's my line up of running rigging in the cockpit: