early this spring, I laid out my plans to upgrade to a Sunfish mainsheet block for controlling/holding the mainsheet, as my current setup on the Sunfish left a little to be desired (but was better than nothing on my Super Porpoise). here is the picture of my old set-up, a swiveling fairlead with a cam cleat to hold the mainsheet if I wanted. I also had the old hook on the cockpit edge (the really old method used to hook the mainsheet and relieve the tension you had to hold with).
my original plan was based on a few posts over at the Sunfish Forum that recommended trying to use a low-profile swiveling cam cleat and modify it with an eyestrap and stand-up spring, and then add your mainsheet ratchet block of choice — similar to this diagram below:
but, the more I looked at the diagram, and thought about how this system would work, I couldn’t wrap my brain around something: after I fed the mainsheet through the ratchet block, and then the through the little strap over the cam cleat, I didn’t think I would be able to really take advantage of the ratcheting action of the mainsheet block. turns out my suspicions were correct as noted here – scroll down to comment #38 on this post over at the Sunfish Forum.
I decided I’d instead go with a simpler and slightly cheaper route: I would just remove the old swiveling cam cleat, and install an eyestrap on the deck. the mainsheet ratchet block would then connect to the eyestrap. then, to give myself the option to cleat the lines in light air or similar situations, I removed the old hook, and added a standard cam cleat. for my setup, I used the Harken 2135 57mm ratcheting carbo block and the Harken 150 cam cleat.
here is a picture of what the ratchet block looks like with the mainsheet running up to the sail, and the other end of the line held in your hand (picture is simulated – I didn’t want to set up the whole rig, so my 9-yr old son was just holding both lines up in the air).
I had also bought a stand-up spring that would keep the ratchet block standing upright, and prevent it from bouncing around on the Sunfish deck, but honestly – it was ridiculously hard to compress the spring down and then to try to slowly feed the little split ring onto the pin holding the ratchet block in place (in fact, I never did get it fully installed). after talking a bit with other sailors at the Sunfish Forum – some have had success using zip-ties or something of that nature to compress the spring, then install the ratchet block, and then cut off the zip-ties. most of them leave the ratchet block on permanently, though, and I wanted to be able to easily and quickly install mine before sailing and then remove it after sailing so that I wasn’t trailering the boat with the ratchet block flopping around. so as of right now, I will probably skip the stand-up spring, but keep it in case I figure out a way to cover/protect the ratchet block while I’m trailering the boat.
overall, I’m extremely happy with the setup I have now. I really enjoy playing the mainsheet through the ratchet block, and enjoy how the sheave on the ratchet block grips the mainsheet, so that the amount of pull I see is reduced, helping to keep my hands and arms from tiring as quickly. I also like that this setup will force me to focus more on the sail trim, instead of just using my old setup to set it and then forget it. I’d highly recommend this upgrade to other Sunfish sailors.