With the strong connection most Brits have with the sea (after all, we did beat the once glorious Spanish Armada!), it’s understandable if you feel like sailing most of the year. You don’t have to be after making history and adding your contribution to Team GB’s already stellar collection of 64 Olympic medals (out of which 31 were gold, to be exact) to enjoy everything the sport has to offer.
In addition to having the perfect escape from the nine-to-five hectic schedule while getting to bask in breath-taking scenery without the typical city-life hustle and bustle, you can also use it as a chance to bond with loved ones over your sea adventures. The full-body workout is guaranteed too, what with all the hoisting and pulling sails, so you can work on your arms, legs, and core muscles without being confined in a boring gym.
The skill to navigate the sea, with its challenging waves at times, offers a great mental workout as well. However, skill without the appropriate equipment won’t be able to provide you with that much safety. And, you’d be surprised how big of an impact the smaller details can have – so it’s best to avoid treating them as an afterthought. To give you an idea, something as seemingly small as the functional sailing cleat has far more importance than meets the eye.
What Difference Do Cleats Make?
They may appear to be simple and insignificant, as opposed to navigation lights, for example, but they’re not to be taken for granted considering they’re responsible for far more functions than we give them credit for. Designed to secure parts of the ropes, and keep them in place throughout the sailing, thinking of them as the workhorse of the sailboat is more appropriate.
A reliable sailing cleat can be of use inside just as much as outside on the deck, serving for securing sheets as much as bumpers, docking lines, anchors, and even halyards. All this and so much more without having to count on a Gordian knot kind of job as with the loops. As such, you require them for far more than rope securing, having in mind they allow you better control over the adjustment of the sails, specifically the angle and the tension.
Getting a greater control over the whole speed and direction of the boat is the added benefit you’re sure to gain from this crucial piece of maritime technology. The minimal hassle this whole process gives you, as you don’t have to invest continuous effort to hold onto the lines, means you’re in for a great deal of enjoyment during sailing, while counting on utmost security too.
Since the cleats keep the lines in place, there’s no risk from the sails becoming tangled, and affecting the movement or control of your boat. Mind you, there’s no need to worry as this securing doesn’t come at the expense of quick and easy release when needed; the proper use of the cleat knot skill ensures there’s holding power yet no restriction for the release whenever needed. It’s all part of being successful at sailing, so besides working on your knots, it’s also your job to make sure you get the adequate cleats.
What Are the Different Types of Cleats for Sailing?
This is a question you’re definitely going to have if you’re a novice sailor, as soon as you decide to look for the ideal sailboat cleats for your wave adventures. Basically, you’re going to come across the following basic options:
Judging by the name one might guess these are meant for docking and anchoring, and be right. As such, these are types of cleats that are typically bigger than the rest, as they’re created to hold bigger ropes and lines in place.
As the most traditional cleat design, this one gets the name from the two horns that extend parallel to the deck. They’re ideal for tying off halyards and can be used for various smaller boats. If you intend to use them on a bigger boat, you might want to boost the strength with rope clutches to better secure the lines.
The piece of cam present in the design is what gives the name of this type of cleat. With a spring-loaded cam mechanism, one can grip the rope tightly when pushing it down. The grabbing and locking of lines can be done in a quick manner, making for easy and secure cleating of dinghies, yachts, and keel boats.
Similar to the cam, we have the clam cleats sailboat option with a spring-loaded mechanism that holds the rope thanks to two jaws (i.e. two fluted stationary pieces) offering a very secure grip – even more than the cam.
If you’re looking for cleats for thinner ropes, the jib cleat is your go-to choice. Since this is a type created for the jib sheets, it’s mostly added to the front of the boat.
Two brands that stand out with the sailing cleats are Harken and Ronstan, offering a variety of material options, as much as accessories (e.g. fairleads, and bases) to boost the ease of use and practicality of the cleats. Aluminium, galvanised metal, stainless steel, and plastic are the main choices you’re going to come across, each of which comes with its own advantages.
The aluminium metal choice is famous for the durability, as much as the sturdiness, and in some cases it’s even proved to be better in terms of being easier on the lines. Galvanised metal cleats are just as durable and sturdy, as they are reliable, and they’re often cheaper than the stainless-steel variety, which, in addition to being more aesthetically pleasing, also happens to be more robust and not that easy to corrode. For those new to sailing, investing in brand new equipment right from the start can be costly.
Keeping up with the adventures in a more affordable manner, you’d do well choosing the plastic alternative which is commonly made from nylon. They may not look as cool as the metal options, but they too are reliable and would serve you well as you sail away.
Moreover, they’re lightweight, and still surprise with the durability thanks to reinforcement from materials like carbon. To make cleating and uncleating even easier, or take ease of use with the cleats a step further, you can count on the help from fairleads which come in a range of colours (perfect for colour coding), and designs such as standard and specialty.
For better line entrance, you’ve got the assistance from risers and angle bases. Hopefully this info provides you with the knowledge you require for successful and hassle-free cleat shopping for your sailing. May you have fair winds and following seas!