Replacing the original mainsheet traveler


The original Kenyon traveler supplied by Sabre Yachts is of older design and has enormous friction when sailing in heavy air. I wanted a more modern traveler which could be easily adjusted under load. Searching the market, I found two systems that appealed to me. Both utilized cars that rode on recirculating ball bearings. One system was manufactured by Lewmar and the other was a Harken system. I finally decided on the Harken system based on past experience with their small boat travelers. Since the traveler will span the companionway, I decided to go with the "High Beam" track which is self supporting because I intended to mount the track on top of the two fiberglass "towers" that are just outboard of the ends of the original track. This will allow for a track that is approximately 8 inches longer than the original. I will fill the original holes in the companionway sea hood with thickened epoxy and then cut a piece of teak to fill the gap between the new track and the companionway sea hood. Using the high beam track also allows the use of the sliding bolts so that no new holes need to be drilled to mount it.


Material required:

1 ea. Harken #1618.1.2m High Beam track 1.2 meters long (shortest available)from Performance Yacht $90.95

1 ea. Harken #1508 car....from eBay $84.99

2 ea. Harken #1519 double sheave control....from eBay $89.95

1 pr. Harken #1514 single control blocks/becket....from eBay $34.95

Polysulfide caulk....On Hand $00.00

West system epoxy....On Hand $00.00

Gel-coat touch up kit....On Hand $00.00

4 ea. 1/4 - 20 x 10 in. SS hex head bolts ....from Chesapeake Marine Fasteners $15.80

6 ea. 1/4 - 20 SS nylock nuts ....On Hand $00.00

6 ea. 1/4 in. large pattern flat washers ....On Hand $00.00

2 ea. 1/4 - 20 x 3 in. SS hex head bolts ....On Hand $00.00

Teak 1.25 in. x 1.5 in. x 31 in. .....from Exotic Lumber $6.35

Teak .75 in. x 2.5 in. x 14 in. ....On Hand $00.00

8 each #8 x 1 in. FH Phillips Self Tap SS screws ....from Ace Hardware $00.72

8 each 5/16 in. teak plugs ....On Hand $00.00

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Required Harken parts

Tools required:

Phillips and straight blade screwdrivers

Set of open end/box wrenches

Set of 3/8" drive socket wrenches


Bastard file

3/8 in. electric drill

Drill bit set

Mitre box and back aw

Small block plane

Finishing sander


The following is the step by step procedure I used:

1. Remove the sliding companionway hatch.

2. Remove the cover plates in the headliner to gain access to the nuts beneath either end of the existing traveler.

3. Remove the mainsheet fiddle block from the old traveler car, swing the boom to one side and tie it off to keep it out of the way.

4. Remove all the machine screws securing the old track to the sea hood as well as the 16 screws holding the four Schaefer control line blocks.

View of companionway sea hood
with old traveler removed

5. After all the hardware is removed clean all the grunge that has accumulated beneath the traveler for the past 20 years.

6. Fill all holes (except those that would secure the track to the boat at either end) with thickened epoxy being sure to leave them a little low so that gel-coat could be applied to match the deck.

7. Apply gel-coat to filled holes, wet sand and buff.

8. Fabricate a 1.25 in. x 1.5 in. x 31 in. teak spacer to go between the top of the sea hood and the traveler track.

View of companionway sea hood
with teak filler being fitted

9. Fabricate four teak wedges to mount between the fiberglass "towers" that the old control blocks were mounted on and the traveler track. These wedges will be fastened using self tap FH SS screws and the screws will be covered with 5/16 in. teak plugs

Four teak wedges to be used
on top of fiberglass towers
at each end of the traveler

10. Do a final fit of the teak filler that goes under the new track as well as the 4 teak wedges and apply 6 coats of Cetol.

11. Cut 2 of the 10 inch 1/4 - 20 bolts to a length of 7 7/8 in. and 2 of them to 7 5/8 in.

12. Bolt the new track in place using these 4 bolts through the fiberglass towers as well as 2 of the 3 in. bolts through the sea hood. Bed with polysulfide caulk.

13. Reave new lines through the traveler blocks and attach the mainsheet block to the traveler car.

14. Replace cover plates in headliner.

15. Reinstall sliding companionway hatch.

View looking aft at traveler
after installation

View looking forward at traveler
after installation

A total of 12 man hours was required to complete the project.

By shopping carefully and using eBay I held the total cost to $323.71 (Cost if ordered from Harken would have been $515.80).

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