Dutchman Boom Brake

Duane Siegfri

Has anyone tried a boom brake?  It would be so much easier than managing the two preventers that Amel has rigged for the boom.

Wanderer SM#477


We copied Kimberlite's solution that Eric showed us in NY and have been most happy with it:

Take the Amel factory preventers, and duplicate.  Make the lines a bit longer so the unused preventer can run when the boom is on the other side. Leave installed any time you go sailing.  Leave preventers loose (unstopped) if braking is unneeded, such as when going upwind.  You forget they're there.

We put one soft shackle on each of the booms, and we attach the preventers to the soft shackle.  Less noise, less scratching, and exactly what Amel does on the 55.  I think it is the same Amel did on the 54?

We did, plus we added one block to the mainsail preventers, so the brake is right next to the cockpit (next to the boat's lift point) so it is much, much easier to unlock the brake than with the Amel original.  We love the system.

Funny thing is, we've been carrying a brand new Wichard boom brake in its original box since a little before we met Eric.  Someday when we get back Stateside we'll put it on eBay!


SM2K n. 350
At anchor, Mar Menor (near Cartagena)


Through much iteration and fine tuning I have worked out a system on my (non-Amel) center cockpit ketch that is remarkably like Peregrinus' approach.

Two tackles, like the Amel preventers, hook to a soft strop around the boom far enough back on the main boom that it can be reached from the cockpit.  One key change from the Amel system, the the cam cleats that lock down the preventers are located on top of the cockpit coaming, not on the tackles themselves.  No climbing out on the side decks to adjust.

A controlled gybe looks like this.

Steer steady about 160 degrees off the wind. 
Ease the active preventer.
Trim in the main sheet until you can unhook the preventor from the boom by reaching up from the cockpit.
Turn the boat, gybe the boom.
Hook the new preventor on the strop from in the cockpit.
Ease the mainsheet, tighten the new preventor, and you're off.

I like having the vang/preventers hooked as far back on the boom as possible.  Makes a broken boom  from a wave dip, or accidental gybe less likely.

My boat doesn't have room of a "standard" vang, so these preventers are used a lot as vangs while I am reaching, not just downwind.

Bill Kinney
Honolulu in SOB (Some Other Boat)
Shopping for a SM or SM2k