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sailboat cleat types

Types of Cleats On A Sailboat

Types of Cleats On A Sailboat

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Cleats are essential fixtures on a sailboat used to secure lines (ropes) and control sail trim. They come in various designs and are strategically placed throughout the boat to provide convenient and secure attachment points. Here, I will describe the different types of cleats found on a sailboat in detail:

Sailboat Cleat Types

Horn Cleat

The horn cleat is the most common and recognizable type of cleat. It features one or more protruding horns or arms that provide multiple options for securing lines. The line is wrapped around the horns in a figure-eight pattern to create a secure hold. Horn cleats come in different sizes and are used for various applications throughout the boat, including halyards, sheets, and control lines.

Recommended Horn Cleats:

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horn cleat sailboat

Ronstan Horn Cleat Nylon 76MM (3″)

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sailboat horn cleat aluminum
Schaefer Open Base Clear Anodized Forged Aluminum Cleat fits Up to 5/8-Inch Line
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stainless steel horn cleat

Schaefer Mid-Rail Chock and Cleat Mounts on 1-1/4 x 3/16-Inch T-Track fits Up to 5/8-Inch/16mm Line

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stainless steel horn cleat small
Schaefer Stainless Steel Open Base Cleat fits Up to 1/4-Inch Line

Cam Cleat

Cam cleats are designed with a spring-loaded cam mechanism that clamps down on the line when it is under tension. The cam grips the line securely and holds it in place until released. Cam cleats are popular for applications where quick and easy adjustment is required, such as controlling jib or spinnaker sheets. They are commonly found on sailboats with high-performance or racing-oriented setups.

Recommended Cam Cleats:

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harken cam cleat
HARKEN Cam Cleat
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fast entry cam cleat
Schaefer Fast Entry Cam Cleat for Line Sizes Upto 7/16-Inch, 12mm, Aluminum
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medium cam cleat
Ronstan RF5010 C-cleat Cam Cleat – Medium – Grey W/grey Base
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cam cleat on swivel
Ronstan Swivel Dead Eye & Cleat Fairlead – 3-12mm(1/8-1/2) Rope

Jam Cleat

Jam cleats, also known as jamming cleats or rope clutches, are designed to hold a line firmly under load. They feature a set of ridges or teeth that grip the line when it is tensioned. Jam cleats provide a secure hold and are often used for halyards, control lines, and other high-load applications. To release the line, it needs to be pulled at a specific angle to disengage the teeth.

Recommended Jam Cleats:

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jam cleat sailboat
Schaefer Self Jamming Clear Anodized Forged Aluminum Cleat fits Up to 1/2-Inch Line, 6-Inch/152mm

Clam Cleat

Clam cleats consist of two interlocking jaws that close around the line. As the line is pulled, the jaws grip it tightly, creating a secure hold. Clam cleats are often used for smaller lines, such as control lines on dinghies or small sailboats. They provide quick and easy adjustment and are commonly found on boats where weight and simplicity are crucial.

Recommended Clam Cleats:

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sailboat clam cleat
Clamcleat ® CL275 Racing Micro Hard Anodised
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Osculati Clamcleat

Osculati Clamcleat

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starboard clam cleat
Clamcleat 49543 Fishing Accessories Racing Sail Line 3-6 mm Starbord
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aluminum clam cleat
CLAMCLEAT Silver Aluminum

V Cleat

V cleats, as the name suggests, have a V-shaped groove that runs along the top surface of the cleat. The line is inserted into the groove, and the V-shaped design holds it securely in place. V cleats are primarily used for smaller-diameter lines or control lines. They are commonly found on dinghies and small sailboats where space and weight are at a premium.

Recommended V Cleats:

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v cleat example

Nautos 91061 – V Jam Cleat – Sailboat Hardware

Jammer

Jammers are similar to jam cleats but offer a more sophisticated and mechanical gripping mechanism. They consist of one or more jaws that grip the line under tension using a cam or lever system. Jammers provide a strong and secure hold and are commonly used for halyards, control lines, and sheets on larger sailboats or racing-oriented setups.

Recommended Jammers:

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jammer cleat sailboat
Spinlock ZR Winch Release Jammer – Supplied Including Fasteners
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spinlock jammer cleat

Spinlock Mobile Jammer for securing Loaded Lines 10-14mm

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single block with jammer cleat
Offshore LINE 57 MM – Single FOOTBLOCK with Jammer-Left Side

Rope Clutch

Rope clutches are heavy-duty cleats often used on larger sailboats. They consist of multiple jaws or disks that can be engaged or disengaged to secure or release a line. Rope clutches are designed to handle high loads and are commonly used for controlling halyards, sheets, and other lines that require precise adjustment and secure holding power.

Recommended Rope Clutches:

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single rope clutch sailboat cleat
SINGLE Clutch- Rope line 8 mm to 14 mm (5/16″ to 9/16″)
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triple rope clutch sailboat
TRIPLE Clutch – Rope 6 mm to 10 mm (1/4″ to 3/8″)
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quad spinlock rope clutch
Spinlock Quadruple XAS Rope Clutch
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Spinlock Quintet XAS Rope Clutch
Offshore LINE 57 MM – Single FOOTBLOCK with Jammer-Left Side

Deck Cleat

Deck cleats, also known as mooring cleats, are larger cleats that are permanently mounted to the deck or cockpit of a sailboat. They provide a secure attachment point for dock lines, fenders, and other lines used for docking or securing the boat. Deck cleats are usually made of durable materials such as stainless steel or aluminum and are designed to handle significant loads.

Recommended Deck Cleats:

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stainless steel deck cleat
Schaefer Stainless Steel Open Base Cleat fits Up to 1/4-Inch Line
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best sailboat deck cleat
Schaefer Stainless Steel Open Base Cleat fits Up to 3/8-Inch Line
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deck cleat sailboat
Schaefer Stainless Steel Open Base Cleat fits Up to 1/2-Inch Line
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aluminum horn cleat
Schaefer Open Base Clear Anodized Forged Aluminum Cleat fits Up to 5/8-Inch Line

Fairlead Cleat

Fairlead cleats combine the functionality of a cleat with that of a fairlead, which helps guide lines to the appropriate cleating position. They feature an integrated fairlead or a combination of a fairlead and a cleat. Fairlead cleats are commonly used for jib or genoa sheet control lines, where it is important to guide the line for optimal sail trim and secure it quickly.

Recommended Fairlead Cleats:

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fairlead cam cleat

HARKEN Micro Carbo-Cam Cleat Kit w/Wire Fairlead

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micro fairlead cleat
Harken Micro Carbo Cam II Kit w/X-Treme Angle Fairlead 474
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cam cleat fairlead
HARKEN Flairlead | Premium Sailing and Sailboat Equipment
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deck fairlead
Stainless Steel Boat Fairlead Cleat Chock

Jamming Block with Cleat

This type of cleat is a combination of a jammer or a cam cleat with a pulley or block. It allows the line to be redirected and creates a mechanical advantage when trimming sails. Jamming blocks with cleats are commonly used for applications that require increased purchase or control, such as mainsheet systems or complex control line setups.

Recommended Jamming Block Cleats:

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sailboat block cam cleat
HARKEN Premium Sailing 57mm Carbo Air Boat Block w/Cam Cleat
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block v jam cleat
Stainless Steel Micro Blocks (25mm (5/16″ Line), Fiddle w/Vee Jam)

It’s important to note that the specific cleat types and their placement on a sailboat can vary depending on the boat’s design, rigging setup, and intended use. Sailboat owners and manufacturers may also develop unique variations or combinations of cleats to suit their specific needs. Proper installation, sizing, and maintenance of cleats are essential for safe and efficient sail handling.

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