SJ23 Tech Tip F25, (Updated 2020-09-24) Bob Schimmel


Storage Bags - for Jib Sheets or Halyards.
Rail Bag, Lifeline, Cockpit Backrest, Cockpit Bulkhead, Cockpit Aft.

Q (From quit a few years ago) - "How do you folks keep the jib sheets out of the way?  On our boat we try to keep them on the seats and have considered cutting a cubby hole in the cockpit wall under the winch to organize them.  We have self tailing Barient winches."   Betsy Schultz.

The cockpit of an I.O.R. designed boat is narrow to favour the rule ratings of the early 1970s.  The narrow transom automatically reduces the reserve buoyancy (load carrying capacity) of the stern, making for sensitive fore/aft hull trim.  In some circumstances a narrow cockpit is a good feature as it stays drier than a wide one which means the boat has a better chance of remaining at the surface in a knockdown because the low side of the cockpit is higher above the water.  It is also easier to brace yourself with your legs to the opposite bench.  On the other hand it is easier to swamp the cockpit with a huge wave over the stern.  But never mind, you're not sailing in the Southern Ocean!  However, in a cramped cockpit it means that lines and stuff lying about is a tripping hazard, regardless of how few people are in the cockpit.  "Spaghetti belongs on your plate, not in the cockpit!"

A - An SJ23 is not that big a boat, despite what the brochures will have you believe, so you have to make efficient use of every bit of space there is, especially if all the lines are lead back to the cockpit.  Before I installed a mainsheet storage bag on Panache I flipped the main sheet (and sometimes the jib halyards) into the cabin simply to keep the cockpit floor clear of a line that could roll under your foot.  This works OK if a line doesn't snag on something down there or until the sea state demands closing the companionway drop boards.  But the sheet bags solved all that.

SHEET BAGS - The sheets in the photo at left are organized because Panache is at anchor for the night.  Once under sail I struggled to keep them that way, throwing the bundle forward or aft just to get them out of the way.  Add 200 of heel with some rain and they have a way of slithering under foot.  Grrrrr!!  Sort of like our dog when she wants to go somewhere.  She always crosses my feet first.  Then there is the "visiting crew" sitting with the sheet under their bum or feet.  Oh well.

A Catalina 22 style cubby hole in the cockpit back rest would be nice but I don't have the nerve to cut into the wall as it will weaken the cockpit.  Besides, it is a lot of work to restore the water tightness, keeping in mind that the bottom must be sloped to drain water to prevent freeze damage.  Altogether too much work for too little gain.  In the confines of an SJ23 cockpit a hole would likely be blocked by a butt anyway.  I worked through several possibilities.  My criteria being that the bag has to be away from the winch and not block access through the life line gate. 

I decided that a bag hanging on the life line is more trouble than its worth as it will get it the way for my life line gates.  At the same time I've determined that the halyards coiled over the cabin winches and rope clutches are a bigger pain than I realized, so I'm opting for option 3 below.  Go figure. 


1 Lifeline - This medium size Blue Performance rail bag (12Lx3Wx8D)" is designed to hang over a life line.  For an SJ23 it should be located forward of the winch, away from the turning radius of the handle.

- The bag has a 4" wide flap along the back to hang it over a lifeline. 

- For extra security it has two (1x4)" straps at the bottom corners to go around the bottom lifeline, keeping the bag straight.  For an SJ23 tie 2 small loops of line to the toe rail.  See photo.

- The bag ends are have a heavy duty mesh to let water drain out and air to flow through, thereby drying the line.

- The bag closes with shock cord at the ends.


2 Cockpit Backrest - An alternate location for a sheet bag is hanging on the cockpit back rest at the forward end of the cockpit locker lid where the space behind the open lid is wide enough for the bag, provided it is not over stuffed.

I seriously considered this option till I realized the loose halyards are a bigger concern. 


3 Cockpit Bulkhead - A medium size Blue Performance rail bag (12Lx3Wx8D)" repurposed to hang on the cockpit bulkhead.  The bag is thru bolted to the bulkhead sandwiched between a full length aluminum strap on the outside with nuts and washers on the inside. 

The bags organizes halyards and reefing lines that were previously coiled on the cabin top over winches and rope clutches.  As such it leads to a well organized cockpit. 

The port bag holds the main halyard, the reefing lines and occasionally a winch handle.  It wouldn't surprise me if anything else gets stuffed in there!  The starboard bag holds 2 jib halyards and the boom vang line.

Packed with lines a bag is soooooo comfortable to lean against as it fills the hollow of my back.  I should have done this years ago.  Definitely a civilized way to sail.

Click on the image to see installation before & after.

4 Cockpit Aft - A Blue Performance bag (medium) or a "sticky bag" (nylon mesh with suction cups) hung on the back of the cockpit wall to store stuff. 

This spot could be useful to forget stuff left there!


Return to Tech Tip Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Have a Question?