Title:
Boat cleat with retractable line
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A boat cleat with retractable line. A retractable line is wound around a spool that is rotatably mounted within a line encasing. A cleat is rigidly attached to the outside surface of the line encasing. A spring is operably coupled to the spool and urges rotation of the spool in a line take-up direction. In a preferred embodiment, a locking device is connected to the spool for preventing unwanted rotation of the spool.



Inventors:
Kiss, Zoltan (San Marcos, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/977638
Publication Date:
04/17/2003
Filing Date:
10/15/2001
Assignee:
KISS ZOLTAN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63B21/04; (IPC1-7): B63B21/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVILA, STEPHEN P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John R. Ross, III (Del Mar, CA, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A boat cleat with retractable line, comprising: A) retractable line, B) a line encasing, C) a cleat rigidly attached to said line encasing, D) a spool rotatably mounted within said line encasing, wherein said retractable line is wound around said spool, and E) a spring operably coupled to said spool for urging rotation of said spool in a line take-up direction.

2. The boat cleat as in claim 1, further comprising a weight attached to the throwing end of said retractable line.

3. The boat cleat as in claim 1, further comprising a locking device for preventing the rotation of said spool.

4. The boat cleat as in claim 3, wherein said spool comprises teeth around the circumference of said spool, wherein said locking device comprises: A) a star wheel engaged with said teeth, B) a bar removably engaged with said star wheel for locking said star wheel, and C) a button connected to said bar, wherein said button controls the position of said bar to engage and disengage said bar with said star wheel.

5. The boat cleat as in claim 1, wherein said boat cleat is rigidly attached to a boat.

6. The boat cleat as in claim 5, wherein said boat is a recreational watercraft.

7. The boat cleat as in claim 1, wherein said boat cleat is rigidly attached to a pier.

8. The boat cleat as in claim 1, wherein said retractable line comprises a rectangular cross section and has a thickness no greater than approximately ½ inch.

9. The boat cleat as in claim 1, wherein said retractable line comprises a rectangular cross section and has a thickness no greater than approximately ⅛ inch.

10. A boat cleat with retractable line, comprising: A) a retractable line comprising a rectangular cross section having thickness no greater than approximately ⅛ inch, B) a weight attached to the throwing end of said retractable line, C) a line encasing, D) a cleat rigidly attached to said line encasing, E) a spool rotatably mounted within said line casing, wherein said retractable line is wound around said spool, wherein said spool comprises teeth around the circumference of said spool, F) a locking device for preventing rotation of said spool, comprising: 1) a star wheel engaged with said teeth, 2) a bar removably engaged with said star wheel for locking said star wheel, and 3) a button connected to said bar, wherein said button controls the position of said bar to engage and disengage said bar with said star wheel, G) a spring operably coupled to said spool for urging rotation of said spool in a line take-up direction.

11. A boat cleat with retractable line, comprising: A) retractable line means, B) a line encasing means, C) a cleat means rigidly attached to said line encasing means, D) a spool means rotatably mounted within said line encasing means, wherein said retractable line means is wound around said spool means, and E) a spring means operably coupled to said spool means for urging rotation of said spool means in a line take-up direction.

12. The boat cleat as in claim 11, further comprising a weight means attached to the throwing end of said retractable line means.

13. The boat cleat as in claim 11, further comprising a locking device means for preventing the rotation of said spool means.

14. The boat cleat as in claim 13, wherein said spool means comprises teeth around the circumference of said spool means, wherein said locking device means comprises: A) a star wheel means engaged with said teeth, B) a bar means removably engaged with said star wheel means for locking said star wheel means, and C) a button means connected to said bar means, wherein said button means controls the position of said bar means to engage and disengage said bar means with said star wheel means.

15. The boat cleat as in claim 11, wherein said boat cleat is rigidly attached to a boat.

16. The boat cleat as in claim 15, wherein said boat is a recreational watercraft.

17. The boat cleat as in claim 11, wherein said boat cleat is rigidly attached to a pier.

18. The boat cleat as in claim 11, wherein said retractable line means comprises a rectangular cross section and has a thickness no greater than approximately ⅛ inch.

19. The boat cleat as in claim 11, wherein said retractable line means comprises a rectangular cross section and has a thickness no greater than approximately ⅛ inch.

20. A boat cleat with retractable line, comprising: A) retractable line, B) a line encasing, C) a cleat rigidly attached to said line encasing, D) a spool rotatably mounted within said line encasing, wherein said retractable line is wound around said spool, and E) a spool rotating device operably coupled to said spool for rotating said spool.

21. The boat cleat as in claim 20, wherein said spool rotating device is a motor.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] Boats are very well known and have played an extremely important role throughout history. In modem society, boats come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Boats can be very small (for example a rowboat or a small one-man sailboat) or they can be very large. For example, an aircraft carrier is a large boat (also referred to as a ship) that can support thousands of people, airplanes and equipment. A submarine is a boat that can operate below the surface of the sea.

[0002] Despite their differences in size and function, boats have one thing in common. A boat is typically secured to a pier by a mooring line that has one end wrapped around a cleat on the boat and the other end wrapped around a cleat on the pier. When there is ample storage space on a boat for the mooring line (such as for a large ship), the mooring line can be stowed while the boat is underway. However, small boats (such as personal recreational watercraft, small sailboats, small speedboats, and rowboats) do not have significant storage space. Often, an individual operating the small boat will not bring a mooring line underway with him because he has nowhere to stow it. If he does bring it with him, he may have to coil it on the deck where it can get tangled and interfere with boating operations and become a safety hazard.

[0003] What is needed is a better boat cleat.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention provides a boat cleat with retractable line. A retractable line is wound around a spool that is rotatably mounted within a line encasing. A cleat is rigidly attached to the outside surface of the line encasing. A spring is operably coupled to the spool and urges rotation of the spool in a line take-up direction. In a preferred embodiment, a locking device is connected to the spool for preventing unwanted rotation of the spool.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0006] FIG. 1B shows a portion of a preferred retractable line connected to a preferred rubber-coated lead weight.

[0007] FIG. 2 shows a top view of a preferred lower encasing.

[0008] FIG. 3 shows a side view of a preferred upper and lower encasings.

[0009] FIG. 4 shows a preferred spool.

[0010] FIG. 5 shows a side view of a preferred spool.

[0011] FIG. 6 shows a top view of the lower section of the preferred spool of FIG. 4 and FIG. 5.

[0012] FIGS. 7-8 and 10 show a preferred retractable line and a preferred coil spring connected to the preferred spool of FIGS. 4-6.

[0013] FIG. 9 shows a preferred spool cap.

[0014] FIGS. 11A, 13A and 14A show a top views of preferred internal components of the present invention.

[0015] FIGS. 11B, 13B, and 14B show details of the operation of a preferred locking device.

[0016] FIG. 12 shows a preferred spool engaged with a preferred star wheel.

[0017] FIGS. 15-21 show a sequence of events depicting the operation of a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 22 shows the present invention attached to a recreation watercraft.

[0019] FIG. 23 shows the present invention connected to a speedboat.

[0020] FIG. 24 shows the recreational watercraft of FIG. 23 moored to a pier utilizing a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 25 shows details of the preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 24.

[0022] FIG. 26 shows another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 27 shows a top view of a deck having pre-drilled holes.

[0024] FIG. 28 shows a base plate mounted to the deck of FIG. 27.

[0025] FIG. 29 shows a preferred embodiment of the present invention mounted to the base plate of FIG. 28.

[0026] FIG. 30 shows another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0027] FIG. 31 shows another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The First Preferred Embodiment

[0028] FIG. 1A shows a perspective view of the first preferred embodiment of the present invention and FIG. 11A shows a top view of bottom encasing 3 and internal components of the first preferred embodiment. Cleat 60 is rigidly attached to the top of upper encasing 6. Spool 10 (FIG. 11A) is rotatably mounted inside bottom encasing 3 and is biased via coil spring 12 (FIG. 7) to urge rotation of spool 10 in the line take-up direction. An operator utilizes the present invention by pulling out an appropriate amount of line 15 for mooring his vessel to a remote cleat. Then, the operator secures a section of line 15 to cleat 60, as shown in FIGS. 24 and 25. When getting underway, the operator releases the line from both cleats. Coil spring 12 rotates spool 10 so that line 15 is wound around spool 10 so that boat cleat 2 appears as it is shown in FIG. 1A.

Upper and Lower Encasings

[0029] FIG. 2 shows a top view of bottom encasing 3 of boat cleat 2. FIG. 3 shows an exploded side view of upper encasing 6 and bottom encasing 3. Cleat 60 is rigidly attached to upper encasing 6. In the first preferred embodiment, upper encasing 6, cleat 60 and bottom encasing 3 are fabricated from aluminum. Slotted cylinder 9 is rigidly attached to the bottom of bottom encasing 3 and extends upward.

The Spool

[0030] A top view of spool 10 is shown in FIG. 4 and a side view is shown in FIG. 5. Spool 10 has teeth 11 around its circumference. FIG. 6 shows a top view of the bottom portion of spool 10. Metallic coil spring 12 is inserted inside the interior portion of spool 10 and looped around tab 14 (FIG. 6). It is then wound around the interior of spool 10 in the clockwise direction as shown in FIG. 7. In a similar fashion, line 15 is looped around post 13 and wound around the exterior portion of spool 10 in the counter clockwise direction. In the preferred embodiment, line 15 is nylon and is approximately 16 feet long, ⅜ inch wide and {fraction (1/16)} inch thick. Rubber coated lead weight 1 (preferably weighing approximately ¼ lb.) is attached to the end of line 15.

[0031] After line 15 and coil spring 12 have been wrapped around spool 10, spool 10 appears as it is shown in FIG. 8. Spool cap 16 (FIG. 9) is then snap fitted over the top of the interior portion of spool 10 (FIG. 10) to prevent coil spring 12 from popping out of the interior portion of spool 10.

Inserting the Spool Inside the Lower Encasing

[0032] Spool 10 is slid over slotted cylinder 9 and is free to rotate around slotted cylinder 9, as shown in FIG. 11A. The end of coil spring 9 is slid through the slot in slotted cylinder 9. Line 15 is directed out through opening 20 of bottom encasing 3. Rotatably connected star wheel 21 is engaged with teeth 11 of spool 10 (FIG. 12).

Attaching the Upper Encasing to the Lower Encasing

[0033] Upper portion 6 (FIG. 3) is then lowered onto bottom encasing 3. Bottom encasing 3 has mounting holes 4 and threaded screw holes 5. Upper encasing 6 has mounting holes 7 and threaded screw holes 8. When upper encasing 6 is lowered onto bottom encasing 3, mounting holes 7 align with mounting holes 4 and threaded screw holes 8 align with threaded screw holes 5. After upper casing 3 has been attached to lower casing 6 with screws 30, boat cleat 2 appears as it is shown in FIG. 1A.

Mounting the Boat Cleat

[0034] The present invention may be mounted to a variety of sea going vessels. FIG. 22 shows boat cleat 2 mounted to the starboard side of recreational watercraft 32 and FIG. 23 shows boat cleat 2 mounted to the bow of speed boat 33. Boat cleat 2 is preferably mounted by running bolts through pre-drilled holes mounting holes 7 in boat cleat 2 (FIG. 1A) that are aligned with pre-drilled mounting holes on the vessel.

Size of the First Preferred Embodiment

[0035] Boat cleat 2 is approximately 8 inches long and approximately 4 inches wide. The distance from the top of upper encasing 6 to the bottom of lower encasing 3 (FIG. 1A) is approximately 2 inches. The diameter of outer rim 90 (FIG. 5) is approximately 3 inches and the diameter of inner cylinder 92 is approximately 1¾ inches. By virtue of using a thin nylon line 15 that is only approximately {fraction (1/16)} inch thick, approximately 16 feet of line 15 can be wound around a small spool 10. By keeping spool 10 small, boat cleat 2 can also be made so that it is relatively small. For example, a recreational watercraft is considered to be a small motor powered watercraft. The first preferred embodiment is ideal size for attachment to a small recreational watercraft. FIG. 1B shows rubber coated lead weight 1. By attaching lead 1 to the end of light weigh line 15, it becomes easier to throw from the boat to a line handler on the pier.

Utilizing the Present Invention

Unlocking the Spool

[0036] FIG. 11A shows lower casing 3 and some of the internal components of the present invention. When boat cleat 2 is installed on a vessel and is not being use to secure the vessel, star wheel 21 is preferably locked in place so as to prevent rotation of spool 10. In this manner, line 15 is prevented from accidentally unwinding and becoming tangled while the boat is in operation.

[0037] To release spool 10, star wheel 21 must be unlocked. FIG. 11A shows bar 36 engaged with star wheel 21, locking it in place. Bendable metal bar 39 connects button 37 to bar 36. FIG. 11B shows an enlarged view with button 37 drawn in relief. Button 37 is in the up position in FIGS. 11A-11B. Tab 35 is rigidly connected to button 37 and in engaged in slot 38 (FIG. 11 B).

[0038] In FIGS. 13A and 13B an operator has pressed button 37 downward. This has cause bendable metal bar 39 to bend downward and tab 35 to clear slot 38.

[0039] In FIGS. 14A and 14B the operator has slid button 37 to the right and has released button 37. Bendable metal bar 39 has bent back upwards and tab 35 is engaged inside slot 40. Bar 36 has slid clear of star wheel 21 so that star wheel 21 is now free to rotate. Spool 10 is now unlocked.

Unwinding the Mooring Line

[0040] FIG. 15 shows a simplified view of boat cleat 2 in the position depicted earlier in FIG. 11A. FIG. 15 shows coil spring 12 of boat cleat 2 loosely wound around slotted cylinder 9 in the counterclockwise direction. Line 15 is wound around the exterior portion of spool 10 in the counterclockwise direction.

[0041] To unlock spool 10, the operator presses button 37 and slides it to the right, as shown in FIG. 16 and as described above under the heading “Unlocking the Spool”.

[0042] As shown in FIG. 17, as the operator pulls on line 15, line 15 begins to unwind and spool 10 rotates in the counterclockwise direction. The rotation of spool 10 in the counterclockwise direction causes coil spring 12 to begin to wind tightly around slotted cylinder 9 in the counterclockwise direction.

[0043] In FIGS. 18-20, the operator continues to pull on line 15 until he has pull out a required amount for mooring. In one example, the operator needs approximately 14 feet of line to safely moor his recreational watercraft to a pier.

[0044] FIG. 20 shows line 15 pulled out to approximately 14 feet. Coil spring 12 has become would very tightly around slotted cylinder 9 in the counterclockwise direction.

[0045] In FIG. 21, the operator has pressed button 37 inward and slid it to the left and then released it so that bar 36 has engaged star wheel 21 to prevent it from rotating. Spool 10 is locked in place.

Mooring the Vessel

[0046] After boat cleat 2 is in the position shown in FIG. 21, it can be used to moor a boat to a pier. FIG. 24 shows recreational watercraft 32 moored to a pier and FIG. 25 shows a detailed view of boat cleat 2 as shown in FIG. 24. In FIG. 24, after button 37 was adjusted to lock spool 10 (see discussion above) lead weight 1 was tossed to a person standing on pier 50 who secured the end of line 15 to cleat 52. Then, taking advantage of the slack in line 15, the operator on recreational watercraft 32 secured line 15 to cleat 60 of boat cleat 2.

Getting Underway

[0047] Referring to FIGS. 24 and 25, to get underway, the end of line 15 would be unwrapped from cleat 52. The operator would then unwrap line 15 from cleat 60 of boat cleat 2. The operator would then press and slide button 37 to unlock spool 10 so that boat cleat 2 would appear as shown in FIG. 20. Note that in FIG. 20 energy has been stored in coil spring 12 and it is wound tightly around slotted cylinder 9. By pressing and sliding button 37 to unlock spool 10, the energy stored in coil spring 12 causes it to unwind from around slotted cylinder 9, thereby rotating spool 10 in the clockwise direction. The rotation of spool 10 in the clockwise direction causes line 15 to become wound around spool 10 so that boat cleat appears as shown in FIGS. 16 and 1. Preferably, button 37 is then adjusted so that bar 36 engages star wheel 21 so that spool 10 is locked. Recreational watercraft 32 is then ready to get underway.

Base Plate

[0048] In another preferred embodiment the present invention is utilized in conjunction with a base plate. When boat owners replace a boat cleat, often they will try to replace their old cleat with a same sized new cleat so that they can avoid drilling new holes into the deck of their boat. FIG. 27 shows a top view of deck 201 with pre-existing holes 203. FIG. 28 shows base plate 205 bolted onto deck 201. Bolts 207 have been inserted into holes 203 (FIG. 27). Base plate 205 has holes 209 corresponding to the mounting holes for boat cleat 2 (FIGS. 1-3). FIG. 29 shows bolt cleat 2 screwed onto the top of base plate 205 utilizing screws 211.

[0049] By utilization of base plate 205, the boat owner is able to avoid having to drill new holes in his boat deck when installing the present invention.

Latch

[0050] FIG. 30 shows a preferred embodiment of the present invention in which spring-loaded latch 213 is attached to the end of line 15. Utilizing spring-loaded latch 213 allows the user to easily secure his boat to objects other than a cleat mounted on a pier. For example, latch 113 can be used to secure the boat to a post or hook on a pier, or a tree growing on the side of a river or lake.

[0051] While the above description contains many specifications, the reader should not construe these as limitations on the scope of the invention, but merely as exemplifications of preferred embodiments thereof. For example, although the above preferred embodiments described the present invention having a locking device for locking spool 10, it is possible to have an embodiment that does not include a locking device. For example, FIG. 26 shows boat cleat 80 with no locking device. An operator utilizes boat cleat 80 by first pulling out an appropriate amount of line 115. He then secures the free end of line 115 to a remote cleat while holding line 115 in his hand to prevent it from winding back inside boat cleat 80. Then he secures line 115 to the cleat attached to boat cleat 80. To get underway, the operator releases line 115 from both cleats and coil spring 112 winds line 115 around spool 110. Also, although the first preferred embodiment discussed utilizing a thin (approximately {fraction (1/16)} inch) nylon line 15, the present invention could be made utilizing a variety of line sizes. For example, the thickness of line 15 could be increased to a variety of thicknesses (for example, ⅛ inch, ¼ inch or ½ inch). Also, conventional mooring lines having circular cross sections of various diameters and made of various materials could be utilized. It should be noted that as the diameter and length of the line increases, so must the size of spool 10 increase as well to accommodate the larger line. The size of boat cleat 2, could therefore be made even smaller (for example, to moor a small rowboat) or much larger with a larger line. For example, to moor a large yacht or sailboat a mooring line with a circular cross section and having a 2½ inch diameter would be preferred. Also, although boat cleat 2 was described as being attached to a boat, it would also be possible to attach boat cleat 2 to a pier. It could then be used to moor vessels that visit the pier. Also, although the first preferred embodiment showed rubber coated lead weight 1 attached to the end of line 15, various types of weights could be attached to the end. Or, the end of line 15 could be tied into a heavy knot (for example, a monkey fist). It is also possible to have no weight at the end of line 15. Although it would be harder to throw a line with no weight, the line could be handed to a line handler. Or, in embodiments in which line 15 is of a larger diameter, the weight of the line would be sufficiently heavy so that an additional weight would not be necessary to aid line throwing. Also, although it was disclosed how the present invention is used to moor a boat to a pier, the present invention could also be used to maintain a boat in position next to another boat. Also, although the above preferred embodiments described in detail how coil spring 12 is configured to urge rotation of spool 10 in a line take-up direction, spool 10 could also be spring biased utilizing a variety of other methods. Also, for larger vessels (such as a large ship or large sailing yacht), it may be desirable to utilize a motor to control the rotation of the spool. FIG. 31 shows electrically powered motor 215 operably connected to spool 217. Motor 215 is configured to rotate spool 217 so that line 219 can be wound or unwound as desired. Therefore, the attached claims and their legal equivalents should determine the scope of the invention.