New Lifelines

It was blowing up to thirty-five knots this morning. I had great intentions to head up to Port Townsend but it’s cold, rainy, stormy and windy as hell. Yesterday I was finally able to assemble the parts needed to build new lifelines using Amsteel dyneema line. I did some research on how others have accomplished this and for the most part I followed a similar approach with splicing double brummel eyes over a stainless steel thimble, but chose to use turnbuckles to adjust the tension and snap hooks to secure them to the stanchion eyes. I had already installed the cockpit and gates using stainless steel cable so it was just the forward lines that needed replacing.

Lifeline kit
Lifeline kit

My first attempt at splicing was a bit of a problem. I didn’t think about it enough before digging into the first splice and then quickly realized the issue and started all over again. Fortunately I had just enough to do four more without having to go and buy more Amsteel. The first problem was that I measured incorrectly and came up about four inches too short. The next issue was choosing to use a technique to do a brummel without feeding the other end of the line through. It turned out ugly and tangled at first. Then I realized that I could simply do the first splice and then remove the thimble, take it outside to measure the needed length for the other end and then cut it and feed the spliced end into the end I needed to splice so both ends could have a double brummel and buried tail. To feed the line through the stanchion eyes I just removed the thimble and pushed it through while it was attached to the stanchion at the other end. Some additional stretching of the splice enabled me to get the exact length I needed to attach both threaded ends to the turnbuckle. After tightening I had an extra couple of inches on the turnbuckle in case the lifeline stretched even more. Also the gate side has an additional half inch that it can pull when the gate is closed to tighten it even more.

Eye splice on thimble attached to turnbuckle with snap hook
Eye splice on thimble attached to turnbuckle with snap hook

 

Lifeline gate assembly
Lifeline gate assembly

 

Total time to assemble the lifelines was about two hours, once I worked past my logistical issues. Some people have asked questions about my choice of hardware. Why didn’t I lash instead of using turnbuckles? Lashing requires you to untie everything if you want to tighten the lifeline, which seems like a lot of work compared to just unlocking the nuts and making some turns on the turnbuckle. Others have questioned the use of snap hooks but under tension they are sized small enough to not open accidentally but big enough to not be the weakest link in the system. I suggest using key gated versions and if possible use a closed thimble on the end that is attached to the turnbuckle. I considered a quick link but they do not have the same profile as a snap hook and the snap hook profile works perfectly to join a turnbuckle jaw to a line thimble. Under tension the gate of the snap link will not open due to the key locking it closed.

Bow pulpit lifeline attachment
Bow pulpit lifeline attachment

 

Fortunately with this setup it will be very easy to remove the lines and add netting later on this spring. Anyways, hopefully the wind will die down so I can go sailing this afternoon…

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