Noon Position: 29 57.2S 124 59.7W
Course/Speed: SSE 6
Wind: E 9-11
Sea: Locally flat. Old swell form SW is growing.
Sky: Clear. Thunderheads to windward.
Cabin Temp: 81
Water Temp: 74
Miles last 24-hours: 123
Miles since departure: 4670
Stronger breezes this morning. Mo got up a 7-knot head of steam for a while, but now we’re back to ghosting. Quite alright as it gave me a flat deck in the afternoon from which to re-rig the jacklines.
Mine are the usual strapping run up the side of the deck from bow to stern. This layout has the advantage of allowing one to clip in once and get access to the whole boat. But the disadvantage is not slight. Because the strapping is long (read, stretchy) and fairly outboard of centerline, a fall with the 6-foot tether puts me in the water at least hip deep and well out of reach of the bulwarks (Mo’s flush deck makes her topsides fairly high). Could I hoist myself up the three feet of tether to grab the rail? On a day like today and with adrenaline shooting off like fourth of July fireworks, I could likely fly. But imagine it’s night, it’s rough, it’s cold, we’re surfing, I’m tired and fully foulied-up. Then what?
Long story short, I’ve wanted an alternate solution for a while.
To solve this problem, Tony Gooch, previous owner of Mo (then Taonui) and highly experienced singlehander, ran lines down the outside of the hull from bow to stern that he could reach from the water. Tony reasoned that if he went over, he could grab the line, unclip the tether, and work his way back to the Monitor at the stern, which is low enough and easily rugged enough to serve as boarding ladder in an emergency.
I like that solution, but Tony used a tether with a Wichard quick-release snap shackle that, in my little use of it, can sometimes fool me into thinking it’s locked when it’s not. By comparison, the tether I’m using now has an extremely positive clip that takes pressure from both thumb and forefinger to open. Over the side and under duress, I’m not sure I could release that clip. (I’m not advocating this clip either; it’s going the be tough to manage with cold, wet hands when one needs to unclip immediately. But it is, at least, positive.)
So, my experimental solution today has been to add a run of strapping from the rail at the corner of cockpit and pilot house to the base of the mast. Typically I go forward for two jobs, working the main or working the poles. The former is all done at the mast and the latter needs a range of motion six feet forward of the mast, which the current install allows. Advantages are obvious: it’s a shorter run and so the strapping is less stretchy; and placement is well inboard such that a fall over the side puts me just below the gunnel (note in the photo that I’m sitting on the rail and the tether is half taught already). The strapping can also serve as a kind of safety rail/guide as I move for and aft. Disadvantages include lack of bow access and a run forward that has a few items to tangle on.