New Jacklines

Day 36
Noon Position: 29 57.2S 124 59.7W

Course/Speed: SSE 6

Wind: E 9-11

Sail: Full

Bar: 1026

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. 

Will use it a while and see.

6 Comments on “New Jacklines

  1. I suspect that you’ll retain both pairs of jacklines … an inner and an outer and use which ever is most appropriate to the task in hand. Much admiration for your descriptive writing Randall. Very evocative. Those swells from the south bring back memories of the months to come.

    • Tether, tether and tether
      Clip, clip and clip
      Fuel with food, fuel and fuel
      The wind winds will come

  2. The Southern Cross up and coming if not yet. Share that gift if you will.
    Saw it from Australia

  3. The first rule of any safety system I have used in climbing or ropes courses is redundancy, your current system does not have that built into it. Any single point of failure leads to you being overboard. To address that, add a second tether and clip to the jackline on the opposite side of the boat. That gives you 2 jacklines to clip into and 2 tethers, your harness would still be a single point of failure, but you can use a send tether around you to create redundancy there. ITs a lot of clipping, but its safer. To gain access forward of the current system, maybe create a second jackline system forward of the mast but stay clipped into 2 different jacklines when going forward. I would also clip the biners into the jacklines in opposite directions, the forces could be on the gate rather than the spine of the biner leading to it opening and releasing when you don’t want it too. I would shorten your tethers as suggested too. Finally, if you can’t unclip a biner when overboard if you have a knife on your harness you can always cut the tether as you’d have a backup tether with this proposed system. Hope this is helpful my friend, what a voyage, I read everything you post. All my best, John

  4. I read great council Randall. Double is safer than single hookups. We always used double hookups on billboards in the air. Slower but safer.

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