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Old 06-02-2011, 19:50   #46
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The kind comments and suggestions of fellow sailors on this site lead me to the conclusion that I was being a complete idiot and selfish to singlehand without attaching myself to the boat. I went out yesterday to try out my harness/teather/jacklines. It will take some getting use to. In addition, I'm not sure I'm safer than going naked.

When I did not have the teather on I had two hands for balance. With the teather I need one hand to keep it running along. The carabineer is constantly getting fouled.

I have a narrow beam boat. I can't see how to run the jackline down the center. Even with the three foot teather I can see me being dragged along in the water.

I went on a Contessa 26 site to see how others have done it and was lead to a site that advocated against jacklines. I have copied and pasted it below. Please excuse the length. It has made me consider ditching the jacklines for folding pad eyes at three foot intervals.


Safety Harness or Death Strap?
by Tom Rau

There are sailors who revere safety harnesses as lifelines, yet other sailors swear that safety harnesses are death straps. The fact is they can be both. So how does one explain the yin and yang of safety harnesses? Easily. For the conflict does not lie with the tether line and safety harness, but in its use. The following case file illustrates how a safety harness when used incorrectly can become a death strap.
Holland, Michigan, September 20, 2002. A 50-year-old male had departed Holland, Michigan, at 7 p.m. on Friday evening aboard a 38-foot sailboat in a solo race to Michigan City. On Saturday morning a shoreline resident discovered the boat with the mainsail up, about a mile south of Holland. Responders found the solo sailor dead along side the boat tangled in the jib, secured by a tether and safety harness. Ultimate Safety Harness

This is why I strongly oppose sailors wearing a safety harness that trails enough tether line to dump them in the water while attached to the boat. Safety harnesses are meant to keep you on the boat, not drag you through the water. What could the captain have done while being dragged through the water with the main sail driving the boat along at eight knots in four-foot seas? The strain on the harness release mechanism may have restricted his ability to release it, especially with nostrils and mouth inhaling water at a rapid rate. As for a knife, it would require tremendous focus to reach for a knife — that is if one were readily available — then draw it up and cut the line. Then add darkness, cold water, and body shock — the results speak for themselves.

I believe many sailors assume that if they are attached to a boat with a tether line and safety harness they can simply pull themselves back aboard, or if that fails, simply release themselves from the safety harness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Take it from a sailor who knows.

Jeff Allen, who has sailed in a number of major races on Lake Michigan, once experienced an overboard plunge while attached to a safety harness and tether line. During the Queen Cup Race, Jeff had gone forward on the deck of a 33-foot Tartan sailboat late at night to haul down the spinnaker. The sail went aback; he was knocked overboard.

His six-foot tether line was attached to a jack line that ran aft. The harness line ran down the jack line and Allen found himself being dragged astern at six knots in six to eight-foot seas. I asked him how long he was in the water. “It seemed like an eternity,” said Allen. “I rolled onto my back. I would have drowned face down had I not. It took three crewmen to haul me aboard. Another minute in the water and I would have been done. I hit the rack after the ordeal and slept. I was physically whipped.”

I have been conducting an on-going survey with sailors regarding safety harnesses and tether lines. The feedback is not encouraging. Let me share an interview I conducted with the captain of a sailboat. The solo sailor had made an overnight passage from South Manitou Island to Manistee Michigan aboard a 29-foot C&C sloop. I spoke with him at Manistee’s Municipal Marina the following day. He told me he had used a safety harness the night before in heavy weather while hauling down the head sail. “I almost slid over the portside and into the lake,” he said. “I grabbed a life line to keep from going overboard.” He said he was wearing a safety harness.

The captain produced the life harness and six foot tether line he had used. He had attached the tether line to a jack line that ran fore and aft, center deck. I pointed out that the length of the tether line plus slack in the jack line when taking load would place him in the water for certain. Unless he could quickly release himself he would quickly drown. And he would have drowned since the safety harness d-rings were attached to a carabiner at the end of the tether line. It’s nearly impossible to open the release arm of a carabiner under load and detach the eye of the tether line from the carabineer. Then I pointed to the gear he was wearing: weather-proof coveralls that resembled chest waders tightly secured at the ankles. I pointed out that if he went overboard, his outfit would act as a sea anchor that would pull him beneath the surface.
He took my suggestions well, unlike some sailboaters who look at me in scorn as if I had proven their safety harness god to be false. Although, I suspect they felt sheepish for not thinking this issue through. So what would you do if you were being dragged through the water attached to tether line?
If you hesitated with your response, you’re dead.

Boat Smart Brief
Here’s what can be done to prevent such a fate. Use a short tether line that will keep you on the boat, and attach it to a hard attachment point like the mast. Do not attach it to a life line or shroud. Use a snaphook as the attachment device. The Offshore Racing Council’s Sailing Special Regulations advises that a tether line with a snaphook should be used to attach to the life harness d-rings and a hard attachment point on the boat like the mast. The snaphook allows quick release at both ends. Have a serrated knife readily available on the sailboat in order to cut the tether line if all else fails, including stopping the boat. A person being dragged through the water will quickly drown, so time is of the essence.
Remember, the difference between a safety harness and death strap is in its use. Boat Smart- use it wisely.
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Old 17-03-2011, 21:30   #47
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

Have to admit though, if you had put in the reef you wouldn't have had a story to tell...
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Old 17-03-2011, 22:47   #48
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

Jackdale said:

"The key on a gybe / jibe is to NOT cleat off the main. As soon as the wind crosses the stern and the main starts to fill, ease it quickly. This especially true on lighter boats like the Catalina 22. If you do not ease quickly the boat will round up and you will have more apparent wind. With a two person crew gybe the foresail after you get the main eased."

Absolutely correct and what got your attention quickly. I used to reef my Catalina 22 fin keeler in 15 knots if going to weather. Downwind it'll do ok in 20. Great little boats for instruction and kicking around. It will heave to easily. I used to just go to a close hauled position, then tack and hold the jib to windward, let the boat stop and put the tiller over to the lee and tie it off, then reef the main. She'll slide to leeward a bit faster than a full keel boat but you'll have plenty of time to tuck in a reef.

kind regards,
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Old 07-04-2011, 17:09   #49
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

Great thread. Especially impressed with the Safety Harness or Death Strap article.

I recently purchased a harness and strap after sailing with a friend on his Columbia 34, where we got knocked down twice in an afternoon. I was PFD'd and safely enclosed in the covered/sided cockpit, but didn't waste any time the next couple days getting one for the next sail, and especially for my little boat. We should have reefed at the outset, but things were calm, then BAMMM!!! That was very exhilerating.

I'll be practicing reefing my main this weekend. I think I'll forego the jackline and just attach to the mast, since its such a small boat.

I learned many lessons from this thread. Thanks.
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Old 03-05-2011, 15:22   #50
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

I fully agree with Southern Star and Boatman61: First, you should practice reefing in "Soft" conditions as often as you can so that when you Really Need to, it's duck soup for you and your wife. It's only when reefing in tough conditions that you realize just how powerful that mainsail is. And, like Boatman61, I avoid Gybing as much as possible unless I'm being stupid and trying to race another boat. (Racing is what happens when I see another sail out there). Cruising is supposed to be a pleasant experience to whenever you can, take the easy option, it's been known to save many a marriage...
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Old 03-05-2011, 15:41   #51
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

Another thing to remember is what we all learned the first day on dinghy’s:
If all else fails, LET GO OF EVERYTHING!!!
Let the Jib and Main fly free, let go of the tiller, and she’ll point up to the wind and give you some breathing space.
You might do a bit of damage to the sails but you won’t drown and sail repairs are easier than bringing drowning victims back amongst the living…
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Old 03-05-2011, 15:57   #52
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

It's got to be the most common mistake: Tooling along downwind, weather is great, wind rises with the sun and before you realize it, you're WAY past the point at which you should have reefed. Whatever else might be on your mind, reef early. It's a lot easier to add sail if you're wrong. If you insist on running downwind wing-on-wing (I hate trying to do this because it almost never works for long), make sure you set a preventer because if you're rolling down waves you WILL jibe without it. Speaking of preventers, has anyone tried a piece of heavy shock cord as a "safety" in case you dip the boom end? Shock cord could be doubled, tripled...etc. to get the right strength and elasticity.
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Old 07-05-2011, 20:29   #53
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We did the same thing. We went out a few times in great conditions and thought we had this sailing thing licked. The first time we went out in 20 k winds the boat listed over about 25 degrees. My wife jumped to the floor yelling, "you're gonna tump this thing over!". I yelled back, "I know!". We where very scared and didn't want to break our new boat. Now we reef very early and we went up by steps to feel comfortable with leaning over.
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Old 02-07-2011, 17:34   #54
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

Maintain stand on privileges? I am not sure i understand
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:18   #55
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

When I first bought Frolic 20 yrs ago. I would sail out to the Golden Gate Bridge, and gybe after gybe all the way back to the marina in the east bay. I would do this single-handed in no matter what the wind was. I figure if you sail long enough. Eventually the time will come where you will need to gybe. Especially in a busy place like S.F., or a restricted area. I now gybe my cat also.

S.F Bay the wind comes like clockwork in the summer. Once while sailing out towards the Golden Gate from the marina. I already had a reef in. Another boat motored up along side to advise me I was reefed. I asked him the time. After he answered I said well the wind will be here in less than an hour, and I am feeling a wee bit lazy today. He had a laugh, and waved good bye as they motored away...........i2f
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:20   #56
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

A question from newbie here: Some of you offered reefing while heaving to, but to my knowledge, when you're heaved to, mainsail is sheeted in tightly (like being close hauled).

Because the mainsail is full and tense, how i'm supposed to lower the mainsail to reefing points? I would expect, because the luff part is bent, i won't be able to. I have plastic sliders on the luff of the mainsail.

Thanks
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Old 05-07-2011, 08:34   #57
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

I think ymmv.

When Connemara is hove to, the genny is backed, the mainsheet is cleated so the main is not bearing any wind pressure at all (in fact it is blanketed by the genny), and the wheel is pretty much hard over. (If I had been on port tack, I turned to port to start heaving to, then put the wheel back the other way once the genny backed. And vice versa, of course.)


In those circumstances, you should be able to reef fairly easily.

If you're doing it a different way, I dunno.

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Old 05-07-2011, 08:51   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by parito
A question from newbie here: Some of you offered reefing while heaving to, but to my knowledge, when you're heaved to, mainsail is sheeted in tightly (like being close hauled).

Because the mainsail is full and tense, how i'm supposed to lower the mainsail to reefing points? I would expect, because the luff part is bent, i won't be able to. I have plastic sliders on the luff of the mainsail.

Thanks
I would not recommend reefing with an uncleated mainsheet, lest you injure yourself on the boom as it swings. Far better to set the traveler all the way to leeward while still hove to, and then reef.
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Old 05-07-2011, 17:20   #59
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

I've never had my main sheeted in and under load while hove to.
kind regards,
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Old 05-07-2011, 17:46   #60
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Re: Newbie Mistake in 20 mph Winds

Two theories of 'hove-to':
  • gill and fill: foresail aback, main sheeted at some position (depends on the boat) above a complete luff, tiller tied off to leeward. The foresail forces the head off, the main begins to develop drive, rudder forces bow up into the wind, cycle repeats Pros: boat crabs across the wind, generally giving up less leeway over all. Cons: can tack, and then you're in the **** with the tiller tied to leeward, but if it doesn't broach will usually gybe back to gill and fill.
  • equilibrium: foresail aback, main sheeted to luff or just left to shake or dropped entirely, tiller tied to leeward. Boat makes leeway at a 45 degree angle or so, depending on the keel config. Pros: more stable, less motion, easier. Cons: noisy, theoretically hard on mainsail, more leeway, doesn't lie as bow-to-wave so more wave motion.
I can't say I have much experience with either, or with any research suggesting one or the other is objectively better. But I play with them when I have the opportunity/time.
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