5/16" is strong enough for sheets but too hard on the hands. 3/8' is reasonable to hand but still a little small for my tastes. Personally like 7/16" line. Not too bulky and easy on my old pinkies. Go with Dacron double braid unless you want an ultrasoft line or something special. New England
StaSet or Samson
XLS are examples but all the rope suppliers make a double braid.
3/8" works for halyards for me. It's large enough in diameter to hand hoist the sail and when I really have to reef on the line, it's time to put it on a winch
. Have gone to 7/16" for the spinnaker
halyard as it's a line I often have to hoist quickly by hand. Used NE ropes T-900 for my main halyard. Not so much that the sail needed the low stretch but for my ATN 'Top Climber' ascender rig. Way easier to use with a low stretch line. Boat came with NE StaSet X halyards. That's an all dacron line with straight layed core
for low stretch. I don't like it. It's very stiff, hard to coil and climbs out of self tailing winch
jaws. Am switching over to NE VPC as the halyards need replacing. VPC has a soft dacron cover and a core
with little bit of magic low stretch fiber. It stretches slightly less than StaSet X but is supple and easy to handle. Cost is a little more but not much.
Other than the spinnaker
halyard, I don't use shackles on any of my halyards or sheets. A loose halyard or a shackle on a flapping sail are real attention getters. Have the scar to prove it. I mostly use bowlines to attach the line to the sails
. No expensive splicing or hardware
to pay for. The added benefit is it's easy to end for end the line to even out wear. If a wear spot begins to develop, just cut a few inches off the line and it moves to a fresh area. Actually cut a little bit off the line every once in a while just to change the load areas. This has worked for me for well over 10,000 miles of sailing to French Polynesia
twice. If you have a roller furling Genoa
that will be used most of the time, a dedicated double length sheet with a Brummel splice at the clew of the sail works great. The Brummel splice doesn't hang up on the shrouds easing tacking drama.
Your boat will most likely have rope/wire sheaves at the mast head
. These sheaves have a wider groove for line and smaller groove in the center for wire. These sheaves work fine with all rope halyards. Have a solo TransPac to prove it. Check the sheaves for any burrs or sharp edges the wire halyards may have created. Smooth with a file and/or sand paper if you find any. I didn't have any issues on my 42 year old mast. While you are at it, make sure the sheaves spin freely. Might want to add a little oil
to the oilite bearings to make them whizz. If there is an issue, Garhauer makes relatively inexpensive replacement sheaves. They are also a great source of reasonably priced hardware
of all kinds and will do custom work should you need it. Garhauer Marine Hardware -6361169
. If you really get anal, Harken
makes really expensive ball bearing sheaves that spin with almost no drag. I used one for my main halyard but got it relatively cheaply off eBay.
Used Dyneema/Technora 12 strand line for my topping lift
. Went with 1/8" which is more than strong enough for my 16' boom but noisy. It sings in moderate winds like Peter Frampton on his guitar. Would go with 3/16" or 1/4" to keep the serenading down. Had a vinyl coated wire for a topping lift
initially but it ate the tabling on my main. The 12 strand is lighter, stronger, and kinder to the main.
eBay is your friend with an old boat. Got almost of my running and standing rigging from there with occasional trips to Marine recycle shops. Don't know if you are anywhere near Bacon's in Annapolis
but it's worth the trip just to wander through the memorabilia. I've gotten most of my line from Milwaukee Rigging, in you guessed it, from eBay. They put up spool ends at good prices and are nice people to deal with for specific things. Traditional Line, 12 strand Dyneema items in Milwaukee Rigging store on eBay!
While the mast is down, might think about running your jib and main halyards internal if they aren't already. I do it, not because I'm a rabid racer
type but because it frees up sheaves at the masthead for a permanently in place spare halyard. It saved my butt on the way to the Marquesas
Will you buy that boat, dammit!!! Someone is going to come along and snake you out of it if you don't move quickly. If I was anywhere near your area, I'd have done it already.