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Old 16-05-2014, 22:22   #1
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Going Forward

Can anyone look at these photos and then explain to me why having cabin top handrails are regarded as a quintessential requirement of the well-found cruising boat?

I realize there is like basically no cross-over between the requirements of an around-the-world racing machine and that of an around-the-world-mom-and-pop-cruising machine but can somebody really explain to me just exactly why handrails are so widely considered as equipment essential to the well-found cruiser when they are not for a round-the-world racer?

Seems to me like they are as much a legacy item from the days of no-lifelines and a yachty looking accoutrement than they are useful and in my eyes they are more frequently an impediment to freely traversing the deck than.

I can think of countless times I have gone forward on a pitching deck running my hands down the lifelines but few if any where I have crawled along the deck clutching at a handrail that would otherwise be at my ankles were I walking like a normal person.

So what gives? Did somebody write down in a book somewhere that handrails were a must-have item, somehow a benchmark feature, and if a boat didn't have them it was somehow unworthy?

Maybe at the time jacklines and lifelines were less common?

And ever since someone wrote that book everyone has to have them or else....
...they're not BLUEWATER capable! Oh my!

Seriously, why do I have stout Dyneema encircling my deck and proper jack lines traversing it's length if my life depends on a hand-rail? What makes the ocean racers different that they do not?

Because when I look at these boats, I don't see any handrails.

With the change of the seasons, a new wind has brought with it a new leak in my headliner reminding me that replacing my handrails, which had previously been low on my list, is quickly becoming a rising star.

The thought of puttying thirty-something screw holes and around walking barefoot has a lot of appeal to me when I think about all of that work required for the alternative.
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:22   #2
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Re: Going Forward

Sorry
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:24   #3
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Re: Going Forward

Phone
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:25   #4
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Re: Going Forward

Posting
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:26   #5
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Re: Going Forward

Pictures but you get the point, none of them have them. Toe rails yes, handrails no.
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:37   #6
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Re: Going Forward

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Phone
Actually this boat has some, so here's another one that doesn't.
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Old 16-05-2014, 22:38   #7
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Re: Going Forward

Budget constraints

Or

Wider decks

I use hand rails. I never trust life lines.
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Old 16-05-2014, 23:19   #8
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Re: Going Forward

Sorry Monkey, but you're a bit of a knuckle-dagger. I talking about normal people who walk upright. Just kidding.

But do you see where I am going with this one? Having gone for a swim due to a failed pelican hook once, I can understand your trepidation.

I read some guys blog somewhere where he gotten rid of his handrails and as quite happy about it, I wanted to try to find I to again to see if there was any follow-up but no luck.

I don't think there is anything wrong with folks using them if you have them, but my concerns stem from the fact that I never use them so why am I replacing them?

"Because everyone else is doing it" has never really been my style. Now when I look at a bunch of beefy ocean racers and don't see handrails all over the place it makes me wonder who wrote that book?
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Old 16-05-2014, 23:33   #9
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Re: Going Forward

Hand rails are suspect just as life lines. We had teak hand rails on our cabin top and I wanted to rebed them. As I tried to draw the bolts and screws out of the cabin top a great many of them simply snapped off. Time had taken its toll on stainless steel fasteners and in some places even the teak had grown soft and weak. I would hate to think what may have happened if I depended upon them.

So far we've not installed new hand rails but consider doing it. We have refurbished our lifelines and stanchions. I think clipping into strong points is a good idea as well.
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Old 17-05-2014, 00:00   #10
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Re: Going Forward

I removed Panope's handrails from her cabin house (because they, being tall, made it impossible to sit on the house comfortably) and welded them back on top of the new pilot house (where you can actually reach them without crawling).

I may not have been quite so bold had I not also added solid, welded tube lifelines around the perimeter of the boat.

There may come a time when the cabin house handholds will be missed when crawling on the house top and needing a good foot hold.

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Old 17-05-2014, 00:22   #11
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Re: Going Forward

I use handrails on the cabin top extensively.

Firstly as footholds, when the boat is heeling and the deck is wet (ON EDIT: I see Steve has also made this point)

Secondly for lashing points, perhaps for short fixed tethers, but also very handy when something breaks and has to be temporarily made safe until it can be fixed or taken below, or (say) for lashing a sailbag over a ventilator which has carried away...

Thirdly when travelling forward on the lee side when heeling: the lifeline - guardrail down to leeward is worse than useless, and sparing a hand for it would be an invitation to a swim.

Fourthly, if the boat is falling off waves, I wouldn't be relying even on the windward lifeline: it's not good to subject them to repeated and potentially wrenching loads: the bending moment imposed on the base is very many times greater than on a low handrail.

Other uses, but this will do for now...
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Old 17-05-2014, 00:50   #12
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Re: Going Forward

Other thoughts:

Racers are generally much less averse than cruisers to doing things which could result in a swim, because they have a different risk-reward trade-off.

I remember discussing with Nicko (skipper of Camper) the high platforms for the helmsman on his Open 70 for the last Volvo, which stand them at least a foot above the deck, completely unprotected (unlike the shorthanded boats, there's no wave deflector or dodger of any description).

I asked him if his guys were concerned about the risk of being swatted off their plinth by aft-rushing green water, given there was nothing (let alone a strong point) suitably high for them to clip a harness tether to. He said yup, they were concerned.

I suggested that he could consider fitting a double-ended ringbolt through the hollow axles of each steering wheel, and in extreme conditions, a temporary strop could be clipped from the forrard eye to a flush padeye a little further forrard on the deck. The helmer could then clip a short tether to the aft eye.

He considered the idea, and then rejected it. He felt even a temporary strop would be too big a price to pay, in terms of getting in the way of crew manoeuvres.

Handrails would usually interfere with their deck-gear layout, which takes first priority; in any case their boats generally don't have a long cabin trunk.

Racers also tend to be fit, agile, athletic and strong. They do not generally sail these boats with small children on board* (who are the ideal size for cabin-top handrails), and if they get washed off their feet while travelling along the side deck, far from being sympathised with, a racer has to buy a round of beers at the next port.

*(Although I once crossed the Pacific on a big racing yacht delivery with a child who turned two on the way - when we had left she was not that great at walking; during the rough passage, it was never feasible for her to do anything other than crawl; yet on arrival, immediately she touched dry land, she could RUN!)
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Old 17-05-2014, 00:53   #13
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Re: Going Forward

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Phone
The photo in this post looks as though it DOES have a handrail (above the helmsman's head)

ON EDIT: OK, for some reason the photo from this particular post doesn't come through when quoted, and looking up the thread I can see the OP has come to the same realisation.
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Old 17-05-2014, 02:07   #14
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pirate Re: Going Forward

Always go forward on the lee side.. on a mono I'm leaning inward so the grab rails (if any) are handier than the lifelines.. don't like the windward side.. seems all wrong to me..
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Old 17-05-2014, 02:12   #15
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Re: Going Forward

So how do those with flush decks get on?
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