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Old 22-06-2014, 07:21   #1
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Running Lines Color Scheme?

Recently purchased a Catalina 30T. Most of the halyards, sheets and other control lines are due for replacement in the near future. Any suggestions on a color scheme for the various lines to help differentiate them for the crew (especially non-sailing experienced guests)? Thanks!
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Old 22-06-2014, 09:02   #2
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

On my boat, all lines are white, intentionally. The last thing I want is for someone to say, "Release that green rope," when what they really want is for the lazy sheet to be removed from the winch.

It's really not hard to "learn the ropes," and if someone can't learn the proper name of each line, then they ought to stay out of the way.

All rope clutches on my boat are labelled. When a newbie comes aboard and asks, "What can I do?" I respond, "Learn the names of the lines."
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Old 22-06-2014, 09:05   #3
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

Whatever makes sense to you. For the same reason - inexpereinced crew I prefer different colors.

In my case -

main halyard - White
mainsheet - Yellow
traveler control - white & red checks
genny halyard - white and blue checks
port genny sheet - Red
starboard genny sheet - Green
reef 1 - blue
reef 2 - red (smaller than genny & on coach roof)
spin halyard - White & green checks
pole up - white & black checks (I think)
pole down - yellow
port spin sheet - White & red checks
starboard spin sheet - White & blue checks

I think a couple of patterns are repeated but they are on different sized line and in different control locations.

Piece of advice is get at least a couple feet longer than you need. lines will wear especially where they go in clutches. You can swap end for end, then cut a bit of length of off. The swap end for end again.

Every year at haulout I put all the lines in a big bucket of soapy water and soak them. I put chasing lines on the halyards and hoist them up. Some advocate pulling the halyards but I am lazy.

if you have a big assed boat it is a bigger assed problem - On my boat it's easy.

Soak a day or so, rinse repeat a couple times - then lay them out in the sun - when the salt is out they get a lot more supple.
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Old 22-06-2014, 09:52   #4
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

I just counted, we have 18 lines coming back to the cockpit. I'd be lost without some color coding.
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Old 22-06-2014, 10:02   #5
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

I sail everything from dinghies to full-rigged ships, and know the feeling of being confused and utterly worthless. The trauma of casting off a lift when you meant to trim a sheet will stay with you for a lifetime, maybe longer. That said, I can't imagine how coloring your lines would make them any easier to learn.

What must be learned are the line's function, how it runs, and the line's position, where it's cleated, stoppered, etc. What happens when you haul a halyard? That's the line that starts there, and runs there, and there, and is belayed right here. How will it feel before you take it off belay? -- those are the things crew should be thinking. Not "what color am I grabbing for?"
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Old 22-06-2014, 10:14   #6
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

All white.

Learn the blinkin' names.

Kinda like all these questions about:

"How do I replace my WINDOWS?!?"

"Where can I get pots & pans for my KITCHEN?!?"

"What's the best paper for my TOILET?!?"
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Old 22-06-2014, 10:25   #7
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

I like different colors lines for the reefing system. In the dark, green and blue tracers are hard to tell apart in the same type of line so maybe more of a contrast would help there.
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Old 22-06-2014, 10:40   #8
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

Another situation where colors help is racing. We raced a charter boat. The mainsheet and traveller were on the roof.

I was pianoman and main trimmer. As we turned to start instead of unstopping the windward traveller I dropeed the genny halyard. The clutches were also not marked.

The genny trimmers were not pleased.
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Old 22-06-2014, 10:52   #9
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

Colors can be helpful if you have a dodger etc and the line routing is hard to see. OTOH.. if you buy a spool of line in one color it's a LOT cheaper! Just label the end points. (winch, stopper , cleat etc)
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Old 22-06-2014, 11:16   #10
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

Being a member of a sailing club I've sailed on 36 boats and every one is different but if I were rigging my own boat I would be inclined toward the following:

If you're trying to help out newbies, then green on starboard; red on port for jib sheets is a good place to start (same side as the running lights).

Other than that, I personally prefer black on the traveler and white on the topping lift with a solid color on the mainsheet.

Solid colors with white checks on the halyards and white with colored checks on the reef lines and outhaul.

If you have a spinnaker then foreguy, topping lift, halyard, tweens, and sheets are whatever makes sense for you after the other more "routine" rigging colors have been chosen.

If you're rigged for racing with an adjustable backstay and lines running to the cockpit to adjust the jib cars on the fly then everything just got a little more complicated and like with the spinnaker, whatever works for you after you've covered the "basics".

Also, as others have commented, label the clutches.

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Old 22-06-2014, 12:00   #11
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
On my boat, all lines are white, intentionally. The last thing I want is for someone to say, "Release that green rope," when what they really want is for the lazy sheet to be removed from the winch.

It's really not hard to "learn the ropes," and if someone can't learn the proper name of each line, then they ought to stay out of the way.

All rope clutches on my boat are labelled. When a newbie comes aboard and asks, "What can I do?" I respond, "Learn the names of the lines."
I agree but I've found even with experienced sailors on an unfamiliar boat trying to sort out 8-10 different lines during a race the conversation is frequently something like, "Ease the outhaul"...pause...pause...pause..."It's the white one with the yellow checks". "OK, got it".
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Old 22-06-2014, 13:17   #12
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

I group lines by function and try to keep colors inside a group consistent.

So sheets are all red and green solid for spinnakers white and flecked for jib (main is black).
Halyards are blue. Main is solid, jib is flecked black, spin flecked white...ect


I can't stand a boat with all e same color line. In high pressure situations ie while racing or when the crap hits the fan being able to quickly identify and untangle a line is critical. Have them all the same size and color adds to the difficulty in identifying which line I have in my hands.
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Old 22-06-2014, 16:25   #13
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Re: Running lines color scheme?

If you like to involve people who are your guests in sailing your boat, I think having different colored lines does help. Since they clutter up the cockpit, they might as well be some use.

We once were able to negotiate a reel price from a supplier when we were buying more than a reel's length of lines at one time. Maybe that would help the OP with the cost.

The important thing to me is to be able to distinguish at a glance which line you want to pull. Since we made the tactical error of having the same line for our double preventers as for our staysail sheets, both of which run along the side decks and enter the cockpit around the dodger. I simply check which block it's coming from, but if they all were white, it might be more difficult.

Friends have red or red ticked lines for port side genoa and stays'l sheets, green for starboard, but to me, that's not necessary. Just that they look different, or feel different. Our genoa sheets are larger diameter than our staysail sheets, so easy to feel which is which in the dark.

For the running rigging, pick colors you like, though red fades faster than other colors. Or all white (which turns grey) blue, which fades, etc. New line is lovely, enjoy!

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Old 22-06-2014, 17:08   #14
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Re: Running Lines Color Scheme?

I do have a number of lines that are of some different colors, but not by a plan of organization by their color. I have an older ketch with rather simple rigging and not with everything led to the cockpit; therefore, I do not have any two lines with different functions at the same location. Downhauls are under the goosenecks; outhauls are at the ends of the booms; halyards at at the port or starboad sides of the masts; sheets don't share the same winches....

I think that people would have plans for lines colors that comply with their rigging.
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Old 22-06-2014, 18:38   #15
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Re: Running Lines Color Scheme?

Ran the mainsail reefing and halyard back to cockpit. Used red, blue and green for the different reef point lines. Think I'd go red white and blue or green, in that order, when they are replaced so they are easier to identify at night. Main halyard is black but that's just because I got a deal on the Dyneema Cored line. Would want it some other color than the reefing lines. At the mast, have the jib halyard and spinnaker halyard a different color to make it easier to tell apart.
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