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Old 22-08-2012, 17:31   #1
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Are Deck Lifelines a Nearly Complete Waste?

Think about it . . .

18" to 24" high

to use them one grabs onto something, pretty much "outside" the boat

The forces that are applied(in an event), is probably the worse types of force(direction wise).

I'm sure there's many other things wrong with lifelines being the out-most gear on a sailboat.

Offhand, I don't know why anyone would rely on something that is low and outside. I mean . . . what . . . seriously . . . good is a lifeline, 24 inches high(at best), and on the absolute outside of a boat.

Aside from falling prostrate off the cabin and landing in the lifeline or netting, how is a lifeline supposed to keep someone on the boat?

Instead, would/could it make more sense to place the lifelines 1' or 1.5' high, on the outside edge of the cabin top?

This way, when traversing along the deck, one would be reaching for something in the direction one would rather fall and the forces would tend to be a little less stressful for the stantions.

My "normal" lifelines have been removed. Now I'm pondering some sort of more usable lifelines.

Any thoughts?
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Old 22-08-2012, 17:47   #2
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

I have seen them save people multiple times. They are ugly, they add windage, they are far from robust, and you shouldn't rely on them to catch you. I have seen them catch people, though. Mostly drunk people during winter on wet pitching decks.
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Old 22-08-2012, 17:52   #3
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

I call mine "trip lines". But they are handy for drying towels and wet clothing on. I just paid to have them replaced on my boat - only because the wife wasn't comfortable not having any - which I would have been happy with. On a small boat they are next to useless, but I guess they offer some safety, which even if not much is better then nothing.
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:03   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SURV69
Think about it . . .

18" to 24" high

to use them one grabs onto something, pretty much "outside" the boat

The forces that are applied(in an event), is probably the worse types of force(direction wise).

I'm sure there's many other things wrong with lifelines being the out-most gear on a sailboat.

Offhand, I don't know why anyone would rely on something that is low and outside. I mean . . . what . . . seriously . . . good is a lifeline, 24 inches high(at best), and on the absolute outside of a boat.

Aside from falling prostrate off the cabin and landing in the lifeline or netting, how is a lifeline supposed to keep someone on the boat?

Instead, would/could it make more sense to place the lifelines 1' or 1.5' high, on the outside edge of the cabin top?

This way, when traversing along the deck, one would be reaching for something in the direction one would rather fall and the forces would tend to be a little less stressful for the stantions.

My "normal" lifelines have been removed. Now I'm pondering some sort of more usable lifelines.

Any thoughts?
Yes. In situations when lifelines are actually needed, you should NOT be traipsing about the side decks standing full upright! They do catch the prudent croucher very well.
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:03   #5
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SURV69 View Post
Think about it . . .

18" to 24" high

to use them one grabs onto something, pretty much "outside" the boat

The forces that are applied(in an event), is probably the worse types of force(direction wise).

I'm sure there's many other things wrong with lifelines being the out-most gear on a sailboat.

Offhand, I don't know why anyone would rely on something that is low and outside. I mean . . . what . . . seriously . . . good is a lifeline, 24 inches high(at best), and on the absolute outside of a boat.

Aside from falling prostrate off the cabin and landing in the lifeline or netting, how is a lifeline supposed to keep someone on the boat?

Instead, would/could it make more sense to place the lifelines 1' or 1.5' high, on the outside edge of the cabin top?

This way, when traversing along the deck, one would be reaching for something in the direction one would rather fall and the forces would tend to be a little less stressful for the stantions.

My "normal" lifelines have been removed. Now I'm pondering some sort of more usable lifelines.

Any thoughts?

They're good for attaching the netting that reailly will catch you ...
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:10   #6
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Railings on commercial passenger vessels cannot be less than 42 inches.

On pleasure boats it seems to be a compromise between having nothing and having something that is adequate for most situations.
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:20   #7
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

If you're that worried, use jacklines on port & starboard.
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:24   #8
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

There are a few places (esp. leaving cockpit th go fwd ) that there are no other handholds except the life lines. i'm keeping mine.
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:31   #9
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

I'm keeping mine also. When single handed, I use both jacklines & deck lifelines, harness and inflatable vest....I hate to see my boat sailing away from me while I take a swim in the ocean!
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:35   #10
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Gives something for the crew to lean on when hiking.

Without them one can still simply trip and fall over. As a "last ditch" something to grab and hold on to they must serve some purpose.

+1 on jacklines for offshore work...
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Old 22-08-2012, 18:41   #11
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jbaffoh View Post
Yes. In situations when lifelines are actually needed, you should NOT be traipsing about the side decks standing full upright! They do catch the prudent croucher very well.

Yes, in rough water I keep my center of gravity low. I have been known to crawl to the bow on my hands and knees. Since I am more likely to fall than some, I have netting on my lifelines. But I also have a metal toe rail with holes in it, so it was super easy to put on very secure netting.
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Old 22-08-2012, 19:12   #12
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Jacklines, jacklines, jacklines !! safety harness, safety harness, safety harness!!! lifelines are a last ditch catch all, if ya have netting they will save someone maybe!! but the above will save your butt everytime !! just an old sailor who don't like to swim ALL ALONE !!
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Old 22-08-2012, 19:31   #13
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

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Jacklines, jacklines, jacklines !! safety harness, safety harness, safety harness!!! lifelines are a last ditch catch all, if ya have netting they will save someone maybe!! but the above will save your butt everytime !! just an old sailor who don't like to swim ALL ALONE !!

But there are those who argue that jacklines have their risks too, especially if sailing solo -- you can end up being dragged behind your boat, possibly with an injury like broken ribs.

The guy whose slip is next to mine was about to get caught in what turned out to be a bad storm. He was reefing his mainsail when the first wall of wind hit the boat. He was knocked off the cabin top.

He had an offshore pfd on, and a tether. He had wrapped the tether around the mast, but it still stretched so much that he went through the lifelines almost to his waist before the tether stopped him. If he'd used his tether on a jackline he would have been off the boat ...
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Old 22-08-2012, 19:33   #14
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Gives something for the crew to lean on when hiking.
Yep. They seem a lot more useful to racers as a place to hang the rail meat.

I use mine as a place to attach the kayaks.
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Old 22-08-2012, 19:43   #15
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Re: Are deck lifelines a nearly complete waste?

Lifelines provide a visual clue as to where the edge of the boat is. When walking the side decks, they also provide a tactile clue since they are mounted inside the edge of the boat.

While you may never consciously recognize this in daily operation, I suspect this would be missed if the lifelines were removed.

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