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Old 14-05-2015, 17:43   #1
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Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

When I learned to sail decades ago, the boats had jacklines down both sides outside of the shrouds. The logic was that if you went overboard you would slide all the way down to the stern where it would be easier to haul you back on board. (I was on a boat where that happened on one occasion, but was so seasick at the time I wasn't paying attention.)

From what I can see, the current thinking is that the lines should be as close to the centre as possible with short harness, and the purpose is to stop you going overboard in the first place.

I don't have the experience to judge the different theories, so, does anyone have thoughts on this, ideas of which might be better in what circumstances, knowledge of why ideas have changed, etc.?

(Yes, I saw the recent post about a sailor being dragged by his harness. Terrible, but again I can't judge whether that's a freak occurrence or something to allow for in the emergency planning.)

FWIW my immediate future only involves coastal cruising, but I like to plan for what could happen some day.
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Old 14-05-2015, 17:54   #2
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

A lot depends on how your shrouds are set up. You want to be able to go forward on the high side in the safest way possible. On which side of the shrouds would you normally walk when going forward? On my boat, I'll probably go forward of the mast straight up the middle of the foredeck because there's a low grabrail there running fore and aft.

If you transit the high side as a matter of good habit, then the tether will tend to keep you in the boat when you slip as long as your abaft the mast. After that is where things get dicey, especially if you're shorthanded. But my rule is to rig the jacklines in such a way that I won't go over in the first place.
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Old 14-05-2015, 18:13   #3
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

In lite of the sad story of fellow drowning and dragged while sailing to Mexico I have been considering this.

Shorten jacklines so as to not have enough slack to go overboard.
I certainly agree with above poster.


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Old 14-05-2015, 19:42   #4
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

While I yield to Bash on sea time, I feel there is a flaw in his logic.

Going down the deck on the high side means you are less likely to fall in the water. On the other hand running the jack line down the middle of the boat from stem to cockpit, with a reeving hard point at the mast, together with a tether that stops you shirt of the life lines, pretty much gaurantees you can't fall off the boat of aft of the mast.

Forward of the mast, I go to the three foot tether lead. If I am spending any time up there i try to fin a second hard point for the 6' tether lead.
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Old 14-05-2015, 22:48   #5
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
When I learned to sail decades ago, the boats had jacklines down both sides outside of the shrouds. The logic was that if you went overboard you would slide all the way down to the stern where it would be easier to haul you back on board.
If the shrouds run from the cabin sides, low sugar coop stern (don't assume somebody else to haul you up) and there's only toerail (no stanchion, lifelines, netting etc) but not recalling such boat at this moment so not a real option..
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Old 15-05-2015, 10:08   #6
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

We run two jacklines on our cats. Both are as close to the centre line as possible and use dedicated through bolted mounts. However - look at the design of your harness tether attachments. Can they be unclipped whilst under load? If not consider the implications. We bought all new tethers a couple of years ago for this very reason. Next - if someone does go overboard do you have a procedure to keep them in sight? Regardless of the weather we have a simple rule that if someone or something goes overboard everyone but the helm pesron physically points to the overboard person/item and does not look away for anything. It keeps everyone orientated. The person on the helm shouts his intentions so no-one is caught unawares and the crew keep quiet unless there is something critical to advise. Lastly, how do you get the person back on board? ....especially if there is a sea running. It all looks so easy until you try it. We have two methods - one is to lower our paserelle into the water as it is always ready for use and just means lowering it via a halyard and the other is to launch our dinghy and use that to recover the person / item. Our dinghy system is rated for 600lb so can manage to be brought back aboard with two people in it.
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Old 15-05-2015, 11:16   #7
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
When I learned to sail decades ago, the boats had jacklines down both sides outside of the shrouds. The logic was that if you went overboard you would slide all the way down to the stern where it would be easier to haul you back on board. (I was on a boat where that happened on one occasion, but was so seasick at the time I wasn't paying attention.)

From what I can see, the current thinking is that the lines should be as close to the centre as possible with short harness, and the purpose is to stop you going overboard in the first place.

I don't have the experience to judge the different theories, so, does anyone have thoughts on this, ideas of which might be better in what circumstances, knowledge of why ideas have changed, etc.?

(Yes, I saw the recent post about a sailor being dragged by his harness. Terrible, but again I can't judge whether that's a freak occurrence or something to allow for in the emergency planning.)

FWIW my immediate future only involves coastal cruising, but I like to plan for what could happen some day.
I've rigged several boats for passages over the years, and I have found the best approach [for me...] is a combination of strong jacklines [preferably amidships] and dedicated umbilicals affixed at working stations. [e.g., cockpit, mast, foredeck, etc.]

I'll describe two separate, but related scenarios: dedicated harness tether(s) affixed at each work station, and a dog-run [jackline] with interim attachment points built-in.

Scenario 1: Affix dedicated harness tether(s) at each work station attachment point [e.g., cockpit, mast, foredeck, etc.] where you would normally attach the tether from your harness. Where possible locate these so you can clip on to the next dedicated tether before unclipping from the previous. [e.g., Moving from cockpit to mast, on some boats you could reach the mast tether and clip on before releasing the cockpit tether- no interim jackline. On other boats, a jackline would be needed...]

Therefore, you are always clipped to the station tether and only use the jackline when moving between affixed tethers that are too far apart to 'trapeze' between them.

This is much easier to do than describe. We use the SpinLock tethers with loops at one end and cow-hitch the loop to permanent attachment points. This leaves the attachment point open for other umbilical clips to connect, and since it is a soft connection, no metal-on-metal noise...

A much more eloquent description and discussion regarding this approach [and much, more about staying onboard] is available on Attainable Adventure Cruising. [You will have to spend a couple bucks/month to join, but well worth it IMO.]

Scenario 2: A dog-run with interim attachment points built-in.

Sew contrasting color webbing loops every so often [e.g., every 3ft and and where needed] on your webbing jacklines. The loops are small [~8" of webbing doubled over leaving an open 2-3" loop after sewing...] and sewn on top of the existing jackline webbing with a strong box and X stitch- preferably with over-stressed indicator colored stitching. The loops still lie flat [and are too small for feet or toes to get caught in...] so as not to become too much more of a tripping point and your primary jackline clip slides over them with ease...

The idea is to always have your harness tether connected to the jackline, and when you are working at a location not requiring movement [e.g., mast, fore-deck, etc.] also clip through a loop [clip around the jackline and also through the loop...] using the 2nd, shorter umbilical on your tether.

The goal of attaching to a loop while working at a specific location is to keep you from traversing the entire length of the jackline should you loose your footing or get washed by green water over the bow...

When ready to traverse elsewhere on the jackline, unclip from the loop [not touching the primary jackline attachment clip] and carry on- always clipped to the jackline.

We have approached some custom jackline manufacturers about making high quality material in bulk for us to sell- hoping to reduce everyone's costs. [Liability prevents us from manufacturing jacklines for others...] Let us know if you have an interest [please PM me] and we may stock lengths of raw material to be cut to order. [We haven't received quotes yet, so we don't have pricing information at this time...] Otherwise, these are not difficult to make yourself- just make sure to use quality climbing tubular webbing.

Remember, the only function of the loops is to prevent you from sliding too far down the length of the jackline if something untoward should happen... You should never be clipped to a loop alone, but always to the jackline, and sometimes simultaneously a loop and the jackline...

Meld these two approaches together [i.e., clip to a loop on the jackline and/or use the permanent station tether] and you have lots of flexibility and, I believe, improved safety.

Everyone's mileage will vary...

Cheers!
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Old 15-05-2015, 12:12   #8
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by wrwakefield View Post
I've rigged several boats for passages over the years, and I have found the best approach [for me...] is a combination of strong jacklines [preferably amidships] and dedicated umbilicals affixed at working stations. [e.g., cockpit, mast, foredeck, etc.]

I'll describe two separate, but related scenarios: dedicated harness tether(s) affixed at each work station, and a dog-run [jackline] with interim attachment points built-in.

Scenario 1: Affix dedicated harness tether(s) at each work station attachment point [e.g., cockpit, mast, foredeck, etc.] where you would normally attach the tether from your harness. Where possible locate these so you can clip on to the next dedicated tether before unclipping from the previous. [e.g., Moving from cockpit to mast, on some boats you could reach the mast tether and clip on before releasing the cockpit tether- no interim jackline. On other boats, a jackline would be needed...]

Therefore, you are always clipped to the station tether and only use the jackline when moving between affixed tethers that are too far apart to 'trapeze' between them.

This is much easier to do than describe. We use the SpinLock tethers with loops at one end and cow-hitch the loop to permanent attachment points. This leaves the attachment point open for other umbilical clips to connect, and since it is a soft connection, no metal-on-metal noise...

A much more eloquent description and discussion regarding this approach [and much, more about staying onboard] is available on Attainable Adventure Cruising. [You will have to spend a couple bucks/month to join, but well worth it IMO.]

Scenario 2: A dog-run with interim attachment points built-in.

Sew contrasting color webbing loops every so often [e.g., every 3ft and and where needed] on your webbing jacklines. The loops are small [~8" of webbing doubled over leaving an open 2-3" loop after sewing...] and sewn on top of the existing jackline webbing with a strong box and X stitch- preferably with over-stressed indicator colored stitching. The loops still lie flat [and are too small for feet or toes to get caught in...] so as not to become too much more of a tripping point and your primary jackline clip slides over them with ease...

The idea is to always have your harness tether connected to the jackline, and when you are working at a location not requiring movement [e.g., mast, fore-deck, etc.] also clip through a loop [clip around the jackline and also through the loop...] using the 2nd, shorter umbilical on your tether.

The goal of attaching to a loop while working at a specific location is to keep you from traversing the entire length of the jackline should you loose your footing or get washed by green water over the bow...

When ready to traverse elsewhere on the jackline, unclip from the loop [not touching the primary jackline attachment clip] and carry on- always clipped to the jackline.

We have approached some custom jackline manufacturers about making high quality material in bulk for us to sell- hoping to reduce everyone's costs. [Liability prevents us from manufacturing jacklines for others...] Let us know if you have an interest [please PM me] and we may stock lengths of raw material to be cut to order. [We haven't received quotes yet, so we don't have pricing information at this time...] Otherwise, these are not difficult to make yourself- just make sure to use quality climbing tubular webbing.

Remember, the only function of the loops is to prevent you from sliding too far down the length of the jackline if something untoward should happen... You should never be clipped to a loop alone, but always to the jackline, and sometimes simultaneously a loop and the jackline...

Meld these two approaches together [i.e., clip to a loop on the jackline and/or use the permanent station tether] and you have lots of flexibility and, I believe, improved safety.

Everyone's mileage will vary...

Cheers!
Good suggestions. I also read in AAC about the idea of a tether permanently stationed at the mast and maybe other work areas. I'm planning on implementing, and also confirming that my tethers can be unhooked under load. Thanks for bringing this up too.
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Old 15-05-2015, 12:26   #9
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bulawayo View Post
We run two jacklines on our cats. Both are as close to the centre line as possible and use dedicated through bolted mounts. However - look at the design of your harness tether attachments. Can they be unclipped whilst under load? If not consider the implications. We bought all new tethers a couple of years ago for this very reason. Next - if someone does go overboard do you have a procedure to keep them in sight? Regardless of the weather we have a simple rule that if someone or something goes overboard everyone but the helm pesron physically points to the overboard person/item and does not look away for anything. It keeps everyone orientated. The person on the helm shouts his intentions so no-one is caught unawares and the crew keep quiet unless there is something critical to advise. Lastly, how do you get the person back on board? ....especially if there is a sea running. It all looks so easy until you try it. We have two methods - one is to lower our paserelle into the water as it is always ready for use and just means lowering it via a halyard and the other is to launch our dinghy and use that to recover the person / item. Our dinghy system is rated for 600lb so can manage to be brought back aboard with two people in it.
Your comments about reacting to a MOB situation are well taken and bring up another concern for me about the simultaneous deployment of various other "safety gear" which is often advocated. I agree, assuming there are crew onboard, that the helmsman should be focused entirely on getting the boat stopped and/or turned around, with the exception of perhaps pushing the MOB button on the chartplotter if available. I also agree in theory with all remaining hands focused exclusively on pointing & keeping their eyes on the MOB. To that end, throwing MOB poles, lights, buoys & various other gear overboard may be counter-productive. Hard to say, but it makes me wonder if such other other gear is really worth it in a real-life situation (which I have fortunately yet to experience).
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Old 15-05-2015, 12:46   #10
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Another reason to have a self steering vane. Built in boarding ladder. I'm sure you can figure out how I learned that trick.

Seems most people go forward on the windward side. Personally always go forward on the leeward side. Leaning into the boat, you almost always have something solid, not a lifeline, to hang onto. Leaning into the boat is way more stable than going up the windward side so less chance of being thrown and injured by a fall across the deck. If I am unfortunate enough to go overboard, at least have a chance of climbing back aboard. The heel of the boat means a very short distant to lift myself and, if it's at all rough, could probably just roll back on to the deck.

Centerline Jack lines are fine but how do you get them back to the cockpit with a Dodger in the way. Feel it's more important that I hook up than worrying about what will happen if I do go overboard. Keep a permanent tether attached to a pad eye in the cockpit sole that I hook up to before exiting the companionway. Have seen numerous reports of MOB's of crew that came up from down below and went into the water before they'd had a chance to hook up.

My Jack Lines run from bow to near the stern in the walkway. 6' harness tether has a two hooks, one at the end and the other at midpoint. When I need to go forward or further aft than the cockpit sole tether will allow, hook on to the Jack Line before unhooking from the cockpit tether. When I get to where I'm going use one of the tether hooks to attach to any convenient hard point before disconnecting from the Jack Line. A Harness, Tether, and Jack Line do you absolutely no good if you aren't clipped in.
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Old 15-05-2015, 12:52   #11
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Crazy idea here...

Has anyone considered this idea as a back up: Run a bright orange/yellow tether about 100 feet long, and put it in the water attached to the stern, and drag it behind the boat.

That way, anyone who falls overboard, if they can swim, can grab the line after the boat goes past them. Then they can either pull themselves aboard, or be pulled aboard by someone else.

It would slow down the boat a bit, but it's an idea I have considered for long voyages. Now, someone tell me why no one does this already?

Some boats already drag towed water generators to help charge their batteries, this could simply be an extention of that.
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Old 15-05-2015, 18:53   #12
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Forget it's there by the on-coming watch... Need to start the engine... FOULED PROP!
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Old 16-05-2015, 00:34   #13
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

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Crazy idea here...

Has anyone considered this idea as a back up: Run a bright orange/yellow tether about 100 feet long, and put it in the water attached to the stern, and drag it behind the boat.

That way, anyone who falls overboard, if they can swim, can grab the line after the boat goes past them. Then they can either pull themselves aboard, or be pulled aboard by someone else.

It would slow down the boat a bit, but it's an idea I have considered for long voyages. Now, someone tell me why no one does this already?

Some boats already drag towed water generators to help charge their batteries, this could simply be an extention of that.
Rohan; a good concept until you try it out. We have tried using an old polyprop line (as it floats) with knots tied in it and a loop at the end. We tried, motoring at 5 knots, to see how this worked. My wife helmed and I jumped clear from the bows. The boat was gone and so was the line (75 meters - around 245ft) before I was orientated and able to swim towards where the line should have been. Its not easy to swim in a life jacket. We tried this several times and eventually I was able to catch the loop - only I could not hang onto it for more than a brief few moments as I was dragged along with water being forced into my face and the drag was incredible. I'm a big guy and able to lift my 25hp outboard without straining yet there was no way I could pull myself back up the line (I was wearing a life jacket but no foul weather gear). So many people have not tried, under safe conditions, these scenarios. Even try by using your dinghy to tow you. We spent an afternoon with some other yotties a couple of years ago to see the affects of such an incident - as a result we bought new lifejackets with intergrated hoods and face deflectors, bought new tethers that can be released under tension and also bought devices like balcans (we have several of those) as well as ensuring that we have the workable means to recover a person from the water. It is rare that we sail at 5knots, we average around 6.5-7knots on passage, and so our experiements, in flat sea's, were not that realistic. It makes you realise the difficulty of a real situation. It is more likely that I would immediately launch our dinghy - which is always ready to go as its also our liferaft at sea. On our previous boat we launched & recovered our dinghy in over 40 knots of wind and big sea's to pick up a chap in the Red Sea that was sinking and it was all accomplished without drama.
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Old 16-05-2015, 05:49   #14
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Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

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.......

Centerline Jack lines are fine but how do you get them back to the cockpit with a Dodger in the way. Feel it's more important that I hook up than worrying about what will happen if I do go overboard. Keep a permanent tether attached to a pad eye in the cockpit sole that I hook up to before exiting the companionway. Have seen numerous reports of MOB's of crew that came up from down below and went into the water before they'd had a chance to hook up.

........
I sail in a warmer climate and don't use the front window panels of the dodger. When/if I head to colder climates, I would exit through the center panel. With a roller reefing jib, trips up there should not be an hourly occurrence. The boat is set up with hard points that allow me to stay clipped in from the wheel to the peak, all down the center-line of the boat.

IMHO if the plan is to go forward outside of the dodger, the dodger needs hand holds that can support someone 1.5 times the weight of the heaviest crew member. In my case 330 lbs.

But hey, there are many ways to do this. For me, I tend to be conservative and lean towards idiot-resistant designs.
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Old 16-05-2015, 06:01   #15
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pirate Re: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snore View Post
While I yield to Bash on sea time, I feel there is a flaw in his logic.

Going down the deck on the high side means you are less likely to fall in the water. On the other hand running the jack line down the middle of the boat from stem to cockpit, with a reeving hard point at the mast, together with a tether that stops you shirt of the life lines, pretty much gaurantees you can't fall off the boat of aft of the mast.

Forward of the mast, I go to the three foot tether lead. If I am spending any time up there i try to fin a second hard point for the 6' tether lead.
Funny enough I use the 'Down' side of the boat to go forward..
I've a toe rail for security of footing.. I'm leaning inboard with good balance for handholds.. plus the further forward I go the more there is to bounce back in off.. genoa sheets.. genoa.. and I solo or shorthand often..
Do not use tethers or 'LJ's'... so far.. so good..
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