Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 17-03-2013, 19:00   #1
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Orange Beach, AL
Boat: '79 Pearson- 365 ketch,# 264 hull
Posts: 108
Images: 4
Rat lines anyone?

I was wondering if any of you old salts had any opinion on installing rat lines, or the rope ladders that go up your mast, you know, like the old tall ships had. I have a ketch rig and always liked the idea of them, but don't know how to make them and would be interested in learning how. Perhaps you can buy pre-made ones?
__________________

__________________
Orrjames is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2013, 19:35   #2
Registered User
 
Astrid's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern British Columbia, part of the time in Prince Rupert and part of the time on Moresby Island.
Boat: 50-ft steel Ketch
Posts: 1,885
Send a message via MSN to Astrid Send a message via Yahoo to Astrid
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Ratlines can be useful, but have some disadvantages. For one they create more wind drag, and although they provide a quick route to the spreaders they still leave anything below that point on the mast inaccessible. They are useful though, if you need to get a higher vantage point to see what is ahead, such as navigating shallows or reefs.

Steps, either folding or fixed allow the mast to be climbed directly. Fixed steps though also create drag and can foul halyards, while folding ones are expensive.

As to rigging ratlines, take a look at Tossi's Rigger's Apprentice:

The Complete Rigger's Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging: Brion Toss: 9780070648401: Amazon.com: Books

It would probably be a good idea to consult a rigger as well.
__________________

__________________
'Tis evening on the moorland free,The starlit wave is still: Home is the sailor from the sea, The hunter from the hill.
Astrid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 17-03-2013, 22:29   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Oregon
Boat: 57' Laurent Giles Yawl
Posts: 755
Re: Rat lines anyone?



I just loved them on our last boat. We spent a lot of time at sea up there, looking down at the boat, our world, sailing beneath us. The perspective is magical.

It's like when you are becalmed on a long passage, and so jump in and swim away a little, then look back at your little compact floating world within the vast expanse of mother ocean. Seeing my little world, like that, has always felt a bit odd, and centering, for me.

Climbing to the top of the ratlines for a while is like that.

Sometimes I live a bit too much in my own mind. Even sailing.

So... We hope to add them to boat #2. But of course we first have to catch up on all the practicalities, first. On boat #1 we used the Brion Toss method, which is way, way time consuming -- dozens of three strand splices. It took me about a week, maybe two. I think there might be a better way, with more modern cored line -- I've seen arborists do an interesting splice with loops in the outer braid, that looks much quicker. So there might be better nerdery around the details, if you're flexible about the aesthetic.

Ours also ended up serving as sissy bars. To make standing at the mast, reefing, or whatever, feel more secure.
__________________
msponer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 04:48   #4
Registered User
 
Snowpetrel's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hobart
Boat: Alloy Peterson 40
Posts: 3,071
Cool. I much prefer ratlines to mast steps. They are so much easier to climb at sea and far safer.

I lash mine on as brion toss shows in his book. Carefully measure and splice an eye at each end of the ratline and seize them on to the shroud with tarred nylon. Make the upper ratlines into gromets when they get to short for two back to back eyesplices.

The biggest problem is corrosion of the wire under the lashing and slipping on stainless wire. My galvanised wire has started rusting under the lashing after about five years. The rest of the wire is fine. I should have tarred the wire under the lashings before I put the ratlines on. And given it yearly dosings of linseed oil.

If putting ratlines on stainless wire I would be very concerned about stainless steel corroding in the oxygen deficient environment under the seizing. Maybe a stainless wire serving under where the ratline is lashed might help.

The gold standard is fully served galvanised wire. Done properly and looked after the wire will last for 30-40 years. It is then really easy to lash on ratlines that will not slip.

Wooden ratboards can be used instead of rope every three or four steps. I dont like them much. They mess up the rythem and spacing of the steps and are hard to install flush so that they don't chafe the main. But some people love them. Using all solid wood ratboards looks terrible IMHO and adds lots of weight and windage.

If you are using ratlines always hang onto the shrouds not the ratlines. That way you are less likely to fall if a ratline gives way.

I am keen to hear other ways to install them as I need to fit some to my new boat. I Have been dreaming up ways to make some removable spectra ratlines...
__________________
My Ramblings
Snowpetrel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 08:40   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 1
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Orrjames,

Perfect timing.

I filed a patent Friday on an innovative (obviously Iím biased) rat-line design that I've been working on for some time. They are easily removable so no corrosion and no windage, and also adjustable to allow height changes / spread variance.

Anyway, they probably wonít be available for another couple of months but I would very much appreciate your feedback on their use and will gladly give you a complimentary pre-production set if you are willing to supply me with your opinion on them.

PM me your contact info and we can talk.
__________________
vithy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 11:57   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Oregon
Boat: 57' Laurent Giles Yawl
Posts: 755
Re: Rat lines anyone?



I like the wood rungs! They are so much more comfortable to stand on and keep the ratlines from pulling the wire inward when you step on it. And you'd need hands of steel to do chin ups and crunches on rope rungs (pictured above).

But, yes, all wood is way ugly. Though I am not sure how wood rungs can chafe a sail if you are using tho Toss method, since the only thing the sail sees is the lashing on the end. The wood doesn't go past to the other side of the shroud.

I didn't have a problem with the lashings corroding my stainless rigging, over a ~7 years and 3/4 of the way around the world period. I used the largest dacron thread I could find, since it was easiest to do tight enough that it wouldn't slip, and wouldn't break when I used a screwdriver as a lever to make it super tight. The only rungs that slipped were the ones where I experimented with that old timey waxed twine stuff.

Yes, I want to learn how to make them out of spectra. I used dacron three strand last time, with the idea that it stretches less, and am not sure I'll be able to source that in the Caribbean anyways. What I like about three strand, that I'm not sure how to handle with spectra, is that you can twist three strand in the direction of it's lay to shorten it, and tighten the rung. In case your splices settle slightly too long. I don't think you can do that with cored rope, which is why I was thinking of that Chinese handcuffs splice that the arborists do -- my vague idea is that you could do that, then lock the splice in place by whipping it or passing a needle through it a few times.

So please post any ideas you have!
__________________
msponer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 12:40   #7
CF Adviser
 
Bash's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: sausalito
Boat: 14 meter sloop
Posts: 7,260
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astrid View Post
It would probably be a good idea to consult a rigger as well.
I think you'd have to find a specialty rigger. Maybe someone who works on square-riggers? Most of the riggers in my are come from a racing background, and I'm guessing a significant portion of them wouldn't even know what a ratline is.
__________________
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
Bash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 17:20   #8
Registered User
 
Snowpetrel's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hobart
Boat: Alloy Peterson 40
Posts: 3,071
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Easy to climb




Good for Ice lookout! low windage and low weight
10mm three strand polypropylene.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msponer View Post
I like the wood rungs! They are so much more comfortable to stand on and keep the ratlines from pulling the wire inward when you step on it.
Your ratlines look great, nice work! I can see why it took so long to make them. With the center rope you would have less sag in the ratlines making the ratboards less out of sync with them.

I like how you have finished the ratboards, very neat. The standard way of doing them on Square riggers is to overhang them, and my parents boat has them done like this, causing a few problems with chafe and sails catching on them. The way you have done them is much better.

Quote:
I didn't have a problem with the lashings corroding my stainless rigging, over a ~7 years and 3/4 of the way around the world period.
This is good to know, maybe some lanolin might also help protect it? I guess using the thicker lashing twine would also allow more flow of air and fresh water to wash away any salty buildup.

You did well to not have any slipping on the stainless steel. The galvanised rigging I use is much more grippy.

Quote:
Yes, I want to learn how to make them out of spectra...

I was thinking of that Chinese handcuffs splice that the arborists do -- my vague idea is that you could do that, then lock the splice in place by whipping it or passing a needle through it a few times.
I like your thinking, I would be interested to hear what you come up with. I am a fair way off looking at ratlines at the moment. Still got to get an engine that works and rigging that isn't suspect. Plus I have only one inline lower at the moment.

My thoughts for my new boat was some kind of spectra ladder that could be hanked on to the lower shroud, then hoisted on one of the spiniker halyards (plus a pole topping lift as a safety line). Then the forward spectra line could be stretched out and winched down like a forward shroud to tighten the ratlines. Doing it this way I could use all solid wood rungs because they wouldn't be up all the time, and there would be more chance of slop in the system, so the stiffness of solid rungs would be appreciated.

Then again I might yet go for fore and aft lowers.


The old boat in Port Davey, Tasmania, I think the ratlines look good!
__________________
My Ramblings
Snowpetrel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 17:26   #9
Registered User
 
Snowpetrel's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hobart
Boat: Alloy Peterson 40
Posts: 3,071
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vithy View Post
I filed a patent Friday on an innovative (obviously Iím biased) rat-line design that I've been working on for some time. They are easily removable so no corrosion and no windage, and also adjustable to allow height changes / spread variance.
Cool. Very keen to see what you have come up with. It would be good to see ratlines have a new lease of life, but the time and effort to install them puts people off.
__________________
My Ramblings
Snowpetrel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 22:00   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Oregon
Boat: 57' Laurent Giles Yawl
Posts: 755
Re: Rat lines anyone?

I found the tree splice: Cable Bracing of Defective Trees | Total Tree Care

But, since I want to shrink the splice to a precise size and lock it in place, instead of letting the splice get bigger as the tree grows, I'd just leave the tail out instead of making those cute little loops the tree people make. Then, once the rung is tight and I'm happy with it, just whip the splice to lock it into place, and cut the tail that's left over. And voila, easy and precisely tight ratlines. Which is important, since floppy ones droop and look sloppy, and are annoying to step on.

The gist is to cheat on the splice since it doesn't have to hold several thousand pounds.

So how about this:
- The first step of a brummel splice, where you make a hole in the line.
- Make a loop, pass the bitter end through the hole (-- not the brummel way where you make a loop and pull the loop though the hole).
- Bury the bitter end in the outer cover, just like in a normal splice, but keep the bitter end long, so it pokes out of the cover.
- When the other side of the ratline is lashed, pull on the core that's sticking out of the cover and pull the splice to the size you want, then whip the splice to lock it in place, then cut the core that's poking out.

Maybe I need to make a series of photographs to illustrate. If not that, then some other way to get the splices to settle at the precise length you want. I think within an ~1/8th an inch is good enough to have them look good. Anyone know a better way?

There's also the 'sail tie splice' in Brio Toss's book. With a little modification that could work, too.

Lashing took experimentation, and super, super tight is what worked for me -- wrap it around a screw driver and pull with my weight tight. The dacron thread was the best for this, since it's so strong, and stays super tight when you do this with an overhand knot on each wrap. Some of the other lines I tried lashing with would stretch, break, or work themselves a little loose.

I didn't rinse the lashings with freshwater. But maybe it helps that dacron thread doesn't stay wet like a woven rope does. I don't know why it didn't corrode.
__________________
msponer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 18-03-2013, 22:42   #11
Registered User
 
markpierce's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Central California
Boat: M/V Carquinez Coot
Posts: 3,416
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Got folding mast steps. Rigging isn't compatible with ratlines.

__________________
markpierce is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 19-03-2013, 01:03   #12
Registered User
 
Snowpetrel's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hobart
Boat: Alloy Peterson 40
Posts: 3,071
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Quote:
So how about this:
- The first step of a brummel splice, where you make a hole in the line.
- Make a loop, pass the bitter end through the hole (-- not the brummel way where you make a loop and pull the loop though the hole).
- Bury the bitter end in the outer cover, just like in a normal splice, but keep the bitter end long, so it pokes out of the cover.
- When the other side of the ratline is lashed, pull on the core that's sticking out of the cover and pull the splice to the size you want, then whip the splice to lock it in place, then cut the core that's poking out.
Sounds like a good plan, not sure how to put a nice taper to the splice but I guess you could estimate where it will end up and pre taper it. Or alternately carefully measure both tails so they butt together in the middle of the ratline.

Seems to me that the hardest part would be allowing for the splice take up and slack, but a few goes and you should have this sorted out.

I am guessing if the stitching and lashings are done well the splice probably won't even take up much and will just serve as a backup incase of slippage.

You could probably make up a jig so they could all be made at once on the deck. In theory each ratline should be the same amount shorter than the one below it. Just a plank with some screws or nails in it would probably do.

I liked the way you tapered the splices on your old ratlines, a proper taper by the looks of them from the photo's. You don't often see good marlin-spike seamanship on modern boats. Mind you I tend to follow the motessier philosophy my self often...
__________________
My Ramblings
Snowpetrel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19-03-2013, 01:08   #13
Registered User
 
Snowpetrel's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hobart
Boat: Alloy Peterson 40
Posts: 3,071
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Got folding mast steps. Rigging isn't compatible with ratlines.
Thats a shame, those folding maststeps are nowhere near as nice to climb as ratlines...

That's a neat looking boat you have, I have a bit of a soft spot for those chunky trawlers with get home rigs. How does it sail?
__________________
My Ramblings
Snowpetrel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19-03-2013, 11:37   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Oregon
Boat: 57' Laurent Giles Yawl
Posts: 755
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
Or alternately carefully measure both tails so they butt together in the middle of the ratline.
Oh, or maybe there's a way to cheat again -- make the tails from both splices exit at the same place on the outer braid. Then you cut both tails flush and they end up butting against each other inside, for little or no bump.

Maybe have the tails exit in the middle of the rung, where the middle support rope ties on, and that will cover any bump from the untapered splicing.

Though last time I was disappointed with the knots on the middle support rope. They tended to settle a bit. I wonder if you could do some weird kind of 'push the vertical support rope through the rung, then back again through itself just underneath the rung', like a weird perpendicular splice. To make neat and compact and non-settling intersection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
I am guessing if the stitching and lashings are done well the splice probably won't even take up much and will just serve as a backup incase of slippage.
Hoping this is the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
You could probably make up a jig so they could all be made at once on the deck. In theory each ratline should be the same amount shorter than the one below it. Just a plank with some screws or nails in it would probably do.
Good idea! Last time we test fitted each rung, then went back below and finished the three strand splice.

Oh, has anyone ever tried super glue, or some other adhesive that works with polyester/dacron, with low load splices? It seems like the fibers might wick it all in among themselves and stick very well to each other inside the splice. But I've never tried it, it might just be brittle and weak compared to a real whipping. It'd be interesting to try one of those super modern heat activated adhesives, to coat the core with that before you stick it inside the cover, then use a heat gun to activate it in there. I wonder if anyone does that.
__________________
msponer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 20-03-2013, 04:45   #15
Registered User
 
Snowpetrel's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Hobart
Boat: Alloy Peterson 40
Posts: 3,071
Re: Rat lines anyone?

Some great ideas here. Maybe I will get a chance to play with them some time. Thanks
__________________

__________________
My Ramblings
Snowpetrel is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 16:21.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.