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Old 20-07-2013, 19:56   #16
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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Originally Posted by Minggat View Post
If you do the "hanging on" with the bunhuggers, then sounds like the handrails are redundant. Not that you would have success with that argument should anyone who ever stepped on your boat decide they have been "injured" by your decision. But you can't live your life trying to find legal protection from unimaginable (or only imaginary) hazards.

But you mentioned reduced maintenance. I replaced mine with stainless. No varnishing and no canvas to hide the beautiful work I had just done.

As for "does anyone actually use?". I'm thinking that you're asking the wrong question. If you ever change boats, you may find that you use them a lot on the new boat. But I'm guessing that you've been spoiled by your bunhuggers and would quickly design some that would have you.... not using your handrails... again.

I'm guessing that this question is going to eat at you until you do it. It would me. The fact that you're asking yourself (and the forum) tells me that you want to remove them. When I go through choices like this, I am usually much happier for years after, to do what I wanted rather than listen to the "inside the box" thinkers.
I often look back on "against the grain" things I've done and asked myself: "geez man... why?... was it really worth 24-40 hours of your life to not have those there?"
Alot less trouble to just ignore. to remove: Remove the headliner down below, Drill, core and fill the holes with epoxy, finish sand, (non skid will never match ), get matching gel coat, mask deck and spray gel coat, sand, finish. Get matching get coat again as the first didnt really match. Cuss at the guy who matched it for $100. Repeat the above. Finally decide it's "close enough". finish sand, wet sand etc. Finally done... now you only have 10-20 little spots on your deck that will never lok right. Uh huh.. nuther one of those simple boat projects.... now go below and.... "oh crap" some epoxy did run through and dripped on the new cushion.... oh well, the bad spot will match the mess on my cabin top!
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:07   #17
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Not only do I think it's a bad idea to get rid of them (all my experience in aviation has taught me that every margin of safety available to you WILL be used eventually- best to keep your margins wide lest you exceed your margin), but since my boat only has them halfway up the deck I intend to install more while my cabin is undergoing work.
You'll never miss them, until you need them.
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:12   #18
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Well I own a Westsail 32 too and our teak handrails were some 17 feet long needless to say we removed them. We were getting leaks and never used them. Our Westsail has near 2" diameter stanchions and are solid as a US NAVY destroyers welded in stanchions. We have high bulwarks and great lifelines with these solid stanchions so your sort of tucked in. I favor the lifelines and shrouds as I walk the deck and iv never crawl forward as my boat is massive for its size.

If we ever replace the handrails we are going with bronze and brass.
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:26   #19
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
Alot less trouble to just ignore. to remove: Remove the headliner down below, Drill, core and fill the holes with epoxy, finish sand, (non skid will never match ), get matching gel coat, mask deck and spray gel coat, sand, finish...
The handrails wouldn't be that hard to remove as they are just screwed into the cabin top. I wouldn't need to remove any headliner and they aren't connected to any handholds inside the boat.

I spent some hours yesterday removing all of the wooden bungs in preparation to remove the handrails and rebed them in epoxy. But in thinking about it my husband and I are considering leaving them off all together. It isn't difficult for me to fill the holes with epoxy, sand all of the epoxy holes on the top cabin ( there are many others waiting to be sanded and painted, not just the handrails), prime with epoxy primekote and either paint over with a topside paint or go with kiwi grip, all of which we need to do anyways.

But if it was a MAJOR job that required removal of the headliner in the salon I probably wouldn't do it unless the headliner was going to come down anyways.
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:27   #20
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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Well I own a Westsail 32 too and our teak handrails were some 17 feet long needless to say we removed them. We were getting leaks and never used them. Our Westsail has near 2" diameter stanchions and are solid as a US NAVY destroyers welded in stanchions. We have high bulwarks and great lifelines with these solid stanchions so your sort of tucked in. I favor the lifelines and shrouds as I walk the deck and iv never crawl forward as my boat is massive for its size.

If we ever replace the handrails we are going with bronze and brass.
SO great to hear from a Westsail 32 owner. In another group there were also 2 other Westsail owners that said they don't have handrails and don't miss them.
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Old 20-07-2013, 20:36   #21
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minggat View Post
If you do the "hanging on" with the bunhuggers, then sounds like the handrails are redundant. Not that you would have success with that argument should anyone who ever stepped on your boat decide they have been "injured" by your decision. But you can't live your life trying to find legal protection from unimaginable (or only imaginary) hazards.

I'm guessing that this question is going to eat at you until you do it. It would me. The fact that you're asking yourself (and the forum) tells me that you want to remove them. When I go through choices like this, I am usually much happier for years after, to do what I wanted rather than listen to the "inside the box" thinkers.
This is the way I'm thinking mostly. I know the common response to an "out of the box question like this is "oh no, You can't remove them, they are there for a PURPOSE. Safety requires X,Y and Z." But where does one draw the line? Should I add more handrails? How about wearing bubble wrap or perhaps never sailing at all? I don't want to be unsafe and take safety seriously, but I also want to examine all options where practically possible. Designs of all kinds are always evolving and adapting.

All boats are different but the consensus from Westsail 32 owner's so far is they don't miss them or either want to remove them.

I think we are going to probably just leave them off for now and see how it goes over the next 17 months while sailing around New Orleans before leaving on our big trip.
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Old 20-07-2013, 21:41   #22
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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Originally Posted by Danibug View Post
The handrails wouldn't be that hard to remove as they are just screwed into the cabin top. I wouldn't need to remove any headliner and they aren't connected to any handholds inside the boat.
Dani:
Are you sure they are held on by screws? Seems like a recipe for disaster as the screws are sure to loosen with time. Westsails are strongly built and I would be very surprised if they weren't through bolted through the cabin top with quarter twenty bronze machine screws. That's the installation method I am most familiar with.

I used my handrails all the time while they were installed. When the boat was bucking they provided a strong and stable place to hold onto while working my way forward or aft. Staying low is much safer than standing when moving around on deck.

They were a pain to keep looking nice and with my boat's age and frequent scrubbing of the wood the handrails got more and more likely to fail with wood loss. They also leaked and the bronze fasteners had corroded badly as a result. I - like you - wondered if perhaps there wasn't a stronger and less maintenance intensive way to provide handrails.

I knew I would lose a little of the "traditional" "salty" look of my Norsea 27 but I decided to use the existing holes and install lines instead - using the existing holes for the handrail fasteners and 3/8ths SS eyebolts. I backed the eyebolts with oversize SS washers and nyloc nuts.

This is the result.

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I am very happy with the installation. I can tug on the lines as hard as I want. I can use them as tie points for dinghy or other stowed items riding topside. I trust them as jack lines. I can rapidly inspect them for fraying. I can inspect the fasteners as they are easily removed for corrosion inspection. I can replace the eyebolts and line easily. They need a lot less maintenance. The eyebolts aren't cheap (McMaster Carr) but they will probably outlast the boat.

I put new quarter twenty machine screws in the unused holes (sealed with butyl tape) in anticipation for using the holes for fasteners handholds to the roof of the main salon.

The lines sag a bit when wet and stretch taut when dry but I think they look about as salty as the handrails. Others may not agree.
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Old 20-07-2013, 21:51   #23
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danibug View Post
This is the way I'm thinking mostly. I know the common response to an "out of the box question like this is "oh no, You can't remove them, they are there for a PURPOSE. Safety requires X,Y and Z." But where does one draw the line? Should I add more handrails? How about wearing bubble wrap or perhaps never sailing at all? I don't want to be unsafe and take safety seriously, but I also want to examine all options where practically possible. Designs of all kinds are always evolving and adapting.

All boats are different but the consensus from Westsail 32 owner's so far is they don't miss them or either want to remove them.

I think we are going to probably just leave them off for now and see how it goes over the next 17 months while sailing around New Orleans before leaving on our big trip.

I suspect I don't have nearly as much sailing experience as you, but on my boat I need the handrails. i've seen someone with 60 years' sailling experience use them.

That said, that's what's on my boat. I'm really not sure what the "bun" things are on your boat, but if you can hang on to them, you're a pretty good judge of what you need to hold on. I like the hand rails. I can wrap my hand quite firmly around them. And my boat is small enough that the lifelines are knee high. IMO they're more likely to flip me into the water than keep me in when I'm standing. If it's rough and I have to go to the bow, and I have had to a couple of times, I crawl and hold on to the handrails.

BUT THAT'S MY BOAT -- not your boat.

I believe you need to have something you can hold on to. It could be a jack line, but something,
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Old 20-07-2013, 22:28   #24
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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I use mine every time I crawl forward or aft on the boat. I do a lot of that. Either I'm chicken or the wind is blowing........
I use mine constantly as well.

As far as "how much do you need" I think you need a thru-bolted strength item to grab anywhere on deck. The dodger and cockpit combing work in there, but moving forward until you get to the shrouds you need handholds.
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Old 20-07-2013, 23:01   #25
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Originally Posted by fryewe View Post

Dani:
Are you sure they are held on by screws? Seems like a recipe for disaster as the screws are sure to loosen with time. Westsails are strongly built and I would be very surprised if they weren't through bolted through the cabin top with quarter twenty bronze machine screws. That's the installation method I am most familiar with.

I used my handrails all the time while they were installed. When the boat was bucking they provided a strong and stable place to hold onto while working my way forward or aft. Staying low is much safer than standing when moving around on deck.

They were a pain to keep looking nice and with my boat's age and frequent scrubbing of the wood the handrails got more and more likely to fail with wood loss. They also leaked and the bronze fasteners had corroded badly as a result. I - like you - wondered if perhaps there wasn't a stronger and less maintenance intensive way to provide handrails.

I knew I would lose a little of the "traditional" "salty" look of my Norsea 27 but I decided to use the existing holes and install lines instead - using the existing holes for the handrail fasteners and 3/8ths SS eyebolts. I backed the eyebolts with oversize SS washers and nyloc nuts.

This is the result.

I am very happy with the installation. I can tug on the lines as hard as I want. I can use them as tie points for dinghy or other stowed items riding topside. I trust them as jack lines. I can rapidly inspect them for fraying. I can inspect the fasteners as they are easily removed for corrosion inspection. I can replace the eyebolts and line easily. They need a lot less maintenance. The eyebolts aren't cheap (McMaster Carr) but they will probably outlast the boat.

I put new quarter twenty machine screws in the unused holes (sealed with butyl tape) in anticipation for using the holes for fasteners handholds to the roof of the main salon.

The lines sag a bit when wet and stretch taut when dry but I think they look about as salty as the handrails. Others may not agree.
Thanks for posting this I think I like the solution youve provided here. I may install this and I bet its very affordable.
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Old 20-07-2013, 23:18   #26
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

I grabbed on to a handrail that was just screwed on to the cabin top and ended up in the water...

Luckily the boat was tied up and it wasn't to difficult to get back on board. I was young strong and flexible then. Today I might not make it back on to the boat.

Moral of the story. Bolt on hand rails with good backing plates.
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Old 21-07-2013, 00:36   #27
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

I have never "gone so low" as to need them for HANDholds. I do, however, always use them as FOOT holds. I wouldn't remove mine. Your boat, your choice, but when I'm up on deck, even putting on the mainsail cover, they come in very handy, woops, footy.
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Old 21-07-2013, 00:54   #28
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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Mark, What kind of boat do you have that has Inner and Outer handrails?
It is a Bristol 31.1. I thought every boat had handrails inside the salon?

PS I love Westsails, they make my Bristol look fast. Just kidding!
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Old 21-07-2013, 01:08   #29
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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It is a Bristol 31.1. I thought every boat had handrails inside the salon?

PS I love Westsails, they make my Bristol look fast. Just kidding!
Mark,

Dani was confused because she isn't used to that setup. Our boat has grab rails in the salon that extend from the underside of the deck and not the cabin top. This is the usual arrangement on the W32.

And hey! We might be slow, but we've got plenty of space to carry all the booze, so you better be nice.
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Old 21-07-2013, 01:12   #30
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Re: Handrails - remove them all together or keep them?

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Dani:
Are you sure they are held on by screws? Seems like a recipe for disaster as the screws are sure to loosen with time. Westsails are strongly built and I would be very surprised if they weren't through bolted through the cabin top with quarter twenty bronze machine screws. That's the installation method I am most familiar with.
The handrails are definitely only screwed into the cabin top. I have the headliner removed in the head and in the vberth where the handrails sit on top and there are no nuts. The Westsail deck is 1" thick plywood and my husband suspects they are only screwed because that is a substantial enough base. Our boat has gone around the globe 3 times with a married couple over 30 years with the same arrangement so I imagine they are stout enough.

I do however like your idea of the rope...I was considering rope when discussing removal of the handrails. Good job!
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