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Old 17-08-2022, 09:51   #1
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Correct Halyard Length

My sailboat is a 1978 Aquarius 21. I've only raised the mast once with help and lowered it once. At least one of the two halyards looks like it should be replaced. I haven't been sailing in about 5 years so my terminology may be a bit rusty. And most of my experience is sailing not replacing, repairing, or maintaining. So I am looking for help in confirming what I think is correct.

Using specs for my boat online I see that the length of the mast from the max hoist of the mainsail to the tack of mainsail is 19.5 ft (in the specs I am looking at it is labeled P).

To replace the halyard should I buy a 20 ft or 25 ft rope? Also should I get a poly rope? I don't know what kind is on it now. What diameter of rope is usually used for a 21 foot sailboat halyard?

I just looked at two ropes I remembered I had with the packaging on them. One is 1/4 in and one is 3/8 in. The 1/4 inch is thinner than the halyard on my boat right now and 3/8 looks slightly too thick.
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Old 17-08-2022, 10:02   #2
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

Zal,
The halyard needs to run from the head of the sail (before bending it on) to the top of the mast, back down, and then have enough extra to pull on and then to cleat. Furthermore, if you will be splicing a shackle into the line that will use a few feet. I would not use less than 50, and perhaps more.

I would suggest double braid polyester for the halyard -- stretch will not be an issue in this application. The sizing will be less for strength and more for how easy it is to hold - or if winches or clutches are used (probably not), their minimum size. I would not go less than 3/8" for this reason.

At around $0.40/ft or less, the only downside to having longer is that you'll need to coil it when you hoist the sail.
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Old 17-08-2022, 10:08   #3
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

I think you will need quite a bit more line. The exact amount will depend on where the halyard is secured. One way to know is to measure the existing halyard and buy the same length (including any additional length needed for knots or splices).
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Old 17-08-2022, 10:27   #4
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

Thanks for the replies! This is helpful.

One thing I forgot to mention is that the halyards are attached to metal lines that run the length of the mast. I wrongfully assumed all sailboats would be like this. This is the reason I only mentioned needing enough for the length of the mast otherwise I would have calculated double the length of rope.

I was thinking it would be easier to calculate the length based on the boat specs rather than measure the length of the halyard. However, I think now I will measure the halyard to be sure.

As long as the rope fits in the existing cleats then is it correct to think that a slightly larger rope would be okay, especially since the rope does not actually go through the pullies at the top of the mast only the metal rope does?
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Old 17-08-2022, 11:37   #5
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

Quote:
One thing I forgot to mention is that the halyards are attached to metal lines that run the length of the mast. I wrongfully assumed all sailboats would be like this.
You have wire-to rope halyards, this was to reduce stretch inherent in the rope available. Modern low stretch lines allow for all rope halyards and many people change. The masthead sheaves must be sized for the rope to do so however. You can have wire/rope halyards made up at any rigging shop or Worst Marine and other chandleries have kits or just the wire for you to DIY. Most people prefer to go to all rope if the opportunity presents.
https://www.fisheriessupply.com/us-r...e-halyard-kits
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Old 17-08-2022, 13:05   #6
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

It's nice to know it can be converted to all rope. For now though I am going to keep it simple and just replace what needs to be replaced without making changes to how things currently are. The wire rope looks to be in very good condition.
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Old 17-08-2022, 13:21   #7
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

For the amount of sailing you seem to do do the existing masthead sheaves will probably work fine with all-rope halyards . When the wire rope starts to develop 'soldiers' it is time to replace it.
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Old 17-08-2022, 14:14   #8
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

Most wire-to-rope halyards use a complicated splice to join the two different materials together. If your halyard is thus constructed it will be very difficult to simply replace the rope portion. I suggest that you buy 50 feet of 5/16 or 3/8 inch double braid dacron line and replace the whole halyard. IIRC your boat does not have a winch for the main halyard, and the stresses on the halyard are minimal.

And BTW, why do you think it needs replacement? Perhaps you are overthinking the whole issue!

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Old 17-08-2022, 14:18   #9
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

Zal, while the mast is down, take out that halyard sheave, and get a good look at it. If it is for both rope and wire, you'll see edges on it that will fit the rope. From what you described, it may not, may only have a groove for the wire. Make sure it turns freely on its axle, lube the axle, and put it back. Then, if your halyard has a eye or a snapshackle for your line, then the rope part will need to connect to it somehow, and you will need to allow extra length for a bowline knot or for a splice with a thimble (if it has a snap shackle). If it is a whole wire to rope halyard, with the rope spliced into the wire, then you will need to replace the whole thing. Use spectra or dyneema core line, it is very strong and will last the time you keep the boat, most likely, but the sheave will need to be replaced with one that is sized for the line.

If you set the boat up to be "spiffy" you are more likely to go out and show her off and have fun in her.

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Old 17-08-2022, 14:41   #10
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

It is possible that I am overthinking it and it doesn't need to be replaced. It is faded and looks old but does still look sound.

The rope is not spliced to the metal rope. The metal rope has a loop and the polyester rope has a knot tied to that loop. So it would be easy for me to replace the double braided rope part by untying the knot and tying the new halyard using the same knot. Is it most likely a bowline knot that would have been used to tie the braided rope to the loop on the metal rope?

I intend to look at the top of the mast and how everything is more closely to learn more about it.

What should I use to lube the axle?
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Old 17-08-2022, 15:48   #11
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Re: Correct Halyard Length

Grease rather than oil, oil goes away too fast. Any decent grease will do.

There are other halyard knots than the bowline, but bowlines are always un-doable, you may have to use a fid to help break it.

However, that said, if it is only faded, not coming to shreds, I wouldn't replace it until it starts to fray. That means the cover is UV damaged, and when it frays, the UV starts getting to the core, hence replacing at that point. It's preventive maintenance. If it should break under use, it would be inconvenient to deal with.

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