Reader Tip: Safety Lines

Looking for more security than typical lifelines provide and something less cumbersome than jacklines, this cruiser came up with a hybrid solution.

High lifelines

Hanging the washing in Spain.

We began the preparation for our six-year circumnavigation in Dolphin Spirit, a Mason 53, by setting out jacklines on both side decks, as described in the article "Prepping for Offshore" by Richard du Moulin (August 2012). When clipped on, should you fall overboard, these will certainly keep you attached to the boat and prevent that "bobbing in the wake" alternative.

However, the misleadingly named lifelines on most boats are at a perfect height to flip a sailor overboard, so I looked for an alternative that would keep us on board, and yet still keep us tethered to the boat should we fall overboard.

On both sides of the boat, we therefore rigged lines from stern to center shrouds to pulpit, at around mid-chest height for most of the way. These did not interfere with sails or rigging, stopped us from falling overboard, provided a real sense of security, and were simpler to rig and use than traditional jacklines.

Moving about when clipped on was much easier as the tether simply slipped along the line, leaving both hands free. At the center shrouds, unclipping from one side and clipping onto the other took less than a couple of seconds.

An additional benefit was that, at anchor, they made perfect places on which to hang the washing.

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