• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Lifeline autopsy

Mar 1, 2012
2,121
1961 Rhodes Meridian 25 Texas coast
for what it's worth- the Ocean racing group has banned vinyl coated lifelines on offshore boats.. Mine are uncoated on both my boats.
 
Oct 10, 2019
72
Signet 20 107 Ithaca
Stainless is only stain "less" in the presence of oxygen, which comes in short supply under a sheath. Even 316 heads south after a while in salt water under covers. If it's a bigger line you're after, use bigger cable. Plus, cracked and sun burnt plastic covers look terrible, just sayin'...
 

Dave Groshong

SBO Staff
Staff member
Jan 25, 2007
1,698
Catalina 22 Seattle
Banning Dyneema is a stodgy attitude, and I am a very prudent navigator.
 
Jan 19, 2010
705
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
Asa a stop gap measure in mid season, I installed cable covers ( shroud covers) over the life lines. All of the joints were done in the center of a stanchion . Looks brand new.
 
Mar 26, 2011
2,694
Corsair F-24 MK I Deale, MD
Banning Dyneema is a stodgy attitude, and I am a very prudent navigator.
In the interests of accuracy:

World Sailing banned Dyneema lifelines because of a number of sudden failures. Since then they have softened their position and do allow Dyneema for multihulls all catagories and monohulls cat 4. Crews leaning on them (rail meat) is the primary risk factor. US Sailing has generally folloded their lead (link above).

 
Nov 8, 2010
11,240
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
Dyneema is crazy strong, but unlike SS is susceptible to damage that rapidly compromises its strength. A knife nick, a burr on a stanchion, and it can fail on a race after it was inspected in detail before that start.

USSailings version of the World Sailing (ISAF) regs currently ban them.

Note that this ban is only in place if the SI for the race you are sailing calls for the enforcement of the USSAILING SER 2020.0. Most offshore and or overnight races will. Also note if 2.4.4 is called out (included or excluded). It is common practice for OAs the pick the regs that makes sense to the race. Or the Commodore's boat! ;^) Nearshore/lake/Club racing? Don't worry about it.

Uncovered lifelines are better and safer. And have been standard equipment on boats from the mid 90s. If you have covered lines, they are over 25 years old.(EDIT - seems covered SS hung around longer than I thought....) Maybe time for an update??

Oh, and ANY size SS wire is uncomfortable to lean against. Want your crew to hike? Get padded lifeline cushions.
 
Last edited:
May 17, 2004
2,827
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
If you have covered lines, they are over 25 years old. Maybe time for an update??
Agree with all of your other points, but Beneteau was still using covered lines on its Oceanis 31/34/37 line, manufactured until 2014.
 
  • Like
Likes: Jackdaw

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,283
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
It always amazes me that these regs don't allow for solid top rail lifelines. They mandate uncoated wire.

"Hull and Structure: Lifelines 2.4.4 Lifelines shall be uncoated stainless steel wire. A multipart-lashing segment not to exceed 4" per end termination for the purpose of attaching lifelines to pulpits is allowed. Lifelines shall be taut. x x "

If you've ever sailed a boat with a solid top railing you'll understand just how much better/safer than a wire... If you read all the subsequent requirements on lifelines, a solid top rail exceeds all requirements listed.

dj
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,240
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
It always amazes me that these regs don't allow for solid top rail lifelines. They mandate uncoated wire.

"Hull and Structure: Lifelines 2.4.4 Lifelines shall be uncoated stainless steel wire. A multipart-lashing segment not to exceed 4" per end termination for the purpose of attaching lifelines to pulpits is allowed. Lifelines shall be taut. x x "

If you've ever sailed a boat with a solid top railing you'll understand just how much better/safer than a wire... If you read all the subsequent requirements on lifelines, a solid top rail exceeds all requirements listed.

dj
Because:
Its heavy
And if you fall hard against it, I guarantee it will bend, and probably crease. Then its done, and you have no way to fix it at sea.
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,283
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
Because:
Its heavy
And if you fall hard against it, I guarantee it will bend, and probably crease. Then its done, and you have no way to fix it at sea.
I understand heavy - not good for racing - but the rest of your argument is absolutely not the case at all.Well, at least using the schedule tubing I use for this.

dj
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,240
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
I understand heavy - not good for racing - but the rest of your argument is absolutely not the case at all.Well, at least using the schedule tubing I use for this.

dj
You must be thinking very heavy stuff. Then you fall back to reason #1. But I have seen many factory stern pulpit tubes mangled by crew falling against them. Its why most boats have SS wire gates across the transom now.
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,283
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
You must be thinking very heavy stuff. Then you fall back to reason #1. But I have seen many factory stern pulpit tubes mangled by crew falling against them. Its why most boats have SS wire gates across the transom now.
I understand heavy is not desired for racing - but in the light of safety there are many reasons the correct wall tubing is better. The pulpits you are talking about must be really thin walled. What's the schedule of the stauntions? If you hit one of those, why don't they bend as you've described?

dj
 
Nov 8, 2010
11,240
Beneteau First 36.7 & 260 Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
I understand heavy is not desired for racing - but in the light of safety there are many reasons the correct wall tubing is better. The pulpits you are talking about must be really thin walled. What's the schedule of the stauntions? If you hit one of those, why don't they bend as you've described?

dj
I honestly don't know. And yes sometimes the stanchions bend as well, or worse pull out of the deck.

Now to your bigger point; could a solid top rail system be engineered and build that meets safety requirements? Yes I'm sure, but for many reason manufactures simply don't. So they simplify the rules to reflect that fact.
 
Jan 22, 2008
7,846
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
I understand heavy - not good for racing - but the rest of your argument is absolutely not the case at all.Well, at least using the schedule tubing I use for this. /QUOTE]

I have seen the SS tubng used on decks as .49 and .65 mm. Might be others?
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,435
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I do not read the regulations prohibiting the use of "Pulpits" which surround the deck of a boat. They are just specific on the use of "LifeLines" and openings in pulpits. Having solid pulpits that surround the boat, are of the correct height and number appears to be "OK".

Here is the rules of the Marion Bermuda Race Safety Requirements Monohulls - 2021
These are the US SER 2020.0 Categories.
2.4.1Lifelines: A boat's deck including the headstay shall be surrounded by a suitably strong enclosure, typically consisting of lifelines and pulpits, meeting the requirements in 2.4.2 to 2.4.8.
2.4.2Lifelines: A boat's stanchion and pulpit bases shall be within the working deck.
2.4.3Lifelines: Bow pulpits may be open, but the opening between the vertical portion of stanchion pulpit and any part of the boat shall not exceed 14.2" (360mm).
2.4.4Lifelines: Lifelines shall be stainless steel wire. The inspector may cut away covering if the wire is coated. A multipart-lashing segment not to exceed 4" per end termination for the purpose of attaching lifelines to pulpits is allowed. Any such lashing shall be replaced annually. Lifelines shall be taut.
2.4.5Lifelines: The maximum spacing between lifeline supports (e.g. stanchions and pulpits) shall be 87" (2.2m).
2.4.7Lifelines: Boats 30' and over (9.14m) shall have at least two lifelines with 24" (762mm) minimum height above deck, and a maximum vertical gap of 15" (381mm). The minimum diameter will be 5/32" (4mm) for boats to 43' (13.1m) and 3/16" (5mm) for boats over 43' (13.1m).
2.4.8Lifelines: Toe rails shall be fitted around the foredeck from the base of the mast with a minimum height of 1" (25mm) for boats over 30'. An additional installed lifeline that is 1-2" (25-51mm) above the deck will satisfy this requirement for boats without toerails.
 

dLj

.
Mar 23, 2017
1,283
Hunter 30 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
sons
I honestly don't know. And yes sometimes the stanchions bend as well, or worse pull out of the deck.

Now to your bigger point; could a solid top rail system be engineered and build that meets safety requirements? Yes I'm sure, but for many reason manufactures simply don't. So they simplify the rules to reflect that fact.
Stanchions and their attachments are well known concerns, especially with off-shore sailors. There they tend to prefer backing plates and through bolting systems that may not be common on racing boats. I'm not a racer.

I imagine the reason sailboat manufacturers use lifelines, is two fold - 1) less expensive to build, and 2) it's just "what's done"... Solid top rails are done on commercial and work boats all the time. Just go for a ride on a ferry... They aren't using wires on their railings...

I object to the simplification in the rule book because it's so easy to simply add in the line " Lifelines shall be uncoated stainless steel wire or tubing".....

dj