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New Running Rigging: bothered by what is probably a non-problem

Jun 25, 2004
283
Hunter 306 Pasadena MD
I have been meaning to replace all the running rigging on our 2005 Hunter 306 for some years now, and just got around to ordering the replacements. I recalled that there is a table of rope diameters and lengths in the manual from Hunter. I did a rough measure of length on 4 of the lines (my wing-span is 6 feet almost exactly, so I just measured that way), and when I got home, this agreed very well with the lengths in the manual. So I ordered replacements for 10 lines from Defender: New England Ropes Sta-Set.

The shipment arrived yesterday, and I was a bit dismayed to see that most of the lines seem to be undersized in diameter from what I remember from the boat. I'm not blaming anyone: Defender sent what I asked for, and I ordered what was in the manual. But apart from the jib sheets (which are 7/16" and seem "normal" to me), most of the other lines (halyards, reefing lines) were 3/8" and they just "feel" too small. Obviously, I can't send them back, as they are cut to length. Also obviously, the working loads are more than adequate for our 30 foot boat. So it's really more of an esthetic, hand-feel issue: they just feel too small.

Anyway, this isn't really a problem anyone can solve for me, but I wonder if the same thing has happened to you? Do you have any reason to think your boat was fitted with oversized lines (compared to specs) when brand new?

Happy Easter,
Jay
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,746
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Measuring rope size is not as simple as it may seem. Different types of line may have different diameters even if they have the same nominal dimension. Here's a video from APS (they don't sell line anymore) on measuring line diameter.

 

Phil Herring

Dethroned Admin
Mar 25, 1997
4,825
Hunter 450 Bainbridge Island
Old lines swell over the years. That may have something to do with salt water, I don't recall offhand
 
Jan 19, 2010
9,953
Hunter 26 Charleston
I have been meaning to replace all the running rigging on our 2005 Hunter 306 for some years now, and just got around to ordering the replacements. I recalled that there is a table of rope diameters and lengths in the manual from Hunter. I did a rough measure of length on 4 of the lines (my wing-span is 6 feet almost exactly, so I just measured that way), and when I got home, this agreed very well with the lengths in the manual. So I ordered replacements for 10 lines from Defender: New England Ropes Sta-Set.

The shipment arrived yesterday, and I was a bit dismayed to see that most of the lines seem to be undersized in diameter from what I remember from the boat. I'm not blaming anyone: Defender sent what I asked for, and I ordered what was in the manual. But apart from the jib sheets (which are 7/16" and seem "normal" to me), most of the other lines (halyards, reefing lines) were 3/8" and they just "feel" too small. Obviously, I can't send them back, as they are cut to length. Also obviously, the working loads are more than adequate for our 30 foot boat. So it's really more of an esthetic, hand-feel issue: they just feel too small.

Anyway, this isn't really a problem anyone can solve for me, but I wonder if the same thing has happened to you? Do you have any reason to think your boat was fitted with oversized lines (compared to specs) when brand new?

Happy Easter,
Jay
It is only a problem if your rope clutch can't handle the smaller line.
 

DougM

.
Jul 24, 2005
2,165
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
Old lines swell over the years. That may have something to do with salt water, I don't recall offhand
I don’t believe its a salt water phenomenon. My boat is in fresh water and the original 3/8“ lines started to look more like 1/2” lines before they were replaced. My dock lines seemed to grow even more.
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,862
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Lines can transition over time in funny ways.

This is dependent on how they are used, stored, or left to weather.
Here is a jib sheet on day 3 of our 2019 sailing adventure... useless.
03832A64-7CAB-4C2B-AAB0-98BE61ECB40B.jpeg

The polyester double braid lines are two parts. A center core of strands and an outer sheath. The line maybe of all the same material or the core and sheath may be of different materials, depends on how the line is to be used.

Put the line in a clutch under strain, repeatedly stopping it at the same place and you will breakdown the inner core. Ignore this and you will see the line get smaller. That is until most of the inner fibers are broken and due to lack of strength (like an atrophied muscle) the line just fails.

Maybe you let the anchor rode ride on the bow roller. You swing back and forth, back and forth... all night. You wake to find that your boat has drifted into the mudflats, the tide is falling and the pretty 3strand 3/8 nylon line you got from Home Depot is a ball of fuzzy tatters having chaffed til it broke.

We rig our lines and then leave them to the elements. They swell with water, dirt gets beneath the outer sheath and into the fiber core, they get doused with harsh chemicals, or sun bleached with Solar UV and suntan oils and then we place our lives in their strands to hold our sails and drive our boats as fast as possible.

Is it any wonder they sometimes rebel or give up the ghost?

Be kind to your running rigging. Cheerfully replace it occasionally. Take it off the boat and give it a spa treatment once and a while. Who among us doesn’t enjoy a soak in warm mild soapy water, then a vigorous rinse.

Take care of your lines and they will repay you with good safe years of sailing fun.
 

PaulK

.
Dec 1, 2009
759
Sabre 402 Southport, CT
While the lines may “feel” thin, they are, as you say, strong enough. The lines that you’re most likely to hold the most - the jib sheets - don’t appear undersized. The other ones - halyards- once they’re up and cleated off, aren’t held that much and winches take most of the strain, not your hands. I am looking at switching my Intl 5o5 spinnaker sheets from 3/8” to 1/4”... THAT may hurt.
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,634
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
Ditto rgranger .........3/8" Sta-Set are acceptable. That is what I had on my Hunter 31 and Hunter 386 except I used lower stretch rope for the halyards and topping lift (which doubles as a safety line while climbing the mast). Below is a New England selection guide for your future reference.

1586786957365.png
 
Sep 15, 2013
690
Catalina 270 Baltimore
Old lines swell over the years. That may have something to do with salt water, I don't recall offhand
Agreed. Don't be too quick to blame your order. They are probably the correct size. I had the same issue except I replaced my traveller lines by sight and I bought them a size too big. I checked the manual and ordered the correct size. I should have checked the manual first.
 
Last edited:

Joe

.
Jun 1, 2004
7,416
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Forget about it.. you'll get used to the new sizes... the halyards will run through the blocks much better and wearing gloves will compensate for the waxy feel in hand that new sta set has.... If you leave the sheets out in the elements year round they will soon get fat and dirty.... then it'll seem like old times.:):)
 
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Likes: jssailem
Apr 5, 2009
1,565
Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs Oak Harbor, WA
Lines can transition over time in funny ways.

This is dependent on how they are used, stored, or left to weather.
Here is a jib sheet on day 3 of our 2019 sailing adventure... useless.
View attachment 177491



Take care of your lines and they will repay you with good safe years of sailing fun.
Jon, I call that photo "Fake news click bait" becasue I remember WHEN you took that photo. ;):biggrin:
 

DougM

.
Jul 24, 2005
2,165
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
Jon, I call that photo "Fake news click bait" becasue I remember WHEN you took that photo. ;):biggrin:

Judging from what looks like snow on the hillside in the background, and a bit of skim ice on the water surface, I wonder if temperature had an effect on that line.
 
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Likes: Hayden Watson

Tom J

.
Sep 30, 2008
1,962
Catalina 310 Quincy, MA
Measuring rope size is not as simple as it may seem. Different types of line may have different diameters even if they have the same nominal dimension. Here's a video from APS (they don't sell line anymore) on measuring line diameter.

Great information. I wish I had seen this years ago when I started replacing my running rigging. I eyeballed the line diameter, and the new line seemed bigger than the original. Lesson learned!
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,606
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
Perhaps you can be happy with smaller dia. line for your 30 footer. From an overhead (builder cost) standpoint, it's normal for a builder to buy bulk line in as few sizes as possible, and some of the diameters will be a little too large on their mid size boats but just right on the larger ones.
We have all 5/16 hi-tech halyards on our 34 footer, and they handle fine and hold in the clutches. Our jib sheets about half inch, IIRC. Your choices will always be partly engineering and partly subjective.........
:)
 
Last edited:
Jun 25, 2004
283
Hunter 306 Pasadena MD
Well, thanks to all of you who replied. I have to admit, it makes me feel better to hear that 3/8" is reasonable for halyards, main sheet, etc, even if my "hand memory" says they should be thicker. As one or two of you commented, the jib sheets are the main lines that I handle regularly without the winch which have any strain on them, so the bigger diameter is nice there. And not so relevant for halyards. On my boat, the main sheet goes through the boom, and has a 2:1 purchase, so it never has much tension. I'm also pretty sure my rope clutch won't know the difference.

Anyway: I'll just learn to love what I already have. (I do wonder if Hunter just did most everything in 7/16", though...)

Jay
 
Oct 22, 2014
15,862
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I remember WHEN you took that photo. ;)
Of Course. We posted it during out 2019 Extreme Adventure Cruise. I think the event demonstrates the need to care for your lines. The line was wet. We were remiss caring for our lines. With the temps in the teens over night we should have brought the wet lines into the boat. Taking care of the lines might have let us use the sails rather than motor.

It did have kind of a Salvador Dali - Surrealism artsy shape.
 
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Jul 19, 2013
310
Pearson 31-2 Boston
The line sizes sound fine. You could have gone smaller the 3/8 on halyards if you have gone more hi-tech than the StaSet. See