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post #4 of Old 02-21-2001
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wire halyard winch

Classic boats also often lacked lifelines- look at the pictures in the Rosenfield Collection at Mystic. Wire reel halyard winches - if that is what you''re discussing- are DANGEROUS, just like not having lifelines. Wrapping the wire on a tight radius where it can chafe against itself helps promote ''soldiers'' in the wire that cause painful and bloody cuts, because unless the wire is guided onto the reel by hand it bunches and gets kinked. The brake can be left off while hoisting, or released by accident so that the winch handle ''kicks'' back, surprising jaws or other bones to the breaking point. This can also bloody the nearby deck and/or sails. The brake is not easily controlled, so sailors are tempted to put the winch handle in before releasing it for a reef. This again leads to the ''surprised bone syndrome'' discussed above. A winch that is dangerous to start with means servicing it to keep it operating properly is all the more important, and it isn''t getting easier to get parts. Beyond the safety issue, all-wire halyards are also heavier, weaker, and more expensive than modern synthetic line. They don''t use them now for good reason. They didn''t have blowers in the ''good old days'', but you wouldn''t sail with a gas engine without one now. Rigging something different will provide one less thing to worry about when you''re sailing, and isn''t sailing all about leaving our worries behind?
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