I am going to come out squarely in favor of COATED lifelines.
A number of years ago, there was a lot of hoopla made about coated lifelines being difficult to inspect, the bandwagon got going, and suddenly all the racing organizations were prohibiting coated wire for their offshore races.
But I have yet to see any hard evidence that properly maintained
coated wire fails at a higher rate than bare wire. By properly maintained, I mean inspected and replaced on schedule.
Every instance of serious lifeline compromise I've seen occurred at the swage. Some were on coated wire, some bare wire.
In my opinion, bare wire is not user friendly and is a poor material choice for lifelines. In addition to being hard on the bare hands, it is far more prone to meathooks (if you've ever sliced your hand good on a meathook...)
I also agree that it is difficult to see uncoated wire in the darkness. An argument can be made that you shouldn't be relying on lifelines to keep you on deck (hmmm?) while underway. Maybe. But it's not only when underway that you rely on those lifelines.
, performing a midnight anchor
check, you're not likely to be clipped in or using other safety gear. I know in my case, the closest I've ever come to going overboard was during a groggy walk forward to check the anchor
. A visible
coated lifeline saved me when I tripped. My sister's boat (with which we frequently rafted) has uncoated wire, which is essentially invisible at night.
Either way you go, it's a nice upgrade. But I would never give up the advantages of coated wire. The solution to the inspection-concern is to replace the coated wire on a schedule (every 7-10 years, or if there is any indication of issues). REplacing wire is not very expensive -- so doing it preventively is no real burden. It's the turnbuckles
and pelican hooks that run up the cost -- but they don't normally need to be replaced on the same schedule.