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CowbaySailor 07-04-2011 11:00 PM

halyards rope vs wire
After 4 days out on my boat and sailing hard and long I really got to know it. My traveler line was slipping because the line is ageing. taking a closer look at all my lines I noticed that my halyards will need replacing soon too.
Are wire halyard better than straight rope ? Are there benefits to each. My boat is older and is there a big cost factor between them ?

sailjunkie 07-05-2011 12:14 AM

When we first started sailing, all of the boats in our co-op had halyards that were a combination of wire/rope. The wire lasted longer, but when it started to go, there were ends everywhere, increasing the risk of cutting hands. Plus, replacing wire is more expensive than rope.

However, you should check the sheaves at the mast head before making your decision. Some sheaves are meant only for wire halyards, and they should be replaced if you are going to switched to rope halyards. You may be able to get away with using your existing sheaves, but I would check with an expert.

Our co-op switched to all rope halyards quite a few years ago, and have been happy ever since. Our own boat has all rope halyards.

mitiempo 07-05-2011 12:36 AM

Cowichan Bay Sailor (I presume)

What kind of boat do you have?

If your boat has the original wire halyards the masthead sheaves are probably pretty old as well. Their replacement wouldn't hurt. I am in the same position as you and will be replacing the sheaves and going to synthetic halyards ( probably Sta Set or similar) later this summer.

Ajax_MD 07-05-2011 08:00 AM

Wire is the devil, get rid of it if you have it.

The main reason wire was used, is because synthetic fiber technology hadn't advanced to where it is now. Steel wire only stretches a tiny bit.

Now, synthetic fiber technology is much more advanced. You can buy tiny diameter rope that is easily as strong as the same diameter steel wire. It's even UV stabilized.

+1- check your sheaves. If you run a larger diameter line in a wire sheave, the line gets "pinched" in the gap, causing damage, shortening the lifespan of the rope. You can however, run high tech line of the same size diameter as the wire in a wire sheave because it will fit into the wire groove.

Some people will buy a larger diameter line, and strip the cover off on the part that runs through the sheaves. This gives you something fat and comfortable to hold in your hands, while the skinny part runs through the sheaves.

Yes, this is all more expensive than ordinary line and maybe wire but it's worth it. It's a sailboat, not a power boat and lines are life on a sailboat.

There is a compromise- there are "hybrid" lines that have a high tech core, and a low-tech jacket. My boat is 25', so I swapped over to a 5/16th all-rope hybrid halyard from wire. It was cost-effective and sooooo much better than the wire.

zz4gta 07-05-2011 09:08 AM

Boats used to have wire/rope sheets as well. And boats were made of wood with sails that wouldn't hardly go to winward, but thankfully, we've evolved.

What's the breakdown for your boat? What does the wire cost compared to a rope replacement? You said it is a pretty big step, how much? I never felt that it was a big jump up from wire to rope.

ccriders 07-05-2011 09:09 AM

I converted from wire/rope to all rope using stayset X. The increase in stretch is noticeable and requrires resetting the main after little sailing. If your halyards lead aft to the cockpit this is no big deal but a little pain if singlehanding and you have to go forward to the mast. If I were doing it again I would look at one of the aramid lines even though the smaller diameter can be hard on the hands. You get less stretch (very similar to wire/rope combo) and lighter weight. More money though.
Let us know how you proceed.

Spyder 07-05-2011 09:11 PM

I would suggest going with the new Dneema, or its kin. The meat hooks from wire are terribly painful. Hi-tech line halyards last longer and do not stretch at all: set it and forget it! Racing boats are even starting to replace their standing, stainless steel, rigging with this stuff. I replaced everything on my 23' catboat and love it.

Cruiser2B 07-05-2011 09:24 PM

I recently switched from wire/rope main and jib halyards to all 3/8 sta-set on my alberg 30. It had 5/32 wire on it. I did inspect the sheave at the top and after 40 yrs. no groove. I will be honest and say i have no idea if it was original or not but was exactly the type and material everyone said it would be. I have noticed that i have been have less stretch than before because the rope is in much better shape than the rope/wire halyard. good luck.

CowbaySailor 07-05-2011 10:14 PM

I'm going to replace my main and headsail halyards with rope. I don't like the wire with the wife and kids handling it. So I can buy hi tech rope at work. So how can I inspect my sheaves to see if the rope will go through and the condition the sheaves are in. The bos'en chair is an option, are there any others ?

Cruiser2B 07-05-2011 10:32 PM

we used a mast mate webbed ladder. worked well...took a few minutes to get used to. secured myself with topping lift and safety harness keeping line taught with cabin top winch

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