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post #21 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
Just out of curiosity, does anyone here have personal experience of anyone going over the side due to the failure of the wire in vinyl coated lifelines?
Must be in the rogue wave,fin keel,this anchor,yade, yade bigger is better conspiracy...


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post #22 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

I'm sure I will replace my lifeline with bare wire, when I get to it. Them's the rules.......

However, I find lifelines to be fairly useless safety devices anyway. We stay in the cockpit and/or clip in.

Lifelines are great clothes lines and rail meat organizers.
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post #23 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
Yo Knotty,

What's your take on using Dynema or other synthetic line for lifeline applications?
I have no problem with them. If I could afford it, that's probably what I would choose. The UV issue is probably the main problem, along with chafe, but that's just like the corrosion problem with wire. Replace them when they need it and you don't have to worry.

I agree that lifelines, no matter what they are made from, should never be expected to keep you on the boat. That's what tethers and jacklines are for.

I have heard of people falling off their boats because of lifeline failure. But not because the wire broke. The cases I've heard about were caused because a clevis pin fell out or a gate eye came unscrewed or things like that.
Usually it happens to guys who are leaning against the lifelines to relieve themselves without having an arm looped around a shroud.
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post #24 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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I have heard of people falling off their boats because of lifeline failure. But not because the wire broke. The cases I've heard about were caused because a clevis pin fell out or a gate eye came unscrewed or things like that.
Exactly. The coated lifeline "issue" looks to me to be very much like all those other "issues" where a minor theoretical benefit becomes conventional wisdom and escalates over time into a sort of hysteria, particularly amongst those with no personal experience in the subject.

Knotties a RIGGER folks - he knows more about this stuff then most of the rest of us combined and should be listened to over the siren call of all those "experts" who opinions are based on "something they heard".

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Usually it happens to guys who are leaning against the lifelines to relieve themselves without having an arm looped around a shroud.
I read a stat years ago wherein it was stated that something on the order of 70% of all male drowning victims had their flies open.

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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post #25 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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Originally Posted by SloopJonB View Post
Just out of curiosity, does anyone here have personal experience of anyone going over the side due to the failure of the wire in vinyl coated lifelines?

Three guys went swimming this spring in the AYC series because in the haste to be ready a cotter pin was left out of the something

Now the really stupid part starts when your sailing in 50 degree water + 20 knot winds and NOBODY was using a PDF

My friend was on and Oakcliff Boat that was one of the boats that fished them out within < 2 minutes and they were already seconds form drowning

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post #26 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Lightbulb Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

In the last decade, two different boats in our little moorage have had lifelines break... at the dock of all places. In each case they were over 15 years old.
No one was injured and someone casually grabbed onto onto a lne and it... broke.

One was a ss threaded togle screw that was found to have a slow-increasing fracture in the metal and the other was a wire that broke just inside the swage (the classic place).

It's been longer, but I was there when a fellow leaned on his forward lifeline and it broke and he fell in backwards. He got lucky and did not bang into anything with his head... only got wet.

Lots of rationalization about life line durability... much like standing rig maintenance attitudes.

Treat it like any other Preventative Maintenance issue on your boat. Waiting for a failure to produce injury/death and much larger expense after the fact is imprudent, at the least, and really more like negligence.



Whether you replace with bare ss, hi tech line, or the ss with a thin (and attractive!) vinyl cover, do so regularly.

Last edited by olson34; 08-10-2012 at 12:28 PM.
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post #27 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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Originally Posted by knothead View Post
That's why it's rather important to know how old stuff on your boat is. Standing rigging, chainplates, lifelines etc.
At what age do you recommend replacing each of the above?
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post #28 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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Originally Posted by davidpm View Post
At what age do you recommend replacing each of the above?
That really depends on a number of factors. Most important probably being locale and whether or not the boat is sailed on salt water.
As was mentioned earlier in this thread, great lakes or other freshwater boats don't have nearly the corrosion problems that salt water boats have. Also, the more tropical the climate, the bigger problem corrosion seems to be.
But also, maintenance plays a part. If chainplates have been leaking, that would certainly accelerate their degradation and cause them to need replacing earlier than one's that have been kept dry.
If stuff isn't rinsed off after being bathed in salt water, it's going to corrode quicker.

I'm speaking mainly of cruising boats here too. My partner, when he was racing, would replace his rod rigging every five years. Those racer's can really stress a rig.
Whereas I've seen rod rigging on cruising boats that was twenty years old around here and that still looked good. (I still think that's way too old and told them so).

So, to answer your question directly. In this area, Tampa Bay, I recommend thorough and regular standing rigging inspections starting at 10 years and replacing standing rigging between 12 and 15 years regardless of what the inspection reveals. The same for stainless steel lifelines.
Chainplates are a trickier proposition. I usually always recommend inspection at the time of re-rigging, but the thing is that they need to be removed in order to inspect them properly. And if you go to the trouble to remove them, then in my opinion it's a bit silly to put the old one's back even when they look okay. They usually aren't all that expensive to fabricate so you might as well replace them and the bolts and sleep better at night.
Hope that helps.
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

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Originally Posted by tommays View Post
Three guys went swimming this spring in the AYC series because in the haste to be ready a cotter pin was left out of the something

Now the really stupid part starts when your sailing in 50 degree water + 20 knot winds and NOBODY was using a PDF

My friend was on and Oakcliff Boat that was one of the boats that fished them out within < 2 minutes and they were already seconds form drowning
And the unbroken wire continued dangling over the side I presume?

I, myself, personally intend to continue being outspoken and opinionated, intolerant of all fanatics, fools and ignoramuses, deeply suspicious of all those who have "found the answer" and on my bad days, downright rude.
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post #30 of 43 Old 08-10-2012
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Re: Replacement of vinyl lifelines

I have seen two cases where the wire itself broke, one on a set of lifelines that was ancient, no idea how old, but the boat was a 60's era cruiser, and may have been original. The other was on a J-35 with about 5 year old lifelines. The wire failed about 1" inside the coating from the swag. In neither case was anyone injured, but on the J, 8 people fell in while hiking.

I am still not sure where the idea is that dyneema is more expensive than wire comes from. A reasonable installation is some amsteel blue, and a few sailmakers thimbles. There is no hardware to buy, and other than some work to soften stantion holes (where needed) almost no labor.

For my Beneteau there are 8 splices, that took about an hour to do, $5 in thimbles, and 100' of 1/4" line. That's it, the stantions were already soft enough to take the line. Assuming you paid full retail, that would be $145 in parts, and an hour of riggers time, so even at $100/hr you are still looking at less than $250 total.

Now I didn't use stainless gates, just lashings, but even if you do, they are the same Johnson gates for stainless fittings, but use a different screw post that are about $8. So perhaps you will spend a little more on the hardware, but the difference in the cost of wire vs rope should easily make that up.


As for chainplates, and rigging... When I was working as a rigger, we recomended inspection at 8 years, and every year after that (these were the manufacturers recomendations). Like Steve, I feel that chainplates are rarely worth reinstalling. The issue is that by the time you get them out, pay someone for the inspection (they must be dye or x-ray tested, visual inspection is bad practice), replace any cracked one, and then reinstall them, you likely could have just replaced them for the same amount of money.

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