Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New jersey
Thanked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Rep Power: 11
Everything on our boat runs to the cockpit; even with that I would not consider removing the lifelines.
Two years ago we were caught in a squall with 40 knot winds gusting to almost 60 knots. As the storm came in and we prepared the boat to ride it out our port jib sheet became securely caught at the base of the port shrouds. Now we were on a starboard tack, heading towards shore unable to tack or reef, someone had to go and either release or cut the line. We headed into the wind, sails luffed, and my lovely mate, connected to a jackline & wearing a PFD went fwd to release the line in our slacked jib. At the moment she releases the line, a gust shifted direction and she hadn't noticed she was straddling the line. Jib fills and she gets pinned against the lifeline and the jib sheet. She was bruised, but still in the boat. I steered into the winds new direction and she came back aft, still dry.
I am not saying we reacted perfectly, but found out the hard way that they are beneficial. They also are not really below your center of gravity, trust me she wasn't walking there and back upright and this all happened before the storm really blew. To ensure they do not impede a rescue I would make sure they weren't one solid strand along the side but have at least 2 or 3 clips between posts along the length. Having a section fwd, one mid, and one aft that you can easily open would work well.
Yes they can be a nuisance at the dock or sailing in 10-15 knot winds; but that's probably not when you'll need them either. Trust me, we didn't go out looking to find out if our foulies would really keep us dry that day.