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Old 04-24-2013
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Small Boat Jack Lines and Safety Tethers

Hi all,

I plan on cruising the San Juan's with my local sailing club this summer, where I would be sailing single-handed on my Sparrow 16. (for info on the Sparrow, check out In preparation for this I have been looking into safety tether systems for my boat.

My cockpit is only about 6' to 7' long and the beam of my boat is 6.5'. As such I realized that the standard 2 m/6' tether could not work for me as if I were to go over the side, I'd be suspended next to the side of the hull not able to get back on board. (The Sparrow has a pretty high freeboard compared to many boats her size.)

The solution I've come up with so far is to use a short jackline on the floor of the cockpit and a short (~1m) safety tether attached to the jackline. With this I would have full freedom to move fore and aft in my cockpit without having to have a longer tether that could allow me to dangle over the side of the boat.

I have a couple questions:
1) Does this solution sound reasonable for a small cruising sailboat like mine?
2a) If your answer to question 1 is negative, what would you recommend?
2b) If your answer to question 2 is positive, where can find a shorter (1m) long tether to purchase? (Or,is this something I could have my sailmaker make for me?)


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Old 04-24-2013
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Re: Small Boat Jack Lines and Safety Tethers

VERY reasonable.
Your tether should the short enough to keep you on board.
You may also want a tether that has two possible terminal connections on the same tether ... one for 'long' and the other for 'short'.

Any sailmaker or anyone with an 'industrial' sewing machine with strong polyester or Tenara (PTFE) thread can do this for you.

Also to consider ... a tether end connection that is EASILY releasable under load, as small boats do sometimes become 'upside down' and when they do you MUST be able to open that connection easily ... and do so faster than how long you can hold your breath. (A worst case scenario, of course). ;-)
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Old 04-24-2013
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Re: Small Boat Jack Lines and Safety Tethers

With the necessity of having a really short tether, I wonder if you could get away with just having fixed attachment points in the cockpit. Cool looking boat, btw. Post pictures when after your trip!
Bristol 27
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