Tool to open lifeline gates - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-04-2019 Thread Starter
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Tool to open lifeline gates

Hello all. Well, we have launched Pinniped for the first time this week! The previous owner stored and cared for her at his yacht club over the winter, then came out with me to help me get a better feel for slow-speed maneuvering with her, and share some tips and tricks. As we came in to our new slip a couple of doors west of his club, though, it occurred to me that there is only one tool on board for opening the lifeline gates. I figured I’d go online and order another to keep on board as a spare.

At this point, you might be thinking... He needs a tool to open the gates?

Apparently, I’m unable to come up with the right set of words to help me find this thing. The gates are secured with pelican hook devices with which I am not familiar. They’d probably open with stout application of a marlinspike or similar thing, but on board there is a nicely machined stainless steel cone tool that fits the release hole perfectly and opens them with a minimum of fuss.

Can anyone help me with the name of this type of hook or if the tool has a special name? I’m including a crappy photo of the fittings. When we are next back at the boat, I’ll get better photos of the fittings and the existing tool.
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-04-2019
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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

those appear to be like this halyard shackle https://www.tylaska.com/product/t12-snap-shackle/# not normally used on life lines, many use a pelican hook type that does not need a tool https://www.jamestowndistributors.co...yABEgJWjPD_BwE
But since you need the tool they are a called knurled fid https://www.tylaska.com/product/knurled-fids/
it is a blunt tool so you do not get hurt
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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

I can't make them out in the pic. If they are truly halyard shackles, I would replace them with actual pelican hooks, rather than buy tools. The hooks can be a bit pricey, but would be a significant upgrade from a lifegate that can't be opened without a tool.

Part of me wonders if that is actually a gate, as the hook seems to be attached to the next lifeline, which passes through the stanchion. Lifegates are typically terminated at a hardpoint on the stanchion. Again, pic not clear enough.


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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

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Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I can't make them out in the pic. If they are truly halyard shackles, I would replace them with actual pelican hooks, rather than buy tools. The hooks can be a bit pricey, but would be a significant upgrade from a lifegate that can't be opened without a tool.

Part of me wonders if that is actually a gate, as the hook seems to be attached to the next lifeline, which passes through the stanchion. Lifegates are typically terminated at a hardpoint on the stanchion. Again, pic not clear enough.
Thank to Overbored for the link to Tylaska,

This is not a standard gate but and interrupted life line. I did this because I don't stay at dock side and so a lifeline gate would be rarely used. So I cut the life line... added a ring and a pelican hook the the other end... Didn't do the lower life line... easier to step over and the width is from stanchion to stanchion and on the starboard side which is the side I use to come along side (boat backs to starboard). Works for me, looks better and costs less.
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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

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Originally Posted by SanderO View Post
...This is not a standard gate ......
I understand the functionality, but it's not a gate at all, as I'd describe it. It's a removable lifeline. I'd still install an actual pelican hook, like you did, not a halyard shackle. Still not 100% sure the pic shows a shackle (too blurry and small on my screen), but apparently, it needs a tool either way, so I'd upgrade. Unless, of course, they don't really intend to use it. The OP does reference a slip though.


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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

not the norm but have seen it done on ocean racers. they can remove a section to work on the boat and then safer when at sea because they will not pop open like the pecan hook does. Can be opened if need be for a rescue with the tool that everyone on the boat carries because they use them to release their halyards or sheets. I was thinking of replacing my transom lifeline hooks with something that is not a pelican hook because they keep getting hooked by the mainsheet and releasing at the most inconvenient times. almost got wet a few times because of pelican hooks. we have thought we might use this shackle and hang a tool on a lanyard at each one of the shackles and store it stuffed into the end of the lifeline pads. for now we use tape to safety the pelican hooks
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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

When I made a gate on our boat I installed turnbuckles because they were readily available at the time; they have worked out quite well as they do not release on their own, don't snag anything, and the lifeline is nice and taught. It does take 15 or 20 seconds to release them but it's not something we do often.
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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

I have the same pelican hooks. Did not know this tool existed. Ordering now. Thanks!

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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

The Tylaska shackle is not a “pelican hook” and, IMHO, is overkill for a lifeline application. If the OP needs to open the lifelines, it would be better to do so without having to fetch a tool, particularly if it is necessary to open the lifelines in short order.

We have 2 gates and they both use real pelican hooks, like the ones shown here: https://search.defender.com/?express...s=1&Trigger=ac

In 23 years we’ve never had one open accidentally and it is necessary to provide a lanyard to open them without a tool, such as pliers to grab the locking pin.
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-04-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Tool to open lifeline gates

Overbored, you win the super awesome person award for today! Your ID of the hardware seems to be spot on. Now that I've seen the Tylaska halyard shackles, I think I have those, too, on the halyards. These devices on the lifeline are slightly different, but definitely the same principle. "Knurled fid" is a great description for the opening device. The one on board is plain stainless with a spiral knurling on the "handle" end, and a hole for the lanyard. Now that I know what I'm looking for, I'm going to go order one or two. They're going to come in handy for the halyard shackles, too.

For those who are curious, I'll definitely take some better photos when we're at the boat tomorrow. I'll be able to get the brand information and such off of them, too.

To address the somewhat lively discussion of the lifelines on this boat:

The previous owner (who is also the builder, along with his wife) made the lifeline stanchions himself. They're stainless tubing drilled for the middle line and a cap fitted and mechanically bonded for the top line. The tubes fit into stanchion plates that he also designed, and then the tubes are welded to bond them to the plates.

The lifelines terminate at hardpoints on the pulpit and pushpit. There are no intermediate hardpoints. There are four openings that he (and I) call "gates," because that is how they were intended to function. These gates occur in between sets of stanchions near the bow and stern on port and starboard. The way they are set up, when the gate is open, the lifelines do lose a bit of tension, but they do not come undone. If one were to fall against them with one or both gates open on either side, they are still rigged mostly taut, held in place by swaged fittings. Closing the gates puts full tension on the lifelines. The lifeline system has no turnbuckles. Lashings are used instead to fasten the ends to the hardpoints and tension the lines.

Though maybe not today's standard, the system seems to be well designed with thought behind it. There is virtually no chance for a gate to open on its own, or to have a "false closed" position. Certainly, the lines can be stepped over if the gates cannot be opened.

Thanks for all of the responses. I was hoping someone here would know what was what, and I am not disappointed!

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