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matthewwhill 11-11-2019 04:24 PM

Best knot for headsail halyard?
What is the best knot for headsail/jib halyard? I change headsails frequently (no roller furling). I have read that bowlines can come undone when not under constant tension and that halyard knots are considered permanent (get so tight they need to be cut off).

roverhi 11-11-2019 05:01 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
I use a buntline hitch. It is a compact knot allowing full hoist of the sail and is self containing of the bitter end so doesn't shake loose. As tension is taken on the line, the bitter end is trapped in the loop of the knot. Take two loops of the halyard through the sail cringle and then tie the knot. Haven't had a problem getting the knot undone even after a 15 1/2 day TransPac. Changed to the Buntline Hitch as a more secure knot with Dyneema cored halyards because of the slipperiness of the core. Don't know if it's needed, just did it as a precaution.

Previously used a bowline for halyards and never had one shake loose in more than 10,000 miles of ocean voyaging. Leaving plenty of tail seems to stop the knot self untying. Have had bowlines shake loose on sheets when I didn't leave a long enough bitter end tail.

RegisteredUser 11-11-2019 05:11 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
Halyard knot works well for...halyards..:)

SchockT 11-11-2019 05:50 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
If you change headsails often why wouldn't you just use a shackle? It seems much easier and faster than having to untie knots that have been heavily loaded.

The only halyards I have ever had to tie on are spinnaker halyards on small race boats. I always use a bowline. I have never heard of one coming loose.

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk

BarryL 11-11-2019 05:51 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?

If you change headsails frequently I suggest you splice a shackle to the end of the halyard. A splice is stronger than a knot and faster to attach and detach. You can splice the shackle yourself if you watch enough youtube videos and buy a fid or two.

I just did my first splices a few weeks ago. I'm getting better at it. For me, I am going to splice a shackle onto a sheet that I will use for reaching. It will be led through a snatch block on the toe rail so I can open up the leach when reaching.


roverhi 11-11-2019 06:09 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
Why spend the money on a shackle when you don't need one?? Maybe stock in Harken/Schaeffer. A loose halyard or shackle on a flogging sail can do real damage to you and definitely get you attention when they bang you on the head. Got rid of all my shackles except spinnaker sheets many decades ago and have never regretted it. If knots offend your sensibilities, would go with a Dyneema soft shackle through a spliced loop on the halyard/sheet.

capta 11-11-2019 06:53 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
I agree with a shackle on a thimble eyed halyard. After all, the shackle you'll use on your boat is hardly large enough to be a serious danger. I wouldn't be comfortable with the possibility of the halyard chafing through on the head of the sail when aloft. I have also never had a properly tied bowline come undone, but I think it is too bulky a knot for that job and could get jammed aloft.

colemj 11-11-2019 07:04 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
Soft shackles if price and head banging are a concern. A halyard knot is easy to untie/tie. A bowline costs you 50% strength, but there really isn't an issue with one coming undone in this application.

I've been making some of these recently (but you need a dyneema halyard):
They also work great for sheets that are removed frequently.


RegisteredUser 11-11-2019 07:15 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
If really, really changing often, eye splice to a spin shackle.
Soft shackle to clew and use same sheets

Btw, a bowline at the clew will receive more chafe than bowline at the head

Minnewaska 11-11-2019 08:12 PM

Re: Best knot for headsail halyard?
I'd use a shackle, if I had to do frequent sail changes. You can splice it on, or just tie a halyard knot to the shackle.

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