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I have seen them loose (drooping between stantions), and tightly strung. Which is it supposed to be?

Can 1/8" SS liflines be replaced with say 1/4" polyester double braid?

I have seen them connected to the top of a pushpit/pulpit then along the stations and I have seen them connected to the bottom of the pushpit/pulpit, then go up at an angle, and then along stations. Which is preferable and why?

If double braid can be used I have a question about stretch. If it's advertized to stretch say 2%, does that mean it gets 2% longer and stays longer after loading it up a few times, or does that means it gets 2% longer when loaded and returns to it's original length when unloaded?

Thanks, Eric
 

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I have seen them loose (drooping between stantions), and tightly strung. Which is it supposed to be?
Taunt
Can 1/8" SS liflines be replaced with say 1/4" polyester double braid?
No, you are probably thinking of 12 strand Amsteel, see website below:
Johnson Splice Lines
Which is preferable and why?
Depends on the boat, the headsail, and personal preference I guess, never thought about it.
or does that means it gets 2% longer when loaded and returns to it's original length when unloaded?
Yes
 

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I have seen them connected to the top of a pushpit/pulpit then along the stations and I have seen them connected to the bottom of the pushpit/pulpit, then go up at an angle, and then along stations. Which is preferable and why?

The way the life lines are connected to the pushpit/pulpit depends on the sweep of the fore sail. Deck sweepers need room at the pulpit to ease the sails out and keep their shape.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
No, you are probably thinking of 12 strand Amsteel
Not to be a pain, but what is the problem with the doublebraid (halyard material)? Is it too stretchy or what?
 

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Lifeline tightness (or looseness) is often determined by racing requirments. People that need heavy crew leaning outboard as far as possible, but "staying inside the lifelines" rig them as loose as possible. Some class rules specify how tight the lifelines must be, so there is less of this fudging. Lifelines are led to the base of the bow pulpit in order to avoid them chafing on the jib. People who rig them this way don't race, since the racing rules require lifelines at a certain minimum height. Stretchy lifelines may stretch enough to enable crew to go overboard - not a desireable result. Low-stretch synthetic fibers are sometimes used for lifelines because of weight (racing) and cost (cruising) factors. Many of them are VERY susceptible to chafe and UV degradation/deterioration, however. This puts into question their efficacay as LIFElines. Steel is less prone to these problems and is generally regarded as the simplest solution
 

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paulk hit all the points. I also avoid using coated wire for lifelines since it is more difficult to inspect.

If you do use amsteel or a low stretch synthetic, make sure you take turns around the tubes of the pulpits and not terminate at the bales.
 

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Life lines have to carry a load of 600lbs. This is the main rule. The main idea of life lines is to keep persons on board. Therefore the height and tightness of them should be such that they keep you on board.

2 % stretch means that the rope will elongate 2% when under load and return back to its original length when not under load.
 

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Too stretchy, too weak. Amsteel is much stronger for the same diameter. A 1/4" polyester double braid has a breaking strength of about 2000 lbs. 1/4 Amsteel 12 has a breaking strength of 7400 lbs.

Not to be a pain, but what is the problem with the doublebraid (halyard material)? Is it too stretchy or what?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
make sure you take turns around the tubes of the pulpits and not terminate at the bales.
Huh?

A 1/4" polyester double braid has a breaking strength of about 2000 lbs.
The existing 1/8", 7 x 19 lifelines I would be replacing have a breaking strength of only 1760 lbs, which is probably much stronger than the stantions that hold the lines.
 

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Any line that can be used as a halyard isn't going to be too stretchy to use as a life-line. 2% is nothing. You are correct, your stantions or something else will break before 2% becomes too much stretch or 2000lb strength rope will break as you fall on it.

Put rope lifelines on, they are just as safe and plenty strong enough plus incredibly cheaper than cable or amsteel. Life-lines should not be depended upon anyway.
 

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You may be right when breaking strength is the comparison. Amsteel is a great product with an insane breaking strength. If you want to make life-lines out of amsteel they will be plenty strong but not thick enough to feel good in your hands. Once you get something that feels good, like 1/4" or bigger the price is as insane as their strength. I went with 5/16" sta-set x for my life-lines and they are strong and feel good in my hands and way cheaper than amsteel or cable.
 

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One thing to keep in mind using rope - UV damage will increase the stretch percentages over time. The whole goal with lifelines is to keep someone on board and provide security knowing that if you use them - they will provide minimum non-resistance.

The post about stanchions will break before the lifeline does is a good one. Considering that most boats have 90% of their lifelines as one solid runner through the stanchions - I think I would prefer the stanchion breaking but the lifeline remain intact. At least in that scenario if someone is grabbing the lifeline and a stanchion breaks - the lifeline is still intact and said person over is still with the boat. Something to think about there if you ask me.

I replaced my wire lifelines with Amsteel myself specifically for the weight savings and cost savings. The fact it is stronger than the wire is a definite bonus.
 

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Lifelines provide a structure that really should be used mainly to keep one's balance rather than to support one's body weight. While it's nice to have them there if you lose your balance and are thrown across the deck. They are better used to provide a handhold when walking along the deck so that you don't lose your balance in the first place. And that is why it's nice to have fairly taut lines, they are safer and easier to use than sloppy ones.

Keeping the lifelines taut is difficult mainly because the stanchions which are arranged along a curved line are constantly being stressed when someone leans against the line or a fender is hung from it, etc.
Usually, at least with wire, stretch has nothing to do with why lifelines go slack.

The only thing wrong with using a double braid polyester line would be the way it looks.
If I wanted to get away from wire, I would probably choose a line that had good UV resistance, repelled water and had low stretch.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There are a couple reasons I am considering doublebraid for life lines. One is it's cheaper. Two is that it's readily available. Three is I can splice it myself, so I wouldn't need to buy the wire and the fitting and have them swaged. I have a real thing about being self sufficient. I want to do it all myself. Besides, there is no place nearby that does the swaging.

Would the double braid turn that ugly grey colour from the weather right away, or does that take several years?
 

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There are a couple reasons I am considering doublebraid for life lines. One is it's cheaper. Two is that it's readily available. Three is I can splice it myself, so I wouldn't need to buy the wire and the fitting and have them swaged. I have a real thing about being self sufficient. I want to do it all myself. Besides, there is no place nearby that does the swaging.

Would the double braid turn that ugly grey colour from the weather right away, or does that take several years?

I too am a big fan of being able to be self sufficient.
Take for example the fellow that has designed his own motor mounts. I can definitely envision a situation where that skill could be very useful. But most of the time, it makes more sense to just buy em off the shelf.

I think it's great that a sailor can splice his own line and be able to rig up a set of lifelines with an old halyard, but I don't know a lot of people who would be happy with the aesthetic result.

Lifelines are just another piece of rigging that should be replaced periodically. Sometimes, when you only have to do something every decade or so, it makes more sense to just bite the bullet and have it professionally done.
 

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Learning to splice amsteel 12 isn't all that difficult. Using the wrong material for the job is generally going to be more expensive in way you won't be able to predict.
There are a couple reasons I am considering doublebraid for life lines. One is it's cheaper. Two is that it's readily available. Three is I can splice it myself, so I wouldn't need to buy the wire and the fitting and have them swaged. I have a real thing about being self sufficient. I want to do it all myself. Besides, there is no place nearby that does the swaging.

Would the double braid turn that ugly grey colour from the weather right away, or does that take several years?
 

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Thumbs,
I hope I can explain this clearly. Most bow and stern pulpits have an upper and lower triangular bale or a stantion clamp to terminate the toggle jaw of a lifeline turnbuckle. These are the bales I am refering to.

Synthetic terminations get point loaded if tied to the bale only. It is common practice to figure eight the lashing through the bale, around the tube of the pulpit, then back through the bale. In other words, you take a turn around the pulpit. It distibutes the load on the cordage better and takes some of the load off the bale.

As you may know, many boats have a hybrid lifeline system. The lifeline is uncoated 1x19. The wire is terminated with a swaged gate eye on each end, one with a threaded stud. The wire lifeline is then terminated at the pulpits with lashings as above. It is less expensive than lifelines with all the hardware, is smoother so sails don't chafe.

As far as droop goes, a common test with some of the Farr boats is to hang a 5 lb weight on the lifelines centered between any two stanchions. They should not deflect. I happen to think this is too tight. To comply with a particular class rule, I once added a heavy duty shock cord loop assembly along with the end lashing. It kept the lifelines taut enough and in fact acted as a shock absorber.

My $.02
 
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