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Discussion Starter #1
I am going to replace my mainsail halyard soon. Catalina specs 5/16" polyester, which is what's on there now. This time I am considering 5/16" (8 mm) Sta-Set X, but I have heard that it is stiff, which can make it difficult to pull through multiple blocks. My halyards are run to the cockpit, so in addition to the masthead block, I have a 90° turning block at the base of the mast, and another 45° cheek block to turn the line to the winch/clutch at the aft end of the cabin top. This is a bit more resistance than I would have with a winch directly on the mast, which I do not have.

For those of you who have used Sta-Set X, do you think I will have too much resistance pulling it through my turning blocks?
 

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VPC works really well for a halyard, but if you are splicing a shackle and leave the core exposed, it will degrade in UV. Another option (although more expensive) is something with a dyneema core like Endura Braid. It's not an issue if you don't splice or can bury the core. Or you can stick with regular Sta-set and deal with the stretch... Sta-set x is definitely stiff and "coils like wire" I'm told.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I've found that low stretch in a halyard is the most important factor. If the sail loses its shape when wind causes the halyard to stretch, it has an adverse effect. There are better alternatives to Sta-Set, more expensive but probably worth the difference in price. Amsteel, covered where it contacts the winch is a good option and less expensive than some of the other high tech line. I replaced my main halyard with 3/8" Amsteel but spliced in less expensive 12 strand for the tail section (below the winch). If you are going a long way, back to the cockpit, stretch should definitely be a consideration.

My original halyard was wire with a Sta-Set tail. The tail was a pain in the butt to coil but worked well on the winch. It also lasted a long time and I still keep it as an emergency spare. A big plus for 12 strand is its ease of splicing. I have used Amsteel for lifelines as well. It has shown no signs of UV degradation in four years.
 

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I have Stay-Set X for my halyards and like it for its relatively low stretch. When I got it, Stay-Set X was the top of the line. I'd use a dyneema product if Grand Prix racing, but that is not what I do. The problem with Stay-Set X is that it is very stiff and won't coil well. It starts stiff and stays stiff. Your tuning blocks should not be an issue because you'll overpower the stiffness with the winch. But coiling it in the cockpit (or trying to coil it) will drive you nuts, and it does not run free very well when dropping sail. If I were buying again today I'd buy VPC.
 

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I bought Sta-Set X to use for my spinnaker halyard, for no other reason than to try it out. I found it to be way to stiff for my taste. I think that regular Sta-Set is a good choice for a general purpose use such as halyards and sheets.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One other consideration that I forgot to mention: my winches are Lewmar 16ST's. This is not a big boat, so the winches are small, requiring a smaller radius wrap around the winch. Obviously the halyard is smaller also (5/16"), so that helps some.

It's sounding like Sta-Set X may be more hassle than it's worth, especially when my wife is pulling the halyard.
 

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I replaced my main halyard with sta-set X some time ago and found it very difficult to splice into the shackle for the main sail. Ended up using some sort of knot. It is difficult to coil as others have mentioned and I'm not sure when it's time to replace if I will go that route again.
 

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Mast height on a Catalina 250 is probably around 30 ft?

Add running through a couple of blocks to get to the cabin top winch maybe 35-40 ft of halyard under tension when the sail is hoisted?

Stretch on regular Sta-set is 2.8% under load, so that's 0.98 to 1.1 inch stretch under normal sailing loads.

You're not racing the boat, Sta-set is easier to coil, easier on the hands and costs about 20% less.

Can you detect the difference in sail shape that one inch would make?

I'd opt for something easier to handle.
 
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Are you only considering NE Ropes? Samson XLS Extra is a better line than Sta-Set X and is generally cheaper as well. It is low stretch, has a nice feel, and is not as stiff as Sta-Set X. It comes in about 8 different colors, which is nice for differentiating lines.

VPC is nice too. It is higher strength than XLS Extra (5/16" breaking load is 5500lbs vs 3500lbs for XLS Extra), but also higher stretch (1.25% at 10% of breaking load on VPC, vs 0.8% at 20% of breaking load on XLS Extra). You won't come close to 3500lbs of load on the main halyard on your Catalina 250, so I think XLS Extra is a better choice. They are essentially the same price.

In general I've been happier with Samson products than NE Ropes products.
 

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In 2005 when we bought the boat, I replaced the original halyards with StaSet-X. As reported above, it is a difficult line to splice. It's stiffness makes it weird to coil as well. I replaced the StaSet-X with VPC last year even though it was still very serviceable. VPS is a little slippery but coils nicely and isn't difficult to splice (does not use a standard yacht braid splice so go to NE ropes for the instructions).

I've also used XLS elsewhere with good results. Personally, I think that StaSet-X was good in its day but there is much better line available now.
 

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I too went with staset x when it was the go to line for halyards and I too find its stiffness problematic. I hoist at the mast and do not use a winch. The staset tx is difficult to coil and will not stay coiled with the normal twist and hang on the cleat. But the really obnoxious part is when dropping the main it will kink and jam in the cleat, slowing the process.
If I were doing it again I would either go back to wire and a soft tail, or one of the newer lines that are stronger so that you can use a smaller size thereby reducing weight and at the same time reducing stretch.
John
 

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Im a huge fan of wire to rope halyards...I know Im in the .000000005% but it just makes sense to me

they also are the best at dropping sails...

just sayin

Im not doing anything to my 40 year old halyards untill I get 1 to many meathooks, of which I have none so far.

I actually bought a sta set(non-x) smaller diameter halyard as a backup for my mast but honestly Im thinking of using it for something else like the travller or a new vang or something

peace
 

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Note that the XLS Extra that I recommended has very little in common with XLS. I think Samson's naming of this line is terrible. They don't have the same cover or core and have very different properties (XLS Extra has approximately 1/3rd of the stretch of XLS).

XLS Extra is a core dependent line with a dacron/poly cover and a dyneema/mfp hybrid core. It's cover can't be stripped and the core exposed like most other core-dependent lines (that is the primary difference between XLS Extra and the more expensive MLX).

XLS is a pretty standard poly cover/poly core line where you use a standard double braid splice. It is competitive with Sta-Set (not X). I rarely use it unless I find a cutoff for a good price, because Samson LS has similar properties for less money.

Samson cheat sheet: (prices are for 5/16" and are from Defender)
LS($0.45) -- cheapest double braid you'd use on a boat. About 3% stretch at 20% of breaking.
XLS($0.58) -- about 10-20% stronger than LS, comes in more color options, same stretch.
XLS Extra($1.05) -- 1/3rd of the stretch of XLS, core dependent splices
MLX ($1.45) -- A little stronger than XLS, stripable cover
Warpspeed ($2.15) -- A lot stronger than MLX, full dyneema core (basically amsteel with a cover)
Ultra-Lite($1.04) -- Closest to MLX, not as strong and it floats and doesn't absorb water. A specialty line for spin sheets (not guys).

Note that strength is expressed in % stretch at % of breaking load. A 5/16" line that is twice as strong with the same stretch will have half of the stretch in practice. An example:
MLX -- 0.9% stretch at 20% of load -- 4500lbs breaking in 5/16"
Warpspeed -- 0.62% stretch at 20% of load, 0.44% stretch at 10% -- 6200lbs in 5/16"

So 20% of 4500lbs is 900lbs. That is about 15% of the breaking strength of Warpspeed. So the stretch for Warpspeed will be around 0.5% at the same load, not the 0.62% stretch of the 20% number.

On smaller boats like my Pearson 28-2 or TakeFive's Catalina 250 being sailed recreationally there is rarely reason to go higher end than XLS Extra. I did use MLX for my spin sheets so that I could strip the covers and because they need to be very low stretch when used as guys.

If you think through the loads you can figure out where to buy fancy line (halyards, guys, reefing lines) and where it's less important because loads are low (main sheet), because the line is grossly oversized for easy handling (jib sheets), or because lengths are short (boom downhaul or cunningham cleated at the mast).

I almost never buy NE Ropes stuff, I've almost always found a better line from Samson at a lower price. The one exception is Regatta Braid, which is a single braid that is easy to splice to dyneema single braid and much nicer in the hand than Samson's budget single braid.
 

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With the cost of high tech line so high, it makes no sense IMO to have the high tech line below the winch or where the tension is taken by a cleat. This commercial duty Tenex line splices flawlessly into Amsteel, grips the winch well, and can actually be a size bigger for the "hand" of line. It is soft, pliable and works quite well at a fraction of the price of the Amsteel: Samson Tenex Polyester Rope
 

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Many times one can go from a stretchy larger diam line to a less stretch, thinner line, spend about the same amount of money, have a line that is easier to use, stronger with less stretch. With that, I have all XLS Extra on my boat, all about a size or two smaller than I need with sta-set. Less water retention when it is wet out among the many advantages of it.

Marty
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thanks for all the advice, even though it took on a greater level of complexity than I need (typical of Sailnet).

FYI, my ST winches won't grab anything less than 5/16", so skinnier line won't work in them. Overcoming this by splicing larger ends onto a smaller halyard is a level of hard-core that is way beyond what I have time for. Also, having replaced my masthead sheaves, I would be concerned that too small a line could fall into the gap between the sheaves and jam. So I'm not going with anything other than 5/16" for my halyard. However, in the future, I may consider downsizing my jib sheets from 3/8" to 5/16".

I'm not wedded to using NE Ropes, but I saw some good prices on them on the web. Most of my other lines from the boat are from different manufacturers. The only NE Rope I currently have is 1/4" Sta-Set for my furler, and that's because my furler line broke on a cruise and it's the only 1/4" line I could find in stock at the local Rock Hall store.

However, I did make use of your advice, and found a great deal on 5/16" VPC, pre-spliced with shackle, so I ordered that. I had never even heard of VPC, so thanks to mr f for being first to suggest that. Looking forward to trying it out. My current halyard will be cut into at least two parts and moved to my Phantom sailing dinghy (pictured below). Or maybe I'll try it as a jib sheet first.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Let us know how you find the feel and handling of the VPC after you have experienced it.
Thanks,
John
I will. I do wish I lived near a store that carried all these ropes so I could just go see them for myself. Instead I'm forced to get advice up here and try something different whenever I need to replace something.
 
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