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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

Is there anyone out there sailing without stanchions and lifelines?? If so, what type of boat? And what type of sailing do you do?

I ask because I recently met a guy who didn't have them on his boat. He immediately takes them off every boat he has ever owned.
 

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America's cup boats don't have lifelines; everyone else should. They are required for offshore racing.
 

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We sailed a Martin 242 (relatively hi perf day racer) without lifelines for nearly 15 years. We had no issues other than obviously having to be a bit more cautious moving about. I know many who refer to the so-called "lifelines" as 'deathlines' and they believe that you're far more likely to trip over them and go overboard than not.

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but in reality on most smaller boats any lifelines that 'look' right for the boat size will tend to be rather low, e.g. knee height and unless you're rolling on your back they are not likely to prevent a fall overboard. They do, however, provide a last ditch 'grab point' that can help you stay on (or alongside) the boat. And that's as long as they don't fail when put to the test.

Stanchions are notorious for being under-engineered, poorly supported/backed and probably the most common cause of deck leaks, core and skin delamination due to water intrusion. Any force applied to the upper end of the stanchion (or upper lifeline) has a long lever arm and really stresses the stanchion base. Stress cracks in this area are commonplace, even if leakage or delam is not an issue.

Advantages of having some kind of lifelines is that they do tend to try to keep hanked-on sails on deck when dropped, and of course when properly fitted with webbing or lacing they are indispensable when sailing with children.


...... They are required for offshore racing.
True... we once sailed on a sistership to our own M242 in a distance race that required lifelines.. it was awful, seating positions in the cockpit were really compromised from normal... but 'thems were the rules'....

EDIT... I should qualify the above by saying that we have, and have no intention of removing, the lifelines on our current boat!
 

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Some sailors disapprove of them thinking that they give a false sense of security and encourage carelessness among the crew. This is, I think, foolish in the extreme, like saying seatbelts encourage careless driving. Lifelines and stanchions won't always keep you aboard but they help.
 

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Hello!


I ask because I recently met a guy who didn't have them on his boat. He immediately takes them off every boat he has ever owned.
What type of sailing was he doing?
 

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Some folks ride their motorcycles without helmets. Some people remove their lifelines.

on my old 26 footer, with narrow side decks, the stanchions were in the way, causing a tripping hazard so I removed them.

On our Catalina 309 they will remain.

It's true, as a previous poster mentioned, that many stanchions are too low to be effective, as they're about knee height. Equally true is that as one goes forward under rougher conditions, one is likely to be very low to the deck. And maybe tethered. So when traction fails and you fall to the low side, it's nice to have the lifelines act as a safety net, rather than finding yourself next to the boat, tethered.

To each their own.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What type of sailing was he doing?
He sailed the Chesapeake every summer. By that I mean he was a liveaboard in the summer and moved back on land during the winter. This summer he moved aboard full time and sailed down to FL then the Bahamas in the fall.
 

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For inland and near-coastal racing, you might get away with no stanchions / lifelines.

For anything else you want some means of keeping "stuff" on board. I would not trust my life to lifelines; that what tethers are for.

Even in calm conditions when I walk forward / aft I slide my hands along the lifelines as a minor assist to balance.
 

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I race and cruise a 22 footer without lifelines. I've sailed 22 and 25 footers with lifelines and found them to be a real nuisance...they just take up valuable space on side decks that are already pretty narrow. In my opinion, jack lines and harnesses are a better solution on small boats.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hmm...

Thanks for all the responses. Mine is a C30. The stanchions and lines are off now. They were leakers so the holes were filled with epoxy. I guess I could always launch in the spring without and then decide whether to put them on or not.
 

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I don't have lifelines or stanchions for the most part on my boat. The boat came with lifelines that mount on the amas, but they aren't generally used since the ama has a FOOT-HIGH bulwark outboard of the ama's deck. The newer models of the Telstar 28 don't even have the mounting points for the stanchions, since they were generally causes for leaking into the amas.
 

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I do a lot of overnight races and cant picture draging sails around and changing them without lifelines as a guide :)
 

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PY23 here, no lifelines. It came with the brackets but not the stantions/lines. I day sail on Lake Ontario and always wear a jacket on the foredeck.

I feel that the side decks are too narrow to have stantions so I will not be putting any on.
 

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I have a Catalina 30 and have the standard stanchions and lifelines. I tell anyone going forward to hold on the the lifelines while moving. This keeps their body low and prevents them from loosing their balance. I would not go out on the ocean without them.
 

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I think the sidedecks on boats around 22' are too small to have high enough lifelines. Smaller boats are also not as likely to go as far offshore. My C22 didn't have lifelines. Some did. Certainly on a C30 however.
 

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FWIW, my 30' "Classic" boat, like many others of similar vintage, doesn't have lifelines although I have the option to fit them for going off-shore. Instead it has a 4" ankle-high bulwark fitted right around the deck and I'd suggest that, given adequate hand-holds, that the bulwark gives at least an identical feeling of security (if not more so) than having lifelines.

If you do have lifelines fitted, aside from the "going overboard" feeling*, although, yes, they DO help hold the headsail on deck when dropped, having to skirt the thing on every tack - meaning someone going forward hence increased possiblity of them actually going overboard - is a major pain in the butt. JMO..

(*) Most yachts less than 60' LOA don't have very wide decks. When walking along a deck with lifelines fitted you can feel them pushing against your legs, which is why people feel they might go overboard. This is because the lower body is constrained inboard whilst the uppper body can move outboard making you feel that if you lost your balance due to some unexpected movement, you'll be swimming. With a bulwark or similar *high* toerail to ankle height and NO lifelines, the feeling of security increases, simply because your legs are free to move to help you balance naturally, whilst the bulwark prevents your feet from sliding on a sloping deck.

By comparision, I often race in an Adams 10 which has only a small toe-rail (and in some places nothing at all!). Having nothing to stop you going feet-first on a sloping deck makes for a HUGE feeling of insecurity in a seaway compared to having lifelines.

In summary: IMHO, for sailing on enclosed waters on a small boat, optimum feeling of security and practicality is found with an ankle-height bulwark and hand-holds along the side of the cabin and center foredeck. Next best is lifelines and worst is nothing at all.. ;)

Off-shore in a blow, you need lifelines to keep EVERYTHING on deck (not just the crew) and that's really all there is to it.

Hope that helps. :)
 

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;)

 

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There were no lifelines on the Dyer dinghy I learn to sail on as a kid. Ironically, I was much more likely to fall out of it than I am my current boat. Still, lifelines are mandatory for me now.
 
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