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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchased a Wichard 3-point tether from my local marine consignment store. I'm about to begin my Coastal Passagemaking course, and need to have one, but am going broke buying all the equipment.

My question is this, how do you know if it is time to replace the webbing on a tether? Wichard says the threads are meant to be an indicator. But, when I contacted a representative at Wichard today, they were very vague, said yes we sell replacement webbing but the only recommendation is to buy an entire new tether. The tether I bought on consignment would be over $200 new. Not replacing it.

What would you do? I'm a fairly light-weight woman. Is this tether likely to fail on me? The representative wouldn't even talk to me about what to look for in the threads. Does anyone here have experience with this?

Thanks!
 

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$200 is a lot for a tether, but how much is your life worth? When I start wondering: how secure is my tether, harness, helmet, parachute, it is time to replace.

If you need one for the class go with what you got. If you are going into a situation where you may be heading to the bow with conditions that require a harness or else, buy a new one. Do you really want to crawl onto the foredeck wondering the security of your safety system?
 

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A very difficult question. Often things are placed on consignment because the last person felt it was too old (in which case a moral person would have cut it up). Or they just sold it.
* How old? (post a pic--we may be able to guess)
* How many days in the sun?
* Is it faded?

Post a pic.

(I've break tested lots of rope, old and new, and it is actually quite difficult to judge.)
 

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SteffanieS, The Wichard rep is going to be vague and non-committal due to product liability torts. The threads he is referring to are some multi-colored threads sewn (overcast?) near one of the shackles (on yours it probably is the one nearest to your harness). They are designed to break when the webbing is over stressed. Don’t quote me but I think yours is rated to 4,000 pounds. Normal use (and most “falls”) are well below the breaking strength of those safety threads. You should be fine. If you are still worried, take a close-up photo of those threads so we can inspect it. Have fun on your course and post your experiences. I’d love to read them. I’m off to Mexico in the morning to deliver a boat back to San Francisco so I will be “off the air” for the next couple of weeks so perhaps another sailnetter can pick up this thread.
 

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Oh, I can answer this! :grin

In general: pay the least for gear while you are doing lessons. Because it maybe the last time you go sailing.
If you do go crewing after your course your skipper will have tethers.
If you buy your own boat then you need to take a but more care.

Tethers will degrade (mostly) by 3 things:
UV
Abrasion
Impact

Like a seatbelt 1 car crash and you should replace it.

Unless you buy a tether new you don't know if it's been left in the sun for months, or if it's been stressed.
So when you buy your own boat you should upgrade to a new one :grin but this one is fine while you're learning.

As a tip: Wichard are very good but are expensive. There's gotta be more economical but still safe brands 😊
 

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You could fabricate one:

Tango locking carabiner ~$35: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003EM8FIK/coliid=I36GDME43R2BL1&colid=1LELTLWBJ57DN&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

1" tubular nylon is not expensive and breaks at ~2000 lbs and is easily doubled up and tied.

If you are confident in your stitching skills you can make it look nicer than the knotted version.

Pros:
-You know exactly what you have and what it's been exposed to.
-Somewhat less expensive than off the shelf. (But not when you consider the time you put into research and production)

Cons:
-Your commercially licensed skipper may not share your confidence in your handywork.
-You can't sue the manufacturer if it doesn't work the way you thought it would.
-Not consistent with the "spare no expense where safety kit is concerned" philosophy.
 

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If you are confident in your stitching skills you can make it look nicer than the knotted version.
I used to rock climb, and I highly discourage this ...

It's surprisingly easy to make stitching that isn't nearly strong enough to handle the potential loads.

Knots, on the other hand, are a lot easier to ensure are tied correctly and knots have known breaking strengths. If you're going to make your own, I highly recommend that you research the correct type of knot for the situation and be sure you tie it correctly.

I would advise against stitching unless you have someone with experience doing stitching designed to handle the kinds of shock loads a harness is designed to handle. Not just any ordinary seam expert ... stitching for loads is a science unto itself.

All that being said, there's no reason I can think of that you couldn't tie your own with a little research.
 

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My question is this, how do you know if it is time to replace the webbing on a tether? Wichard says the threads are meant to be an indicator. But, when I contacted a representative at Wichard today, they were very vague... Is this tether likely to fail on me? The representative wouldn't even talk to me about what to look for in the threads.
Perhaps more to your point: I think you are talking about the stitching on the webbing where it is folded back on itself a few times. That is a strain indicator and is intended to break when a significant shock load (somehwat less than the tether's breaking load) is applied. If those threads are separated, damaged, or broken, the tether should be replaced.

Can you post a picture of the part you are concerned about?
 

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Tango sells tethers for not much more than the cost of the components. Prices have come WAY down the last few years.

$112 for a 3-clip tether. The parts, purchased on e-bay, will cost yearly $100.

I used to be a proponent of DIY tethers, particularly for boat (multihulls) that needed odd lengths. But with this price drop, the smart thing is to buy.

---

Whether the strain threads are broken tells you NOTHING about the remaining strength in an old tether. It only means it has never been over-strained. But it could still be be weak as a kitten.

And Mark makes really good points. In truth, most tethers never see much use.
 

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As Mark said, assuming that your sailing course is not actually going offshore, the tether that you bought is probably fine for a sailing course. I would suggest that you get tether that is new and in good condition if you plan to single-hand or go off-shore. I don't know where the $200.oo price came from. That seems to be very high. As other have said, tethers should be closer to $110 to $120. Even West Marine has a double teather for $129.00.

https://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-marine--world-sailing-specification-double-safety-tether--11878691?mrkgcl=481&mrkgadid=3337277300&cm_mmc=PS-_-Google-_-GSC>Brand%20(LIA)-_-11878691&product_id=11878691&adpos=1o1&creative=343880228359&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=Cj0KCQjwkoDmBRCcARIsAG3xzl_8TsfjgO2BCEaNZukLHYRSZws0aBk-2RVHvW9ci_2v-GKYc8f-XQ4aAqF-EALw_wcB

While I am not a big fan of the concept of making my own tether, structural tube webbing is available from climbing supply places pretty inexpensively and its easy enough to install the shock chord retractors inside the webbing. I agree that it does not seem likely that a private individual can properly stitch the webbing to achieve the required strength.

Jeff
 

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Climbing webbing does NOT meet the required strength. Remember that climbers use it doubled, in loops. Additionally, nylon webbing is impossible to sew past about 80% strength because of its stretch. The explanation gets technical, but rest assured, it cannot be done. That leaves you at 3200 pounds. The ISAF requirements is 4500 pounds. It is also doubtful that climbing webbing could pass the ISO sail tether drop test (as a loop, easily, as a sewn tether, marginal).

I'd buy one, and I'm a DIY guy that has tested a lot of stitching. The prices have come down to a reasonable figure.
 

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Sailrite has a couple videos about sewing webbing, with stress testing, etc.

Another DIY trick might be to line a tubular poly/nylon web with a run of Dyneema...This is how APS makes their's
 

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Sailrite has a couple videos about sewing webbing, with stress testing, etc.

Another DIY trick might be to line a tubular poly/nylon web with a run of Dyneema...This is how APS makes their's
No, Not ever. Dynemma is acceptable for jacklines, but NOT for tethers.

The ISAF and ISO standards include a drop test and require some level of shock absorption. There are reasons no commercial tether is made of anything other than nylon.

Try this test. Make a tether out of something non-stretch like Dyneema, tie it to a tree, gather up some slack, and take a run at it. If you leave more than 2 feet of slack you are going to get bruises, and with 4 feet of slack, expect a back injury or cracked ribs.

Tethers must ALWAYS have some stretch.

---

There are two VITAL shortcomings with the Sailrite testing:
1. They tested polyester webbing, which does not stretch. Sewing a material that stretches, like nylon, requires a different method. It's like sewing elastic. A box stitch is not used for this application, so the formula and testing is not valid.
2. Nylon is always bar tacked. Look at ANY climbing equipment. There are engineering reasons for this that have NOTHING to do with economy.
(I used to be in the industry and have tested sewn nylon--I'm not guessing or reading off the net)

They very wisely stopped selling the harness and tether kits. They did not meet any of the required standards. They are sailmakers, not structural equipment fabricators.
 

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No, Not ever. Dynemma is acceptable for jacklines, but NOT for tethers.

The ISAF and ISO standards include a drop test and require some level of shock absorption. There are reasons no commercial tether is made of anything other than nylon.

Try this test. Make a tether out of something non-stretch like Dyneema, tie it to a tree, gather up some slack, and take a run at it. If you leave more than 2 feet of slack you are going to get bruises, and with 4 feet of slack, expect a back injury or cracked ribs.

Tethers must ALWAYS have some stretch.

---

There are two VITAL shortcomings with the Sailrite testing:
1. They tested polyester webbing, which does not stretch. Sewing a material that stretches, like nylon, requires a different method. It's like sewing elastic. A box stitch is not used for this application, so the formula and testing is not valid.
2. Nylon is always bar tacked. Look at ANY climbing equipment. There are engineering reasons for this that have NOTHING to do with economy.
(I used to be in the industry and have tested sewn nylon--I'm not guessing or reading off the net)

They very wisely stopped selling the harness and tether kits. They did not meet any of the required standards. They are sailmakers, not structural equipment fabricators.
Thank you for posting this. I think most of us come here to be helpful and to learn from those who know more about a subject than we do. I had always assumed that if i ever made a tether it would be a nylon tube over a dyneema core with the dyneema spliced to the hardware and with a shock chord in the tube acting as a retracter. In my ignorance, it never occurred to me that it was possible that there could be too little stretch to a tether. I really appreciate your explanation. Live and learn.

Reading that, it sounds like if someone had to make their own tether, the core would want to be something like 3/8" diameter 3-strand polyester or even nylon spliced to the hardware with the tubing reducing slip potential and providing a UV screen rather than a structural component. On the other hand, the case that you clearly make suggests that making your own tether is simply a bad idea.

For what it is worth, I use an 11 mm kevlar cored line as my jacklines and hook onto the windward line thinking that they would prevent me from making it over the leeward toerail. (So far they have) It sounds like that isn't a great idea either.

Jeff
 
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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all of the thoughtful responses.

I bought this harness because I was possibly going to be on a TAG boat with only a few days' notice. The chandlery was completely out of 3-point tethers due to the recent boat show, so I resorted to the consignment store. I didn't end up on the TAG boat, but now I have this tether which seems to have good hardware, is not faded, but doesn't have the stretch left in the longer leg. However, I couldn't find any broken threads on it. I'm happy to replace the entire webbing if that is the right course to take. The CPM class will go out the Golden Gate to the Farallons, but not if the winds exceed 30 knots. I am going to purchase a new tether online as well. But in the meantime, I am trying to assess this one.

I appreciate the link to the $100 tether. Looks good! I'll probably buy it.

I'll post pics as soon as I can. (Off to work right now.)
 

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Here are a few links you may find helpful:

https://rockandice.com/climbing-gear-tips/when-to-replace-climbing-webbing/
https://www.rei.com/blog/climb/when-to-retire-climbing-gear
https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en/qc-lab-gear-doesnt-last-forever--slings--quickdraws/qc-lab-gear-doesnt-last-forever--slings--quickdraws.html

Most climbing slings are rated to 22 kN which is about 5000 Lbs.

I would avoid dyneema slings as they do not have good abrasion resistance and tests have shown that knotting them significantly reduces breaking strength.

I suggest you look into the Personal Anchor Systems (PAS) used by rock climbers. I use a Metolius Ultimate Daisy Chain as my PAS: (NOT to be confused with the sewn daisy chains that are used for aid climbing.)
https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/ultimate_daisy.html
Metolius also makes other models as do other manufacturers:
https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/pas_personal_anchor_system.html
https://www.metoliusclimbing.com/alpine-pas_personal_anchor_system.html

These consist of a series of sewn links formed up into a chain which a climber then girth hitches (Lark's head to sailors) onto their harness. The chain links allow the climber to vary the length of the PAS by attaching to different links and to add redundancy into their anchor setup by attaching different points in the chain to different points of protection.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Oh, I can answer this! :grin

In general: pay the least for gear while you are doing lessons. Because it maybe the last time you go sailing.
If you do go crewing after your course your skipper will have tethers.
If you buy your own boat then you need to take a but more care.

Tethers will degrade (mostly) by 3 things:
UV
Abrasion
Impact

Like a seatbelt 1 car crash and you should replace it.

Unless you buy a tether new you don't know if it's been left in the sun for months, or if it's been stressed.
So when you buy your own boat you should upgrade to a new one :grin but this one is fine while you're learning.

As a tip: Wichard are very good but are expensive. There's gotta be more economical but still safe brands 😊
I already own a boat, so I hope it's not my last time sailing when I do my next level of classes. :wink

The Wichard tether was the only one at the consignment store that looked at all worthy. The others were only 2 point tethers, and faded, so generally looked like something I wouldn't want to trust my life to.

I'm not attached to the brand, except to try to improve the one I have by buying new webbing for it, if necessary.

I am going to buy a brand new harness, and probably won't buy a Wichard because there are others that will do the job just fine.

After watching a YouTube video on the testing of tethers, I'm fairly certain that if I fall off the boat attached to a tether, I'd better have a sharp rigging knife at the ready so I can cut myself free. It looked like a sure-fire way to drown. I'm assuming the only way a tether would save my life is to keep me on the boat in the first place. Barring that, the skipper had better be really good at stopping the boat on a dime or I'll drown at any boat speed above 2 knots.

But, at any rate, the tether is required for Coastal Passagemaking so I'm getting it.

On my own boat, I need to rig the jack lines so I won't go overboard. If I'm single-handed, the skipper will be me. :captain:

I'm going to order that $100 tether now...
 

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If you own your own boat. No problem owning a second harness for guests.

I can't believe they won't go to the Farallons above 30 knots. Wimps.:wink

I grew up in the bay area and lived in San Diego until recently. I remember racing in SD and the owner considering taking down the spinnaker because it was blowing around 20.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
If you own your own boat. No problem owning a second harness for guests.

I can't believe they won't go to the Farallons above 30 knots. Wimps.:wink
I suspect they got tired of all us newbies getting seasick. :grin

Yes, I need to have spare tethers on my own boat, but it'll probably be a couple of years before I point her out the Gate.
 
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