Safety & Seamanship

Although the extreme hiking portrayed on this Melges 24 (above, left) is usually frowned upon, racers certainly impose more abuse on lifelines than cruising sailors. However, incidental hand grabs (above, right), and sheet chafe take their toll over time.

Fiber Lifeline Protection Plan

Don’t let hidden chafe doom your efforts to ditch wire lifelines.

New, single-braid, high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) lines, such as Amsteel Blue from Samson Ropes, WR2 (wire rope replacement) from New England Ropes, and Vectrus from Yale Cordage, have revolutionized the way sailors think about standing and running rigging. Bit by bit, these low-stretch ropes are replacing wire rope on board. But the changeover is not without controversy.

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