We have a love-hate relationship with nylon rope. When it comes to absorbing shock, it offers the best available combination of strength, elasticity, and economy. On the downside, it is sensitive to UV, abrasion when wet, has a low working load limit, and is weakened over time by internal wear.
Working with High-Tech Ropes
If you are working with low friction rings, sooner or later youre going to work with Amsteel and other high molecular polyethylene (HMPE) ropes, and that means learning to splice-in rings.
Adding a Polyester Cover to Dyneema Single Braid
Extremely low friction allows Amsteel and other high molecular weight polyethylene (HMPE) lines to run like lightening through low friction rings. Unfortunately, they also run right through cleats, jammers, and your hands. If a jammer did hold-and it wont-the load would probably exceed the capacity of any device that matched the lines tiny size.
Splice Failure Linked to Fatality
On the 4th of September 2015, Andrew Ashman was killed during an accidental jibe, when the boom delivered a fatal injury to the base of his neck. The boat, CV21 Ichor Coal, had been running in strong conditions, and yawing allowed the wind to get on the wrong side of the mainsail, as occasionally happens. A preventer was rigged, but a strop securing a low friction ring turning block near the bow failed, allowing the boom to cross the cockpit unrestrained. On such highly engineered boats, how did this happen?
A Sure Way to Secure the Boom
When the wind really blows, the pleasant chiming of a marina takes on a different character. Above the howling of the wind is the Devils Tattoo, the racket of one hundred poorly-secured halyards hammering against aluminum. Booms creak from side-to-side, and some pound against stays. Workers are distracted and anyone living aboard wishes his neighbors had taken a few small steps to preserve the peace, not to mention their rig.
Dyneema Abrasion Test
As outlined in our previous report on lifelines, high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) fiber rope has revolutionized sailboat rigging during the past decade (see Fiber lifeline Protection Plan, PS September 2015 online), however sailors arent the only ones benefitting from the introduction of this super-strong, low-stretch cordage. Virtually any application that once employed a stranded wire-rope-ranging from tow cables to hoists-is now also served by HMPE. The widespread availability of generic brands of this super-strong, low-stretch cordage made us curious. How do these non-marine brand products compare to known marine brands? And what types are best suited for the various sailboat applications?
Penny Pincher Pawl Lube
Winch pawls require a different lube the rest of the winch. The only time they are moving is under practically no load, clicking along the ratchet wheel until the handle stops turning. A heavy packing of grease can stick and prevent full engagement, resulting in broken pawls, gouged ratchet wheels, and in the worse case, crew injury when the handle spins backwards.
Undoing Mainsheet Twist
What kind of line do you use in your davit tackle? My lines keep twisting, chafing, and jamming. The ropes run crooked in the blocks no matter how often I restring them, asks Sailor One.
Winches Part 2
In our second look at sailboat winches, we put the deck hardware into action, sea trialing traditional winches that have stood the test of time as well as the newest trends in winch design. Our goal was to hone in on the operational aspects of each winch, scrutinizing how each drum handled line loads and noting which drum shapes were less prone to overrides. Testers also compared the effectiveness of self-tailing systems and the various drum surface finishes used to keep the line from slipping.
Winches: Ratios and Reality
When comparing winches, its important to understand how input and output interface. The winch handle is a rotary lever that is the first stage of power amplification. The ratio of drum radius-to-handle length is the first force multiplier. An 8-inch handle and a 2-inch radius drum, therefore, deliver a 4-to-1 boost in pulling power and a 4-to-1 decrease in line-hauling speed.