Stitching Instead of Splicing

Splicing is king in any discussion of line termination. By carefully tucking cover and core back into the line, or weaving strands in laid line, and using patterns that have been perfected over time, we can create virtually full-strength terminations that will last the life of the line without maintenance.

Break and Break Again

All lines were broken once to determine approximate breaking strength without a stitched eye. A simple chain fall and load cell provided a means of pulling test samples up to 5,000-pound loads. The samples were then sewn or knotted into dog bones 6 to 8 inches long with an eye on each end, and the load was again applied until failure. This allowed the testers to compare breaking strengths with and without a stitched eye or knot. The test was broken into two parts, laboratory and field testing.

Other Stitching Techniques that Work Well

We principally looked at three means of seizing an eye without splicing-basting, round-stitching, and seizing-used alone and in combination. Round stitching is described in the accompanying main article. Here are some of the other stitching patterns we tested.

Mainsail Halyard Shackles

A mainsail halyard shackle needs to be as reliable as an on/off switch on a table saw. Its a one-act pony thats counted on to perform perfectly each and every time. These essential shackles fly under the radar and have become so much a part of every sailors routine that they are simply taken for granted. They terminate mainsail, mizzen, and foresail halyards aboard sailboats ranging from dinghies to mega yachts. We become so familiar with the hardware, that idiosyncrasies like a slightly bent clevis pins, damaged threads, or a misshapen stamped fork opening are tolerated.

A Look at Silicon Bronze Versus Stainless Steel

Brass is a pretty poor marine metal. An amalgam of copper and the much less costly and corrosion-prone zinc, brass reign afloat, at least in load bearing hardware, was short lived. But when copper is alloyed with less corrosion-prone metals, the result can be quite different. And although brass and bronze sound confusingly similar, their attributes tell very different stories.

Tylaska Tops in Snap Shackles

Snap shackles have become as familiar to sailors as pots and pans are to a harried chef. From dinghies to mega yachts, the function of these ubiquitous bits of hardware remains consistent. Each affords a quick and reliable means of making that all-important halyard-to-sail junction. The absolute minimalist might say that a bowline can do the same, afterall, isn't it the favored means of attaching sheets to the clew of a sail? The knots-for-snap shackles debate loses out, however, when it comes to hasty halyard swaps, not to mention the release of a loaded spinnaker guy. And even if youre not quite ready to label these shackles as essential hardware, they certainly do make life on the foredeck a whole lot easier.

Testers Compare Swivels, Look for Pin Creep

For this evaluation, each shackle was visually inspected, component parts were measured, and stainless-steel alloys were noted. During this initial inspection, we tested how easy each snap shackle could be closed with one hand; we also repeatedly measured how easily the un-clipping process could be executed using a simple tension spring-test on the piston-pin versions and by using a height scale on the Tylaska push-to-release latching model. We recognize the importance of pin security under load and felt that the reluctance of a shackle pin to be easily pulled under load was, in many cases, an attribute.

Stainless Steel: Advantages and Ailments

When it comes to stainless steel, nothing seems more baffling than the latest array of alloys that have migrated into the marine market. Not so long ago, stainless steel was referred to as 302, 304, and 316. These differing grades of stainless varied according to chrome and nickel content and the corrosion resistance they afforded.

DIY Rigging Hacks

Over the years weve owned Josepheline, our 38-foot Lightwave catamaran, weve figured out a few simple fixes to some niggling onboard problems-some boat hacks, if you will-and we thought wed share a few in the hopes that other boat owners may benefit. If you have any little fixes of your own that youd like to share, email your story to

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

For decades, adjusting the genoa sheet leads from the cockpit was a luxury ascribed to racing sailboats. But todays cruising sailboat equipped with a roller-furling headsail also benefits from an efficient, safe means of adjusting the genoa sheets lead angle. We tested 11 genoa sheet-lead cars and tracks from the top manufacturers of sailboat deck hardware: Antal, Garhauer, Harken, Nautos, Ronstan, Schaefer, and Selden. Testers looked at the genoa-sheet controls operational efficiency, design and attributes, construction quality, and ease of installation; price and warranty were also considered.

Winterizing Your Boat’s Water System

Much of your winterizing success will depend on the initial condition of your existing water system. If it is nearly sterile (effectively chlorinated water), there may be too few bacteria and fungus present for infection to start. However, if you use less than 20 percent alcohol or glycol (after dilution with water left in the system) you are at risk of biological growth; the lower the concentration the greater the risk. This is the reason why vodka and other alcohol-based winterizing fluids should be avoided. In our testing these solutions acted like an invitation to a microbial feast.