Shedding Light on Safety


A recent ocean race-aboard a Cape Dory 25 sans lifelines in 30- to 40-knot winds and 5- to 10-foot seas-presented a good opportunity to sea-trial Wichards LyfSafe jackline kit.

Wichard Inc., which is based in France and has an office in Vermont, has been making marine hardware and accessories for more than 30 years. Its LyfSafe kit offers a ready-to-go jackline setup and comes with everything needed to install the system. What sets the LyfSafe apart from standard jacklines is its reflective polyester webbing and glow-in-the-dark adjuster casings, both of which make the setup more visible on a dark deck and easier to locate when you need to clip in in a hurry at night.

Shedding Light on Safety

Testers found the system installation easy, fast, and straightforward. The kit includes two lengths of 1-inch-wide webbing (each with one looped and one free end) that can be fitted onto a variety of deck fittings, including padeyes, cleats, and stanchions. (For more on jacklines and their proper setup, check out “Hooked Up,” PS April 2007.)

The jacklines can be tailored to the desired length by sliding the forged stainless adjusters. No cutting is necessary, so the jacklines can easily be used on multiple boats in a similar size range. Two plastic, photoluminescent casings are supplied as covers for the metal adjusters. Testers found that these made it easy to spot the end of the line at night, and they also kept the jacklines from being accidentally loosened or released.

LyfSafe kits are available in lengths ranging from 27 feet ($150) to 55 feet ($295). (We found them for sale at Basic 30-foot polyester jacklines cost about $60, considerably less than the LyfSafe, but they lack adjusting hardware, built-in reflective qualities, and anti-abrasion sides.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


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