The Pros and Cons of Chest-high Jacklines

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World sailing offers fairly explicit expectations regarding jackstays. And PS offer its own additional advice, including one that recommends jacklines ideally be installed so that a sailor who is clipped in cant go over the side (see Jackline Installation Advice, November 2015). This is not always possible, especially on monohulls. In most cases, he chest-high lifeline on Mahina Tiare will keep above water the head of the person who is overboard.

Pros

Your tether wont tangle your feet as you go forward, since it is attached above, not on deck

You have a line to grab if the boat suddenly lurches or falls off a wave

The clunking tether shackle along the deck wont annoy crew members trying to sleep below or damage the boat.

Its quick and easy to rig and remove.

The Aladdin cleat also makes an excellent place to secure flag halyards to

Cons

Beware of tying into a stern or bow pulpit. The stern pulpits on many cruising boats will fail under less than 1,200 pound loads of load, less than than half the minimum advised for jackline padeyes (4,500 pounds). See “USNA Lifeline Test Reveals Weak Spots,”PS September 2012 for the full report.

If your upper shrouds are located quite a way inboard, youll likely have to go forward on the outside of the high lifeline, which can add risk in some scenarios.

When clipping in, your center of gravity is higher and you are less stable.

1. We use a truckers hitch to tension the lifeline where it attaches to the pushpit stanchions. Virtually all of the load on the lifelines is transferred to these pushpits. Past tests have shown that the railings on some boats are not as strong as they need to be to withstand the dynamic loads of a human bodies hurled against a lifeline (minimum 4,500 pounds), so you will want to make sure yours is up to the task. Backing plates deserve a close look (see How Big Does a Backing Plate Need to Be? (August 2016).

2. We use a simple clamp-on Aladdin cleat (aka flag cleat) to guide the lifeline past the shrouds.

3. CS Johnson marine makes a stainless steel guide especially designed for attaching to a shroud.

[Edited 06.20.2018 to reflect vulnerabilities of pulpits.]

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