Offshore Sailing tip #1


    Jacklines and Cockpit Pad Eyes

    Jacklines are ropes, wire, or webbing stretched between the bow and stern of a boat to which crew clip their safety harnesses when moving about on deck. Offshore, they should be left rigged (attached) in place, regardless of weather.

    Jacklines made from flat nylon webbing are generally considered preferable to round wire, which will roll underfoot. The breaking strength requirement is a minimum of 5,000 pounds. The color should be very bright so that they are visible both day and night. The drawback of colored jacklines is that they may bleed their dye on deck. To avoid this mess, soak them in a bucket of water before using.

    The design I recommend is a continuous length with a loop sewn in at the bow, which is then shackled to the stemhead. The two aft legs tie off to the stern cleats the same way one would belay a line. With one continuous line, the sewing of the loop at the bow is not terribly critical. If using two separate jacklines, one for each side of the deck, the loop stitching must be protected from chafe with tape.

    To read more tips to keep your sailing safer and more enjoyable, purchase Offshore Sailing: 200 Essential Passagemaking Tips from Practical Sailor.

    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.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here