Friday, January 8, 2010

Bow Lifeline Gates for Pennies

Rev 6-25-2016

My daughter's assignment when coming along side while cruising is to step off the bow with a line. On our Stiletto--with no lifelines--this was simple. With the PDQ's lifelines and short legs it is very tricky, and even taller people can only step off with planning and caution. I have never understood why gates in the lifeline at the bow are so rare.
    To install pelican hook gates would require new lifelines; too much money when the current lines have another 10 years left in them.  Quick release pins were another option, but they weren't a perfect fit in the existing toggles. Instead, I simply replaced the existing clevis pins and their difficult-to-work circle clips with over sized pins made from  1/4-inch eye bolts, secured with stainless hitch pins. This did require drilling small holes in the 1/4-inch bolts. Use a sharp drill, steady feed, and copious oil. A stainless cutting fluid
     The one difficulty. Because the lifeline is not fixed to the stanchion (ISAF regulations only allow lifelines to be fixed at the pulpit and stern rail or equivalent strong point), the lifeline will go slack when the bow attachment is released. I undervalued this problem at first, since we only release the bow gates when docking, and that only rarely. Eventually, I stumbled at the dock, grabbed the line for balance, and went strength down, the head of the stanchion smashing into my should near the collar bone and only just missing critical rotator cuff muscles. The could have been a career ending injury. The solution was to lash the lifeline to the foremost stanchion, leaving a little room for stain adjustment, honoring the intent of the ISAF standard.
  • How secure? At least as trip resistant as the average pelican hook. We keep the hitch pin on the inside to keep sheets away, and because it is easier to work that way.
  • Strength? The same as before.
  • Speed? All of the parts are secured with lanyards so that nothing can be lost, so it is as quick as pulling the pins in order. Re-assembly takes a few seconds longer, but that is seldom a rush.
  • Weight? an ounce saved is an ounce saved.

 Total cost: If you buy everything, about $2.75/gate at Home Depot, but you may have some of what you need as spares. I had everything in the might-need locker. I guess after 30 years of sailing the might need locker gets large.

Note: After 10 years we're still happy. When we replaced the covered lines with Dyneema we kept the basic mechanism.

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