Sunday, May 21, 2017

Stanchions: Pulling up is Okay, but sideways, not so much.

Every so often there is a forum thread involving a rant about one of the following:
  1. Stanchions are a tripping hazard. They only mark the edge of the boat.
  2. Stanchions are only for falls, You should never touch them.
  3. Never touch the stanchions when docking or boarding. This will loosen them and lead to leaks.
Only the last one is arguably true, and the last one deserves some caveats, below.

I can see why this guy is sensitive. Apparently his crew likes to pull on stanchions when boarding and push when docking.

This boat was within a season of a water-soak, soft deck. Dodged a bullet.

Yet you can't sanely expect aging sailors, crew carrying things, or lubbers that have never been on a boat to avoid placing a hand on a railing. They need to. Such an attitude is thoughtless regarding the safety of your passengers and unrealistic for even the best crew on their worse day. If the stanchion in question is insecure, it may perhaps be reckless or even negligent, even if not in the legal sense. Is a bad fall, causing lasting injury, worth it? I had such a fall in college; it is life-changing event, every bit as serious as a death, from my perspective. You'll think so after you've walked that road, in nagging pain, for 40 years.

Shattered in 16 pieces in college, now being x-rayed for additional surgery 40 years later.

The obvious answer is to reinforce the stanchion with an angled leg.  This one gets used every time the boat is boarded, hauled on mightily occasionally, and it remains as tight and stiff as ever. No means to reinforce even one. First, I doubt that. At the very least, and oversized base is not so difficult; if the post bends, bend it back. But if you feel this is hopeless, than use butyl for bedding, install a good backing plate, and accept that you will need to pull that one fitting every few years. No big deal.

Stanchions used for boarding should be braced.

The Main Topic -- Pulling Up

I use lifelines for security all the time, and I have never had a leak. Sure, the bases are well secured, but the most important factor is that I pull UP on the lifeline. I don't push or pull to the side. It would be less secure anyway, since the force is not effective until I am well off balance.

By pulling up, with  one hand on the lifeline and one hand on the jackline, my feet are pressed firmly against the deck, providing stability and traction. Stress on the stanchion is trivial. Corrections are applied before by body moves out of column, leaning one way or the other.

By pulling up on the lifeline, you press your feet into the deck, Very handing when beating into a steep sea.[From "Singlehanded Sailing for the Coastal Cruiser."]

As for docking, reinforced bow and stern pulpits are a necessity, and most are equipped--pull on that. Use a boat hook or foot on the toe rail or stanchion base. Use ropes and fenders. And for goodness sake, tell anyone who comes to help to go away. If you are using lifelines while docking you are doing something very wrong.


Other popular internet forum rant topics include the best anchor, best PFDs, jackline locations, what is the best blue water boat.... Basically anything where everyone has an opinion, and where opinions can be be presented as fact based on personal experience and tastes. There will be good solid information buried in there, somewhere, but you need to keep your filters on tight. Then sit back and enjoy the show!

1 comment:

  1. Good points, Drew. Life lines are to use for safety and security. Otherwise, why have them?

    I've found that it takes very little in the way of support or a hand-hold to steady my balance most of the time, and so there's very little force imposed on the stanchions. I do ask guests not to pull on the lifelines when docking, but only at the moment they begin to do so, and it's easy to redirect their efforts to another part of the boat.