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Thread: Jacklines and tethers

  1. #1
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    Default Jacklines and tethers

    Been thinking about this topic leading up to the race.

    I read through this fellow's blog re tethers and jacklines. Some very interesting thoughts especially with regard to point loading and fall arrest.

    http://sail-delmarva.blogspot.com/20...hulls-and.html

    I was at REI over the weekend buying a climbing harness as a safety backup to my top climber for ascending the mast. I have a round spar on the Freedom so I can use a kleimheist around the mast and attached to the harness as backup fall protection. While I was there the sales guy introduced me to the climbing wall and suggested I try the harness out. Wow, that was an interesting experience, just to feel my 200Lbs (OK, maybe a little more) suspended from the wall. Going upside down and generally goosing about in the harness. It was exhausting after just a few moments. I plan to return with my sailing harness just to find out what it would feel like to be dangling over the side. How much mobility I would have, etc.

    This kind of experience is what I thought was so valuable about the safety at sea training. You actually got to use your gear and, in some cases, it was not pretty. At least you know ahead of time it isn't going to be pretty and are more or less psychologically prepared for it.


    Bottom line is you don't want to be over the side. I am shortening my tethers accordingly.

  2. #2
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    COnsider you may find your self under the lifelines and between stancions. This may later your recovery planning.
    Brian

  3. #3
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    I'm always surprised when I talk with singlehanders about how little they've trained for an overboard experience. Many haven't done the 2-day SAS and most who have watched from the sidelines as others jumped in to test PFDs. I think it's critical for serious singlehanders to practice. Tie your boat across the berth, clip yourself in, and "fall" over the side away from the dock. Do it wearing your full gear, not a pair of shorts. Spend a CO2 cartridge and inflate your PFD (it's a good check to see if it stays inflated). Be sure to have several friends on the boat to help you back in. Then imagine doing that at 7+ knots 1,000 miles from land in the dark with no one on the boat to help you.

    SSS Treasurer Harvey Shlasky died just a few months after being elected (I was SSS Commodore) in a BAMA race when he was tossed out and dragged behind his boat - ask Bruce Nebitt about that. While I was YRA Chairman two sailors were tossed out of their boat, which sailed off into the S. Pacific. Luckily another competitor saw what happened and picked them up. In S. California another long-time shorthanded sailor apparently slipped out of this harness while returning from Catalina Island and was lost. A racer has just died in the Mid-West after falling off a boat. It happens.

    Mike, when you go back to REI, be sure to be fully geared up - and inflate your PFD because if you're over the side that's the way it will be. - Pat

  4. #4
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    Ha Ha, that will be interesting strolling into REI with Foulies, boots, harness, tether and inflated PFD.

    The problem is you can not replicate the weight of the water that fills your foulies pants and boots. I was astonished how much weight I gained when we went in the water during training. In a flat calm harbor I could barely pull myself out of the water on the ladder, I must have gained at least 50 to 60 Lbs. It is no wonder people have much difficulty recovering MOBs. I think a singlehander would be incredibly challenged to get back on board.

    After that experience I purchased an Ocean Rodeo Ignite dry suit. I wore it for the round the rocks and the Farallons. It was excellent, much more mobility than my foulies and very comfortable from a thermal point of view. The Ignite allows you to go partial dry by folding down the neck seal inside the jacket component. You must be careful with this though. As it gets rough you must don the neck seal and go 100% dry. Should you go over without donning the neck seal you risk filling with water just like the foulies. Having said this, it is relatively easy to don, you just have to do it.

    But I think the bottom line is trying to set up to max extent possible such that you can't get too far over the side. If you get your head below the wrong side of the toerail you are in a world of hurt.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianb View Post
    Consider you may find your self under the lifelines and between stanchions. This may alter your recovery planning.
    Brian
    This leads to a flaw in some race rules concerning jacklines. I fixed it in the 2010 SHTP rules and so far it has stuck. The "Shlasky rule" (mentioned above by Pat) typically says jacklines should stop short of the transom by a tether length. However most newer boats have a means to re-board included in the stern design. The newer J Boats (for example) have either a stepped transom or a fold-down boarding ladder on the stern - many have both. Others (like my J/92) have open transoms. The Shlasky rule prevents using these safety features.

    So our focus should not be (just) gear compliance but having a re-boarding STRATEGY based on the boat's design. Research shows that the majority of MOB's fall out UNDER the lifelines, not over them so Brian's point is quite valid. If you're hanging by your tether, how will you get to the stern to re-board (before hypothermia taps your strength)?
    Last edited by BobJ; 06-09-2015 at 10:03 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobJ View Post
    Research shows that the majority of MOB's fall out UNDER the lifelines, not over them so Brian's point is quite valid. . . .
    In a round up in the SHTP I slipped as water flooded the deck. I was half-asleep in the dark trying to release the spin sheet and I went under the lower lifeline up to my waist. I was caught across the chest before the tether reached full length.

    I have weaved some line making netting in the bow lifelines but I have been thinking it would be a good idea for offshore to weave some line netting along the cockpit lifelines especially at the winch locations as that is where the action is..

  7. #7
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    Bob J. is right about open transoms offering an opportunity (maybe) and very right about coming up with a strategy for getting back on board. Mike is right about gaining weight when everything's wet and your boots are filled with water. Brian is right about slipping under the lifelines and between stanchions. That's why I suggest a "semi-real" test at the dock to see if your plan might work. Then imagine being half asleep in the dark and slipping under the linelines with the chute up, going 7 or 8 knots - that's a real story.

    I've tried the "jump off the boat at the dock" routine and discovered it was impossible to get back on board without help with the planning I'd done. I've thought about going out into Richardson Bay with a crew, motoring at 6 knots, then "falling" off. But I'm not that brave. However, it would be much more of a real test - sort of like the recent emergency rudder exercise.

    I think the bottom line is staying on the boat. I figure the 3' part of a double tether and crawling on hands and knees in anything less than dead calm is how I'd get to the bow. My hard point in the cockpit is forward on the sole and with the 6' part I can't get completely off the boat.

    I've not sailed the SSS TransPac (and at my age won't be doing it), but I can tell you that with 3 onboard for the 2010 PacCup, which had "weather" most of the way after day 3, I thought a lot about how hard would be to get one of the others back in the dark (overcast with no moon nor stars), with 30 knots of wind and 8 - 10 foot seas sometimes hitting 12 or more knots if the driver was doing his job.

    The clew fitting blew at 0300 with wind speed around 25 knots. We hit some fishing gear that stopped the boat dead in the water at 0200 one night and around 0400 another night with wind speed above 20 knots. Backing down in the dark with large swells was "interesting." Nothing bad happened in the daylight.

    I think it's serious business.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2010
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    This has gotten so scary that I just may decide to stop doing this solo bit! BTW, it's most always dark when the worst things happen! Count on it...then be "happy" when they happen in daylight, calm wx and seas, etc. I am a true believer in the "bottom line" as stated by Pat above.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2007
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    San Jose
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    There is a practical approach to getting back aboard after a tethered fall. I have carried for years a nylon stepladder, made by sewing steps in a long loop of thin 1" nylon webbing, folded up and secured with a few rubber bands. It is attached to my clip in point on my harness by a stainless offset carabiner, and has a short tail to pull to unpack it. When unpacked, it is about 5 feet long and has 5 steps. If one were dangling from the tether, hopefully one might get a hand on the toerail. If not, your tether is too long! If one were to clip the (offset Eye "genius" ) carabiner over the toerail, and then pull the tail, one would have a fighting chance to get back aboard. By getting a foot into the highest loop that is practical, one could stand up, with ones weight on the ladder, and grab the lifelines. This way, the legs are being used to lift, not the arms. Climbers have used similar ladders, called "aiders" for many, many years to help in climbing things which are too difficult or steep for ascent by grabbing holds and pulling. A company called "Mountain Tools" has a selection of aiders. REI has them. Search in "climbing/webbing and cords/etriers. Item # 889775
    For bundling into a compact assembly suitable for clipping to the harness, I recommend the "alpine" versions of the aiders. Yates, Black Diamond, and others make good versions. They are also known as etriers.

    Here are some links. Some of the pictures do not show the full length of the aider. 5 step aiders are about right. Price is about $22.

    http://www.mtntools.com/cat/rclimb/a...lpineaider.htm

    http://www.rei.com/product/889775/bl...cm_mmc:cse_PLA

    West Marine sells three versions of the "genius" carabiner. The 3 1/8" version is part number 317057. The 4" version is part number 317065.

    Here is a link: http://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-m...02_060_002_003 Price is $30 to $40. Make sure it is big enough to get over your toerail.

    The last thing to do is to seize the loop on the aider to the carabiner with some light line or heavy whipping line. This is so that there is no chance that the aider will shift around. You want the aider carabiner loop in the bottom (narrow) part of the carabiner. Also tie a short piece of parachute cord to the last step, and consider a small line stopper ball, such as west marine # 9201328 to allow a something to grab.

    There are no guarantees, of course. If you go overboard singlehanded on a tether, it will be a heroic fight to get back aboard, but as others have discussed above, the odds using only your arms are small. If you can get a foot in an aider attached to the toerail, they improve dramatically.

    Best wishes,
    Michael

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    San Francisco
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    Default Your wording left me wondering Michael...

    When you talked about hanging from your harness... being a new feeling...
    So maybe you have already, but to be sure, do have climbed up the mast several times at the dock (if you haven't already). Going up the mast at sea is 10x harder then at the dock... the only chance you can get to the top of the mast when at sea is having had the experience of doing it several times before.

    As Pat said a few times on the tether man overboard issue... the trick is just not falling overboard (ie frequent use of the short tether). All the other ideas won't work in most situations - ie climbing some sort of ladder or pulling one self aboard through an open stern are only going to work in little wind and little waves. In a more typical "pacific average" 15k of wind with the boat doing 6k-7k and some waves, none of us has the strength to pull oneself back on the boat. At 6k of boat speed you are being pulled under water by your tether - and the load on the tether is tremendous. Recall Moore 24 back in the mid-90s DH with one of the crew down below and the other one being "towed" by the boat... when the sleeping crewman discovered the problem, he struggled to slow the boat down enough to be able to pull their partner back aboard by their tether... had to drop the main to get the boat to slow down enough to get them back aboard... and we all remember the J29, again DH and one of the crew being incapable of getting the other one aboard, even with the crew only being half in the water dangling by their tether. So the odds of saving yourself when singlehanded in the water dangling by your tether are very low... before hypothermia kicks in...

    Stay out of the water!

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