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Thread: tethers

  1. #1
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    Default tethers

    I am reading Andrew Evans' "Thoughts, tips....For Singlehanded sailors". Good info and interesting book however Andrew says he tapes his tether quick release up cause if he goes over offshore he's dead if he releases (hypothermia). I use a tether offshore and I keep the quick release active. I don't want to get trapped in the damn tether either due to capsize or some other crazy bashing around that gets me into a bizzare situation where the tether is wrapped around me or something.

    Anybody have any thoughts about tethers? Sometimes I am more afraid of the tether than I am of going over.

  2. #2
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    Nov 2009
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    Default Jackline Routing

    My thoughts are to clip in so that I don't go over the lifelines. I figure if I go over, somewhere between the cold water, getting bashed along the hull, and water-logged clothing, I'm dead. When I'm at the helm or up near the bow I'm clipped in using the 3' tether.

    I don't agree the the jacklines should be run port and starboard from the bow the way it's stipulated in some Race Instructions. I think it makes more sense the run them from the bow to the mast on centerline, then down each side port and starboard.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2009
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    Default quick release on tether

    A quick release is faster than a knife. There might be situations where you want to release yourself, e.g., you're being dragged/drowned in the water, it's cinched around your arm, etc. I prefer the combo 3 ft/6 ft bungee tether.

    BTW, west marine recalled this type of tether in 2010 because of a defect in the quick release mechanism. Check their website if you run into their brand.

    Joe

  4. #4
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    May 2009
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    Seattle
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar View Post
    My thoughts are to clip in so that I don't go over the lifelines. I figure if I go over, somewhere between the cold water, getting bashed along the hull, and water-logged clothing, I'm dead. When I'm at the helm or up near the bow I'm clipped in using the 3' tether.

    I don't agree the the jacklines should be run port and starboard from the bow the way it's stipulated in some Race Instructions. I think it makes more sense the run them from the bow to the mast on centerline, then down each side port and starboard.
    Does that mean you have to unclip from the double jacklines and clip on to the single center line when you work your way to the bow? With jacklines running down both sides, I can run the length of the boat in about 3 seconds flat while still clipped in, it's very handy. If I had to unclip all the time I would probably risk it to the bow untethered on a regular basis...

    I fell overboard once (not off my boat), caught a lifesling that was thrown to me, and ended up being towed behind the boat at ~5 kts. It was kind of a wild ride, but I managed to pull myself up the line a little ways before they stopped. The water was maybe 45 degrees (Strait of Juan de Fuca in May), but with foulies and thermals I wasn't incapacitated. My boat has really low freeboard (an unseaworthy feature according to the people that make up rules), and I have no doubt I could pull myself over the side fully clothed if I was hanging by a tether. But I am part monkey...

    Another note, on the SHTP I used my inflatable PFD with built-in harness the first day or two, but once I got offshore I used a chest harness exclusively. It's much less bulky, feels more secure, and if I went over an inflated PFD would impede my getting back on the boat, or prolong the agony if I got separated.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2009
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    Vancouver, BC
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by mike cunningham View Post
    I am reading Andrew Evans' "Thoughts, tips....For Singlehanded sailors". Good info and interesting book however Andrew says he tapes his tether quick release up cause if he goes over offshore he's dead if he releases (hypothermia). I use a tether offshore and I keep the quick release active. I don't want to get trapped in the damn tether either due to capsize or some other crazy bashing around that gets me into a bizzare situation where the tether is wrapped around me or something.

    Anybody have any thoughts about tethers? Sometimes I am more afraid of the tether than I am of going over.
    Reading this thread the other day, reminded me to get a new tether, which I've been meaning to do. The ones I have are for my high freeboard heavy-displacement cruising boat and are "homemade" --rope with a spliced eye and stainless snap shackle.

    For racing my Cal 20, I realized I wanted something that has a good one-handed quick-release. So, I just bought a Spinlock two-lead tether --this one: http://www.spinlock.co.uk/en/deckwar...ip-safety-line The two tether leads are short and long, depending on need. I gotta say, my rock climbing background (which likes simple things for efficiency and safety) makes me look at the "extra" tether and wonder what it's gonna get caught on eventually...but it seems like a good way to go if you keep the "extra" one clipped well out of the way...but somehow easily accessible when needed in a hurry?! I really like the quick-release feature on the carabiners: very sturdy, but easy to release one-handed. Almost bought the West Marine one; glad I didn't.

    As far as jacklines go --I'm in the process of installing two sets of tubular webbing jacklines: port/stbd from front of cockpit to bow; and a single one for the cockpit. This is following the advice of Robert Crawford on Blackfeathers (Cal 20), to avoid long jacklines and the stretch they'd have. They'll be sewed to stainless carabiners/snap shackles so as to be easily removable when boat is not being sailed.

    Anyone have any opinions on the two-lead (long and short) tethers? Is the extra one in the way? Or is it nice to have a short and long tether, depending on need?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Default

    Mike, I don't tape my tether quick release shut. I don't have any quick release at all. I just use a regular, non locking carabiner, similar to this one:
    http://www.mec.ca/AST/ShopMEC/Climbi...wall-biner.jsp

    So it is very easy for me to unclip it if it is not under extreme pressure (like if I was being dragged behind the boat)

    Your worry about being somehow trapped by the tether is reminiscent of people who won't wear a seatbelt because they are worried about being trapped underwater in their car. You need to consider the odds. As small as they are, the odds of being flung off the boat by a big wave are much greater than the odds of having the tether wrap around your neck in some freak situation.

    If you are more worried about the tether than of going over, then you are not wearing your tether often enough. If you wear it all the time, like I do, you will get to know exactly how it works in all situations. You will learn every thing that it gets stuck on when you are rushing to the bow.

    In case you want to know, I've worn my teter on every single one of the many hundreds of trips that I've taken over the past decade and it has never - not once - come unclipped from me or from the jack lines unintentionally.

    Just like riding my motorcycle without a helmit, I actually feel naked if I'm sailing without my harness and tether. On the few days a year when my wife come sailing with me, I feel really awkward if because I don't have it on.

    Jud, you might want to have a second, short tether, back near the cockpit where you are likely to be sitting most of the time, or perhaps a short one clipped at the bow where you will be working in the bounce while changing headsails. The problem with a second carabiner on the same tether is that it will be dragging on your boat, making lots of noise and getting caught on things.

    Ragner, it is completely unacceptable if you need to unclip and reclip from one jackline to another to move from the cockpit to the bow. The reason being that one day, in a rush to the bow, you won't do it.
    Last edited by Foolish; 08-14-2011 at 05:53 AM.

  7. #7
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    May 2009
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    Novato
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    Default

    Regular climbing (non-locking) carabiners can work free of the jackline if they twist around just right. I think it's not a small probability. It has happened a couple times to me with a system I once used to ascend the mast. I like the quick release shackle on the harness end (and no I wouldn't tape it), and I like the self locking carabiners that come on most tethers now. They have a much wider throat which is nice.

    I use long and short tethers, separate units. My jacklines are the heavy-duty yellow polyester stuff, run along either side from padeyes on the coaming at mid-cockpit to padeyes a few feet aft of the stem, going inside the shrouds. Like Adrian, I want a continuous run to the bow, and I almost always go along the windward side. If conditions are snotty, I'll use the short tether and crawl. If I need to work along the leeward rail, and it's rough, I'll still go up the windward side and then climb over the cabin or around the forward side of the mast to leeward. The tether ends up taut... a secure feeling. When I'm driving I tether to a padeye in the cockpit. With the long tether I can't fall out of the boat when secured to that point.

    Nylon webbing is sensitive to UV and, when it's wet, it lengthens considerably. For several years I tried to make tubular nylon work for me, and I don't like it. The slack that builds up and the elasticity both make me feel unsafe. Actually, the tubular stuff will roll under foot if the deck is heeled enough.

    The thing I hate about tethers is that you get all tangled up in them. Invariably they snag on a lazy jib sheet or something. I remember one year in the Windjammers race, sailing solo at night on my old SC27, winds well into the 20s, surfing on the wavefronts 10 miles or so off Pescadero, I think. It was during the pitch black of night and I was trying to gybe the chute wearing the tether. I got so tangled in the foreguy and lazy jib sheets I couldn't work at all. I was sure I'd trip. I ended up yanking it off in frustration (the self release end). I made the gybe. I didn't fall off the pitching deck. But I shuddered at my stupidity.

    Paul/Culebra

  8. #8
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    Nov 2009
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    Default

    Great stuff, guys. A wealth of experience coming out that we all can learn from.

    Quote Originally Posted by cafemontaigne View Post
    Does that mean you have to unclip from the double jacklines and clip on to the single center line when you work your way to the bow? With jacklines running down both sides, I can run the length of the boat in about 3 seconds flat while still clipped in, it's very handy. If I had to unclip all the time I would probably risk it to the bow untethered on a regular basis...

    I fell overboard once (not off my boat), caught a lifesling that was thrown to me, and ended up being towed behind the boat at ~5 kts. It was kind of a wild ride, but I managed to pull myself up the line a little ways before they stopped. The water was maybe 45 degrees (Strait of Juan de Fuca in May), but with foulies and thermals I wasn't incapacitated. My boat has really low freeboard (an unseaworthy feature according to the people that make up rules), and I have no doubt I could pull myself over the side fully clothed if I was hanging by a tether. But I am part monkey...

    Another note, on the SHTP I used my inflatable PFD with built-in harness the first day or two, but once I got offshore I used a chest harness exclusively. It's much less bulky, feels more secure, and if I went over an inflated PFD would impede my getting back on the boat, or prolong the agony if I got separated.
    Adrian, I have a 2 clip tether, so yes, when I get to the mast, I clip on the 3' to the center line & unclip the 6' from the windward line. So yeah, rather than 3 seconds to the bow it's more like 12 seconds.

    Down south here, when Tom Kirshbaum was lost over the side of Feral with his tether on & clipped to the boat, we did a lot of investigation and thought on harnesses, tethers and jacklines. Tom couldn't get back aboard a very low freeboard boat - for some reason that we aren't sure of. Could you have pulled yourself aboard if the boat continued on at 5 knots? I'm just saying I doubt I could. I know myself and how weak and tired I can get in snotty conditions, so I think about how to stay inside the lifelines. That said, I'm thinking about rigging up some kind of deployable rope ladder that sits on my transom so if I do end up in the water, I at least have a chance.

    Regarding the lack of PFD offshore, a snug harness is a good harness. Tom slipped out of his - whether intentionally or unintentionally, we don't know. I choose to wear a PFD with harness, but along with a PLB and VHF (in the So Cal Bight). So if I'm separated from the boat, I can still set off a PLB or hail a fellow racer if they happen to be nearby.

    There is clearly no "one best way". But for me as I near 50, I'm trying to stay inside the lifelines.

    Whitall

  9. #9
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    Nov 2009
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jud - Vancouver View Post

    Anyone have any opinions on the two-lead (long and short) tethers? Is the extra one in the way? Or is it nice to have a short and long tether, depending on need?
    I have found the short and long tether the way to go. I use the long stretchy one while moving, then clip in with the short one if I need to be somewhere for a while or I'm on the bow. If it's nicer conditions I use the 6' in the cockpit as I can reach everything. When it gets tougher I'm clipped in with the short line.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foolish View Post
    Ragner, it is completely unacceptable if you need to unclip and reclip from one jackline to another to move from the cockpit to the bow. The reason being that one day, in a rush to the bow, you won't do it.
    Completely unacceptable? Pretty strong language. Which is greater, the risk from being pitched over the lifelines & not being able to get back aboard or me not staying clipped? The few times I needed to "rush to the bow" was when a tack fitting exploded or a jib halyard parted, and I stayed clipped in.

    At least one is more under my control.

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