The most costly and least reliable segment of your life lines is the terminating hardware. These are typically stainless on stainless turnbuckles, and are subject to galling and cracking over time. A much better approach is now possible with high-modulus line, like Spectra. Make up your life lines with nicro pressed end fittings, and then tie these in place using multipe wraps of Spectra line. There is a second advantage to this system. If you ever have a crew overboard, and need to get rid of the lifelines in a hurry, you can do so by cutting the lashings on one end.
Taking this approach a step further, when we replaced the life lines on BEOWULF this year we did so with Spectra line. It is about the same cost as the stainless steel we¹ve used in the past, a lot lighter, and not subject to corrosion like stainless steel wire.
This article has elicited responses from some of our readers, which we’ve posted below:
(added 27 October 00)
I replaced my vinyl-covered life lines with Spectra of the same size (6mm) this season. After a season I can pass along some comments which may be useful.
- Apart from the weight-saving (50%), the material cost was exactly the same as the wire with a saving on fittings and labour – that showed a 20% cost reduction, overall.
- There is considerably more stretch and I’ve had to tighten the lines 3 times during the season – for this reason you need to use a longer end-lashing.
- Falling against the lines in a seaway is no longer the bruising experience it used to be – there is far greater cushioning effect.
- Contrary to my expectations there has been no chafing on the stanchions.
- Theoretically the Spectra has a slightly higher breaking strain than the SS wire, but because of its greater give it doesn’t feel as robust. – Charles F. G. Reed
Hi Charles – Thanks for the update. We’ve found the same. Also, we’re replacing our lashings at the end about twice a year, as they do show a little wear on the inner lashings. Regards – Steve
(added 27 October 00)
We saw your article on the lifelines and don’t understand where the Nico press fitting fits into the line (didn’t see one in the picture). It appears that you had a spliced eye in the end of the line. Could you send more specifics? Thank you, Suzanne Chabon
Hi Suzanne: We don’t use any sort of a metal terminal with the Spectra. What we’ve done is had a splice put in at one end of the line, and then when the line was pulled through the stanchions used a bowline at the other end. Both the knot and splice are then lashed to the stainless terminals on the life line gates/push/pulpit with light Spectra line. We are replacing the Spectra lashings every six months or so right now, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much wear. Hope this helps – Steve Dashew