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Five tips to extend the life of your costly sailing control lines

by John Jamieson on 15 Jun 2013
Photos show the exit block detail on the port side of the mast. Note how the exit blocks are shackled to a tang plate at the mast base (yellow arrows). The deck-mounted line organizer blocks (see next photo) redirect each control line aft to the cockpit. Match line diameter to each block and keep line leads straight. This helps prevent excess friction, chafe, and loading on lines and sailing gear. Captain John Jamieson http://www.skippertips.com
Sailing rope costs are going up like most everything else. And you will want to extend the life of your expensive halyard, outhaul, reefing, and other running rigging lines as long as possible. Follow these easy sailing tips to success!

1. Sketch Your Deck Layout
Nothing beats easy sail handling controls. On 'Rubicon', skipper Peter Bourke rigged all control lines to lead from the mast to the cockpit. Note in the simple illustration below how the port side control lines travel from the mast to the cockpit (for simplicity, just the port side control lines are illustrated).

Each line runs down from mast or boom to an exit block, mounted onto a tang at the mast base. From there, they make a slight diagonal angle that redirects each line to a line organizer block box. From there, they are redirected aft to line clutches. The clutches 'brake' each line to hold it under tension. Aft of the clutch box, you see the single winch that can trim any individual line as needed. [Sorry, this content could not be displayed]

2. Match the rope and block Avoid excess wear when you mate the rope to the block sheave canal. Rope should fit snug in the sheave canal. Too large of a rope diameter will rub on the block sides and wear. Too small of a rope diameter could 'jump' out of the sheave and jam against the block cheeks. Match each of your running rigging lines right to save on replacement costs.

3. Straight Leads Make Fair Leads
Keep leads from one point to another as straight as possible. This might seem easier said than done, but any bend in a line--whether running rigging, docking, or anchoring line--causes friction and wear

4. Wash Your Lines with This Miracle Cleaner
Exposed lines pick up dirt and salt crystals. These can chop, cut, tear, and bite into any line just like microscopic razors. Blast these 'line killers' with the cheapest, cleanest cleaner around--fresh water. As soon as you are through with a long cruise or voyage, wash your control lines and running rigging with copious amounts of fresh water.

5. Allow the lines to dry before you cover or stow them.
This applies to anchor or docking lines as well. Put fresh-water wash-downs near the head of the list to pump new life into your costly sailing lines.

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Follow these five simple sailing tips to breathe new life into your costly running rigging. Keep your sailing rope strong, supple, and wear-free all sailing season long--wherever in the world you choose to go sailing!

John Jamieson (Captain John) with 25+ years of experience shows you the no-nonsense cruising skills you need for safer sailing worldwide. Visit his website. Sign up for the Free, highly popular weekly 'Captain John's Sailing Tip-of-the-Week'. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, and e-Books!

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Letter from Reader:

Sender: Mark Weinheimer

Message: Re: Ways to extend the life of your running rigging The writer missed one of the easiest ways to double the life of any piece of running rigging - end for end it. If you like splices for your shackles, have one put in each end when buying new. If you use polyester double braid, a bowline with the tail sewn down will suffice and be easy to reverse.
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