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Sailing Tips Secrets - How to Add Life to Your Costly Sailing Line

by John Jamieson on 28 Jul 2012
Photo to the right shows the deck layout for control lines that lead from the mast aft to the cockpit. Diagram to the left shows just the port side sequence of control lines and gear. Note how the skipper has kept the lines as straight as possible from exit blocks to line organizer blocks to rope clutches and to the winch. Use a similar layout to prevent excess friction and wear on your costly lines and sailing gear. John Jamieson
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 this easy sailing tip to success!

Sketch Your Deck Layout:
Nothing beats easier sail handling controls. On 'Rubicon', skipper Peter Bourke had rigged all control lines to lead from the mast to the cockpit. Note in the simple illustration above how the control lines are led on the port side (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.

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.

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.


Create 'UV Sleeves' for Your Control Lines:
Expose your expensive sailing rope to sunlight and you can guarantee it will wear faster. UV rays break down the outer fibers of your line and can cause line to harden.

Sailmakers know this and that's why furling Genoas have a heavy panel of UV resistant cloth sewn along the leech. Without this leech cover, your rolled up Genoa would be at the mercy of damaging UV rays from sun-up to sun-down. Enter the 'sacrificial leech cover'. As its name implies, you can expect your furling Genoa's leech cover to deteriorate after a few years (this leech cover can be easily replaced by your sailmaker).

Use this same secret to protect exposed lines on deck. Measure the exposed lines from point to point (i.e. mast exit blocks to line organizer box). Use old canvas (or some other hardy UV resistant material) to create long, narrow sleeves. Sew Velcro along the long edge of each sleeve. When finished sailing, wrap the sleeves around each section of your control lines, press the Velcro edges together and you're done! In just seconds, your control lines are protected and their service life extended.

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, blast your control lines and running rigging with copious amounts of fresh water.

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.

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 at www.skippertips.com for a free issue of the highly popular 'Captain John's Sailing Tips' newsletter. Discover how you can gain instant access to hundreds of sailing articles, videos, e-Books and more!

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