Initially I had a knee-jerk reaction that lifelines would improve the
safety of sailing on the Rhodes. But in the video from GBI, they
offer some mild counsel against them. And at 6'3" with big feet, I
find that it is hard to find a place to put my feet flat on the deck
of boats in the 20-25' range. Leaving lifelines off might give me
some more options for walking around on deck. Furthermore, the lines
are so low it seems they might serve to lever my feet off the deck if
I were thrown against them. Before I take them off the list, I'd
like to hear if anyone has had experience with them in rough
conditions where they were a help.
I figure there are two kinds of situations: one where you get hit
unexpectedly with a wave or a sudden gust and another where the wind
and waves are consistently high, so you are somewhat prepared if you
have to get up on the deck to do some work.
Does anyone have other ideas about safety devices to use in place of
Do not get the lifelines; they are a trip hazard. I think John Ward
has the latest story about them.
Necessary safety gear, in my view, would include: an inflatable life
vest with built-in harness, (if you need one you should have the
other), 2 precut jack lines with clips from the aft cleat bases to
the front bow cleat routed up the sides, a double tether (straight
six 6-foot and an elastic 3-foot) with a quick-release on the harness
side, 2 through-bolted pad eyes on the cabin top.
The cabin top pad eyes should keep you in the boat at the tiller, the
jack lines when going forward. The double tether permits always
having something to hook on to, including using the pad eye and the
aft cleats at the same time.
We installed a standard jack line running from the stern cleat to the
bow cleat and back around to other stern cleat. If it's rough enough
to wish you had lifelines, it's rough enough to clip on to a jack
line. The three shrouds on each side of the Rhodes give you plenty
to hang on to; if you get pulled out of that handgrip, it will be by
something that will also take you right over (or maybe through) the
lifelines. I have trouble regarding lifelines as much more than a
psychological aid and another way to allow water to intrude into the
Even when not used to clip on, the jack line provides another good
reliable thing to grip, especially on the foredeck where there are no
grab rails or shrouds. If you contemplate night sailing or single
handing in aggressive conditions, I'd consider the jack line and the
ability to clip on absolutely essential. I wear an inflatable with
integrated harness both for the lightness and comfort, but also so
I'll have no excuse not to clip on when it's appropriate.
Some people are going to see this as overkill. But all it took for
me was one little crew overboard drill in windy conditions to
convince me that leaving the boat unintentionally is to be avoided.
I'd like to install some pad eyes on my cabin top. To those of you
who have installed deck hardware, how do you through bolt the
hardware and not create a hazard within the cabin. I don't want to
worry about people getting scrapes on their heads when they go below.
I installed mine above the cabin bulkhead on the same surface as the
cam cleats for the lines. That area is solid fiberglass for hardware
mounting. The underside is the aft corner above the fuses and above
the bunk, which is not exactly a head-banger area. Barrel nuts (as
per Roger), crown nuts, eye nuts, or a simple hex nut with the bolt
cut flush and filed will complete the job.
What you have to watch out for is to use a good backing plate, IIRC
most fiberglass fails at 1700 psi, your harness and tethers are sized
for 4000 pounds (like 220 pounds dropping 6.5 feet), so you must
spread that load over as much fiberglass as practical (also why I
picked this spot).
Second thing: like all deck hardware, don't be stingy with the
bedding; if it can leak it will.
Thanks Michael & Roger for info. Next question is how do you prevent
the tether hook from marring the gelcoat around the pad eye?
Make a 6-inch diameter disk of 16-gauge stainless steel, drill it in
the center for the hole pattern of the folding pad eye & bolt it down,
in between the pad eye & the top of the cabin. In addition, glue it
to the cabin top with 3M 5200 urethane adhesive. I have several
"bash plates" like this on Dynamic Equilibrium.
You might also prevent the tether hook from marring the gel coat by
installing a few large backing plates around the pad eye. Look on p.
827 of the WEST Marine 2000 Master Catalog at the Schaffer #78-26
backing plate. This backing plate is 3 inches long. About three of
these backing plates arranged in a triangular pattern around the pad
eye would give you the protection you want. The backing plate won't
have any load on it, so you could simply screw them down with a
couple of stainless steel pan head sheet metal screws. You could
also accomplish the same concept with three stainless or plastic
rubbing strakes arranged in a triangular pattern around the pad eye.
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium