Making Jacklines

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Back to Home or s/v Stella Blue home or Deck Stuff or Projects

May 2008--

Jacklines are "traditionally" made of polyester straps, so they'll lay flat on the deck and won't become a tripping hazard.

I've heard of folks who have used tubular webbing, and then run rope inside it for additional strength and to reduce
polyester's inherent stretch.

It seems like a good idea, and these days there are new fibers that are incredibly strong.
I used 1/8" Amsteel, which has a 2500 pound breaking strength but is thin enough to keep the polyester flat. Some folks are starting to use Amsteel for life lines, because it's as strong as steel and much lighter.
(Not me, though --
steel lasts longer.)

I had some help
stretching the cover
back over the core.

The k/c Stella Blue likes to sit in my office guest chair and watch me work.
I didn't know I was that interesting.

Having two 90 foot stretches of rope moving around on the floor
was very entertaining.

When the end accidentally flew up in her direction, she made a grab.

This turned out to be very helpful, because the polyester webbing needs to be stretched out over
the Amsteel core. So she held one end while I worked the cover down.

White polyester tubular webbing is not as UV resistant as darker colors. We'll see how well it lasts. Fortunately, the Amsteel core will provide a lot of strength, and will be protected from UV.

White will work for me, as I'm putting a "sand" colored non-skid down on the decks.

It was easy to run the Amsteel core through the polyester webbing.
They're both really slick.

It ended up looking like
a great big intestine.

This is what I was looking for.

The Amsteel core is straight, and the polyester webbing is stretched out.
When installed on the boat,
I want the webbing tight
along the decks.

The Amsteel rope was cut four inches longer than the polyester webbing, then tucked back inside.

The end was sealed clean
with a hot knife.
Then I folded it over and made a big loop, to fit over the bow cleats.

After some head scratching, I remembered the small track forward. This was added in 2001, when I converted the original headsail from a self tending rig to a normal rig. After putting new sails on, I've never used the track and cars again, since they only fit a storm jib. I left them there for that purpose. Well, they also now can be used to guide the jack lines down the deck.

This will mean unclipping and reattaching the harness half way forward.
At least it'll be done amidships, where there are good strong rails and the shrouds to hang on to.
The cars are big, and are designed for two sheets. So the storm jib can also be rigged through them in addition to the jack lines. This may not be perfect, but until I come up with a better idea it will have to do.

I took them to the boat, to stretch the polyester cover out as much as possible. The idea was to stretch it out over the Amsteel rope, so that when in use the load would be shared. I don't know how well that will work.

There was also the big question of how the jack lines should run down the decks.
I wanted them long enough to go from bow to stern, so that one could clip on while still in the cockpit. This posed a problem, because my IOR hull is skinny at both ends.

To the left, you can see them tight against the cabin. I don't want this. The frames for the opening ports are painted over aluminum, and if the jack lines run tight against them, the paint will be destroyed by harness clips. That will be eventually be really ugly, and will allow the aluminum to start to corrode.
No way I'm going to let that happen.

Running them along the top of the cabin doesn't work either. They want to snap back down to the main deck. Besides, I keep my dinghy on top of the cabin.

After marking the length, I sewed another big loop on the other end.

There was enough Amsteel rope left over to use to tie down the aft end. It's very slippery rope, and by looping it around it's easy to crank the jack lines tight.

In real use, this would be a bit cleaner. However, I don't really know if I'll tie them down to this padeye or to a stanchion base.
The stanchion base might be better, as this padeye is there for a snatch block when rigging an asymmetrical.

Finally, I took a nice piece of teak and made a thing to keep them organized.

A lanyard can go through the corners, so they can be hung up somewhere out of the way.