Solid rail lifelines

I am replacing my lifelines soon and I wonder if anyone here has ever thought of fitting solid rail between the regular stanchions…it would be pretty strong, if only a little heavy? Or would it look funny? I don’t even know what it would cost…

Thoughts welcome.

BCC Patience

I think it would be unnecessary and costly. Vinyl covered stainless cable looks nice and is more than strong enough.

Just my opinon, your mileage may vary.

Bob Eeg

I believe the Offshore Racing Council now requires uncovered stainless steel wire for lifelines. Most people are going to 1 x 19 over 7 x 7 because of ‘meat hooks’ (broken stands)that occur in the more flexible multi-strand wire.

My experience with the vinyl covered wire is that it lasts around 5 years before water works its way under the exposed ends or cracks where it passes through the stantions where rust forms and breaks down the wire where can no longer be trusted.

I’m about to replace mine again this year and am going to try using 3/8 pre-stretched 3-strand made by Marlow. The 8mm (5/16) or 10mm (3/8)should fit my stantion holes and have a 3,500 and 5,300 lb breaking strength. I think they will be low stretch enough to work well and holds up to UV degradation (my topping lift and staysail halyard is the same rope and has been up 23 years.)I think by spicing in eyes and using ‘small stuff’ at terminal ends it will look good, serve well and last longer than the vinyl covered wire.

I also feel the rope lifelines will be a lot cheaper than 1 x 19 with swedged ends although the rope may prove tougher to keep clean looking.

Stan on Waxwing


I have 3-strand lifelines as well. Something you may want to consider when
you change is to whip the line where it passes through the stantions. It
cuts down on wear to the lifeline and if the whipping wears it is easy and
cheap to replace.

s/v “Fritha”

Good point. I have gates and am thinking to use a wall-and-crown
knot on the inside of the gate stanchion, to keep tension on the
lifeline when the gate is open, and then continuing across with a
spiced in pelican hook to close the gate. Have you come up with any
alternative to this idea? The pelican hook would of course hook into
a spliced eye of the opposing lifeline.

Stan, Waxwing

I tied a turks head on the lifeline to keep tension when the gate is open.
The lifeline is spliced around a bronze thimble. A small line is tied to an
eyebolt on the boom gallows and that line is passed several times through
the thimble and eyebolt and then tied. Simply untie it and you have the
gate opened.

s/v “Fritha”

To All,
Practical Sailor ran a series of articles this year on rope life lines. They discussed pros and cons of many different types of line and a variety of methods for terminating the ends. They provided a good bit of info about breaking strength and “safe working loads.” PS Mailbag (letters to the editor) also provided a lot of feed back on what the readers were using. All in all, it was very informative.


Doug, The turk’s head is a great idea - thanks. I will have to give that a try.?I gave up the stainless wire several years ago. Interestingly, most of the people that notice them think they are (I am) a bit weird. But to me, they look great and have really not had a significant problem with stretch or sag. The splicing can be a bit tricky to get the spacing just right. And I agree with the comment on the parceling of the line as it passes through the stanchion. After nearly four years, I am very happy with the line.
Bill Schroedter
s/v Keeala