Jacklines and safety tethers

The 2016 election is over, so I thought safety would be an appropriate topic.

Looking at jacklines, harnesses, and safety tethers is depressing.  Not because of the idea of “safety”.  Because of the prices attached to this stuff.  For anyone that has been in business for themselves, you might have an inkling why.  It’s called insurance.  Liability more precisely.  Any company making these things has to carry an enormous amount of it in case, you know, someone doesn’t read the instructions and breaks a nail using the safety hook and then becomes incapacitated, can’t work, and requires one of those handy placards hanging from the rear view mirror that allows them to park up front and take the space from the guy that has no legs, uses a wheelchair, and could actually use that space up front.

Safety is a personal issue, kind of like who you vote for.  People have strong feelings on the issues.  I don’t.  But, I do like to be informed.  About safety.

I’ve often wondered, how would I get back on the boat if I was tethered, fell overboard, and was being drug along in the water.  I never could figure this out.  I’ve been in the water while the boat was docked and tried to “jump” up to the toe-rail.  Very difficult.  It would be impossible if the boat was moving along at 5 knots in rough seas.  Doing reading, I’ve found that people have drowned because of this exact situation.  So, how to prevent this.

This single article that I ran across pretty much answered all my questions:  http://archive.sailingscuttlebutt.com/news/07/0514/

Here are his main points in summary:

  1. Be attached to the boat all the time.
  2. The foredeck needs to be escape-proofed.
  3. You must make certain that when you are clipped on, if you were to fall over the side, the attachment point of your harness is not below the toe-rail.
  4. You must have a quick-release shackle on the harness end of your tether.

Number one is easy to take care of.  This is simply running jacklines from bow to stern and then clipping in.
Number two has been done.  We installed lifeline netting along the boat.
Number three answered my concern.  Now to make sure that our jackline placement and tether length are correct.
Number four also addressed a concern I had.  Having used a safety harness for working at heights that has a double action safety hook, even those are awkward to undo.  I was always apprehensive about the thought of trying to release a carabiner or safety hook under load.

As with most things on Emet, I’ll be making our own jacklines and tethers.  This way I can be assured that it all works the way I desire  . . . and God forbid something go wrong, I will be the only one responsible for it.

Here’s another sailor looking at the same things I am:  http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/06/safety-tethers-save-money-by-making.html

For me, the plan is to use 1″ polyester webbing with a breaking strength of at least 4,000 lbs.  The jacklines will have safety snap hooks at each end for attaching to Emet.  The tethers (non-elastic) will have a quick release shackle at one end and safety snap hooks at the other.  Quick searches tell me I can get 2 jacklines and 2 tethers all done for about $250 to $300 depending on choice of hardware.  We’ll see.

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