Got rusty lifelines?  No worries, you can redo them… It’s the circle of lifelines!

Replacing our lifelines on board was one of our highest priority items that we HAD to do before leaving Portland, taking on the big blue Pacific and sailing south. It turns out, this was one of our simplest boats projects to date!  Follow allow to see the process, from start to finish.

Varuna came with old, vinyl-coated, corroded lifelines that looked like they were ready to fall off at any moment. We decided to replace them with bare stainless steel wire. We debated back and forth between different grades of steel and different strand types of wire. In the end, we settled on 304 stainless, 7/19 strand 3/16in wire. This is was cheaper than the 316 grade and has a much higher breaking strength, and although it is more prone to corrosion that the 316, we don’t think this will be as much of an issue since it is not coated, allowing us to inspect it regularly and keep it clean.

The first step was to cut off the old lifelines with bolt cutters and measured the total length. Next, we added up how much total wire we would need. Once we got our new wire and fittings, it was time to swage!  We used a hand swaying tool that we rented from the chandlery down the street, and were surprised at how easy it was. You slide the wire into the fitting and measure ⅛ inch from the open end, where the wire first enters the fitting. This is your first crimp. Next, measure ⅛ inch from that crimps and put in another, repeat one more time and you have 3 crimps and you’re done!  The tricky part is making sure your crimps are perfectly lined up horizontally along the fitting, because if you put them in at different angles, you risk weakening the other crimps.

Once you get a process down, it’s pretty easy and fun!  We still need to tension them a bit more and put some lock-tight in the fittings, so they can’t some unscrewed easily, but  we’re very happy to have checked this big project off the list!
And don’t worry, it’s not all serious work around Varuna right now… Stayed tuned all the way til the end to check out some of the awesome gear we’re outfitting Varuna with right now!

4 thoughts to “The Circle of Lifelines

  • Ed

    Hate to tell you but when putting your turnbuckle fittings together the line ends should not be turned but rather held in place and the turnbuckle itself turned. That way both ends feed equally and more importantly the line will not have the torque placed on it.

    • adventureadrift

      Hi Ed,
      That’s how we tightened them up once in place, we just screwed the wire end in to get it into the thread, then tightened with the turnbuckle once the line ends were even. We were careful not to put any tension on the line. Thanks for the tip though, we’ll keep that in mind.

  • Cary Stotland

    What I found interesting is your continuous control line for your traveller. We have the same setup with independent lines. How does that work for you? We have a ketch, and the mizzen mast is maybe a foot aft if the traveller. I’m thinking an extra food of line in the loop might work a bit better. What do you think about it the way it is, and do you think a longer line might work a bit better?

    • adventureadrift

      Yeah, we actually really like the continuous line on the traveller – works great and very easy to use! Sounds like what you’re describing would work. I think the length of ours is pretty good, could maybe do with a few more inches long, not much though so it stays off the ground and out of the way.


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