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 Losing the main halyard
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BillD
1st Mate

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38 Posts

Initially Posted - 09/10/2020 :  08:36:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
On Tuesday, while raising the mainsail in fairly heavy wind - about 30 knots - the shackle on the end of my main halyard caught on the top of the lazy jacks in a way that turned the pin on the shackle. This caused the shackle to come loose from the top of the sail and it wound up well above the spreaders.

I was very bummed thinking that either I was going to have to go up the mast in a bosun's chair or the mast was going to have to come down.

Fortunately I was able to pull the halyard back down without resorting to extreme measures. By standing on top of the boom and using my longest telescoping boat pole at full extension I was able to just barely touch the shackle. By pinning it against the shroud I was able to slowly pull it down. Once the shackle was in hand, some more work with the boat pole was needed to untwist it from the shroud above the spreader.

My questions for this expert community are:

Should I take preventative measures to prevent a recurrence of this? Do I need to tape the shackle, or wrap the "arm" on the pin with a piece of velcro to keep an errant lazy jack line from flipping it down again? Or do I need to replace this shackle if its so loose that its vulnerable to this?

Is there an easier way to get a halyard end down from near the top of the mast? The process with the boat pole took a good half hour - with much cussing involved.

Bill Dally
1987 C-25 Swing Keel #5536
Incline Village, NV

Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  09:10:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have never had a problem with either of these types of shackle. I use the lower type on both my boats. You can secure the pin in the upper one with seizing wire through the hole in the pin, but I have never felt it necessary.




Steve Milby C&C 35 Landfall ("Captiva Wind"); Cal 25 ("Fahrvergnügen")
Past Commodore
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  09:44:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Can’t comment on the particulars of why the halyard got away, but your solution (standing on the boom) was brilliant. I bought a 20ft aluminum extension ladder to reach the spreaders, but the mast top is still quite out of reach without “extreme measures”.

Ray from Lake Lanier recently showed off his angling skills by casting a bass lure up to the main halyard and snagging it (and probably a few gawking bystanders) with a weighted treble-hook. But don’t try this at home or you might put yer eye out.

May I suggest a spring loaded halyard shackle?

https://s.yimg.com/aah/yhst-70220623433298/ronstan-halyard-shackle-w-3-16-pin-19.gif


Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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glivs
Admiral

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759 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  10:20:50  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
When we first purchased our boat, I stood on the boom immediately adjacent the mast to free a stuck sail slug...only to discover that I had bent the pin that attaches the boom to the gooseneck on the mast enough that I replaced it. My wgt ~185 lbs. Not sure what loads that connection is designed for.

Gerry & Leslie; Malletts Bay, VT
"Great Escape" 1989 C-25 SR/WK #5972
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redeye
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  12:03:06  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
<< casting a bass lure up to the main halyard and snagging it >>

Not casting, taping ( duct tape ) the treble hooked bass lure onto the jib halyard and pulling it to the top and then catching the other main halyard with one of the hooks.

I recommend putting a plastic ball on the halyard, then a halyard knot and then whatever shackle you are using. The ball keeps the knot from jamming at the masthead and keeps the knot out a little at the top and makes it easier to catch with a hook.


I would rather use something different to secure the main halyard, but given it has only failed once in 35 years it may be alright.

but to be more specific, the second shackle pictured ( and some similar )"clicks" into place. Widening the shackle a little make it snap more securely into place. I think mine was pretty old and I had to spread it apart some to make it hold shut properly.

There is also a shackle design that has notches in it and snaps the pin in place compressing the shackle.

Ray in Atlanta, Ga.
"Lee Key" '84 Catalina 25 SR/FK

Edited by - redeye on 09/10/2020 12:27:11
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BillD
1st Mate

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38 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  12:44:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Voyager

May I suggest a spring loaded halyard shackle?

https://s.yimg.com/aah/yhst-70220623433298/ronstan-halyard-shackle-w-3-16-pin-19.gif



My shackle is a spring-loaded shackle. I believe it is this exact Ronstan model. It may have lost some of its springiness over the years.

Bill Dally
1987 C-25 Swing Keel #5536
Incline Village, NV
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BillD
1st Mate

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38 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  12:49:19  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by glivs

When we first purchased our boat, I stood on the boom immediately adjacent the mast to free a stuck sail slug...only to discover that I had bent the pin that attaches the boom to the gooseneck on the mast enough that I replaced it. My wgt ~185 lbs. Not sure what loads that connection is designed for.



Now you have me worried. I only weight ~150lbs, but next time I go out to the mooring I'm going to check this pin. I was always under the impression that the boom would hold a lot of weight (a lot more than me).

Bill Dally
1987 C-25 Swing Keel #5536
Incline Village, NV
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BillD
1st Mate

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38 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  12:52:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have to wonder if there isn't a better technology to ascend the mast than a bosun's chair. I was wondering if I couldn't rig a pair of "ascenders" that would fit in the slot in the mast - with a nylon sling down to each foot. Each ascender would clamp in place while I stepped on that foot and slid the other ascender up the slot.

Does anyone know of such a device?

Bill Dally
1987 C-25 Swing Keel #5536
Incline Village, NV
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  17:08:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Bill, I think you should prototype and patent your idea immediately!

But seriously, there are nylon ascending ladders that you can run up the mast track. The “Mast Mate” is one such example.

They consist of a series of 12-16 counter-opposed loops of nylon webbing that you can simply climb up like a ladder.

Of course, you’d also need a climbing harness and/or bosun‘s chair as a safety...

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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BillD
1st Mate

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38 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  19:00:20  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Voyager


But seriously, there are nylon ascending ladders that you can run up the mast track. The “Mast Mate” is one such example.



The "Mast Mate" looks very cool. The problem with it is that you need a working main halyard to hoist it up. The jib halyard is on the wrong side of the mast. The jib halyard might get it up to the spreaders, but no higher. So if the reason you have to climb the mast is because of a lost main halyard you are out of luck.

Bill Dally
1987 C-25 Swing Keel #5536
Incline Village, NV
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BillD
1st Mate

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38 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  19:04:58  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Some other options for ascending: https://www.sailmagazine.com/diy/four-ways-to-climb-a-mast-solo

Bill Dally
1987 C-25 Swing Keel #5536
Incline Village, NV
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Lee Panza
Captain

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424 Posts

Response Posted - 09/10/2020 :  20:10:27  Show Profile  Visit Lee Panza's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BillD

...By standing on top of the boom and using my longest telescoping boat pole at full extension...


Standing on the boom and playing with an extended boat hook in 30 KN of wind? Huevos, man; huevos!



The trouble with a destination - any destination, really - is that it interrupts The Journey.

Lee Panza
SR/SK #2134
San Francisco Bay
(Brisbane, CA)
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GaryB
Master Marine Consultant

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4175 Posts

Response Posted - 09/12/2020 :  12:57:03  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Here's another option -->> 23' Painters Pole




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GaryB
Andiamo
'89 SR/WK #5862
Kemah,TX

Edited by - GaryB on 09/12/2020 12:58:59
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dmpilc
Master Marine Consultant

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4529 Posts

Response Posted - 09/14/2020 :  12:19:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Has anyone tried tying a thin line (i.e 1/8") to the main halyard just above the shackle or to the upper part of the shackle and secure it to a cleat on the mast to be able to retrieve the halyard in case it comes loose? We routinely did that for the jib halyard to be able to douse it from the cockpit, but with the main, it would just ride against the mast when fully hoisted and only go slack when the main was lowered.

DavidP
1975 C-22 SK #5459 "Shadowfax" Fleet 52
PO of 1984 C-25 SK/TR #4142 "Recess"
Percy Priest Yacht Club, Hamilton Creek Marina, Nashville, TN
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GaryB
Master Marine Consultant

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4175 Posts

Response Posted - 09/15/2020 :  16:59:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dmpilc

Has anyone tried tying a thin line (i.e 1/8") to the main halyard just above the shackle or to the upper part of the shackle and secure it to a cleat on the mast to be able to retrieve the halyard in case it comes loose? We routinely did that for the jib halyard to be able to douse it from the cockpit, but with the main, it would just ride against the mast when fully hoisted and only go slack when the main was lowered.


Yes. I found it helpful to run the small line thru the top 1 or 2 slides (depending on the type of slides) then connecting to the lower end of the headboard. This helps keep the headboard from flopping over and/or the main getting in a bind.

Using Sailcote regularly helps a lot.


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GaryB
Andiamo
'89 SR/WK #5862
Kemah,TX
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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4690 Posts

Response Posted - 09/15/2020 :  17:29:38  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I haven’t added a ghost line to the main halyard because I’ve never had occasion to lose it, but I do have a downhaul attached to my mainsail. This conversation is urging me to consider a short piece of line connecting the main halyard to the downhaul just in case something comes undun. Would be a lifesaver, or at least a handy convenience!

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
8638 Posts

Response Posted - 09/15/2020 :  20:00:59  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Voyager

...a short piece of line connecting the main halyard to the downhaul just in case something comes undun. Would be a lifesaver, or at least a handy convenience!

...but would remove all the fun of rigging treble-hooks or going up the mast!

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-USCG-OUPV
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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Response Posted - 09/16/2020 :  12:47:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dave, I’m also seriously considering that 23ft “Painter’s Pole”, especially if it’s made from aluminum or fiberglass.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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GaryB
Master Marine Consultant

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4175 Posts

Response Posted - 09/17/2020 :  19:05:37  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GaryB

Here's another option -->> 23' Painters Pole


The yellow part is fiberglass and the sliding sections are aluminum. I've got one of these in my backyard with a weather cam mounted to it. It's pretty light (3.8 lbs) and is easy to telescope in and out.

I just stumbled across this accessory that might work for retrieving a runaway halyard. Click on the videos to see how it works -->>> Lock Jaw Tool Holder

Another use... you might be able to attach your phone or Go Pro camera, start it recording, and then extend the pole to video the condition of the sheaves, shrouds, and other mast top items. Could save having to go up the mast in a bosun's chair or dropping the mast.

The pole could also possibly be used as a whisker pole.


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GaryB
Andiamo
'89 SR/WK #5862
Kemah,TX

Edited by - GaryB on 09/17/2020 19:17:04
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