8/2016 NOTE:The SOAK keeper is currently out of production.
Every bowman has struggled with a spinnaker halyard flapping around all over the place and getting stuck behind (or in front) of the spreaders. Fortunately over the years people smarter than myself have devised several great ways to secure that pesky spin halyard from getting out of control and keeping it ready for that next windward mark spinnaker set.
All three spinnaker halyard keeper options we are about to show you work better (and are less polluting) than the standard white rigging tape many bow guys use. My personal favorite is the APS Velcro Halyard Keeper for most boats but the Soak Halyard Clip also work really well.
The upside of the APS Velcro Halyard Keeper is that you can put it in a locked position so you can really snug up the halyard. This is great for boats that launch from a forward hatch, where you don’t want the spinnaker halyard to swing around behind the spreaders while sailing and potentially get stuck between the back of the spreaders and the mainsail when you bear off to round the mark. The downside is that you’ll need to remember to “un-lock” the halyard close to (or at) the windward mark.
The Soak Halyard Clip works for lines all the way up to 3/8” in diameter. I find it works particularly well with smaller diameters and especially well with stripped halyards. Inexpensive and light weight, it makes a great option for many boats from Lightnings all the way to J/105s.
Lastly is the Ronstan Fixed Bail Snap Shackle. You can rig it in one of two ways. I prefer to use the fixed bail version shackle to prevent the shackle from swiveling inadvertently. Many people tie the bail to the boat but I prefer to tie the pull ring to the boat.
If you tie the pull ring to the boat, the idea is that when you’re going to hoist and pull on the halyard the shackle will open. But if you’re looking for a permanent hold, you can lash it to the bail to the boat. You’ll need to remember to undo it before the windward mark and unlike the Velcro (where you might be able to break the “locked” Velcro) you’re unlikely to ever pull hard enough to open a shackle.
There are pros and cons to each approach so depends on you to decide which fits your needs best.