How to Install and Remove Sailboat Halyards | Expert Advice

Hi, this is Kyle from APS and I’m going to show you how to properly install and remove sailboat halyards that are run internally in the mast on a keelboat.

Identifying Halyard End Types

When you’re getting ready to either install or to remove a halyard, the first thing we have to do is know what kind of end we’re working with. In this case it’s just cut and whipped and in this case they’ve had a reeving, or a Flemish eye, installed with a whip. If you’re ordering new rigging, I’d recommend just have a reeving eye installed on the bitter end there.

How to install and remove a sailboat halyard


Halyard Leader

I’m going to start with two millimeter halyard leader. This is specific to this task. I would really, highly recommend that you buy specifically halyard leader when doing these jobs. Especially if you’re taking halyards out for the winter and this is going to stay in the boat all winter. It has a very tight cover, it’s very abrasion resistant, it’s low stretch, and for it’s size it’s quite strong.

Halyard Leader used to install sailboat halyards


Preparing a Halyard Reeving Eye with Halyard Leader

With this reeving eye, all I need to do for installation or removal is simply tie a bowline on it, take a piece of tape, tape that down so it can’t come undone and I’m ready for installation or removal.

Using halyard leader to install a sailboat halyard


Preparing a Whipped Halyard End with Halyard Leader

Now, if I’m dealing with the other type … without a reeving eye and I’m going to be using halyard leader for either installing or removing, again, I’m going to put a bowline in this, I’m going to tape my bowline so it can’t come undone. Now I’m going to get my palm, a sail maker’s needle, and I’ve got number four whipping twine here that’s waxed. I’m going to put a big quadruple eight knot in the end.

This is going to be a temporary attachment and all I’m going to do sew loops from this to here. If the line is not whipped, the first thing you need to do is go ahead and put a whip in, because that is the anchor point for this attachment and it’s going to keep this from pulling the weave out and this whole thing. kind of shredding and decoupling if you will. I just pull that through, I go through my eye, I’m just going to do this … You would think you could do it just maybe two or three times, I’m going to do this more like four to six times. The reason I do that is to build a lot of strength into this, because if the halyard got hung up for some odd reason in the mast in a piece of hardware, you really want to be able to tug on this and not have this break while you’re trying to get the thing pulled through. Just a little insurance. That’s probably good. I’m just going to keep going. Just keep rolling.

So, I’ve gone around I think six times now, and I’m just going to simply finish this off with a couple of wraps and simply going to cut it. I’m in a lot of wind here, so I’m going to have to go down here and I’m going to melt the ends of that and I’m just going to nail head it. I’ve got a really good connection here. Now the next thing I’m going to do, is while this thing is being pulled through you don’t want this getting caught on anything, so I’m going to have to tape this entire assembly so that it’s nice and smooth. I’m using rigging tape that’s very thin, so I’m not adding any diameter, any bulk here, that’s why I love this tape. This would have already been taped down, but I’ll just keep going. That helps the knot go through and I’m going to go back over it again. Believe me, if this gets caught half way through installing or uninstalling, you don’t want anything coming undone or getting further caught. Just cut that, and that’s what I’m left with. Pretty nice transition, really strong, and I’m ready to either install or take it out.

Using halyard leader for installing a end whipped halyard


Preparing Two Halyards with Whipped Ends – Abutted Ends

Now we’re going to be dealing with installing a halyard while we take the old one out. In this case, I want to make sure both ends are whipped and I’m going to basically sew these together. I’m going to sew this direction, then I’m going to turn it 90 degrees and sew in that direction. I’ve already put a big figure eight stopper knot in this and I’m just going to start sewing these together. First in this orientation. I’ll run that through. I’m going to pull this evenly until they are right up against one another. Now, what I’m going to do is I’m going to change my orientation about 90 degrees and I’ll go through this direction. Do the same thing over here, I’m going to change my orientation 90 degrees, pull that tight, and go through here again. I’m just going to continue this going back and forth.

So you can see here, it’s not pretty but I’ve sewn in a complete loop this way a couple of times, turned it 90 degrees and loops in that way. I snipped the end of the line, excuse me, I did a couple of wraps here, I snipped this, lit the end and hit it with a lighter to put a nail’s head on it so it can’t unravel. Now the next thing I need to do, again using this really thin rigging tape, love this stuff. You can just use PVC rigging tape if you want. This is going to keep everything in alignment. Tuck that back in there. I’m just going to run all the way down and back over it, and make everything nice and tight.

I’ve finished the taping job and what the tape is here to do, again, is to make sure that this is a smooth transition as possible. If it’s not, get some more tape, get lots of tension on it, make sure that there’s no edge for this to get caught on as you’re feeding it through the mast. I’ve got a replacement halyard ready to go in, and in this case I have an old halyard that is ready to come out.

Abutting Two Halyards for Mast Intallation


Running the Abutted Halyards

Okay, we’re really getting to the end here. This is all about good preparation. I’ve got my taped up abutment here. I’ve taken the time to work out any twists in this line and done a good coil, a figure eight coil, so that I’m not going to get any kinks or stoppages while I’m doing this because I’m doing it myself.  I’m just going to throw this down and I’ve got the halyard pulled. This one, this is a Genoa Halyard that I’ve brought back. You’ll notice that I’m pulling it through the clutches, I didn’t pull this out first. It’s a pain to put lines through clutches sometimes. This will be my … Just keep working it forward. I’ve got my hands on the old halyard, and if it hits a little snag, I can just pull it back a little bit and right into the mast until it’s out the other side. Very easy.

Installing two ubutted halyards


Running a Halyard with Leader

Here’s the situation where I’m ready to remove this halyard. I’ve got this tied on to the reeving eye, it’s taped. Again, I’m doing it before the clutch and I’ve got it all the way open. Here’s the other end of the halyard and it’s really as simple as just pulling this through. I will remind you, with the halyard leader, make sure that you’ve got it prepped ahead of time. In we go. I’m keeping constant tension on this because it’s so thin, when it gets up to the sheave at the mast head at the exit box, I don’t want it jumping the sheave and getting between the sheave housing and the sheave. You’d almost have to go up there in a bosun’s chair to fix that. So, one thing to remember when you’re working with halyard leader.

Installing halyards with halyard leader and a Flemish eye


When to Use Halyard Leader and When to Abut Halyards

I’ve shown you how to attach halyard leader to a halyard that has a Flemish eye, or reeving eye. Also how to use whipping twine when they don’t seize it on. This is going to be used any time you’re installing a new halyard with hardware. I can take the old halyard out, I’ve installed the halyard leader, and now I can attach it to my new halyard whether it has a snap shackle or a main halyard shackle on it, and pull the end of that back on through and full installation. If you’re dealing with a halyard that is a tied on, we’ve showed you the abutment process here. Basically this is just a one step installation, but the lines, pull them all through, tie your halyard onto your sail, and you’re done.

When to use different halyard installation types


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