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How to Wash and Deodorize a Wetsuit | Expert Advice

– SHOP WETSUIT MAINTENANCE SUPPLIES- Key factors in preventing a stinky wetsuit are: Rinse after each use Completely air dry before storing Shampoo & deodorize periodically Wetsuits do not breathe like foul weather gear and technical wicking layers which dry well in the open air. Neoprene contains tiny bubbles that trap the air inside the wetsuit material (neoprene) and insulate the sailor against the elements but is completely non-breathable. This same quality that makes neoprene effective as protective-wear however also traps […]

– SHOP WETSUIT MAINTENANCE SUPPLIES-

Key factors in preventing a stinky wetsuit are:

  1. Rinse after each use
  2. Completely air dry before storing
  3. Shampoo & deodorize periodically

Wetsuits do not breathe like foul weather gear and technical wicking layers which dry well in the open air. Neoprene contains tiny bubbles that trap the air inside the wetsuit material (neoprene) and insulate the sailor against the elements but is completely non-breathable. This same quality that makes neoprene effective as protective-wear however also traps sweat, urine, bacteria and all kinds of things that make keeping your wetsuit odor free a constant challenge.

If your wetsuit stinks to high heaven, the smell is usually because you stored it wet after use. Wetsuits need to be air dried out completely after each use; otherwise, the water trapped inside the neoprene stagnates and becomes stinky. The smell is also the result of a normal sweat and the body oils and odors that are in that sweat. Sailing in a wetsuit produces a lot of sweat, and this gets trapped inside your wetsuit.  All of the above are breeding grounds for the bacteria, which are the cause for that bad smell in your wetsuit.  The other reason for the horrible odor in a wetsuit is often caused by relieving yourself in your wetsuit. Urine leaves an unpleasant smell and is very difficult to get rid of by rinsing alone.

Rinsing

After every use, you should rinse your suit to rid it of contaminants.  To do this properly you need to take the suit off and turn it inside out.  Then completely submerge it in a freshwater tub and agitate it for a few moments.  A hose can be substituted, but you will need to take extra time to be sure all areas inside and out are flushed clean.

Air Drying

Never put a wet wetsuit away.  You are almost guaranteed to end up with an unbelievably stinky suit when you take it out again.  Once a suit has been rinsed, hang it inside out in a well-ventilated area.  Once this side is dry turn it right side in and dry the outside of the suit.  Try not to leave it in the sun, as UV exposure reduces the life of the material.

– SHOP WETSUIT MAINTENANCE SUPPLIES-

Deodorizing

After much use or storing it wet, your wetsuit will begin to sink and you will have to properly deodorize it.  The process is amazingly simple and easy, and the results are surprisingly pleasant.

There are quite a few detergents and other products on the market that claim to get rid of wetsuit stink, but few are very effective.  We recommend a two-step process of shampooing using Wetsuit & Dry Suit Shampoo to clean away dirt and body oils, and then deodorizing using MiraZyme Odor Eliminator which is a product containing natural enzymes and microbes used to remove odors caused by mold, mildew, and bacteria.

To shampoo and deodorize:

  1. Fill two large tubs (15 – 20-gallon size) most of the way up with lukewarm water.  Add the recommended amount of shampoo to the first tub and MiraZyme to the second tub. 
  2. Turn the wetsuit inside out, and using the shampoo tub, start from the ankles (to allow air to escape from the suit) work the suit in and under the water until it is fully submerged.  Agitate the suit with your hands vigorously for 2-3 minutes (be the washing machine).  Now pick the suit up and allow it to completely drain.
  3. Using the tub with the MiraZyme in it, work the suit in and under the water.  Ensure the water is fully flooding the inside of the suit.  Agitate the suit for a minute, ensuring water is flowing in, and out of the suit, and that all air has escaped.  Allow it to soak for 10-15 minutes, while occasionally agitating it to keep floating surfaces wetted out.  After which, remove and drain the suit.  Do not rinse the MiraZyme from the suit.  It will do more of its deodorizing magic while the suit is hanging and air drying.

– SHOP WETSUIT MAINTENANCE SUPPLIES-

How to Replace a Latex Neck Seal on a Dry Suit

More articles on dry suits Shop dry suit maintenance and repair Home replacement of a neck dry suit seal is easy if you have the right tools. Follow these directions for a no fuss installation. What do You Need? A new replacement neck seal Sharp scissors Wax paper Masking tape Plastic putty spatula Latex gloves (optional) Cotol 240 cleaner & accelerant (optional) Aquaseal adhesive Sandpaper (approximately 80 grit) Newspaper Neck Seal Replacement Kit consisting of: Large cup 6 x spring […]

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Home replacement of a neck dry suit seal is easy if you have the right tools. Follow these directions for a no fuss installation.

What do You Need?

  • A new replacement neck seal
  • Sharp scissors
  • Wax paper
  • Masking tape
  • Plastic putty spatula
  • Latex gloves (optional)
  • Cotol 240 cleaner & accelerant (optional)
  • Aquaseal adhesive
  • Sandpaper (approximately 80 grit)
  • Newspaper
  • Neck Seal Replacement Kit consisting of:
    • Large cup
    • 6 x spring clamps
    • Base circle form
    • 2 x half-moon forms
    • Double sided stick tape

Instructions

Find a large flat work surface and spread newspaper down.  Read through these instructions and our tips at the end, and then you are ready to begin.

Part One: Removing The Old Seal

  1. Remove the old neck gasket from the dry suit using sharp scissors. You will cut along the edge of the suit
  2. material leaving the ½-3/4” of original seal that is glued to the suit in place.

NOTE: If any part of the original seal remaining is not still securely glued to the suit or the seal material is deteriorated or gummy and not a suitable surface to glue a new seal to, you will need to completely remove it.  See instructions on how to do this in the Tips below.

Part Two: Prep the Suit & Seal

  1. Seals at the factory can be glued to either the inside or outside of the suit. Turn your suit either right side out or inside out such that the remaining seal is facing outwards and is visible.
  2. Cover the circle and two half circle forms with wax paper to keep the Aquaseal from adhering to them. Use masking tape on the back side of the forms to hold the wax paper in place.
  3. Cut eight pieces of double sided stick tape and attach them evenly around the outside perimeter of the circle form on the smooth wax paper work side (not the side with masking tape).
  4. Put the circle form inside the opening of the dry suit neck opening.
  5. Remove the remaining covering on the eight pieces of double sided stick tape and flatten the suit outward and down onto the tape. This will leave the neck opening flat on the form, and provide a good working surface.
  6. Wipe the remaining seal material on the suit with Cotal 240 (isopropyl alcohol or acetone can also be sued) to clean away any contaminants that could prevent a good adhesive bond.
  7. Using the sandpaper, scuff the remaining seal material on the suit until it begins to have a white mat finish. It only takes a few scuffs for any one area to achieve this.
  8. If your suit is inside out, turn the replacement neck seal inside out (white sizing stamp facing out) If your suit is right side out, keep the replacement neck seal right side out (white sizing stamp facing in).

Part Three: Adhere new Seal

  1. Wipe the mating surface of the new seal with Cotal 240 (isopropyl alcohol or acetone can also be sued) to clean away any contaminants that could prevent a good adhesive bond.
  2. Scuff the surface of the new seal at its mating edge. Scuff a width all the way around only as wide as the remaining seal on the suit (approximately ½-3/4” wide).
  3. Now put on your latex gloves (optional) to keep any Aquaseal from getting on your skin.
  4. In a plastic up mix three parts of Aquaseal (1/2 tube) to one part of Cotol 240, and mix thoroughly with a plastic putty spatula.
  5. Use your plastic putty spatula to spread the mixture onto the old seal only. If you have had to remove the old seal completely, you will want to apply the mixture to the fabric where the old seal had been glued and to the new seal.
  6. With the cup form upside down, slide it up and into the opening of the replacement neck seal. Pull the seal down the cup until the bottom (matting surface to the dry suit) sits flat on a countertop.
  7. Now carefully place the cup with the seal on it into the middle of the circle form while aligning the mating surface of the seal to the surface with the Aquaseal on it.
  8. Once old and new neck seal surfaces are mated and aligned at their edges, place the half-moon forms on to and on either side.
  9. Now place three clamps evenly around each of the half-moon forms. This will sandwich the glued surfaces between under pressure while the Aquaseal dries.

    Step Four: Final Steps

  10. Allow the Aquaseal to dry for 2 hours (or 24 if you did not use Cotol 240)
  11. Then remove the forms and the repair is finished.

Tips

  • Make sure you order a new neck seal to match the size of your suit – a large neck seal for a size large dry suit, and so on.
  • You can use a make shift home-made repair kit at home using a cut out cardboard for the forms and many books, both covered with wax paper. However this can sometimes leave areas of the seal unpressed and unadhered to the suit where the books cannot completely cover, and the cardboard not being ridged.
  • If you need to completely remove the old seal because it is not a viable surface to glue a new seal to, follow these directions carefully:

Note: Pulling at a gasket that is well glued can rip the fabric of the suit. When pulling at the seal in different directions, go slowly.  The fabric may be strong in one direction, but weaker in another and rip when you removal efforts change direction.  If the gasket has been stitched on (in addition to having been glued), use a seam ripper to break the treads prior to removing the seal.

More details:

For Gore-Tex Dry Suits:

For dry suits made of Gore-Tex (or similar three-layer laminates) use a home clothes iron set a medium heat.  Heat either the fabric (inside or out) or the latex seal directly until hot to the touch.  Carefully pull the seal off.  If it remains stuck or does not come off fairly easily, heat the area with the iron further.  Because the latex and glue will remain hot, wearing gloves to remove the seal is recommended.  Do not use a heat gun or hair dryer – stick with a clothes iron to concentrate the correct amount of heat to the seal mating area only.

For dry suits made of coated nylon:

For dry suits made of coated nylon (two layer waterproof with a white urethane coating on the inside), you will need to be very careful not to melt away the coating.  If you do the fabric will leak in that area.  Apply heat only to the latex seal.  Do not apply heat directly to the fabric of the suit – do not allow the iron to touch the fabric at any time.  Use a home clothes iron set a medium heat.  Heat only the latex seal directly until hot to the touch.  Carefully pull the seal off.

If it remains stuck or does not come off fairly easily, heat the area with the iron further.  Because the latex and glue will remain hot, wearing gloves to remove the seal is recommended.  Do not use a heat gun or hair dryer – stick with a clothes iron to concentrate the correct amount of heat to the seal mating area only.

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How to Replace a Latex Wrist and Bootie Seals on a Dry Suit

More articles on dry suits Shop dry suit maintenance and repair Home replacement of a wrist or bootie (sock) dry suit seal is easy if you have the right tools. Follow these directions for a no fuss installation. What do You Need? A new replacement bootie (sock) or wrist seal(s) Sharp scissors Duct tape Plastic putty spatula Latex gloves (optional) Aquaseal adhesive Cotol 240 cleaner & accelerant (optional) Sandpaper (approximately 80 grit) Wrist & Bootie Seal Replacement Kit consisting of: […]

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Home replacement of a wrist or bootie (sock) dry suit seal is easy if you have the right tools. Follow these directions for a no fuss installation.

What do You Need?

  • A new replacement bootie (sock) or wrist seal(s)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Plastic putty spatula
  • Latex gloves (optional)
  • Aquaseal adhesive
  • Cotol 240 cleaner & accelerant (optional)
  • Sandpaper (approximately 80 grit)
  • Wrist & Bootie Seal Replacement Kit consisting of:
    • Wrist seal expanding form and shim dowel insert – small
    • Bootie or ankle seal expanding form and shim dowel insert – large

 

Instructions

Find a large flat work surface and spread newspaper down.  Read through these instructions and our tips at the end, and then you are ready to begin.

Part One: Removing The Old Seal

  1. Remove the old wrist or bootie gasket from the dry suit using sharp scissors. You will cut along the edge of the suit material leaving the ½-3/4” of original seal that is glued to the suit in place.
  2. If any part of the original seal remaining is not still securely glued to the suit or is dry rotted or gummy (sticky) you will want to remove the entire remaining seal from the suit.  Follow our directions in our Tips at the bottom of this page.

Part Two: Prep the Suit & Seal

    1. Seals at the factory can be glued to either the inside or outside of the suit. Turn your suit either right side out or inside out such that the remaining seal is facing outwards and is visible.
    2. If replacing a bootie seal, make a small pen mark on the suit just above where the seal is attached in the front of the suit and on center. This will be your reverence to ensure the bootie is glued in the correct orientation.
    3. Insert the proper form into the opening of the suit – the small form for wrist seals or the large form for booties.  Put the suit down such that the remaining seal material that is attached to the suit is at the very edge of the form.
    4. Now insert the dowel to keep the form expanded and the suit cuff taught to form a good working surface. Use wadded up paper on one end of the dowel to shim it up and create good pressure to the form and suit cuff if the dowel is too short.

  1. If your suit is inside out, turn the replacement seal inside out (white sizing stamp facing out) or if your suit is right side out, keep the replacement seal right side out (white sizing stamp facing in).
  2. Slide the seal down over the form and overtop of the remaining seal material on the suit. Be sure to align the seal to the edge of the old seal.  NOTE: if replacing a bootie seal, be sure to align the front, center of the seal with the pin mark you made earlier.
  3. Using a long strip of duct tape (about a 3/4” wide), tape around the new seal just above the ridge of the old seal. You do not want tape over any area where the seas are on top of each other.
  4. Next roll the new seal back on its self.  the tape will help keep the seal from sliding on the form and only allow the mating surface to be exposed.

Part Three: Adhere new Seal

  1. Wipe the remaining seal material on the suit and the mating surface of the new seal with Cotal 240 (isopropyl alcohol or acetone can also be sued) to clean away any contaminants that could prevent a good adhesive bond.
  2. Using the sandpaper, scuff the remaining seal material on the suit until it begins to have a white mat finish. The scuff the rolled back mating surface of the new seal.  It only takes a few scuffs for any one area to achieve this.
  3. Now put on your latex gloves (optional) to keep any Aquaseal from getting on your skin.
  4. In a plastic up mix three parts of Aquaseal to one part of Cotol 240, and mix thoroughly with a plastic putty spatula.
  5. Use your plastic putty spatula to spread the mixture onto the old seal only.  If you have had to remove the old seal completely, you will want to apply the mixture to the fabric where the old seal had been glued and to the new seal.
  6. Roll new the seal down onto the area with the Aquaseal and be sure the edges of the new and old seal line up.
  7. Tear off from the roll duct tape a strip that is wider than the width of the glued seals and long enough to go around the seal about one and a half times.
  8. Tape over top the glued area applying moderate pressure as you do so.

Step Four: Final Steps

  1. Allow the Aquaseal to dry for 2 hours.  If you did not use Cotol 240 then your dry time will be 24 hours.
  2. Once dry, remove the duct tape and the forms. The repair is finished.

Tips

  • Make sure you order a new bootie and writ seals to match the size of your suit – a large bootie seal for a size large dry suit, and so on.
  • You can use a makeshift home-made repair kit a using a thin flexible kitchen cutting sheet (thin cutting ‘board’) stuffed with paper to create a working/gluing surface.
  • If you need to completely remove the old seal because it is not a viable surface to glue a new seal to, follow these directions carefully:

For more details:

Note: Pulling at a gasket that is well glued can rip the fabric of the suit. When pulling at the seal in different directions, go slowly.  The fabric may be strong in one direction, but weaker in another and rip when you removal efforts change direction.  If the gasket has been stitched on (in addition to having been glued), use a seam ripper to break the treads prior to removing the seal.

For dry suits made of Gore-Tex

For dry suits made of Gore-Tex (or similar three-layer laminates) use a home clothes iron set a medium heat.  Heat either the fabric (inside or out) or the latex seal directly until hot to the touch.  Carefully pull the seal off.  If it remains stuck or does not come off fairly easily, heat the area with the iron further.  Because the latex and glue will remain hot, wearing gloves to remove the seal is recommended.  Do not use a heat gun or hair dryer – stick with a clothes iron to concentrate the correct amount of heat to the seal mating area only.

For dry suits made of coated nylon

For dry suits made of coated nylon (two-layer waterproof with a white urethane coating on the inside), you will need to be very careful not to melt away the coating.  If you do the fabric will leak in that area.  Apply heat only to the latex seal.  Do not apply heat directly to the fabric of the suit – do not allow the iron to touch the fabric at any time.  Use a home clothes iron set a medium heat.  Heat only the latex seal directly until hot to the touch.  Carefully pull the seal off.

If it remains stuck or does not come off fairly easily, heat the area with the iron further.  Because the latex and glue will remain hot, wearing gloves to remove the seal is recommended.  Do not use a heat gun or hair dryer – stick with a clothes iron to concentrate the correct amount of heat to the seal mating area only.

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How to Clean and Lubricate a Sailing Dry Suit Zipper

More articles on dry suits Shop dry suit maintenance and repair Proper zipper maintenance for your dry suit will extend life and quality of the suit. We will show you how to: Lubricate a zipper Clean a zipper Zipper Types There are two basic types of waterproof sippers used on sailing dry suits.  The brass tooth zipper (or gas zipper) has been around for over 50+ years and is hard wearing, but not a flexible as a plastic zipper.  The […]

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Proper zipper maintenance for your dry suit will extend life and quality of the suit.

We will show you how to:

  • Lubricate a zipper
  • Clean a zipper

Zipper Types

There are two basic types of waterproof sippers used on sailing dry suits.  The brass tooth zipper (or gas zipper) has been around for over 50+ years and is hard wearing, but not a flexible as a plastic zipper.  The T-Zip plastic tooth waterproof zipper is flexible and lightweight but has been known to very occasionally pop open if it is not kept clean and lubricated.

Zipper Lubricationsailing dry suit zipper care

Waterproof zippers should be lubricated periodically or any time the zipper becomes more difficult to operate.  For occasional lubricating throughout the sailing season, use a non-silicon based lubricant like Zip Tech.  It is important to push the lubricant into the teeth on both sides of the zipper.  For a T-Zips you especially need to lubricate the area (both sides) at the very end of the zipper where the zipper car rests when closed.  Once the zipper is lubricated, run the zipper car back and forth a few times to distribute the lubricant.  Then with a rag, wipe away any excess.

Zipper Cleaning

dry suit zipper cleaningIf you are sailing in dirty water or launching from a sandy area, grit, dirt, and sand can get into the teeth of your zipper and cause it to become difficult to operate lead to premature failure.  Using a product like Zip Care you can brush contaminants out from between the teeth (both inside and out).  Bending the zipper slightly will open the teeth in areas that are heavily contaminated.  After all is cleaned out, pop the top and squeeze the liquid lubricant into the teeth.  Wipe the excess away with a cloth.  Run the zipper car up and down the length of the zipper to further distribute the lubricant.  Note, this liquid lubricant is lightweight.  When the zipper needs further lubrication later in the season, switch back to a paste type lubricant like Zip Tech.

Reminders

Make sure your zipper is completely open with getting in or out of your drysuit so teeth are no damaged from the zipper car.

Dry suits should be stored in a clean, dark and dry place.  Metal zippers should be closed most of the way with the zipper car about 2” from the end.  Plastic sippers should be stored completely closed.

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How to Put on a Sailing Dry Suit and Determine Proper Fit

More articles on dry suits Shop dry suits Put your sailing dry suit on with ease by following just a few simple steps. Insulation – Under Layers First, you need to put on your under layers. A thin base layer for transporting perspiration from the surface of your skin to the second layer, the mid layer.  Mid layers should be one or two layers and a mix of mid-weight to heavyweight fleece.  This colder the weather, the more and heavier […]

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Put your sailing dry suit on with ease by following just a few simple steps.

Insulation – Under Layers

First, you need to put on your under layers. A thin base layer for transporting perspiration from the surface of your skin to the second layer, the mid layer.  Mid layers should be one or two layers and a mix of mid-weight to heavyweight fleece.  This colder the weather, the more and heavier your mid layers.  Remember, NO Cotton. Cotton garments and socks will retain moisture and will leave you damp and cold.  Wicking base and mid layers will not absorb moisture and transport perspiration away from the wearer to the breathable material of the dry suit, which will then be expelled leaving you warm and dry.

Preparing the Suit

To prepare your suit for entry, powder the inside of the seals (feet, wrist, and neck) and the inside arms and legs of the suit with talcum powder (unscented – additives can damage latex seals over time).  This will allow your arms and legs to more easily slide into the suit, and seals to slide on with less catching and stressing of the materials.  Now be sure to remove any jewelry or watch you may be wearing to keep them from catching and tearing seals.  Make sure your socks are straight and pulled up well – it’s hard to do this once the suit is on.  Be sure the entry zipper is completely open so it is not stressed when donning the suit.

Putting a Dry Suit On

how to put on a sailing dry suit

1. To start, remember to always sit down when putting the bottom half on.

Before you actually step into the suit make sure you have the suspenders in the right place – one on each side of the suit.  Once both legs are in, put on the suspenders, stand and adjust them.  The suspenders should be adjusted to keep the crotch and waist in the correct place for ease of leg movement and to keep the top half of the suit from sliding down which would restrict free arm and torso movement.

2. Slide your hand through the sleeve.

In doing this, be careful not to “punch” your hand through the wrist seals – especially the latex seals. You don’t want to damage them. Using your opposite hand, open the seal so you have room to slide your other hand through the wrist seal. Put your handthrough the seal, and lay the seal flat against your wrist just above the wrist joint.

3. Next, pull the suit up again, and put your other arm through.

You may need to shrug you shoulders in a bit. Be as careful with the wrist seal as you were with your other hand.

4. Now, it’s time for the neck seal.

Pull the suit completely up to give yourself some extra material and room, duck, gather the neck seal with your hands, open it up, and pull the seal over your head as you duck your head down and into the suit.

5. When you zip up your dry suit – pull the zipper along its axis.

Trust us, you don’t’ want to break it. It’s a pretty spendy fix. Pull the zip until it’s completely closed.  If it is difficult to pull, it may be time to clean and/or lubricate the zipper.

6. Deflate the suit to streamline your fit.

Open the neck seal, crouch to squeeze out all the air, close the seal while you’re still crouching, and stand up. You’ll notice the suit is sucked tight against your body.  As you sail, your body will off gas and the suit will slightly inflate.  In between races, you may need to crouch down and release air from the suit.

7. With both latex and breathable material drysuit socks, be sure to work any excess material up and away from your foot.

You want to reduce the volume of your foot before putting on boots.  Latex socks tend to ‘stick’ to your boots when putting them on.  To reduce this, you can do one of two things: use a special thin over sock to protect the latex and create a slick surface, or apply talcum powder to both the sock seals and the inside of your boots.  Remember that if your boots are tight, blood flow to your feet is reduced resulting in cold feet.  To overcome this some sailors have a second pair of sailing boots that are a size larger for dry suit sailing, and a regular sized for warmer conditions.  If you are wearing a sock liner, a thick insulated sock, the dry suit bootie and a thin over sock, your foot size will increase by at least a full size.  Boots for dry suit sailing should be neoprene – not rubber – which add insulation, are stretchy and are easier to put on.

Dry Suit Fit

If you’re fitting a suit, remember to make sure you leave room for layers. Good tests to be sure you get the perfect fit are, once you have all your warm layers under the dry suit on, hug your shoulders to feel for freedom of movement across the back of your shoulders, and then drop to one knee and raise your arms straight into the air. If you feel constricted in the area of your underarms, you should consider a size larger.

Lastly, don’t walk around in the suit until you have put boots on over the latex booties.

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Measuring and Replacing Sailboat Lifelines | Expert Advice

Lifeline Components How do Lifelines Work Lifelines work as a last resort system to keep a person on board a boat.  In the most extreme instance, imagine someone being washed by a wave from one side of the boat, across the deck and into the lifelines on the other side.  This can generate tremendous loads in the many thousands of pounds; therefore lifeline systems must be able to withstand high dynamic load and translate it directly to the stern and […]

Lifeline Components

Sailboat lifeline illustration

How do Lifelines Work

Lifelines work as a last resort system to keep a person on board a boat.  In the most extreme instance, imagine someone being washed by a wave from one side of the boat, across the deck and into the lifelines on the other side.  This can generate tremendous loads in the many thousands of pounds; therefore lifeline systems must be able to withstand high dynamic load and translate it directly to the stern and bow pulpits.  Lifelines should be taut over their entire length to ensure energy is immediately transferred to the pulpits.  Generally speaking if you take the longest unsupported length of the system (say two stanchions that are the farthest apart) and apply 10 pounds of force at the midpoint (midway between the two stanchions), the wire should deflect no more than 2 inches.  The tighter they are the better, as long as you are not bending your stanchion inboard or making gate eyes too difficult to operate.

In order ensure lifelines are properly tensioned over their entire length, they must be fully adjustable.

 

Lifeline Wire Types

Lifeline wire has traditionally been made of 7 x 7 stainless steel wire with a white vinyl coating.  The internal wire diameters have been 1/8″, 3/16″ and 1/4″ with corresponding outside vinyl diameters of 7/32″, 5/16″ and 3/8″.  Because the vinyl coating traps water, it causes the wire to prematurely corrode, and you cannot see the wire underneath the coating, so visual inspection is not an option.  Most offshore racing rules and regulations prohibit coated lifelines for these reasons.  APS only makes lifelines with uncoated 1 x 19 stainless steel wire which is available in 1/8″, 5/32″, 3/16″ and 1/4″ diameters.

Due to the smaller diameter of uncoated wire, some boat owners will upsize their lifeline wire diameter when replacing coated wire with uncoated wire to make it more comfortable when grabbed by hand.

 

Types of Lifeline Configurations

Illustration of sailboat lifelines with no gates

Lifelines with no Gates – One Section

These are the simplest lifelines.  Since the lifeline runs freely through the stanchions from bow to stern, it only requires one length adjuster.  A turnbuckle at one end (to adjust length) and a simple toggle jaw on the other.  You may substitute the toggle with a gate hook (pelican hook) at the pulpit to allow that area to be opened and the rest of the lifeline slackened for easy boarding and provisioning.  Another alternative is to substitute the toggle with a single gate eye to allow the life line to be lashed to the stern pulpit which allows for occasional opening of the life line by untying the lashings.  Lashings are done using small diameter (around 1/8″) line.  If you lash you lifeline to the pulpit, you will want to reduce the overall length of the overall lifeline length by 4″ (providing 4″ between the gate eye and the bail on the pulpit) to allow for the lashings.

Illustration of Lifelines with End Gates

Lifelines with End Gates – Two Sections

This configuration has two independently adjustable sections.  It is an easy way to create a gate while maintaining the safety provided by somewhat taut lifelines in the rest of the system when the gate hook is detached (unlike a one section lifeline with only a gate hook on the end that attach to the pulpit).  The interlocking gate eye does not allow the turnbuckle to tension the gate part of the lifeline.  Therefore your gate hook (pelican hook), which is adjustable, will be used for fine tuning the gate wire tension.

Illustration of Lifelines with Middle or Center Gates

Lifelines with Mid Gates – Three Sections

Boats designed for gates will have two stanchions approximately two feet apart to specifically accommodate a gate.  This minimizes the open area when the gate is open during boarding, and maintains the safety provided by somewhat taut lifelines in the other sections.  This requires all three sections to have independent length adjustment capabilities.  The turn buckle for the first section, then a gate hook (pelican hook), which is adjustable for the gate section, and an adjuster toggle for the third section.  Both the gate hooks and adjuster toggles have less than 50% of the adjustment range or throw of a turnbuckle, so they are use for short sections of the overall lifelines.  Turnbuckles with their increased adjustment range are used for adjusting the long section of the system.  On larger boats with longer overall lifelines, adjuster toggles may be replaced with turnbuckles.  This allows for a better range of adjustment for properly tensioning longer wire distances at both ends of the system.

 

Measuring Lifelines

What you will need

Preparing Lifelines for Measuring

Lifelines are measured off of the boat, but they must first be properly prepared on the boat, and then removed.  You will do so for both sides, port and starboard, as lifelines are not usually symmetrical.

  1. Ensure your pulpits and stanchions are not bent.  If they are, replace or have them repaired.  You want to make sure you are measuring lifeline lengths for properly configured supports and anchor points.
  2. Equally tension your lifelines over the entire system length on both the port and starboard sides.  Be sure that the load is traveling and transferring to the pulpits (not just against a stanchion).  Generally speaking if you take the longest unsupported length of the system (say two stanchions that are the farthest apart) and apply 10 pounds of force at the midpoint (midway between the two stanchions), the wire should deflect no more than 2 inches.  The tighter they are the better, as long as you are not straining your stanchion inboard or making gate eyes too difficult to operate.
  3. Mark the threaded stud against the fitting housing with tape, a Sharpie marker or measure the exposed threaded length with calipers.  Once you reassemble your lifelines off of the boat this will allow you to set the lifelines back to their proper length.
  4. Remove the lifelines one piece at a time by removing the adjusters and sliding the wire out of the stanchions.  Tag each piece of the lifeline using duct tape  as they are removed.  On the tag write 1) port or starboard 2) upper or lower 3) what piece it is in the system: forward, gate, aft.  Note: Masking tape and tied on tags can get ripped off when coiling and/or uncoiling the wires. 4) if you used calipers, the measurement of the exposed threads.
  5. Put the adjusters back on each piece of the system right after removing them from the stanchions.
  6. Coil each section and remove from the boat for measuring

 

Measuring Instructions

  1. Print out the APS Lifeline Measuring Sheet for the type of lifelines you have.
  2. Set adjusters to their marked or measured length and lock them in place with the set nut and/or pins.
  3. Record the wire diameter for the upper and lower separately on the sheet.
  4. Measure and record your lifeline lengths from bearing surface to bearing surface on the printed measurement worksheet. Please visit How to Measure Wire Rigging to ensure you are measuring from the bearing surface and see some of the methods of doing this.  Also, see how to measure lifeline sections with gate eyes and gate hooks below.
  5. For each section of the lifelines indicate the part number for the end fittings.  To do this, on the measuring sheet take the number next to the fitting in the illustration, and write ir next to the part number you wish to use.

 

Measurements for Lifelines with no Gates

Measurements for Lifelines with no Gates

A: Measured from the bearing surface of the turnbuckle to the bearing surface of the toggle.

Measurements for Lifelines with End Gates

Measurements for Lifelines with End Gates

A: Measure from the bearing surface of the toggle to the bearing surface of the gate eye (where the gate eye would bear against the stanchion).  Note that this requires that the gate hook (pelican hook) is attached to the gate eye while taking the measurement off of the boat.

B: Measure from bearing surface of the gate eye (where the gate eye would bear against the stanchion) – the same point as used in measuring the A section.

 

Measurements for Lifelines with Middle or Center Gates

Measurements for Lifelines with Middle or Center Gates

A: Measure from the bearing surface of the toggle to the bearing surface of the gate eye (where the gate eye would bear against the stanchion).

B: Measure from the bearing surface of the gate eye to the bearing surface of the next gate eye (where the gate eye would bear against the stanchion).  Note that this requires that the gate hook (pelican hook) is attached to the gate eye while taking the measurement off of the boat.

C: Measure from the bearing surface of the gate eye (where the gate eye would bear against the stanchion) to the bearing surface of the toggle.

 

Ordering New Lifelines

By website order:

  1. Add all needed lifeline fittings in your online cart
  2. Add the lengths of  1 x 19 wire you will need, port and starboard, upper and lower.  This is done by simply totaling all of your lengths and entering that one amount
  3. Add the part called I Would Like to be Contacted about Rigging in my Order to your cart.  You many attach a short message to this part.
  4. Check out online.  We will not charge your card nor start your order until we have first talked with you.
  5. Scan and email us your completed measurement for to SAIL@apsltd.com.  Please reference your order number in the email.
  6. We will contact you the next business day to confirm your order and give you a day definite ship date.

By Phone:

  1. Call us to place your order
  2. Be ready to read off the information on your measurement sheet.
  3. We will confirm your order on the phone and give you a day definite ship date.

By Shipping us Your Lifelines:

  1. If you are not comfortable taking your own lifeline measurements, please ship your existing lifeline to us after following the instruction in the ‘Preparing Lifelines for Measuring’ above.
  2. We will contact you to confirm your order and give you a day definite ship date.

* Allow us one week to measure your lifelines

 

If you have questions or are unsure about something; call, email, or live chat us before you place an order for rigging. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have

Photos Courtesy of C.Sherman Johnson Co. Inc.

How to Install Stand Up Springs & Boots on a Block | Expert Advice

What are Stand Up Springs & Boots? Common sailboat block accessories, stand up springs and boots are meant to keep a block upright. Metal springs come tapered or straight in various sizes to fit a range of blocks. Stand up boots made of PVC are offered in large and small sizes and black or gray. After installation when the line running through the block is slack, the block will not collapse on its attachment point (deck of the boat, traveler car, etc…). Why […]

What are Stand Up Springs & Boots?

Common sailboat block accessories, stand up springs and boots are meant to keep a block upright. Metal springs come tapered or straight in various sizes to fit a range of blocks. Stand up boots made of PVC are offered in large and small sizes and black or gray. After installation when the line running through the block is slack, the block will not collapse on its attachment point (deck of the boat, traveler car, etc…).

Stand up Spring close up

Why Use Stand Up Springs & Boots

  1. Springs and boots keep blocks in the correct orientation. With the block standing up and oriented in the direction is was when it was last loaded, lines run freer when they reload after a tack or and jibe.  A mainsheet block mounted to a traveler car will be less likely to tangle in the mainsheet when it is supported and not falling into the line during tacks and jibes.
  2. They keep blocks from hitting the deck. An example would be a spinnaker guy lead block that is mounted to the deck.  Each time the bock is unloaded it falls and marks and eventually damages the deck.
  3. Stand up boots, which have a solid construction,offer an added value in that they shed lines, thus preventing snags and tangles.

Where to Use Stand Up Springs & Boots

Try stand up springs & bloots for:

  • Lead block on the deck
  • Mainsheet blocks on traveler cars
  • Mainsheet ratchets mounted on the cockpit sole
  • Upright aft turning blocks for spinnaker sheets.

How to Install:

Springs

If your spring is too large to be easily compressed by hand, we recommend using zip ties for installation.

  1. Using 3 zip ties, compress the spring about 3/4 of the way down while cinching ties. Work the ties away from each other until they are equally spaced while cinching tighter.
  2. Once the spring is flattened with the zip ties, put it on top of your fixed point and shackle.
  3. Install block onto the shackle.
  4. Snip off ties making sure your fingers are clear of the spring and all rings and attachments are inside.

 SHOP ALL  STAND UP SPRINGS

Boots

Large and small boots can be equally challenging. The zip tie trick is recommended for both sizes.

  1. Using 3 zip ties equally spaced, compress the boot flat and tighten ties down.
  2. Slip loosely cinched zip tie through your shackle. Put boot ontop and use the tie to pull the shackle through the boot. Snip zip tie off of shackle.
  3. Install block onto fixed point shackle with your clevis pin.
  4. Snip off ties making sure to tuck ring or shackle attachment inside of the boot.

SHOP ALL STAND UP BOOTS

How to Coil & Stow Braided Lines & Ropes | Expert Advice

Hi, this is Kyle from APS. I’m here to show you how to coil braided line the correct way and the incorrect way. The Incorrect Way to Coil Line I’ve got a piece of 3/8” double braid here. This would be ideal for a halyard. I’m simulating a shackle on the end. Always start with the working end, where the hardware is or where the jacket is stripped. I’m going to do what I think most people typically think is […]

Hi, this is Kyle from APS. I’m here to show you how to coil braided line the correct way and the incorrect way.

The Incorrect Way to Coil Line

I’ve got a piece of 3/8” double braid here. This would be ideal for a halyard. I’m simulating a shackle on the end. Always start with the working end, where the hardware is or where the jacket is stripped. I’m going to do what I think most people typically think is the best way to coil, and certainly the prettiest way to coil. I’m going to start off with the open left hand here. I’m going to do full draws, and in order to get this coil to look perfect I’m having to rotate my right hand to get that coil. I’m going to do another full length and I’m rotating my right hand to get another perfect loop. Each time I do that, I get a pretty-looking loop, but I’m introducing twist into the line. You can already start to see the kinks that it’s creating. I’ll just keep working this. Now I’m having to work the kinks out just to make these pretty loops.

How to coil line 1

The Performance of Incorrectly Coiled Line

I finished coiling this by introducing twists to get these beautiful, perfect coils. Now let’s see how this performs. I’m just going to throw this down. I’m going to run the line through this block. Imagine me running a main sheet, a sheet, a halyard through the mast. I’m just going to start to do a straight pull and you can see all the twists that I’ve put in the line is now starting to get introduced back into it as I try and pull it straight. Now we’re having issues. I’m going to have to manually deal with this.

how to coil line 2

The Correct Way to Coil Line

Now that I’ve shown you why you don’t want the pretty, perfect loops and the performance issues they cause, I’m going to show you the correct way to coil this line. Now before I could start this I had to go in the other room and run this the length of the building and work out all those kinks that I put into the line. I wanted to get it right back to the condition it was in coming off the spool: balanced, no twist. I think I’ve achieved that. If you are on the boat and you’ve got a line with a lot of twist, as long as there are no other boats around, the easy way to do this is if you’re underway is, just take the line, tie it off and throw it overboard and it will just unravel behind the boat. Of course, you’re going to pull in a wet line, but you’ll have a balanced line.

The correct way to do this is, again, open left hand palm, working in to start with. I take a full arm length. What I was doing before was I was introducing twist with my right hand. Now there will be no twist. I’m just going to do a straight hand-off – right hand to left hand. You’ll notice the line has figure eight and that’s what I want. That’s a healthy-looking coil. I’m just going to do this time and again. I’m just going to stack them one on top of the other.

How to coil line 3

The Performance of Correctly Coiled Line

I’ve finished coiling this line with the no twist added, figure eight design, very healthy. I’m going to show you the performance difference. I’m just going to toss this down, run the same line through the same block. You’ll notice there’s no hockling. There’s no twist. The line just runs smoothly through the block, all the way to its end.

How to coil line 4

How to Hang Coiled Line

Now I’m back to this healthy, figure eight coil. Now I need to secure it, cinch it down for storage. Storing is either hanging it by tying it off to something or cinching it down and just throwing it into a storage locker. I’m going to show you the hanging one. I’m going to take at least a loop and a half or two loops worth of length. Do not start with too short a piece. You’re not going to be happy at the end of this. Good, long loop length, and I’m basically going to take it in my hand and I’m going to come about a third of the way down and I’m going to cinch it with this finger. I’m going to start to wrap the line. I’m doing this tightly. I usually like to get a minimum of five in place. I’m going to run my hand through. For the hanging I’m just going to pull this and pull the tail through. That’s it. This isn’t going to go anywhere. Now I have the ability to do a half-hitch on a rail or on a hook or wherever and I can store it.

how to coil line 5

How to Stow Coiled Line

Now if I was putting this in a locker, I really wouldn’t need a tail. I’m going to undo this. I don’t need quite this length. I’m going to put a couple extra wraps on this. In this case, I’m going to run the loop through but I’m going to run it back over the line and cinch it down. Now I’ve got a very sturdy piece for storage. If I had dock lines or a bunch of extra halyards or sheets, I could throw a whole bunch of these into a storage locker and they’re going to stay nice and secure and not get mixed up and knotted together, and I’ve retained the non-twist figure eight coil.

How to coil line 6

The Incorrect Way to Coil Lines on Winches

I’ve shown you how to properly coil a line using the figure eight when you’re going to hang it or throw it into a storage locker. Now imagine your halyard tail’s around your cabin top winches and you’re done for the day and you want to coil these up. What’s the common thing that we see? We see people doing these really beautiful loops. As I’m doing this, just as before when I do perfect loops, I’m introducing twist so when I go to release this I’m going to introduce hockles and twist and I’m going to be pulling at it, trying to get this line to run free.

How to coil line 7

The Correct Way to Coil Lines on Winches

Now the proper way to store halyard tails. Open hand and you’re just going to repeat a figure eight back and forth. I’m introducing no twist. I’m not having to rotate my wrist. Then when you’re ready to use this, just drop it in the cabin. No twist, everything just zings right through the blocks. How to coil line 8

How to Coil Large Diameter Line

I’ve shown you how to properly coil lines on boats, say, under 50 feet. Imagine you find yourself out sailing on a 50, 60, 70, 80 foot boat. We’re going to get in some large line diameters. This is 5/8”. Maybe it’s 1” or even larger. Because of the length of the boat we’re talking about a long length of line. It’s heavy to begin with. This is all polyester. If this was water sodden it’s going to be double the weight. Unless you’re a bodybuilder with amazing stamina you’re not going to be able to stand up and do arm coils with this. It’s just too heavy. How do I coil this and not introduce kinks into it? I’m sitting Indian style here. Say this is the deck of the boat. I’m going to keep my knees fairly high. I’m going to be doing full arm length grabs of this line and I’ll be laying it out in a figure eight.

Again, if this was something that had hardware on it I would start with the working end first and just lay that across my leg. I’m going to take this over here. I’m going to do a full arm grab and then I’m going to lay it down. I’m going to do the same thing and I’m going to lay it down. You can see with each time I do this I just build my figure eight, and because I’m doing full arm lengths it’s a consistent lay.

How to coil lines 9

I’ve finished coiling this line, sitting criss-cross. I extracted myself from it. In many cases this could be twice this amount of line, even more. You’re talking about a considerable amount of weight. Now what I’m going to do is get it ready for storage. You can see I’ve got nice, clean figure eights. I want to preserve that. I may want to just throw this in a locker or I may want to hang it. Now, dealing with this length it’s just too much to work with one end so what I’m going to do is I’m going to halve this. I’m going to grab it right here in the middle at the transition. I’m just going to lift it up. I’m going to load this line across so I’ve got it in my hand, right here, and bring this down just a little bit more.

How to coil line 10

How to Stow Large Diameter Lines

I’d like to go about a half way down instead of a third. I’m going to start my loops, all the way around. I’m going to pull it tight and I’m going to hold it with my hand here. I’m going to take another one and I’m going to pull this very tight. There’s my third. There’s my fourth. Again, I like to do a minimum of five. There’s my fifth. Now I’m going to just snake my hand right back through here and I’ve got options. There we go. Pulling this through. I could run the tail through here and we could tie it off or I could take that back out, go back to the cradle or I could just bring the loop around it. Bring a little more. Pull that off. Now I could just throw it into a locker.

How to coil line 12

All right. Now you know how to coil lines like a pro, whether it’s boats under 50 feet or over 50 feet.

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