Need a Project? Replace Your Steel Lifelines With Dyneema.

image from www.capizzano.com

What do you think of this idea? Does it make sense to change out steel lifelines with Dyneema which probably is stronger at the same diameter but easier to cut? The forum is open, what do you think of this idea from West Marine Rigging?

One of our next projects [at West Marine Rigging – Newport] is converting an IRC’ed Club Swan 42 from stainless steel lifelines to New England Ropes STS-12 SK90.

Why convert???

  • Weight- Converting to Dyneema from SS is a HUGE weight savings. We recently replaced a Swan 55′s runners from oversized 1×19 wire to SK90. The assembly of their wire and  turning blocks for the control lines went from 17 lbs each, to 4 lbs for the SK90 (including the control lines for the weight of the new ones!)
  • Attachments- On the forward end, the lifelines are simply luggage tagged onto the pulpit, removing the screw eyes. The attachments on the aft end go from turnbuckle assembly’s to a simple ferrule lashed to the attachment point on the pushpit. Cleans up the whole attachment point, and actually eliminates a whole system that could catch, or wear on lines.
  • Wear and Tear- Removing the wire creates a softer assembly for everything from people’s hands, to spinnakers and jibs which will be rubbing over the top, back and forth. Think about how much happier your jib will be going over Dyneema than stainless wire.

It is not just a simple plug and play to convert however. It is HIGHLY suggested that you clean out the holes in each stanchion that the lifelines are to pass through, if not replacing the stanchions completely. Just as you would want to replace a sheave when converting a wire halyard to a rope one, the same principle applies here. The wire has grooved into the hole, and has created an unpleasant home for Dyneema which will chafe it. Time should be taken to completely smooth inside each stanchion, making very sure to remove any rough points for the new lifelines. We actually splice Dyneema cover onto the lifelines where they pass through each stanchion as extra protection.

1 comment to Need a Project? Replace Your Steel Lifelines With Dyneema.

  • Piper

    It’s a great idea, but I worry about the potential chafe at the stantions. Like most, we like to leave some slack in the lifelines to facilitate getting into hiking position. Every time a crew member or a piece of running rigging loads up a lifeline there is significant chafe at every stantion on that side. over time the Dyneema will fray. Chafe gear is a possible solution – like a small length of vinyl shroud cover – but keeping this in place is challenging.I love the idea of lightening up, but in the end we went with stainless for its longevity. To compensate we only bring dehydrated beer when we race!