How To Install And Use Jacklines On A Sailboat


According to a study conducted by the United States Coast Guard, 73% of the sailing deaths occurring between 2000 and 2011 resulted from drowning. It is unfortunate when a sailor goes overboard simply because they were not tethered correctly or they were already tethered correctly but they still got dragged alongside the sailboat and ended up drowning because their tether was too long.

It is possible to avoid these tragedies by making sure that your sailboat features a safe and useful jackline system before wearing your sailing shorts and pants and kicking off your sailing trip. In this article, we will focus on showing both experienced and beginning sailors how to install jacklines sailboat system and how to use the jackline webbing.

How to Install Jacklines Sailboat System

1. Installing the Padeyes

When installing the jackline webbing, the first step will involve installing the padeyes. These have to go in the right places to ensure safe sailing once you grab your sailing bag. The majority of sailboats will require up to 8 padeyes.

During severe weather, you will need to hook yourself when you exit the cabin. Therefore, you should install a padeye right outside the companionway. When on watch, your helmsman should be tethered at all times. For this reason, be sure to install a padeye in the cockpit.

You should attach a padeye near all 4 corners of the cabin top. This will ensure that the jackline webbing runs down the halfway point between the toe rail and the sailboat’s boom, as near as possible.

Finally, you should install 2 padeyes on the foredeck, one center forward and another center aft. Ensure that the aft foredeck padeye is reachable from the cabin top padeyes without having to unhook. The forward end deck is supposed to be forward enough to allow you to reach the windlass, sailing anchor, etc. but also aft enough to ensure that you cannot fall off the sailboat at the foredeck.

Having padeyes placed the entire length of the cabin top and foredeck is not a necessity. However, you should install the padeyes in a way that allows you to move around the entire sailboat without unhooking it when you are in severe weather.

It is worth noting that installing the jacklines sailboat system on the cleats is not a good idea. The cleats are generally too close to the sailboat edges. Even with a short tether, the chances of you rolling overboard are infinitely high. This is why you need to invest in installing the padeyes.

2. Installing the Jackline Webbing

Assuming that you are through with installing the padeyes, the next step will involve adding the jackline webbing. A sailboat should have at least 3 jacklines. 2 of the jacklines running along the cabin top starboard sides and the port. The third jackline is supposed to run aft to forward on the sailboat’s foredeck.

Just like you would be careful when selecting the equipment you use when rigging your sailboat, you should take care when choosing the webbing to use when creating jacklines sailboat system. The ideal webbing should feature UV resistance. Additionally, they should feature little stretch when placed under load.

Jackline webbing is generally flat. This means that it will not end up turning into a tripping hazard if you happen to step on it by mistake. Since wires and lines are capable of rolling underfoot, using them when creating the jacklines sailboat system is not recommended.

It is not uncommon for sailors to grab their sailing boots and head out on a night sailing trip. For this reason, you should invest in a jackline webbing featuring a color that you can easily see at night.

If you use a non-stretch jackline webbing, you won’t need to ensure that the jacklines are super tight. You can prolong the lifetime of the jackline webbing by removing it and storing it when it is not being used. The sunlight is the biggest enemy to the jacklines.

3. Creating the Tethers

The final step involves creating tethers for the harness. Y tethers offer the best results. The Y tether features one attachment point at the harness and the 2 legs attach to the jacklines.

You should ensure that the central hook is sewn heavily with the box X stitch and a heavy UV thread. Make sure that the hook you attach to the harness features a color you can easily see at night.

The proper jackline and tether lengths will vary depending on the sailboat size. Different sailboats will feature varying setups. Experimenting could help you figure out the ideal setup for your boat.

How to Use the Jacklines Sailboat System


If the jacklines system is already in place on your sailboat, staying safe when boating should be easy. All you will need to do is clip to the jackline webbing with the shackle on the end of the tether, which should be hooked to your harness. As you move along the deck in any direction, you simply need to tether along with the jackline slides.

If your jackline webbing is perfectly-positioned, you should be able to clip on for safety before you leave the harness. This means that you should have the ability to attend to your business without unclipping.

The majority of teethers are 6 feet long. This means that even if a sailor gets thrown overboard while tethered to the jackline webbing, his/her head will not be immersed in the water. Apart from the damage caused by being bashed against the hull and in the water, the sailor can be pulled back to the sailboat without too many injuries.

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While you could wear your sailing jacket when the conditions are looking great, there is no knowing when the conditions could change abruptly. For this reason, ensuring that you have a safe and functional jacklines sailboat system is always a good idea.

It is worth noting that having an improperly configured jackline webbing could be as dangerous as not having the webbing. For example, if the tether is too long, the sailor could still be thrown overboard. If you are not sure that you can install the jacklines sailboat system correctly, working with a professional can help you save lives.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!