The Importance of Accurate Length Measurement When Buying Halyards

27 May 2021

One core component of sailboats that can be useful for hoisting a sail, a flag, or pole is a halyard. Halyards can be made from natural fibre’s like hemp, manila or synthetic fibres such as Kevlar, polyester and dyneema. Some synthetic fibres like polyester are known for their resistance to ultraviolet radiation which make them an appropriate fibre for halyards due to their guaranteed longevity.

Halyards are used to hoist or lower sails, once the sail has been hoisted, the halyard is then used to adjust the luff tension of the sail. A halyard has many different forms of termination and end fittings to help connect it to the sail. Some halyards have hardware attached to the end such as a stainless steel shackle or snap shackle; allowing an easier attachment method. Another way to terminate a halyard is with a knot. One common example is a bowline. The other end of the halyard, alternatively, can be connected to the mast or deck of the yacht with a cleat, clutch and is usually adjusted with a winch.

Replacing and Purchasing a New Halyard

Usually, the halyard that requires replacing can be removed by tying or taping a strong mouse line to the end that is located at the winch. The halyard can then be pulled through, leaving the mouse line in its place. Once you have a new halyard, reverse the process you used to remove the halyard.

If your halyard broke and is no longer in its position, you will need to install a mouse line back into the broken halyards position. If you are not comfortable climbing the mast, this would be a good time to contact your local yacht rigger to install a mouse line for you. At Riggtech, we lower a mouse line with weights tied to the end from the halyard exit up the mast down to the lower exit. We then use a hook to pull the mouse line out of the lower slot. A new halyard can then be pulled back into the mast.

Accurate Length Measurement is a Must

When buying halyards for a sailboat, one factor that must be considered thoroughly is their overall length. Optimising the length of halyards is essential since it can affect the overall performance of the sailboat. A halyard that is too short will not be able to reach its intended location. A halyard that is too long, alternatively, might only get tangled along the way. Aside from being tangled, a long halyard will only add unnecessary weight and cost to the sailboat. Both short and long halyards can be a wasteful expenditure, as they may need to be replaced with one that has the accurate length.

Calculating the Accurate Halyard Length

There are basic calculations that can be used in measuring the length of halyards. To do this you need to know your yachts specific dimensions. Standard sail-maker I.J.E.P dimensions are usually the most commonly available data to work from.

If you don’t have access to these dimensions, another easy way to calculate the length of your halyards is to use a long tape measure. Attached the tape measure to the halyard you intend on measuring and pull the halyard to its full hoist position. Document the measurement taken from the full hoist position to the mast collar. If the halyard is a 1:1 halyard, multiply your measurement by 2. If your halyard is 2:1, add another full length.

Another topic that needs to be considered is the location of your yachts winches. If your yachts winches are located on the mast simply add another 3 meters. If your winches are located at the cockpit, you will need to measure from the mast aft along the deck to the winches. This measurement plus another 3 metres needs to be added.

To know more about accurate length measurement of halyards, feel free to contact us at Riggtech.


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