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Protecting warps

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What is the issue?
Fairleads are hard on warps, anchor/mooring/dock lines. The constant flexing and tugging on the warps over the jaws chafe through lines.

Why address this?
Chafe wears out a vessel’s expensive warps. For example when riding to anchor in heavy storm conditions the fairlead chafe will cut through the line, be it mooring or anchor line, and could cause the vessel to break free and be lost.

How to address this?
Protect the warp by inserting a section of sacrificial and replaceable protective coating where the mooring line transits the fairleads. If you are in a fixed berth, where you have set lengths and warps, these should be stitched in so the pipe cannot ride up the warp and out of the fairlead.

Protecting docking lines
Photo: Courtesy of Spiroll

Protecting the anchor warp is critically important when riding out a storm on an anchor. I have heard countless reports of the remnants of yachts laying wrecked on a lee beach with the tell-tale chafed-through mooring, or anchor, line still protruding from the fairlead. There is one single mantra for boats on moorings or anchored in a storm, chafe is the enemy.

Sections of Reinforced PVC piping are essential to have aboard
Photo: Courtesy of LUCOHOSE
We have deep and personal experience of trying to protect an anchor line during a southern ocean cyclone, whilst trapped in a lagoon. The loads imposed upon our vessel, Obsession, quickly broke our anchor chain when the weather system started to come in. We managed to deploy a lengthy nylon warp, see snubbing line, as a Hail Mary, and then to our amazement, the elasticity of the nylon warp was able to dampen the sudden jerks that snapped upon the chain and it held out. As Charles Darwin had earlier observed... it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

But riding out a cyclone on a nylon anchor line only worked when it was protected from chafe which it was highly vulnerable to in storm conditions. Without this protection however we estimate it would last less than half an hour in rough conditions. In our circumstance, and working through the approaching eye of the storm, we inserted a reinforced PVC pipe segment that we happened to have aboard into the fairlead position. This was held in place by a length of line on the furthest end with a clove hitch plus a half turn then belaying it to prevent it riding out, and likewise on the inside section. You cannot use a knot on the line to hold the pipe in place as an overhand knot reduces the lines breaking strain to 60-65%, and a Figure of 8 knot will take off a ¼ of its strength reducing it by 75-80% - see avoiding knots in lines. If you cannot find a pipe section wrapping a sacrificial coat and lashing it on is another solution, just get anything in to protect the line from chafe at all costs.

Another observation that caught us unaware in our extreme circumstance, was that the line cannot be relied upon to stay in the fairlead in the severest of conditions. When our cyclone came on full, the boat was pitching in excess of 45° through the steep standing waves and we found that the warp would no longer sit down inside the vessel's more than adequate fairlead. The conditions had become so violent that the vessel was like a salmon on a fishing line and the warp started to bind around within the confines of the bars of the lower pulpit. No warp could take this for long, even highly protected, and it became critical to trap it back into the fairlead and lash it down in place. Having experienced this I can only recommend that a keeper pin is implemented on the fairlead and deployed straight away when things begin to get rough at anchor.

Aftermath of improvised protection for a cyclone
Photo: Michael Harpur

The above picture shows the remnants of the improvised lashing put in place during the storm, which held out for our cyclone Alison experience. The blue warp and the broken length of chain had emergency fall back anchors deployed, and the beach was 20 metres behind. It was far from elegant as most of the work was carried out whilst being buffeted through the night on the bow, half below the water and half above, as the yacht pulled through the troughs, all the time saying over and over the same mantra chafe is the enemy. The length of green pipe lashed down into the fairlead saved the vessel that night.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession, with thanks to Lee Gunter

Example 1. Protecting docking lines with Reinforced PVC piping
Photo: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Example 2. Protecting docking lines with Reinforced PVC piping
Photo: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Example 3. Protecting docking lines with Reinforced PVC piping
Photo: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Reinforced PVC piping falling out of a position
Photo: eOceanic thanks Michael Harpur

Spiroll Rope protection

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