The jackstays are on

Jackstay tied to the bollard on the port bow and the line tying Medina to the marina over the top

Jackstay tied to the bollard on the port bow and the line tying Medina to the marina over the top

Another task has been ticked off our To Do List, the jackstays are on. Like most things on Medina, it took a bit longer than I was hoping. It took longer because we got our jackstays tailor made, rather than buying them “off the shelf”. One of the advantages of getting them tailor made was the cost saving, about half the cost of buying an off the shelf product – which doesn’t happen that often!

So what is a jackstay? It’s a piece of rope, wire or webbing that runs along a boat’s deck.  We have decided to use webbing because it lays flat on the deck. There is usually a jackstay for each side of the boat – one on the starboard side (right side of the boat when looking forward) and one on the port side (left side of the boat when looking forward). Some boats only have one, but we prefer to have two, it means the Skipper and I can walk or work on either side of the boat in rough weather.

Tying on a jackstay to a bollard on the starboard bow (thanks to Andrew for taking this photo)

Tying on a jackstay to a bollard on the starboard bow (thanks to Andrew for taking this photo)

The more immediate purpose for the jackstays are to attach Orbit to them. Attach Orbit’s harness to be specific, when he is on deck. Once his harness is attached, he too can move up and down the boat, just like we would.

Jackstays (also known as jack lines) are used on boats (not just sailing boats) for crew to clip their harnesses on to, usually in rough weather. The theory is, if your clipped on to the jackstay and you go overboard, you will still be connected to the boat making it easier to rescue you, compared to a rescue if you go overboard and are no longer connected to the boat.

Its a pretty easy task to install the jackstays. It is just a case of tying them to the bollards at the bow (front) and stern (back) of the boat. I had an opportunity to do this on the weekend when we were taking some friends out for a sail.

The reason why it was an opportunity was because the bollards were not being used, i.e. for tying the boat up to the marina. If I was to attach the jackstays in the marina, I would have to release the line on the particular bollard I was attaching the jackstay too. I didn’t want to do this with the recent 10 – 20 knot winds we have been experiencing in the marina. It could mean if I didn’t get my timing right, Medina or the boat next to us could get damaged.

Orbit and I on the high side, his harness is clipped on to the jackstay (which is under his left foot) (thanks to Andrew for taking this photo)

After a bit of jovial ribbing from the Skipper about how long I was taking, the jackstays were on. No matter which boat I have sailed on, the world always looks different from the cockpit and there seems to be a time warp. By this I mean, the waves and swell are always smaller from the cockpit compared to on the foredeck. And while the person working on the bow is doing their best, working as fast and as safe as they can with salt water spraying down on them and a deck falling away from beneath their feet, 30 seconds on the bow feels like 5 minutes in the cockpit – or longer! I can say this from both perspectives, being the person in the cockpit and the person working on the foredeck.

After the jackstays were on and the sails up, we were ready for Orbit to go up on deck. Previously when Orbit was on deck, we would attach his harness to ‘strong points’, meaning he would have to stop and wait for me to disconnect and reconnect his harness each time he got to the end of the tether. And this was driving him to the end of his tether!

Orbit can now sit on the bow (in the right conditions) thanks to his harness and jackstays (thanks again to Andrew for taking this photo)

Orbit can now sit on the bow (in the right conditions) thanks to his harness and jackstays (thanks again to Andrew for taking this photo)

He was surprised when he could keep walking with out me saying ‘hang on mate, just have to clip you on and off’. At each point where I would normally say this, he paused and waited. The smile on his face when I said he could keep going was priceless! He was also quite pleased with himself when he made it all the way to the bow (which was a first). Without any encouragement from me (i.e. asking him to sit down), he found a comfortable spot to sit down and enjoyed the ride. He had a grin from ear to ear. When it was time to drop the sails, he wasn’t very happy with me when I said we had to go back to the cockpit. I am sure he would sit up on the bow all day if we let him.

As long as Orbit has his harness on and it’s clipped on, he can play up and down the deck when we are at anchor or in the marina (with the Skipper or I supervising him of course). It also means he can spend time on deck when we are sailing (in the right conditions), allowing him to explore his ever moving world at his own pace. There is an unexplainable joy in watching Orbit exercise his growing independence, to go on little adventures around Medina, to discover new things and to find his true sea legs.