After several months, we have now tried out our lifelines. Since, as I found out a few months ago, there is virtually no information on using lifelines anywhere, the setup I have used may be of some interest to anyone considering using lifelines.
Please note that our lifelines have so far been used for 18 days of sailing on the west coast of scotland. Thankfully, they were not tested for real in a man overboard or capsize situation.
They were made up by Jimmy Green Marine from 5.5m of 25mm webbing, with a loop at one end and a Gibb hook at the other. The hook was passed around the thwart, through the loop at the end, and pulled tight, securing the lifeline to the thwart. We each wore a yachting deck harness to which the Gibb hook was attached. In case of getting tangled and being unable to release the hook, we each carried a safety knife. The length of 5.5m was chosen to allow the boat to capsize one way, and be righted the other (ie the mast does a 360 through the water), and still allow one to climb aboard.
Obviously, 11 meters of webbing in the cockpit is prone to getting in a mess and the following techniques were found to keep tangles to a minimum:
-Each line is attached to one end of the thwart- Helm to port and crew to starboard. With a bit of practice, we quickly learned to always passing the right way around each other to save the lines getting tangled round each other.
-Each lifeline is a different color. We have one red and one yellow, which also contrasts with the main and jib sheets, helping to identify which line is which.
-While a long lifeline is needed in case of a capsize, for normal use, a couple of meters if long enough. We neatly folded up about half of each lifeline and held it together with elastic bands so the extra length can be easily released when needed. Unintentionally, we tested this idea out when my crew jumped out onto a pontoon without remembering to unclip. As planned, tugging on the lifeline released the folded up half of the lifeline.
Hoping this may be of some use to someone,