Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Bungeeing Halyards and Trespassing

The culprit post bungee-ing.
There is this weather phenomenon that happens here in the Caribbean in the winter months and it's known locally as the "Christmas Winds".  These winds typically kick up in late December (hence the name) and are a result of a dominant high pressure area to the Northeast that is typical this time of year (much like hurricanes are "typical" between June and November).  When the isobars get tight, the wind gets stronger - producing fresh, consistent winds of 25-30 knots here in the Windward and Leeward islands - sometimes for weeks on end.  With wind comes waves and these winds typically kick up a pretty brutal Northern swell that makes many anchorages open to the North untenable when they are honking.

Another thing these winds bring with them?  Well - if you are in a marina - a lot of noise.  Wind generators start whizzing and buzzing, dock lines start squeaking and - this is the very worst - halyards start slapping.  For those of you who are "weekend warrior" sailors - perhaps the sound of clanking halyards is a pleasant one that signifies a good stiff breeze or just awakens a little nostalgia in your soul.  To us live-aboards, however, clanking halyards are a HUGE pain in the ass.  Especially when they clank for days...and days...and days. They bring out the worst in people, much like flying stand-by.

There's this boat across the dock from us that has been here oh, I don't know, since we got here I think. I have never seen a soul on it.  This boat, however, has become the bane of my existence and is the most unfriendly of neighbors.  When the wind kicks up I hear this little boat's halyards clanking and banging away at the mast like a five year old on a drum set.  For a long time I gritted my teeth, turned up my music and just ignored it.  

Things have changed.

The Christmas Winds combined with my pregnancy-induced lowered tolerance for all things that annoy me on top of a sleepless night due to said halyard, however, forced me to take matters into my own hands.  I'd had enough.  I grabbed one of our 300 or so bungee chords, marched over to the boat, boarded the boat and bungeed that damn halyard to a shroud.  And then I smiled and sighed.  All was quiet.  No more banging.  Sweet relief.

The guy on the boat next to me said "Thank you".  Apparently it was bugging him as well.  How could it not?  For those of you who don't know the sound - go to your nearest flag pole on a very windy day.  It's like that.  Really annoying.

I felt a bit odd boarding a total strangers boat and was hesitant to even mention it because - to be honest - I was pretty sure it was illegal.  But being the open and candid person I am, I took to our Facebook page to declare victory over the rogue halyard and lo and behold, it turns out this is a totally acceptable, okay thing to do!  People do it all the time! One reader even pointed out that the wonderful Beth Leonard states in  "The Voyager's Handbook" that: "It is considered exceedingly rude to board another's boat when the owner is not aboard.  The only exceptions are when the boat is in danger or ...you need to secure a slapping halyard" (p. 532). 

See how easy that is?  This is not rocket science!
Moral of the story:  If you don't want strangers boarding your boat and/or want to make friends while at a marina (or anchorage - because sound carries over water!), bungee those halyards!


Adoption Director's Blog said...

Very well said! Your words created an image in my head and I could imagine the sound of the halyard slapping incessantly. Thank you and PEACE from way up north in Chicago.

NatGeoWannaBe said...

I think after a month of a slapping halyard, my solution would have involved scissors. You are far more kind.

Carolyn Shearlock said...

For those squeaking dock lines -- just pour a bucket of water over them. Thanks to Dave on Polar Bear for that tip, we could sleep even with wicked northers blowing (the cleats for the lines were right over our heads).

P.S. Can't tell you the number of times we've "fixed" someone else's halyards!

RichC said...

Can anyone answer this owner of an occasionally slapping halyard: What's the least expensive bungee cord that will hold up to sun and humidity (hook-rust/corrosion). I have a few with polymer snap-shackle like hooks that were supplied with my deck awning, but they are way too expensive. Their must be a better source since those from HD, Lowes and Walmart degrade within a couple months.

Izzy said...

I was wondering how to stop this slapping. Thanks for the picture of how you solved the slapping halyard.

D. said...

LOL poor Brittany. When I was pregnant with Rachel and still on the ambulance around 20 weeks, I would go nuts when we would be driving to an emergency and I would hear all of the medications and IV supplies rolling around in the cabinets in the back of the ambulance. I spent every morning at work (4 days a week) stuffing and overstocking the cabinets after my coworkers would leave them dwindling, just so that when we went on calls I wouldn't hear everything sliding everywhere in the back. Needless to say (since I work with all guys/boys) they thought this was hilarious. BUT, I was pregnant. And it kept me sane lol.

PS I told Ed if we win the lottery on tuesday ($205 million) that we are buying a boat and selling our house. See you in a few months! ;)

Jan said...

It only gets worse if you're anchored behind a boat that doesn't speak English and apparently doesn't hear the blankety blank halyards that kept us awake all night long. We dinghied over the next morning and politely mentioned the issue, the cruisers said they hadn't heard anything, so there isn't a problem. We were ready to either re-anchor or board the boat WITH the people on it, but when we returned from town in the dinghy, they were both on deck trying to figure out what to do with the halyards. We were ready to GIVE them some bungees when they came up top with some of their own. Whew!

Anonymous said...

I prefer to use small-stuff to bungies, but the principle is the same. I, too, will board someone's boat (small-stuff in hand) if halyards are banging unattended. Talk about irritating.

Anonymous said...


I would suggest small-stuff over bungies (slightly redundant to my last comment; but I had not noticed your query when I wrote it).

It's cheap/free, lasts forever (as compared to bungie), you can "crank it down" to your heart's content, and no-one will lose an eye.

PS: In case anyone is not familiar with the term -- or maybe is not a native English speaker -- "small-stuff" is simply bits of small(er) diameter line. Such as you carry for doing innumerable tasks-to-hand aboard. Often made of scrap/lines that have outlived their original purpose for one reason or another.

For the cat harpings (tying off halyards), I usually tie a "permanent" loop in one end of a bit of small-stuff, and then run the rest of the line around the shrouds/halyards, back through the loop, "crank on it," and tie a knot around the bundle.

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