Originally Posted by Hippocampus
When spec’ing my lifelines I asked for 38”. Ended up getting 36” as 38” was too expensive. Ideally life lines need to be above your center of mass. Those on recreational powercraft very rarely are and offer little or no protection. You will flip over them if you strike them while standing. They are useful to serve as a hand rail but not to prevent MOB unless quite high. For many people 42-48” would be required...
Yes, soooooo many boats have life lines that are really trip lines.
The life line needs to be above the waist but most are not.
Sailboats, because of the perceived need to maximize sail area and to get the sail as close to the deck for performance reasons, have inadequate life lines. The problem is that most sail boats are not race boats, their sails are not close to the deck, so the life lines end up as trip lines.
The only value I can in the life lines is that if one falls down, they might stop you from going over. The problem with that is, if you look at life lines, there is often a sizeable gap between the deck and the first line or rail, so one could/would could go over board in spite of the life lines.
This happened a few years ago on one of the go super fast sail boats that was in a race. They were in the North Pacific in strong winds and 20-30 foot seas. A woman came into the cockpit to toss food waste overboard, a boarding wave hit the boat and she got flushed out of the end of the cockpit. The cockpit was an open design with lifelines across the stern but the lifelines did not keep her from going overboard. Even with an experienced, professional, race crew, and with the POB wearing a PFD and PLB, by the time they got the boat turned around and worked their way up wind, the POB was dead.
Also a few years ago, off east Africa, and experienced couple were sailing their home built catamaran. The man went off watch and went below to sleep while his wife/girl friend took the watch. Hours later he woke up and found out she was no longer on the boat. He reversed course and called out a Mayday but they never did find her. The images I saw of the boat made me wonder if she fell off the stern of the bridge deck.