In strong winds and ocean swells chafe is accelerated at an alarming rate.
On a long passage in an ocean swell running rigging such as sheets, headsail furling lines and so on can easily be wrecked in hours, let along days, if they do not have a completely fair lead that is clear of any obstructions. Chafe on guardrails, shrouds, other deck fittings and even anchors can chew through a new line at a rate that seems totally out of proportion to that seen in several seasons of coastal sailing.
The solution is to take a careful look at all lines to check they are routed clear of any obstructions. If necessary a problematic line should be re-routed, or either a snatch block or a low friction ring used to pull it clear of the source of chafe.
A few hours of very occasional rubbing against a guardrail wrecked this headsail sheet.
Reefing pennants and halyards are also at risk. These can chafe badly on their sheaves, particularly if the pulley or its housing have sharp edges. At an early stage in the preparation for a long passage it’s therefore worth checking sheaves with the mast lowered and, if necessary removing sheaves to file any sharp edges smooth. It’s also worth looking to see whether there’s any existing damage on the halyard in way of the sheave – this can be a useful early warning.
A length of Dyneema chafe jacket spliced over the end of the halyard, extending for around a metre each side of where it passes over the sheave, will significantly prolong the service life of running rigging. This has two main benefits, the primary being that the slippery nature of Dyneema means it’s very resistant to chafe. In addition, the extra thickness provides a physical barrier around the load-bearing elements of the line.