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Protecting warps

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What is the issue?
Fairleads are hard on warps, the constant flexing and tugging on the warps in the jaws chafe through warp lines.

Why address this?
Chafe more than wears out a vessel’s warps. When riding to anchor in heavy storm conditions fairlead chafe wearing through warps will cause a vessel to break free and be lost.

How to address this?
Protect the warp by inserting a section of sacrificial and replaceable plastic hose piping where they transit the fairleads as presented in figure 1. If you are in a fixed berth, where you have set lengths and warps, these should be stitched in so the pipe can not ride up the warp and out of the fairlead.

Protecting the anchor warp is critically important when riding out a storm on anchor. I have heard countless reports of the remnants of yachts wrecks laying wrecked on a lee beach with the tell-tale chafed-through warps still protruding from the bow.

When riding out a storm on anchor you will most likely need to resort to a lengthy nylon warp to dampen the jerk and snap upon the chain. From my personal endurance of a southern ocean cyclone, whilst trapped on anchor, we found that the loads imposed upon the vessel simply broke the chain. Yet to my amazement the elasticity of the nylon warp made it highly reliable once protected from chafe. Without this protection however we estimate it would last less that half an hour in rough conditions. In our circumstance we held the pipe segment in position on the fairlead by placing a length of line on the furthest end with a clove hitch plus half turn then belaying it to prevent it riding out, and likewise on the inside section. If you cannot find a pipe section wrapping a sacrificial coat and lashing it on is another solution. The objective is to prevent the chafe at all costs. But we discovered that more work was required than simply protecting the warp.

Once conditions have escalated to this severe storm or cyclone level however you need to both protect the warp and keep that length of pipe in position. When our cyclone came on full we found that the warp would no longer reside inside the vessels more than adequate fairlead. The violent conditions we experienced caused the vessel to behave as a salmon would upon a fishing line. The warp started to bound around within the confines of the bars of the lower pulpit. No warp could take this, even protected and it became critical to trap it back into the fairlead and lash it down in place. If you can implement a keeper pin on the fairlead and deploy it straight away when things begin to get rough on anchor.

Figure 2 is a picture of the remnants of the improvised lashing that held for our cyclone Alison experience (note the blue warp and the broken length of chain had emergency fall back anchors deployed, the beach was 20 meters behind). It was far from elegant as most of the work was carried out whilst being buffeted through the night on the bow, half below the water half above as the yacht pulled through the troughs. Nevertheless the length of green pipe lashed down into the fairlead saved the vessel.

The key lesson from the experience is to not alone protect the warp with a section of pipe but also find a way of fastening it down in the fairlead. It may not need to be as elaborate as the arrangement in figure one, but from my experience I would deploy a sliding bolt on top of the fairlead cheeks should the eventuality ever occur again. If this is not available, be prepared to lash down the warp in the fairlead as we did in figure 2, but do this sooner rather than later.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession, with thanks to Lee Gunter's of www.medlectric.com and his chafe advice that saved us in Cyclone Alison.

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