Jack stays or lines are fitted to boats for the crew to clip on to during bad weather, however they have a tendency to get underfoot and trip crew members and have been replaced on many modern boats by webbing which is made of polypropylene or blended synthetic fibres and is laid on deck.
The problem is that these synthetic fibres have a tendency to degrade in sunlight and may fail when needed most unless they are replaced regularly.
The potential danger point is where boats are sold on with a set of jack lines of indeterminate age that are still in use, These boats should not be offered for sale with the existing lines (down on the deck or otherwise ). At handover the agent / surveyor / vendor should remove the old set. Better they should be cut in half to prevent re-use.
For boats in current ownership insurance companies could/should insist webbings are replaced say every 3 years.
The RNLI offer a free health check of your boat’s safety equipment called SEA CHECK; arrange yours by calling them on 0800 3280600 or book over their web-site www.rnli.org.uk/seacheck.asp.
CHIRP welcomes positive suggestions to improve safety and referred this suggestion to the RYA, who supplied the following comments:
Stainless steel jackstays, either plastic covered or not, represent a significant hazard when walking around the decks of a small craft. The problem arises from the wires ability to roll when under the foot. Webbing jackstays do not have this problem; however they do suffer from degradation due to weather and sunlight.
Due to the many different ways in which boats are sold, particularly second-hand, it is not felt practicable to create rules and regulations which would ensure old jackstays were removed. Additionally, it is not felt that the insurance companies would have an interest in the state of personal lifesaving equipment as that is an issue for ones personal insurance, distinct from the claims for broken masts, etc.
Education of the individual is felt the better course of action and to this end the RYA has agreed to include awareness training in its Safety publication, C8, in its quarterly magazine to over 100,000 members and to encourage the boating press to run a feature on the subject.