Lifelines are metal wires encircling your boat to keep people from falling overboard and mine were old. In fact I actually had one break and I fell overboard. It happened in Key West back in 2010 when I was pumping out my old holding tanks. The hose was barely long enough to get to the other side of the boat, so instead of taking the time to turn the boat around I pulled the hose tight and held it in place. In order to do this I had to lean against the lifelines and the bottom one broke at the turnbuckle and in the drink I went. It was funny for everyone to watch, but if it happened at sea it could have been deadly. Since then I tried to replace pieces before they rust through.
Since I was replacing a part a year and two incidents happened this year, it was time to completely replace the whole system. As far as the incidents go one was funny and the other not so much. The not funny one was a bad docking job when the wind was abeam and pushed my bow over. I ended up bending four stanchions, which are the poles holding the lifelines (fyi, this was only my 2nd docking accident in 6 years). The other thing that happened was when I had four 20 year old boys aboard. We were jumping off the boat and I went to jump up and over the lifelines. Well of course I slipped and ran right into and over the lines. There I was hanging upside-down over the side of the boat with the top lifeline in my gut. I finally straightened my legs and in I went. It was funny, I had a bruise, and the line was stretched.
My rigger, Jorge in Puerto Rico (lmk if you want contact info because he is great), used 3/16″ 1×19 wire with heavy duty, open body turnbuckles and new pelican hooks with a “safety trigger”. They look great and I feel the boat is safer. Now if I can just keep from getting tangled in the lifelines everything will be ok. 🙂