That familiar ting-ting-ting of halyards hitting your mast keeps your neighbors up at night and damages your boat. Here’s a simple fix.
Spend any time in a boatyard or marina on a windy day, and you are sure to hear the ting-ting-ting of halyards hitting masts. For many, this can seem like one of the inevitable sounds a sailboat makes at rest, but it does not have to be that way — in fact, it should not be that way. That noise, annoying as it is, is keeping your neighbors awake at night and doing real damage to your boat.
Irrespective of the height of your mast when the wind pipes up, those halyards hit the mast at the rate of faster than once per second — almost 4,000 times per hour. It causes wear to the mast as ropes strip off the protective paint or anodizing, allowing corrosion to start and leading you on a path to refinishing, or in extreme cases, replacement of the spar.
Needless to say, there is also damage being done to the halyard, too, and with today’s high cost of lines, replacement is likely to hit your wallet in a big way. Also note that worn halyards lose some of their strength and can let go and break just when most needed, rendering the sail that it supports useless.
Thankfully all these frustrations and costs can easily be avoided by simply tying the halyards away from the mast when the boat is put to bed at the end of the day. There are several ways of doing this, and for many years I’ve used bungee cords or lengths of nylon webbing to secure my halyards to one of the mast support shrouds. One of the best methods I’ve ever seen are these handy stainless steel hooks attached to the spreaders (shown). With a flick of the wrist, the loose halyard can be whipped into the hook. Hardening down on the halyard keeps the line in place, well clear of the mast, preventing wear and noise.