Sailing away the summer is a great way to get rid of the winter cobwebs. Sometimes the hardest decision  to make is to choose what delicacy to have out of the icebox. One can take many comforts of home on a yacht and even a pavlova travels quite well. I sailed on an RL24 swing keel yacht, 24ft in length, called "Mikela", (known previosly until Oct 02  as "Jay-Em 2".)  Sailing season lasts from about September to April when conditions are best. The first 2 pictures above were of a trip to the Coorong in March 2000. The 3rd one was taken in the Spencer Gulf in 2002 as part of the Gulf Cruise - in two weeks we sailed over 220 nautical miles. If you want to see more of our trip, just follow the Gulf Cruise link below.
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Sheets and Halyards to be Colour Coded  The New Standard  by Linda Castle/Peter Tetley

Have you ever given much thought to how everyone seems to have different coloured sheets and halyards on their yachts when compared to each other? Ever wondered if there should be a universal standard so that you could just hop on someone else’s boat and know straight away which sheet or halyard to grab because colour coding was universal? Maybe it’s just around the corner! It could save valuable time and prevent mistakes when one quickly grabs the colour so familiar to them but then realizes oops! – I’m on a totally different yacht! I just let the Oopsywhatsit go and I meant to do something else much more helpful. Maybe look at it from the skipper’s point of view – try describing ‘that white one with the green, yellow and black fleck’ to someone new to your boat when you want something done in a hurry and there are so many with such a range of different coloured flecks!

A standard colour coding system makes sense but there isn’t one. Here are some colour trends we have observed. A jib sheet and halyard may often contain the same basic colour pairing them up – a solid colour for one, a primary colour and white/fleck making it a flecked rope for the other. Some yachts have the same principle applied with the main halyard/mainsheet combination. We have noticed spinnaker sheets are often solid red for port and solid green for starboard – this makes sense!

Yet when we hop on someone else’s boat there is always a totally different colour combination to adapt ourselves to. Why is that? Could it be that Spectra in a particular colour was on special that particular day when the skipper went to “that provider of all things expensive-the marine shop” and then bowed to pressure to go with a colour which could have been better chosen. Maybe he needed 30 metres and the 32m left on the roll was going ‘cheap’ so the colour chosen was not quite right. One could end up with a total mismatch of colours before too long. If we all bought the same colours  we could possibly get them cheaper.

When Peter decided that things inside the mast tracks needed a little peekaboo it was with good reason. A few times recently the frustration of a mainsail half up or down became more than just an annoyance. We contemplated the ultimate JAM and a wind assisted visit to surrounding objects to be unplanned and must be prevented. We decided something sinister must be happening inside the mast and tracks that we so trustingly hoist our halyards through. There can always be areas of unseen halyard, fraying bits of wire and rope, pulleys and splicing you just don’t see but put all your trust in. Checking it involves taking the whole lot apart and one resists this sort of work until it can be ignored no longer. So out it all came.

So what did Peter find? Severe kinks in the stainless steel jib halyard and severe wear within the spliced area of rope between the wire and the halyard. So an upgrade was imminent. Our jib sheet colour had already been changed previously from yellow fleck to solid blue. The colour of the jib halyard would now be changed from its current yellow fleck to match – hence a blue flecked spectra was chosen, (blue with pink and yellow fleck) So next time you are in the market to replace something, consider the colour carefully and in the absence of there being a standard we have declared one for you to aim for! Note that with all those letters and numbers it looks really official and we are sure you will welcome the opportunity to comply with the standard set on Peter’s yacht, Mikela by spending lots of $ at the marine shop at your earliest opportunity.

(AS/SA266SAustralian Standard - for Colours of Sheets/Halyards on Trailerable Yachts)
(The Mikela Australian Standard)
Main Halyard            – White                          
Main Sheet                – Something you like looking at, maybe your favourite colour
Jib Halyard                – Blue with fleck        
Jib Sheet                    – Blue
Spinnaker Halyard    –Red Fleck      
Spinnaker Sheets      – Red-Port, Green-Starboard
Topping Lift               – Thin White
Cunningham               – Thin Green
Pole Downhaul           – Thin Red
Reefing lines              – Boring white
Lanyards on buckets – Leftovers but must be distinctive. If you need your buckets you may be in trouble so     
                                      you  need to be able to find them quickly.

Seriously though, think a little more about the colour combinations on your boat. Does it seem logical? When replacement time comes, think about what will work better and make the changes. If you’re still not satisfied that your crew will know what to grab - label the cockpit where it all goes! Linda’s earliest days on the boat were only 3 years ago and being new to sailing she labeled everything – the Main, Jib and Spinnaker halyards, Cunningham, Topping Lift, Pole Downhaul, Outhaul – it all got labeled. Nothing fancy, just the stick on labels via a little Casio labeler purchased from Officeworks. The labels still look as good today as the day they first went on and although she doesn’t need to look at them now, they are useful for those new to the boat. We even once had a follow the dots trail that could help any poor novice attach the jib sheets to the jib or the genoa without a single mistake. Sounds bizarre but it helped prevent frustration from the skipper while trying to describe what to do so there you have it. These are some tips that have worked for us.

Oh and one last point! Please note that as with all originators of any standard, we reserve our right to make any future changes as we see fit! Just like those in power that make standards for us, we have no problem with the fact that it may be difficult or expensive for you to follow our outstanding example on an ongoing basis! Temporary exemptions may be granted on payment of a fee to Peter’s Yacht Maintenance Fund! However we are looking forward to seeing your compliance with our example on the next TSASA outing. Happy shopping – may you always be colour coded!