Pinrails add ease and safety

Besides their “salty” look, a set of pinrails is extremely handy for securing the host of lines that seem to accumulate around the mast. Spare halyards, spinnaker halyard, spinnaker pole topping lift halyard, flag halyards, and extra lines can be moved from attachments on the lifelines and deck fittings to a safer and neater securing point. When a line is attached properly to a pinrail, it can be instantly freed by lifting the belaying pinanother safety feature when in quick need of a halyard or line.

I installed a set of pinrails on Valhalla, my Fuji 32 ketch, more than 17 years ago. Two re-riggings later, these same pinrails continue to serve me well.

Seizing at the top and the bottom of the pinrail is required to keep it in place on the lower shrouds. I use a double wrapping of cloth friction tape over the rigging wire and cover it with a tight seizing. Adding a solution of rigger’s “slush” protects the seizings from the elements. On the outside of the pinrails, I’ve gone a few steps further and added a padeye for the spare halyard snap-shackle and have also fabricated mounts for the sidelights, raising them to a height for easier visibility.Construction

The length of the pinrails is determined by the distance between the lower shrouds at the desired height above deck. Add an extra inch on each side for overlap. I used teak for the pinrail base and belaying pin handles, and, though unfinished all these years, they are still sturdy. The pins were fashioned from 1/2-inch stainless steel rod. The number of pins will be determined by the length of the rail. A spacing of six inches between pins works well.

The construction details are shown in the drawing. Assemble with epoxy glue. Fitting of the ends to the shrouds is accomplished by drilling a hole at the ends to match the angle the shroud makes with the horizontal. The angles seldom will be the same so be careful to measure both ends carefully. After drilling the holes, saw out the slot where the shroud will pass through the rail. Fabricate wedges to fill the slot, making them oversize and trim them after they have been installed. The pins should be scored with a file where they fit into the handle. The small hole in the belaying pin handle allows air and excess glue to escape during assembly.

By Ocean Navigator