Thursday, May 5, 2016

Changing Flag Halyards

--Blogpost written by Bob

Flag halyards are used to raise the yellow quarantine flag when entering a foreign country's territorial waters and then changed to the appropriate international courtesy flag when cleared into the foreign country.  They are also used occasionally for state flags and various type of burgees (small colorful flags normally flown from the starboard spreader on a recreational sailboat).

We won't be needing to raise this yellow quarantine flag until we
reach Bahamian territorial water sometime in late-November.

In the 30 years I've owned s/v Rainy Days I've changed out the halyard lines several times but the hardware attached to the underside of the spreader has never been touched until now.  A simple little Schaefer-brand block was held on by a thinned chrome-plated brass strap that broke in half upon removal.   The white plastic pulley portion of the small block was worn badly allowing the flag halyard to hang up in the space beside the pulley.  (Incidentally, the pulley at the bottom of the topping lift was worn similarly when recently replaced.)

This close up view shows how the white plastic pulley is badly worn,
allowing the flag halyard to hang up in the space
beside the plastic pulley in the small block.
Replacement was long overdue.

We used small Harken-brand shackle blocks as shown
above on the new flag halyards.

This is a close up view of the new snap hooks used to connect the flags.
They are constructed from stainless steel and made by Winchard.

Fortunately we have a friendly boat neighbor, Christine, who doesn't weigh much and loves to go aloft.  So, Christine removed the old hardware on the first trip up the mast so that I could buy suitable replacements.  The very next day, she was able to go aloft in our bosun's chair and install the new upgraded hardware.

Christine weighs about 100 pounds--about the same weight as our new
rigid hull inflatable dinghy.  It was easy lifting her up the mast
using the spare jib halyard with our new-to-me
Barient #19 self-tailing winch.

It took a few tries to get the correct drill size for the self-tapping
screws but eventually we got it right.

With the new flag halyards installed, we frequently fly our colorful
Maryland state flag from the starboard  flag halyard.

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