Clank . . . clank . . . clank. The halyards were quiet earlier, but as the wind changed they’re driving you nuts, particularly if you are trying to sleep.
But if you’re new, it can be equally frustrating to figure out how to stop the clanking.
First off, what seems like the obvious choice — tightening the halyards so there is no slack to clank — does not work. It just changes the pitch of the clank.
On our personal boats and several charter boats that we’ve been on, we’ve learned numerous ways that work. All involve getting the halyard far enough away from the mast that it can’t bang against it. And note that if you have external halyards, both ends may need to be led away from the mast.
Bungee to Sidestays
Using bungee cords to pull halyards away from the mast is the fastest and easiest solution . . . if you have a bunch of bungee cords.
Simply slack the halyard a bit, hook the bungee on it and then hook the bungee on the sidestay. If it’s too long to really pull the halyard off the mast, we tie a knot in the bungee or wrap the bungee around the sidestay and hook it back on the halyard or on another halyard if there are two that we need to quiet.
Out in the sun, bungees will last anywhere from six months to a year. We use them for many things and tend to just buy a “jar” of varied sizes, either from a home improvement store or Amazon:
- Jar of 24 Assorted Bungee Cords with Hooks on Amazon or see related products for more options
Note: the mini bungee cords are great for many things on a boat, but aren’t strong enough to keep halyards from clanking.
Alternative: In a pinch, you can do the same thing with a piece of line, but it takes longer to set up and longer to un-rig when you want to sail. Smaller line works better than heavier line.
If you looked closely at the picture above, you may have noticed another way to keep halyards off the mast: a shroud cleat. These are usually used for cleating off flag halyards, but often have an eye at the top that you can clip a halyard to. Tighten the halyard so that there is no slack to slap against the mast.
You can get lightweight nylon and plastic shroud cleats with eyes on Amazon (see here) but we greatly prefer the stainless ones available from C. Sherman Johnson via West Marine (and interestingly, they’re about the same price as many of the lesser quality ones on Amazon):
They are slightly cheaper from Defender, but if you’re near a West Marine Store their free ship-to-store more than makes up for it.
Hook Halyards to Handrails
If your halyards are long enough and you have handrails in the right spot, you can wrap the halyard around the handrail and clip it back to itself, then tighten the halyard to keep it off the mast.
Belaying Pin Rack
Sometimes, “classic” looking boats, such as our former Tayana 37, will have a rack of belaying pins on the shrouds. These are perfect for attaching the halyards to!
Depending on the halyard length, you can wrap them around the pins, just wrap around the bar and clip back on the halyard or make a loop from another line around the bar and clip the halyard to that. Again, tighten the halyard so there is no slack.
Be Kind to Your Neighbors
Even if you don’t spend nights on your boat, be kind to your neighbors and silence your halyards. If you’re not on your boat fulltime — or are leaving for a few days — you probably have one or two people that you’ve asked to “keep an eye” on your boat. Be sure that they know that it’s okay to come aboard to quiet a clanking halyard should the need arise!