How to Installing and Attaching Safety Netting

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 Take care out there. Tips

Netting around the perimeter of the boat

Your guests, your pets and especially your children are now free to roam around the deck on your next on-the-water outing. Best of all, you can relax and enjoy your time without worrying about anyone slipping over the side.

How to Installing Safety Netting

Installing safety netting is obviously a worthwhile project on boats that regularly carry small children or pets as passengers. Less obvious is nettings ability to keep adult crew, hats, fenders and other loose deck gear from escaping over the side.

Properly installed, netting around the perimeter of the boat will last a long time. As a result, the installation of netting is not something that you'd undertake very often and its easy to forget how to do it. For the first time installer, netting can be a challenging lesson in geometry.

Purchasing Netting

First, buy good netting. It should be made of 100 percent coated or treated nylon with a heavier line size at top and bottom. The squares, or diamonds, should not be larger than 2 inches.

Second, buy the correct length. Netting is very flexible in how you can shape it and most can be stretched to fit nearly any height of upper lifeline. But as you pull it up vertically to increase its height, the diamonds become taller and thinner, making the whole piece of netting shorter. Conversely, if your lifelines are low, you can pull the netting out making it shorter in height but longer in length.

For Plastimo netting, start by measuring both the height of your upper lifeline and the total length of the area you want to enclose. Use this table to choose a multiplier:

Height Length:

12 to 16 1.1
17 to 20 1.2
21 to 22 1.3
23 to 24 1.4
25 to 26 1.5
27 to 28 1.7

Apply the multiplier to the length of the area you want to cover to arrive at the length of netting you will need. Example: your upper lifeline is 24 inches above the deck and you want to cover an area 22-feet long on both sides of the boat for a total length of 44 feet. Using the multiplier of 1.4 for a 24-inch height gives you a required length of netting of 61.6 feet (44 X 1.4 = 61.6).

Attaching the Safety Netting

Do not cut the netting until the end of the installation process. If you're installing netting on both sides of the boat where it will be broken bow and stern, complete one side before cutting. Start at one end and install the entire top first. Try to keep even tension as you work toward the other end as this will give a uniform pattern to the diamonds. After the top is installed, attach the bottom first and then one end.

There are four ways to attach netting to the lifelines and you may find that you need a combination of methods to secure it properly.

You can detach the upper lifeline and thread it through the diamonds. This is a very positive attachment if you take the time to weave through every opening. A center or lower lifeline can be treated in the same way.

A small-diameter line can be used to lash the netting onto the lifelines and/or stanchions. If the lifeline terminals make it impossible to thread the lifelines, this method is a good choice. Use good quality 1/8 coated nylon or polyester line intended for marine use, since a lashing line that disintegrates in sunlight or salt environment defeats the safety of having the netting in the first place. Draw the lashing line through every diamond along the top, bottom and at each stanchion.

Exterior-grade nylon wire ties make a quick, strong attachment. Buy a large package of medium size wire ties, preferably white in color, and use one at each diamond. Be sure to trim off the excess wire tie so that no sharp edges remain.

Plastimo TM offers special plastic ring clips (1/16" or 3-4mm diameter) that help you obtain a professional-looking installation. One bag of fifty clips covers a five-foot length of netting when properly inserted at every diamond top, bottom and end.

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The bottom of the netting near the deck may present special challenges on some boats. Those with perforated toerails can lash, wire tie or clip the netting directly to the toe rail. Boats with a lifeline at deck height can use the same technique as with the upper lifeline.

Boats with nothing but smooth deck, however, will need to thread a heavier line between the stanchion bases to which the netting can be attached. The distance between stanchions will also call for the addition of two or three padeyes, pulley clips or other hardware to the deck to prevent the bottom of the netting from flapping loose between the stanchions. Fiberglass decks and teak toerails make the addition of small padeyes quite easy.

Finishing Up

With the top, bottom and one end firmly attached, stand back from the netting to see that the tension is relatively even throughout the length and that the diamonds have a fairly uniform appearance. Small irregularities will work out with time but glaring under- or over-tensioning needs to be corrected before you cut the netting.

When all is to your satisfaction, secure the last end and cut off the excess netting. Use a rope-burning tool if at all possible to seal the ends of the netting as you cut.

A soldering gun or wood-burning tool with a heat blade makes a good substitute. It's also possible to burn through nylon netting using a butane torch or lighter but utmost care must be taken to prevent the netting from actually catching fire, from damaging the boats finish or from burning yourself on the melted nylon. A sharp knife or scissors can be used instead with a small amount of heat sealing from a cigarette lighter to guard against fraying.

Lifeline Hand tools

from Johnson Marine

At the request of its customers, Johnson Marine offers two new crimping tools for exclusive use with Johnson's hand-crimped, lifeline fittings.

Offered in bolt- and lever-type versions, these tools allow boaters and dealers to install, repair or replace lifelines safely and effectively.

The Hand Crimping Tool #53-215 resembles a large bolt cutter, and is designed for use by dealers and other professionals. This lever-type device permits installation of Johnson's lifeline terminals on 1/8" and 3/16" preformed, corrosion-resistant, 7 x 7 wire that meets MIL-W-5424B standards. After stripping a section of the wire's vinyl cover, the user slips the terminal on and secures it three times with the Hand Crimping Tool.

For boat owners who want to replace their own lifeline fittings, Johnson Marine offers its Hand Tool #53-210. This bolt-type device permits installation of the terminal by tightening 1/2" bolts on the tool with an open-end or socket wrench. It accommodates the same 1/8" and 3/16" wire as the Hand Crimping Tool. Five crimps are required to complete installation of the terminal.

When properly aligned, hand crimped terminals will withstand pullout strains of 65% to 70% of 7 x 7-wire strength. Johnson does not warranty these terminals for standing rigging or other high-load use.

Safety systems - Lifeline terminal types, Terminations, Cables, Stanchions and Accessories