Every autumn we should remove our warps, halyards and sheet lines and clean them this removes the salt, mould and mildew and enables the rope to soften and be more easily handled the following year, and prolongs the life of the rope. This should also apply to your Jackstays.
First check over the full length of the Jackstays for wear and tear, look at the stitching and make sure that it has not come undone; or frayed in any way. Pay particular attention to the ends where the shackles are attached if not spliced; if you find any fraying then you ought to buy a new set of Jackstays. Jackstay webbing is subject to ageing , even with no visible signs due to UV rays, sea water and temperature. Because the Jackstay will be required to support the heaviest member of your crew in an emergency, should they fall overboard, Jackstays are part of the lifesaving equipment on board, and should be replaced with new Jackstays if showing signs of wear or you have had them in constant use for a number of years.
Jackstays should be washed in fresh water, which will then remove the saltwater crystals. Wash using a mild detergent with a PH level of above 7 and below 9. Both nylon and polyester have some vulnerability to alkalis such as those found in strong cleaners like TSP (trisodium phosphate) or Spick-N-Span. I would recommend that you use a normal household washing powder.
Acid based cleaners are equally as bad and can reduce the strength of your Jackstay by up to 50%. Only use the recommended dose and be careful when adding fabric conditioner, because if too much is added, the Jackstay if made of natural fibres will be unable to dry out fully and can then rot.
Before washing daisy chain your jack stays, in a loose fashion. If you have a shackle spliced to the end of your Jackstay you will need to secure a sock over the end of the shackle and cable tie it off. Place the jackstays in an old pillow case, much the same way as you would when washing lines and cable tie the top of the case, unless you have a pillow case with a zip fastening.
Wash on a cool water cycle if the Jackstay is made of natural fibres but a hot water wash of 125 to 135c is fine for manmade fibres, with a light spin for all materials.
Do not machine dry, but hang the Jackstay so that air circulates all around them and let them dry naturally to avoid any shrinkage, or heat damage.
Tips for putting your Jackstays back properly
If you need to buy Jackstays for your boat; when calculating the length the jackstays will need to be, bear in mind the layout of the boat i.e. will they need to run around the cabin roof. I would also suggest buying flat webbing jackstays as they lay on the deck and are less of a trip hazard. You can also have your jackstays custom made, rather than buying them off the shelf.
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