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The OEM halyard setup on my P26 had a main and jib halyard running externally. There was a bail for a spin halyard but there was no block installed on my boat. The OEM halyards were dacron braided line spliced to 7x19 wire. The splice was made with an eye in the line over an eye fitting swaged onto the wire. The junction would not run through the masthead sheaves because the eye was too big. The wire was used because the rope available 25 years ago was too stretchy for use as a halyard. I switched to all rope halyards in 1996 using 3/8" Sta-Set X from New England Ropes. This is a low stretch line with moderate cost. I had a rigger examine the sheaves to confirm that they could accommodate the rope. New rope-to-wire setups have a continuous splice which is much better then the old eye splices. But I felt there was no advantage to be had by using wire/rope and several disadvantages (e.g. meat hooks, chaffing and handling comfort). And, given the choice, I would rather get smacked in the head by a 3/8" rope then a 5/32 wire while wrestling a headsail in an ugly takedown. The cost was a bit less then for wire/rope. You can save even more if you do the splice yourself. Its' a valuable skill to have. Check out the New England Ropes site for instructions ( www.neropes.com/splice/index.html ). The halyard lengths are 60' for the main and 65' for jib/spinnaker. Add about 15' to run them back to the cockpit. You can always shorten them. I think jib halyard tension is much more critical then main on the P26 so if you can afford to only upgrade one I would do the jib.
Halyard Cost Comparison
All Rope Sta-Set X 65' 90' 3/8" @ .68/ft 44.20 - 61.20 Eye Splice 20.00 Shackle 25.00 89.20 - 106.20 Pre-made 90ft W/shackle 109.00 Wire/Rope 40' wire, 50' line 114.00 Shackle 25.00 Swage labor 5.00 144.00Based on West Marine catalog prices
In the spring of 1997 I converted to internal halyards. I cut slots in the masthead fitting and exits on the mast to run the main and starboard jib halyards inside. I left the port halyard external so it could serve as a backup to the main. See my project page for more details on this useful modification.
Converting to Internal Halyards...
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New England Ropes
New England Ropes Splicing Guide