INSPECTING THE TRAM­PO­LINE

Cruising World - - Contents - By Eti­enne Giroire

Be­fore you head out on the wa­ter, take a close look at this cru­cial area of any cata­ma­ran to keep it safe and func­tional.

BE­FORE YOU HEAD OUT ON THE WA­TER, TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT THIS CRU­CIAL AREA OF ANY

CATA­MA­RAN TO KEEP IT SAFE AND FUNC­TIONAL.

he tram­po­line on a cruis­ing cata­ma­ran takes plenty of abuse from sun, salt and crewmem­bers’ feet, and over time this wears down the ma­te­ri­als used for the tram­po­line and its at­tach­ment points. A reg­u­lar in­spec­tion of the net­ting and its lash­ings should re­veal any ar­eas that need at­ten­tion or re­place­ment.

If you own an older cata­ma­ran or put on lots of miles, es­pe­cially in the trop­ics, where UV rays are at their peak, here are the trou­ble spots to look for.

Most tram­po­lines are man­u­fac­tured

Twith web­bing or net­ting, and the con­stant UV ex­po­sure they are sub­jected to can cause the ma­te­ri­als to age com­par­a­tively quickly. It’s of­ten dif­fi­cult to eval­u­ate the strength and over­all con­di­tion of a tram­po­line by age alone. Most will last five to seven years, but fewer if the ma­te­rial is washed of­ten with bleach or strong detergents.

When inspecting the tram­po­line, walk around on it. Is it bouncy and stiff un­der­foot? Look at its gen­eral con­di­tion. Is it shiny or dull? Is there dirt and mold in the fibers?

An old tram­po­line will look chalky and dull, and it will feel stiff. If it is man­u­fac­tured with web­bing, look closely at the seams, as the thread ages more quickly than the web­bing. A high-qual­ity web­bing or mesh tram­po­line will be sewn to­gether with PTFE (also known as Te­flon) thread, which lasts con­sid­er­ably longer than the

web­bing or mesh.

If a bolt rope is used to at­tach the tram­po­line to chan­nels on the hulls, look at the cor­ners, which very of­ten show early signs of be­ing cut or oth­er­wise dam­aged in the groove. If the tram­po­line is held with grom­mets, look for cor­ro­sion and tear­ing of the vinyl edge around each eye­let.

Of course, the high-traf­fic ar­eas will show more signs of chaf­ing. If the tram­po­line is painted, it will age un­evenly, which will re­sult in weak spots. Oc­ca­sion­ally, to get more use out of a tram­po­line, own­ers will flip the tram­po­line around and show the un­der­side, which has not been sub­jected to direct UV rays.

The weak­est link with tram­po­lines is of­ten the way they are fas­tened to the boat. In gen­eral, a tightly fas­tened tram­po­line will age less and last longer than a slop­pily in­stalled tram­po­line. A loose lac­ing job will pro­mote chaf­ing at ev­ery grom­met, slide, rod or net­nob (a type of lac­ing hard­ware) all around the net­ting. Check for cov­ered lash­ing lines, since even though the cover may be­come chalky, the core will likely still be OK.

Some­times Dyneema rope is used to counter this chaf­ing, but even with its su­pe­rior strength, it is re­ally a mat­ter of time un­til a line breaks and a side of the tram­po­line will sep­a­rate — not a safe sit­u­a­tion.

For tram­po­lines made out of nets, look at the cor­ners, which are the high-load ar­eas, and where the an­chor and chain is stored and pulled up. Due to the ease of in­stal­la­tion, net tram­po­lines are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar. With a prop­erly se­cured rope edge, they can be very sturdy and of­fer the least im­pact in a sea­way.

Dyneema nets are very ro­bust, with ex­cel­lent UV re­sis­tance. They do not stretch, though, which means if they are not fas­tened prop­erly (for in­stance if they’re too tight in a spot), they could im­pact the struc­ture of the boat. Since this ma­te­rial is very ex­pen­sive and not very com­fort­able un­der­foot, Dyneema nets are typ­i­cally con­sid­ered only for high-per­for­mance or rac­ing cats.

Other re­place­ment ma­te­ri­als in­clude poly­eth­yl­ene and polyester net­ting, which usu­ally runs less than $100 per square me­ter, or mesh fab­rics that can range from about $20 per yard to about $70.

The tram­po­lines on any multihull are a fa­vorite spot on the boat to lounge, re­lax, sleep un­der the stars or look at the sea life while sail­ing. A prop­erly in­stalled tram­po­line will give the multihull owner years of en­joy­ment and en­hance the look of the boat.

Eti­enne Giroire is a long­time sailor and is the founder and owner of sail­ing-equip­ment and gear com­pany ATN Inc.

The tram­po­line on this Foun­taine Pa­jot Saba 50 is a per­fect place to watch dol­phins un­der­way.

UV dam­age can wreak havoc on tram­po­line net­ting, lead­ing to tears (top left). Im­proper lac­ing can im­pact the in­tegrity of the tram­po­line (top and above right). Be care­ful when weigh­ing an­chor as the flukes can tear the net­ting (above left).

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