Check them with these handy tips from the UK’s leading yacht refit experts


Imagine a pitching foredeck at night with nothing to prevent you sliding off the deck. Guardrails and stanchions can save your life, so it’s essential to make sure they are in good condition.

Ian Nicholson’s industry reference, The Boat Data Book, gives good advice: for a yacht up to 12m LOA, use wires of at least 4mm diameter in 316 grade stainless steel, 1×19 construction and a maximum stanchion spacing of 2.2m. Industry standard stanchion height (for boats up to 15m LOA) is 610mm, but some serious cruisers have stanchions of 800 to 900 mm. In addition:


Guardwires should not be PVC-coated. The wires should be visible and need end fittings and tensioning methods at least as strong as the breaking load of the wire. Adjustment arrangements can include simple lashings, turnbuckles or integrated, adjustable forks.


Lashings must be replaced regularly. UV degradation weakens them over time. Turnbuckles and other adjusters should be regularly checked. Guardwires should be tight enough so they do not sag between stanchions, but not so tight to cause wear spots as they pass through the stanchions.


Terminals should be secured fore and aft with clevis pins and split pins, which should be fully opened and either taped over or covered with a bead of silicone sealant to prevent them catching on sheets and sails. Split rings should not be used as they open too easily.

covered wire


Wires should be regularly checked. If damaged, they must be replaced. Stanchions should be securely fastened to the deck and if bent or damaged, they should be repaired or replaced.

broken split ring


Berthon are safety experts. For more on this important aspect, go to: