Spring is the time to… check that rig!
Spring is the time to… check that rig!

After weeks, perhaps months of sitting at her berth or mooring your yacht’s rigging has taken quite a punishing.

Most people assume that a yacht that is not used bears little damage.

In fact, it is quite the contrary. The incessant rolling and pitching of the yacht spending months yawing away back and forth at her mooring in the winter gales (and those damn westerlies) could have considerably tired both your standing and running rigging .

For a start, almost 90% of yacht owners don’t think to tie their booms down securely to avoid the to-and-fro movement that slowly grinds down the goose-neck (the part that attaches the boom to the mast). A fine aluminum dust, visible when wet as gray streaks on the deck or cabin top, is a testimony of this topical wear-and-tear. This dust being itself abrasive it is easy to imagine the degenerating process induced, and its effect on the structural strength of the fitting itself. As most if the damage happens inside the goose-neck and away from sight it can be quite hard to tell how bad things really are. Spraying oil or grease in an attempt to protect the fitting wont have much effect. In fact, it will help trap dirt and dust and end up exacerbating the problem. Remember to tied down your boom on either side to stop its movement, varying the position of the boom overtime to avoid wearing the fitting in the same place all the time (You can’t avoid a tiny bit of movement).

Then there is your running rigging, which is bent over blocks, through jammers and various equipment in the exact same place for long periods of time while the sun shines down relentlessly and the wind barrels forth, all teeth bare, high pitch vibrations gnawing mercilessly at your precious ropes. This damage is not restricted to running rigging either. Checking the mooring rope for signs of wear is always a good idea. Left unattended they have a tendency to writhe out of their rubber hosing and cut themselves free when rubbing against your nose-plate or toe-rail.

Climbing onĀ  board every now and then to shift the ropes a little to avoid chafing is easier said than done when the weather is freezing, and the kid’s football season is in full swing. However, it must be done. If you are too busy why not give us a call? We offer Peace of Mind Checks that designed around exactly this: putting your mind at rest.

For $75 we will thoroughly inspect your boat and take a good look at your ropes, move them a little to prevent chafing, make sure the rubber hosing hasn’t sneaked off the mooring line, check for damage both on deck and below, including taking a reading of your battery voltage, check your bilges, engine, etc. A full report including photos of the problem areas (if any) are then sent off to you.

Regarding the standing rigging, most insurance companies are now angling at demanding a yearly rig-check from a qualified rigger. This costs around $370 but may save you a lot of money in the long run. Even if by nature stainless steel doesn’t show damage but slowly becomes brittle under the effects of UV, there are some signs of fatigue or preventable trouble the rigger will be able to see. An incorrectly tuned rig, a separation of wire strands, a bent shackle, damaged spreader-tips, all these things can spell disaster at short notice if unseen. One common trouble is when the spinnaker halyard, for example, gets caught at the top of the fore-stay, getting wrapped around it when furling. A good tip is to make a permanent marker line where the Genoa or jib halyard meets the jammer. This way you will be able to tell if it has slipped. If you ever have trouble furling your Genoa, never, ever force it. Take your binoculars and go up on deck to take a look at the top of the mast. If the halyard is indeed caught around the stay you will have to untie it and ‘walk it’ around the Genoa until clear, then call a rigger to inspect the damage.

Last tip for the day, if you have ropes that have become green and stiff, a good way to make them soft and clean again is to put them through the wash with a good dose of Nappy San. An old trick that works beautifully without breaking the bank.

Happy sailing!