Have you checked your Standing Rigging for this season?

Oct 22, 2014
16,409
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
A recurring question here on the forum. What about my standing rigging? When do I have to spend the money? I'm looking at this boat, what should I check? Why do masts fall?

Ok maybe the last one is a bit much, but my grand son did wonder what would happen if the mast fell down.

It would be a disaster. So we prevent such things by inspection and replacement. When I bought my boat I checked with a local rigger. We chatted about my desire to refit my 42 year old boat for sailing in the PacificNW. He shared that he finds more than 50% of the 2000 sailboats in the marina have a standing rigging issues. They sit in the marina and they age. It is the whole rigging system not just the wires.


It is time to check your Standing Rigging!

Yachting Monthly posted a nice primer on rigging (here Boat rig checks: 18 ways to refine your yacht - Yachting Monthly). It shares some of the secrets hiding in your Standing Rigging....

"Replacing standing rigging
Some insurance policies insist on new rigging every 10 years, while others are satisfied with a professional rig inspection.​
If you are replacing your rigging, you face the choice of whether to go for the cheapest option or to upgrade to something that will give you better performance.​
The key characteristic is the amount the rigging will stretch, and sagging rigging leads to masts that flex more than they should, forestays that bag to leeward, and less control over the mainsail shape.​
Wire is still the primary option for most of us, but there are three different kinds you can opt for:​

  • 7×19, or wire rope, is the most old- fashioned, and is suitable for running rigging where it needs to be highly flexible, but is not often used in standing rigging nowadays.​
  • 1×19, a single bundle of 19 thicker wires, is the standard wire for most rigging uses.​
  • Compact dyform wire is pressure-treated. It weighs a little more for its size but offers reduced stretch, increased breaking loads and with it significantly more cost.​
Life expectancy for all three is very good with regular inspection, 7-20 years or 15-25k nautical miles, depending on use and region.​
‘Wire does have its advantages,’ says Gordon Bonnay of Performance Rigging.​
7x19 wire

7×19 wire is the most flexible, but only used for running rigging now​
‘The biggest thing that wire has going for it is that it will advertise its failure. Generally a strand will pop out, and as soon as you see it you know the wire is compromised.’​
Rod rigging has also been around a long time now. It has low stretch characteristics, a very long lifespan, and a minimum breaking strength beyond that of its wire counterpart.​
1x19 wire is standard on many cruising boats

1×19 wire is standard on many cruising boats​
‘Principally the thing that goes wrong with rod rigging is only really if there is a fault in the hydraulically attached fitting forcing the rod into a different shape, or if it is pulled out of line repeatedly,’ explains Bonnay.​
Rod rigging has extremely long life expectancy attributed to design (mono strand) and the composition of the alloy making it very corrosion resistant.​
Compact dyform wire is stronger, lighter and has less stretch

Compact dyform wire is stronger, lighter and has less stretch​
However, it does require a more in-depth service protocol during recommended intervals, which includes unstepping the mast to inspect and re-head the rod as needed.​
Therefore, rod clearly gives better performance, but its high cost and servicing requirements isn’t affordable for most cruisers."​
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,409
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Good article. Some solid advice.
Of course I love its when an article from a stranger shares the same timeline advice that I have adopted. Helps to form a crowd with the same view of important issues... :laugh:

"Under optimal conditions the average lifespan is approximately 15 years. However, the lifespan of your sailboat rigging and lifelines can vary depending on the type of environment your boat is exposed to. "
 
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Feb 14, 2014
5,782
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
Under optimal conditions the average lifespan is approximately 15 years. However, the lifespan of your sailboat rigging and lifelines can vary depending on the type of environment your boat is exposed to. "
Kinda like my partially damaged Left Knee...

Shorter lifespan, less rough seas, but inspected 2 times a year.:cool:
_____
I just inspected my Standing Rigging...
Good to go, when boat is back floating again.
Jim...
 
Mar 30, 2013
684
Allied Seawind MK II 32' Oologah Lake, Oklahoma
Yup, still looks great still sitting in the box it came in from the rigger two years ago.
Me and my ortho surgeon think we've got it sorted after 5 surgeries in the last 3 years.
Hopefully I can get all that shiny, new wire out of the box and in the air this year.
:biggrin:
 
Feb 10, 2004
3,519
Hunter 40.5 Warwick, RI
I remove my wind transducer from the mast head for winter storage and replace it in the spring. I use the opportunity twice each year to inspect the standing rig for any visual issues. Not a perfect inspection, but certainly better than no look-see at all.

The reason I remove the transducer is to eliminate the needless wear on the bearings for 6 months of the year. Yes, I can and have rebuilt the transducers, but only every 15 years or so.
 
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Apr 8, 2010
1,636
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
The subtle failure points in the wire and swages are difficult to see before they become too obvious to ignore. Having been on sailboat that lost the rig at sea due to invisible 'stress corrosion' down inside a lower swage, I listen to our rigger and have the standing rig replaced every 20 years. We are in fresh water, and this would be sooner if in salt.

I view it as a part of 'preventative maintenance' that really dovetails properly with my insurance budget.
(No one was injured when the rig was lost (due to luck) when it happened to the boat I was sailing, but depending on 'luck' rather than preparation is... unwise, IMHO.)
 
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DougM

.
Jul 24, 2005
2,192
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
This is what happens when the rig is compromised. What we think happened was that when the boat was shrink wrapped the lower shrouds were disconnected and taped to the mast.
An extremely high wind did the rest of the work.


51262EEB-E6F3-40DD-80B9-C46F77D237A0.jpeg
 
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Oct 22, 2014
16,409
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Mother Nature can be cruel if you give her a chance. Hope you can get her back together before the season starts.
 

DougM

.
Jul 24, 2005
2,192
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
Mother Nature can be cruel if you give her a chance. Hope you can get her back together before the season starts.
No problem getting it back together. That all happened in 2017. Boat was in winter storage and not used in 2016 because my wife passed. Got a complete new mast, standing rigging, head foil, all running rigging all in the space of about 4 weeks. Had the boat back in the water then.
My daughter in law helped me put everything back together.
I would hate to think how long it would take to get the parts with covid and supply chain issues we’re having now. having trouble just getting belts for the impeller pump now...
 

higgs

.
Aug 24, 2005
3,487
Nassau 34 Olcott, NY
I have seen mast failures before due to disconnecting lowers. They are there for a reason even without sail stress.
 
Aug 7, 2013
43
O'day 39' 25th Anniversary Mystic, CT
@Roadking Larry, what's going on with your knee? Hope the information I sent you helped. I had my 2nd hip replaced on Feb. 23rd of this year (2021) and through my PT goals, I am/was able to climb up the ladder to board FH the 1st week of April to start my spring commissioning, which brings me to this post.
As you may recall, last fall we had quite a concerning failure of our backstay turnbuckle at the haulout. Over the winter, I contacted a couple of riggers for advice and estimates, and this is what I was told. In 1986, the standard for stainless steel was upgraded from 306 to 316, and FH being an '84, I assumed that our rig had NOT been refitted. Another thing that I learned was NOT to put off till tommorrow, what you could and should do today........ Had I unstepped the mast in the fall at haulout, I would be 10 steps ahead along with all the other experienced boat owners. But instead, I am waiting around like the other guys for a rigger in high demand. Not to mention the chance that a replacement part is likely to get held up in transit.......
 
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Mar 30, 2013
684
Allied Seawind MK II 32' Oologah Lake, Oklahoma
@Roadking Larry, what's going on with your knee? Hope the information I sent you helped. I had my 2nd hip replaced on Feb. 23rd of this year (2021) and through my PT goals, I am/was able to climb up the ladder to board FH the 1st week of April to start my spring commissioning, which brings me to this post.
As you may recall, last fall we had quite a concerning failure of our backstay turnbuckle at the haulout. Over the winter, I contacted a couple of riggers for advice and estimates, and this is what I was told. In 1986, the standard for stainless steel was upgraded from 306 to 316, and FH being an '84, I assumed that our rig had NOT been refitted. Another thing that I learned was NOT to put off till tommorrow, what you could and should do today........ Had I unstepped the mast in the fall at haulout, I would be 10 steps ahead along with all the other experienced boat owners. But instead, I am waiting around like the other guys for a rigger in high demand. Not to mention the chance that a replacement part is likely to get held up in transit.......
Wasn't my knee(s). Total right hip in spring of 2018, I had put it off way too long and was pretty useless by the time I got it fixed. The info you shared with me was very helpful. I was able to do quite a bit of refit work while recovering from the hip replacement but diving the deep places on the boat was out. So far the new hip has been great.
Late Summer of 2019 I started having problems with the left shoulder which progressively got worse over a matter of a couple of months. It took a while to jump through all the hoops of referrals and tests to make the insurance happy but the first week of December 2019 I finally scheduled the left rotator cuff repair in mid January. About 2 later my wife decided we needed a 50# sack of dog food. I lifted it up out of the back of the truck, started to toss it up on to my right shoulder like I've done with 50# sacks of feed since I was a teenager and *pop*crack* my right shoulder was in agony. Got the left one fixed in January, had to get it rehab'd to the point of usability before I cold get the right one done the 3rd week of June. 2nd day of August I woke up to what turned out to be a major gall bladder attack, Got the gall bladder out 4 days later, none to soon as it was already gangrenous. When I woke up from the gall bladder surgery my first awareness was severe pain in my right shoulder. Near as I can figure is that while I was under for the surgery they must have pulled on my arm while repositioning me or something and tore all the fresh repairs out. Couldn't prove anything so no recourse there. Finally went back in to reconstruct the shoulder as best they could in October. Now 7 months later I have about 65% function from the right shoulder and will gradually get more back it will never be "right". So what should have been a one year refit has turned into 3-1/2 years so far. Barring any more mutinous body parts I think I'm on track to be ready to splash by 4th of July.
 
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