A Quick Guide to Yacht Rigging Maintenance

Yachts should be checked regularly to make sure they function as they should and provide a comfortable experience for those on board. When it comes to yacht rigging maintenance, there are many components that should be inspected including, chainplates, the deck, spreaders, wires and ropes.

What is rigging? 

Rigging is used for a range of purposes and it is the process of using chains, cables and ropes to support a yacht's masts. There are two different types of rigging, standing supports the mast and running controls the orientation and direction of the sails. In yachts, standing is mostly used, these are fixed and can be split into lateral and forestay and backstay rigging.  On yachts, standing rigs should be replaced around every 7 to 10 years, depending on how far and often it is sailed and if there has been any damage in the meantime. 

When to do a rigging check?

Although rigging may only need to be replaced every 7 to 10 years, it's important to inspect and maintain them regularly. This ensures a safe and fun journey and can prolong the life of your rigs. MyBoat, a digital boat management system can help remind you about safety equipment needed. Ideally, each year, a trained specialist should do an inspection on them, it is also advised to have a thorough inspection done before a major, lengthy journey. Through conducting inspections it makes it easier to identify any issues that may arise and fix them before a problem occurs. If not fixed then the mast may fall down, or cause an injury. 

Rigging maintenance 

Yacht rigs should be checked properly to avoid failure at sea, especially the tension. Resort back to manufacturer guidelines to find out what is best to your boat and follow any instructions given. There are many things you should do to maintain your vessel correctly, these include: 

Check over the whole rig

Whilst the mast is still upright, take a look at the rig from all angles to ensure it is positioned correctly. Take a few steps back, make sure it is stood straight and there are no bends in sight. Both the stays and shrouds should be balanced, with a similar tension and even loads. If you are content with the look of the mast upright, you should then take a closer look at each rig component. You can detach the mast and look at each part closely, make sure there are no cracks or damages. 

Chainplates

Check for excessive wear and tear, as well as elongation in any pin holes and alignment with the bottlescrews. The condition of all chainplates should be checked, along with signs of corrosion and leaking, cracks may have formed due to pressure. Often chainplates can be ineffective as the structure that supports them can rot, so be wary of this. 

Forestay and backstay 

Check to ensure that the roller furling headstay is in good condition, along with no wear and tear or corrosion on other components, such as mast tangs, threaded fittings and wires. Also inspect the backstay adjustment system. 

Spreaders 

Where the spreader and shroud are connected, look for any broken wire strands. It's important to also look out for any corrosion, cracks, rust, chafing or instability, as this could cause issues out on the water.  

Insulators 

Over time plastic insulators may be degraded by the sun, so check for this, along with the aerial wire being securely fastened and that you are content with its condition. 

Deck Check

Another important thing to check over is the deck, look at split pins, check for stranded wire breakages, how adequate threaded fittings are and if there is any rust or cracking. The sea and water can often cause rotting and corrosion, so take a look at all attachments and at the foot of the mast for any signs of that. 

Masthead 

Another very important component in rig maintenance is checking the masthead, looking at the sheaves and shackles to ensure they are in good working condition and are not worn. All electrical wires should be clamped correctly, without any chafing and lights should be working. In addition, all wind gear should be in optimal condition and there should be no signs of elongation on the backstay and forestay mounting holes. 

Spinnaker pole ring

All attachment points need to be secure and there should be no signs of corrosion. 

 

By checking all key components needed in yacht rigging, you are far more likely to have a more  safe and enjoyable journey out on the water. 

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