When I bought the boat in 2010, I realized that before it could be taken across an ocean, I wanted to have the relative peace of mind that the rigging would not fail due to fatigue. As the boat is now 21 years old, and I had no documentation in the previous owners notes to show otherwise, I thought that a complete rebuild of the rigging was in order.
I contracted with Hayes Rigging in Seabrook to replace all standing rigging, the inner forestay furler, forestay furler and inspect the mast in the process. Unlike previous projects, I had neither the experience or tools, to carry out this on my own. I knew both Kevin and Bill from Hayes Rigging as I had raced with both and felt confident in their abilities.
At the same time I wanted to replace the foredeck/steaming light, redesign the way the Questus radar mount attached to the transom and service the in mast furling unit (more on that further down). The light was an old Aqua Signal 25 series with the exposed foredeck bayonet 20W bulb. I wanted to get a more powerful LED bulb for the foredeck and so ordered an Aqua Signal 41 Series light and a 60W equivalent sealed LED bulb from Marinebeam.
The Questus mount was a little trickier. The installers had secured the base of the mount to the backstay turnbuckle with U-bolts and no anti-corrosion compound. This meant that the turnbuckle could not be adjusted and also that the aluminum block which the Questus pole was attached to had corroded through the mount points for the bolts. I didn’t want to mount the pole directly on top of the cockpit coaming as I never want to drill any holes in the boat I really don’t need to :). I ordered a new pole base, designed a mount for it and had a local machine shop fashion the mount that would fit under the backstay chainplate that the pole base could attach to. The finished item can be seen below.
The mast was lifted out of the boat after several hours of prep work. This included removal of all sails, loosening all standing rigging (shrouds, backstays, inner forestay and forestay), removal of the boom and disconnecting all the wires which ran up the mast,. Luckily this was made possible by the work done in the electronics refit. Removal of thew mast boot showed that plastic and nylon rope had been jammed in between the mast and the deck fitting to hold the mast central.
The mast was left in the boatyard and the boat returned to our dock while the existing standing rigging was used to size thew new wires and fittings attached. I took the time to remove the 6 chainplates and the inner forestay attachment point (IFAP – too lazy to type this over and over 🙂 ) to ensure there was no issues with the deck core which had to be fixed. All the chainplates were fine but the IFAP had quite a bit of soft core around its deck penetration. This corroborated the boat inspection I had prior to purchasing the boat. The pictures below show the deck where the chainplates were removed. You can see where there original sealant was not completely sealing the underside of the plates.
The holes themselves were dry so I just took a plastic scraper and removed as much of the old sealant as I could. I then used some fiberglass dewaxer to remove the remainder.
With that done I over-drilled all the holes and filled them with thickened epoxy. Once they had set I sanded them flush with the deck and redrilled the holes just large enough to take the chainplate bolts.
The IFAP required a little more work. It was a rectangular hole and so I bent nails at right angles and fitted them into a drill chuck. I used this to scrape out the old core surrounding the hole, This took about 10 nails but was the only way I could see to get the worst of it out.
Once that was done I got all the chainplates and the IFAP electro-polished. I then coated the IFAP with mold release wax, reinserted it and bolted it in place below decks one set of bolt holes higher than when properly fitted. This allowed me to inject epoxy around the IFAP from above without the horizontal plate getting in the way. The pictures below make this clearer I hope.
I then applied butyl tape to the other chainplates and reinserted then as well.
I tightened the chainplates down over a period of 2 days to allow the butyl tape to compress so that the bolts were all tight once finished.
Kevin had sent the in-mast furler to US Spars in Gainsville, Florida where they overhaul the rig for a set price. It came back with a furling action as smooth as silk! We had had repeated issues with unfurling the main in the past to the point where I had the inclination, but not the funds, to switch to a flaking main. I had hoped that servicing the furler would fix these issues.
When we got it back we saw that there were 2 nylon spacers that fitted between the inner shaft and the inside of the bearing case. These were there to hold the inner shaft centrally in the furler.
These were missing before the unit was serviced, presumably they had cracked and fell off. This allowed the bolt that passed through spacers and held the inner shaft in place, to slide from side to side, occasionally catching on the inside of the mast. This was apparent from a worn groove inside the mast. Once the unit was replaced and we had a chance to go sailing it became abundantly clear that we had resolved the issues we were having before. HAPPY DAYS!!!!! Here are pictures of our beautiful serviced furler (can you tell I was excited 😉
Before the rigging was finished being fabricated, i went over to the boatyard and removed the old foredeck/steaming light, and tried to replace it with the new one. In the process of pulling the old wire out, the messenger line snapped and I was unable to get to it to pull it through. This is in part due to the location of the hole that had been drilled in the pipes which carry the wires up and down the length of the mast. It was not possible to get a wire into the pipes… or so I thought! Kevin and Bill to the rescue with a fishing tape and years of experience, thank god.
As a side note, it is amazing how much crud collects at the botttom of a mast over the years. I am not sure if the mast had even been removed before but this is what was in the bottom.
Equally disturbing was the dust bunnies that had formed between the mast and the bed where it was too narrow to even get a duster in there.
Luckily all things can be cleaned.
The only additional work that had to be done was to replace both spreader tips as the plastic had become brittle. All in all a project that had been on our minds for some time is now checked off the never ending list.