One of the most important fixtures on your sailing boat is the rigging, and therefore, if you neglect that, you could lose the entire mast. In order to ensure that it is always in good condition, it needs to be regularly checked.
This is why you should give it a good inspection so that you can stay on any issues if and when they develop.
Before taking any long voyages, you should always unstep your mast and thoroughly check it before sailing. If you only use your boat for gentle cruising, you should be fine just checking it fully every two or three years, with a complete overhaul of the entire rigging between eight and ten years.
In between these times though, there’s a number of regular checks you can do to make sure your boat rigging is in tiptop condition.
Inspecting the tension is an essential part of continued maintenance on your boat. You can check this by pulling on the backstay, forestay and shrouds to make sure they are not loose.
The right tension is difference from boat to boat, so it is a good idea to ask a qualified rigger how much slack you should have in the rigging wires.
A very easy way to assess the rig setup on your boat is to lie at the bottom of the mast looking up. If the main track is straight, it’s fine. However, if it’s deflecting, it could be an indicator that you need to adjust the rigging
When you are looking at the standing rigging, you need to start with the swages and check for any broken wires. Even if you only spot one stranded wire, you should make a point of replacing that shroud as soon as you can. If, though, you spot more than one, you should replace the shroud in question along with the one that the other end of the boat, without delay.
The rigging screws, also known as bottle screws are something else that is worth inspecting. Are the pins secure or are the rigging screws coming undone? What about the eye-nuts?
It’s crucial to familiarise yourself with the rig and check it carefully every time you head out on the waters, as this will help you spot small issues before they turn into big ones.
Any split pins or bolts you spot on the desk should be investigated Where did they come from? When checking your rig further up the mast, you may need to use binoculars.
As there is so much stainless-steel holding aluminium masts up, corrosion is unavoidable. Is the mast painted?
Then you need to lookout for any bubbles, as this is a surefire sign that there’s corrosion. Either inspect this problem further yourself or hire a professional to help
Additionally, you need to make sure that all the winches run smoothly. If they don’t, you should take them apart and give them a good greasing all over.
Inspect the Shackles
The shackles should all be undone and pull the pins to check the condition of it. Once you have started the pin using a shackle key or spanner, the thread should run very smoothly.
If it does not, it could be that the pin is distorted. Always double check though, before you chuck anything away.
While there, you may as well give the shackles and all other fittings a close look. Also take the time to check the blocks too and if you find any issues, replace the items as a matter of urgency.