the running rigging
on an older sailboat
If you're thinking
of buying a used sailboat it's probable that your final selection
will be a boat that is a few years old - and the halyards, mainsheet,
backstay, jibsheets and other running rigging will probably look
a little old, dirty and frayed.
Your first thought
may be to replace this old stuff with some of the bright new high
tech line you can find in your loal chandlery.
But you should
think carefully before you go ahead and buy any high tech replacement
running rigging. You
could be setting yourself up for some serious problems, as well
a spending a lot of unnecessary money into the bargain.
tech is too strong
problem with rigging and older sailboat with high-tech lines to
control the sails is that the lines are too strong for the boat.
Old turning blocks, padeyes, sheaves and cam cleats as well as genoa
tracks and rope clutches are just not capable of handling the loads
you can exert using high tech line.
- a half inch diameter Samson Tech-12 (12 Strand Technora) line
has an average breaking load of 33,000 pounds.
lift your boat with it!
And if you
get a young, strong, enthusiastic "gorilla" on a halyard
winch, he could pull the headboard out of the sail, damage the sheave
at the masthead or pull the turning block at the base of the mast
out of the deck.
Tests done by
the magazine Practical Sailor and others show that if you
tie any type of knot in a high-tech line, you can reduce the breaking
strength of the line by up to 80%. With very slippery high tech
line it is also possible to pull the knot through itself, and with
an extra slippery line such as Yale Light it's even possible to
pull an eye splice out..
This is a very
serious problem for the average sailor.
Here are the
problems in a nutshell:
- a bowline
or other knot in a high tech line reduces the breaking strength
by up to 80%
- for jib sheets
you must increase the line size to account for the reduced strength
- more $$$$
- an eye splice
is required to attach a shackle to a halyard. Splices should be
made by a professional
- high tech
line is very difficult to cut. Normal rigging knives and hot knives
are almost useless
- all turning
blocks and sheaves must have a diameter of at least 8 times the
- old sheaves,
turning blocks and other hardware will probably not be strong
enough for high tech line
- high tech
line can cost up to $10 per foot
any of these high tech lines is not for the faint hearted!
it's much better to stay with the more traditional line for the
running rigging of older boats.
the US, Sampson, New England Ropes and Yale all make a double braid
dacron line very suitable for almost all the running rigging on
an older sailboat.
Ropes make a double braid dacron called XLS, New England Ropes make
a similar product called Sta-Set and Yale Ropes product is called
Vizzion. Marlow Ropes in the UK produce Marlowbraid.
products sell from $1.00 to $2.50 per foot. You'll need about 500
feet for an average 30 footer.
line that you have to handle such as jib sheets, halyards and mainsheet
should be about half inch (12mm) diameter for a good grip, and jib
sheets and mainsheets should be one of the "softer" feel
I have done a fair amount of club racing, my personal preference
would be to use any of the above products for everything except
the halyards and then go for a lighter, low stretch, high tech product
such as New England Ropes T-900 for the halyards and get the eye
splices done professionally.