How to Inspect and Tune a Sailboat Rig

How to Inspect and Tune a Sailboat Rig
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Filed Under: Sail

Many factors will lower the breaking strength of rigging hardware. (Ralph Naranjo /)Major mast failures usually begin as minor hardware problems. At least that’s what scrap-bin forensics seems to confirm. So, instead of dreading a dismasting, prevent it with a sensible approach to rig maintenance.

Some sailors inspect their masts and rigging with the spar stepped, but most recognize how much will remain unseen. Riggers recommend that the mast come out every few years and be placed on a pair of sturdy sawhorses ready for close-up scrutiny. My DIY approach focuses on hardware junctions and points where load paths intersect. Packed in my rigger’s bag are the usual hand tools, plus a Scotch pad, a quality magnifying glass and a small digital camera to record the findings. The old rule of thumb is that standing rigging has a decade’s, or one circumnavigation’s, worth of reliability; it’s a benchmark that remains valid today.

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