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Old 25-10-2010, 03:46   #1
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Do I Need a Backstay Tensioner ?

Greetings Folks,

I'm at the pointy end of a very extended refit and I'm finally out on deck and looking at various things to work through.

The boat is an old racer (40 feet) - but will be used for full-time cruising/liveaboard. I don't plan to race whatsoever and I like to keep things simple and low-maintenance.

The boat originally came with a hydraulic backstay tensioner, however it requires a rebuild/replacement to keep things safe.

I have two options really:

1. Buy a new backstay tensioner - navtec or similar

2. Replace the backstay (bit longer) and just have a turnbuckle

I would like the simplicity of just having a turnbuckle and "set and forget" backstay tension - but I've really never seen too many boats over 35ft without a backstay tensioner (hydraulic or winch handle/bottlescrew thingy).

Is there a reason for this?

Can I save some money and just go for a turnbuckle and be done with the backstay tensioner?

Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!
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Old 25-10-2010, 05:12   #2
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The bottomscrew thingy is the cheapest (and best!)

You may need an expert to look at this.

Is the Mainsail the one with the boat or have you had a new one made?
Is the mast tapered at the top?

Some mainsails are made so they must be used on a mast that can be bent backwards when the wind increases flattening the sail.

To remove the tensioning device all together you may need a new stay, and have the mainsail recut to remove its 'belly'.
However if the boat was realllly racey you may have to keep a tensioner on as the bendy bit requires it in a stronger wind.

Someone here will be more uptodate with racing than me, but you may need a rigger to have a look and see what he thinks.

You are right that for cruising you don't want to have an adjustable backstay. Just another bit of junk one doesnt need to play around with.




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Old 25-10-2010, 05:13   #3
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Oh, just saw its a Lexan 40

Better get a rigger who knows them to have a perve.

See who the CYC or RPAYC recommends.
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Old 25-10-2010, 05:20   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
The bottomscrew thingy is the cheapest (and best!)

The one with handles that flip out?


You may need an expert to look at this.

Is the Mainsail the one with the boat or have you had a new one made?

Mainsail is holed. Need new mainsail.

Is the mast tapered at the top?

Nope, not tapered. Like a telegraph pole!


Some mainsails are made so they must be used on a mast that can be bent backwards when the wind increases flattening the sail.

To remove the tensioning device all together you may need a new stay, and have the mainsail recut to remove its 'belly'.
However if the boat was realllly racey you may have to keep a tensioner on as the bendy bit requires it in a stronger wind.

Someone here will be more uptodate with racing than me, but you may need a rigger to have a look and see what he thinks.

Only problem here is that that the mast is currently next to my house.. waiting for a coat of paint before going in in the next couple of weeks. I went to a hydraulic shop this morning and they wanted $3000 to repair the ram/panel etc... which is why I'm thinking "bugger it".. I can just get either a navtec hydraulic new for $1700 from the US, or a bottlescrew handle thingy for even less...


You are right that for cruising you don't want to have an adjustable backstay. Just another bit of junk one doesnt need to play around with.




Mark

My thoughts exactly! I have enough things to adjust already!
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Old 25-10-2010, 05:48   #5
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you don't need one, just make sure you only sail downwind!
If you don't like adjusting things get a power boat.......oh U still need to adjust that throttle thingy!

Sheets, halyards & backstays make the boat sail better on different points of sail.

U will not point upwind worth a crap without cranking the backstay. if you go a 100 miles say 5 or 10 degrees off course how much longer does it take?


Skip hydraulic, use a series of blocks and cascading system

See here

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Old 25-10-2010, 06:16   #6
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Now that's a backstay tensioner...........I love tweaking things
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Old 25-10-2010, 06:56   #7
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Get a quote on repair from Florida Hydraulic and Rigging. I think they are in Stuart, FL. Ask for Buk Miller. They overhauled mine for under $200! Works good as new!
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Old 25-10-2010, 15:15   #8
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you don't need one, just make sure you only sail downwind!
If you don't like adjusting things get a power boat.......oh U still need to adjust that throttle thingy!

Sheets, halyards & backstays make the boat sail better on different points of sail.

U will not point upwind worth a crap without cranking the backstay. if you go a 100 miles say 5 or 10 degrees off course how much longer does it take?


Skip hydraulic, use a series of blocks and cascading system

See here


Thanks, but I'd rather not buy a powerboat - I'm just trying to simplify my sailing. I will be sailing for pleasure, in no rush to get anywhere and the more simple, the better - for me.

I love tweaking things - but that is a part of my personality that I'm trying to get away from by simplifying my life.

As for tweakability however, my rig is a masthead and keel stepped, with a pretty solid mast profile. So I won't really be getting any bend into it anyway.

So are you saying that there isn't a general level of tension that one can set at that will keep the boat safe and sailing moderately well such that I don't have to de-tension at anchor and re-tension while sailing etc etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by capngeo View Post
Get a quote on repair from Florida Hydraulic and Rigging. I think they are in Stuart, FL. Ask for Buk Miller. They overhauled mine for under $200! Works good as new!
Thanks for that - but I'm in Sydney, Australia.. The only thing I can buy here for $200 as a service is probably a dental checkup.

....

So a question for you Mark - how often do you find yourself adjusting your backstay tension on passage?
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:11   #9
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If the backstay can be split then a purchase between the legs (of the backstay, not yours) is a neat and inexpensive solution too.

b.
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:40   #10
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backstay tensioner is a racing gadget to be able to continually fine tune your boat for best race performance....which the marketing industry would like you to think you can't do with out while cruising. When cruising you are not trying to squeeze an extra knot of speed out to be able to make it around the mark before the other guy....cruising is all about enjoying the process of getting from point A to point B.....not getting there first.
As far as a bend in the mast, in my case that was done to the mast when it was built (laminated wood mast with a noticeable camber and taper). Bending the mast as needed can also be done when the rig is tuned by a professional rather than leaving the temptation open to someone who doesn't know what they are doing to change it.
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:49   #11
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Sure you can find a happy medium and set it and forget it...lots of boats are that way....mine is but Im a gadget guy so im going to change it..
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Old 25-10-2010, 18:49   #12
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I think some are hesitating to make an opinion because this can go either way.

Adjusting the backstay is about shaping the sails for each condition. In general in strong conditions adding backstay tension will help depower the main. On a cruising boat there are other ways to depower including reefing.

I would investigate the hardware to build a manual cascade system but suspect it will be around half the price of the hydraulic unit overhaul.

I would not hesitate to go with a non-adjustable backstay in your case.
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Old 25-10-2010, 19:04   #13
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A mast doesn't have to be tapered in order to bend. And it's not just about pointing. A backstay is a convenient way to create twist and depower the main, on a beat or a close reach.

If you're not sure about whether you would actually use it, maybe keep the existing stay and use a turnbuckle or something? That way you can go back to the tensioner if you change your mind. Nice looking boat design, by the way. And Jimbo, that's a nice looking system.
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Old 25-10-2010, 19:14   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akio.kanemoto View Post
Thanks for that - but I'm in Sydney, Australia.. The only thing I can buy here for $200 as a service is probably a dental checkup.
I'll bet they will ship to OZ!
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Old 25-10-2010, 20:15   #15
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my rig is a masthead and keel stepped, with a pretty solid mast profile. So I won't really be getting any bend into it anyway.
Sure you can
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