Thanks for all the feedback.
Maybe a couple of inches is an exaggeration - but loose they were and more than felt healthy hence this thread. I am worried that the slackness is a new thing, but it might also be something that just became more apparent to me as the boat has become more familiar. Am really hoping the latter...
I'd say they feel too slack at rest, one notch less on the slackness scale and they'd be described as loose. This gives me hope.
The mast is deck mounted (and the deck feels solid and looks straight, no soft core
, no cracks in the gelcoat). The shrouds each have an external chainplates that is perhaps 18" long (not at boat so guessimating here), 3 on each side. After what delmarrey says I'm going to take a closer look at this area including the inner bulkheads nearby.
We've might have sailed the boat as much this year as it was sailed in the previous few years as the POs were from out of state. We've also definately had the rail down pretty hard on occasion (memories of the Admiral hanging onto the dodger
with a certain look in her face spring to mind - bless her socks she still goes out with me), though not this last sail (perhaps 25deg heel close hauled in maybe 15knts).
Guess I'll hit one of those books
mentioned and start looking into my next learning
experience before the winter winds get this far south! "Rig Tuning by Ivar Dedekam for a less formal, but very good and clear treatment"
sounds like a good recommendation. Hopefully I don't need rocket science here but a stick that remains pointing the right way!