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Old 29-07-2010, 04:50   #1
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Does Ten Year-Old Rigging Need Replacing ?

When looking at buying a boat, specially older boats say 20 or 30 years old. There is a good chance the history of the rigging has been lost. I hear insurance companies wont insure unless rigging is 10 years or newer. When looking at older boats, can a rigger inspect the rigging and safely determine its age and or condition? Is it possible (and verifiable) that older rigging is in fact still in good condition?

The boats I am looking at mostly have rigging of unknown ages. Possibly 30 years or older!
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Old 29-07-2010, 05:14   #2
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You can get (and insurance companies often require) a rigging survey. Call up a local rigger; I know a great guy in San Diego.

More specifically, a lot of it has to do with the load. We replaced a lot of our rigging (on a 36 year old boat); much of it was factory original. It's worked fine and probably would continue to do so for coastal cruising. But the demands placed on a vessel regularly under sail are much different than the typical sailboat which spends 99% of its time in a slip.

Used for some harbor sailing, old rigging will last a long time. The same rigging will be compromised in a week of open water pounding.
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Old 29-07-2010, 05:35   #3
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If the seller can't document the replacement date. Assume it is far past it's useful safe life. The running rigging is expensive too and almost always completely dead. Sails too, but the rig is a safety problem and fails catastrophically, usually.
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Old 29-07-2010, 05:51   #4
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Distinguish between running rigging and standing rigging. No one is going to "replace all the standing rigging". Part of that includes the mast head bracket, the chain plates, maybe the bobstay and dolphin striker, etc.

The stuff that breaks and causes dismasting isn't going to be one of your lower shrouds, and although maybe it happens but I've never heard of a dolphin striker causing a dismasting. So don't worry about replacing the "entire rig". You can probably get by replacing the big stuff first (fore and aft stays, upper shrouds). And remember that you can have almost everything done with the spar in place.

It's really not that dramatic, and this is coming from a guy who had the spar off for a year and a half going through rigging hell.
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Old 29-07-2010, 06:30   #5
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Lower shrouds are one of the most common failures and definitely can result in losing the mast--replace everything.
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Old 29-07-2010, 19:48   #6
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Lower shrouds are one of the most common failures and definitely can result in losing the mast--replace everything.
Yup. The lower shrouds are often under much higher stress than the uppers.
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Old 29-07-2010, 20:02   #7
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I would put a lot more faith in new rigging than in a rigger's survey.

A rigger can tell you where old rigging is in need of replacement, but really can't tell you where decade-old rigging is good to go.
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Old 29-07-2010, 20:25   #8
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Does 10 year old rigging need replacement?

No, at least not in all cases.

Should 10 yr old rigging be replaced?

maybe

Do you want to take the chance?
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Old 29-07-2010, 22:58   #9
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I have sailed safely offshore with rigging more than ten years old. I have also replaced diamond stays that are only three or four years old. Each piece of wire on a yacht experiences unique stresses, and it's difficult to tell which one will let go.

I have replaced all of my diamond stays at least two times during my circumnavigation which took eleven years to complete. I replaced my headstay one time. My cap shrouds are still original after 17 years.

I replace pieces of rigging when a wire strand breaks.
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Old 30-07-2010, 00:09   #10
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Depends on past use. Seasonal usage in cool fresh water 20 years probably OK. 12 month usage in tropics 10 years is max. Chain-plates also. Inspect entire rig prior to all major passages.
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Old 30-07-2010, 11:08   #11
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Lower shrouds are one of the most common failures and definitely can result in losing the mast--replace everything.
News to me. My rigger friend and everything I've read / seen says the number one failure has been headstays, especially under a roller furler.
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Old 30-07-2010, 11:19   #12
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News to me. My rigger friend and everything I've read / seen says the number one failure has been headstays, especially under a roller furler.
No expertise here, but that would have been my gut feeling, too.
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Old 30-07-2010, 11:24   #13
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It depends on the type of rigging you have.

Product Notices & White Papers - Navtec Rigging Solutions
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Old 30-07-2010, 17:17   #14
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From all the above posts about which shrouds and stays have had problems, you could surmise that if your recently purchased older boat cannot document when and what was done as to the standing rigging (mast, shrouds, stays, and other wire/rod) then it would be prudent to get it changed.
- - Wire/rod terminals can only be accurately check by using dye penetrant to find hairline cracks. Worn turnbuckle/chainplate pins and clevis pins can only be accurately inspected by removing them. Studs, terminals, rod balls, etc. also need to be actually removed to be totally inspected.
- - And if you are going to invest in all this removal and inspection you might as well go ahead and replace the old wire with new wire. The wire costs are the least of all the expenses involved. Chainplates are a major problem as like an iceberg, most of it is below deck level or hidden behind interior paneling. Water leakage down through the hole in the deck-edge for the chainplate can easily allow intragranular corrosion to attack the chain plates. A failed chain plate is not something that can be "field fixed" while underway in big seas.
- - The standing rigging along with the mast are a major safety system on a sail boat - witness the teenager who lost her mast in the southern Indian Ocean.
- - There are new materials and techniques available today with regards to wire/rod and standing rigging and if you are intending to cruise the oceans and seas it it will worth the time and money to know that your mast and rigging will not come down in a blow. Over 10 years of ocean use - and a unknown history from the previous owner = replace the standing rigging wires, etc., and really inspect and test all the components.
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