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Old 29-09-2015, 06:56   #1
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Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

Hello all!

First sailboat 1973 Columbia 23 ft.
Brand new to sailing. Plan is to learn with friends and teachers in the Wilamette and Multnomah channel, eventually the Columbia.

Cleaned her up and got her in the water. She floats!

First big mistake.. Stepped the mast and rigged her, but forgot the halyards! None came with the boat that I could find. Having a hard time finding the specs for the rigging on this boat.

Plan is to take it back down, measure and get new line. After that though in still not exactly sure how these get rigged on this mast and boat.

I have semi knowledgeable friends on this subject, and some old salts at the marina who assure me ill "just figure it out"

So i look to you, dear internet people. How to best proceed and get this girls sails up?!

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Old 29-09-2015, 13:31   #2
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Re: Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

OK, here;s a first shot at your dilemma;

Have a good look at your masthead. There will be some sheaves there, either set into the mast section or hanging on pad eyes or such. If the former, see if there are just two, or if there are two pairs of sheaves. If only one pair, the halyards will be external, ie hey will go up one side of the mast, over the sheave and down the other side. This is the most likely setup for that boat.

If there are two pairs, look at the lower end of the mast and see if there are slots for internal halyards to exit the tube. If not, then the halyards are rigged as explained above, just running over two sheaves rather than one. If there are exit slots, then the halyards will run up the outside of the mast, go over one sheave and then down the inside of the mast, coming out the exit slots. This setup is common on larger and newer boats, but unlikely on yours.

Once you have made these discoveries, check the grooves in the sheaves, and see what size line fits smoothly into them. Best way is to try some samples of various diameters. I expect it will be 5/16 inch, but could be 3/8. Now you must determine how long they should be. If they are not lead back to the cockpit, the main halyard must be twice the length from deck to masthead, plus enough to make the splice at the working end plus a few feet extra for mistakes and for making fast to cleats, going around a winch if fitted and so on. The jib halyard needs to be a little longer, so that it can reach out to the bow where it will be shackled to the head of the sail on deck. You can work out how much longer from simple Pythagoras math if you measure the distance from mast to stemhead.

If the halyards are indeed internal, it may be easier to fit them with the mast horizontal. The easiest way is to use an electricians "fish tape" (a flexible but stiff wire available at any trade type hardware store) to push a messenger line (light string) through the tube. This messenger is then used to pull the halyard through. If fitting two internal halyards, pull a second messenger through with the first halyard, thus being ready to pull the second halyard.

As to what type of line to use... the racer types will tell you that some exotic low stretch cordage is required, and indeed it is good stuff. However for your boat any decent dacron double braid will work ok. A slightly better line might be New England ropes Sta-set X or the equivalent from other mfgs. Splicing the latter is tedious, but simply tying a shackle to the end will suffice, or making a stitched and whipped eye is an excellent alternative to a splice.

I think that covers the basics. Good luck, and happy sailing.


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II , lying Pittwater, NSW fora while.
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Old 29-09-2015, 15:49   #3
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Re: Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

Thanks so much for the detailed response!
This makes a lot more sense now. Once I have the mast down ill take some pictures and give it a shot. Hopefully Ill be able to find someone local as well to give a hand. This info gives me a great head start though.
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Old 29-09-2015, 16:41   #4
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Re: Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

Aloha Jordan,

My old Catalina had a masthead that had two sheaves on the starboard side and two on the port. It was rigged so that the halyard went up and over the first sheave starboard aft and inside a plate of aluminum over to the other sheave starboard forward and down the forward edge of the mast. Do the same on the port side. The longer halyard for US boats is the jib halyard and on the port side. The shorter is the man halyard on the starboard side. Rigging the jib halyard is that you tie or snap the (port side) jib halyard end that comes over the forward sheave on the masthead and raise the jib by pulling the halyard that is led over the aft sheave down to a cleat on the port side. Main halyard is tied or snapped to the head of your mainsail using the after end of the starboard halyard and then haul it up where the halyard is running up the aft of the mast over the aft sheave and hauled down the forward edge of the mast and tied to a cleat on the starboard side.

This might be a bit confusing and I'm not certain how your masthead looks but send us a photo and we should be able to help. Check out some boats in the marina and look at the mastheads through your binoculars. Old salts that don't help but tell you that you'll figure it out aren't worth talking to. Don't buy them a beer at the bar.
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Old 30-09-2015, 08:51   #5
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Re: Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

Hey Jordan, That's a start. Check the Columbia group you might find details. I'm a rigger so if you're having unresolved issues get in touch with a personal message and we'll wrestle with it. I can't remember, but I think this boat has external halyards-just one sheave for each halyard at masthead.

This is the time to check for sheave wear, closeness of sheavebox sides to sheave so it won't pop off sheave, standing rigging fittings, chainplates etc. if you haven't yet. Also god time to replace antenna wire and maybe antenna, add any lighting etc. Also likely that sheave was built for wire/rope halyard-narrow V bottom, not rounded, which will eventually destroy the rope structure if you use all rope halyards.

So, Lots to think about-get in touch if I can help-Will
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Old 30-09-2015, 12:53   #6
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Re: Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

Congrats on your mast stepping, that's a good start to learn mistakes from. Just don't drop it and you will be in good shape. I have a copy of the owners manual on pdf, but it is to large to upload.
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Old 01-10-2015, 07:04   #7
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Re: Rigging a 23 ft Columbia first time!

Thanks for all the responses everyone! I should have the mast down this weekend and will take a look.

Looked through manual and it appears i have the same mast. I can only see one block on the rear side of mast. It looks like it is a single sheave. So im still a big unsure how the jib halyard line is run?

Radio isnt working so im assuming the wire needs replacement.

Wind vane not working.

Lights not working.

So.. A few projects for the weekend. Will send pics and updates.

Anything else to check for while i have mast down?

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