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Old 13-05-2015, 10:20   #16
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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Originally Posted by MermaidIndie View Post
Okay so I found a 1977 Cape Dory 25ft sailboat and I've heard it's a good starting boat. It's within my price range and everything looks good except I don't know how to check the structural soundness of the rigging, any tips?


The crash of waves and salty air are the signs of freedom
We always budget on complete replacement of all standing and running rigging for comfort of mind. A boat we looked at recently had 17 year old rigging but looking at the terminals closely you could see where the rust had not been able to be cleaned up thoroughly. That set alarms bells clanging away as the owner was trying to hide the rust. One question we always also ask when buying a used boat, (get a written response) is whether there have been any insurance claims.
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Old 13-05-2015, 11:21   #17
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

You do not say where you are located, Ms Mermaid, however you should be able find some one in your area that can do a rigging survey for you. I know of two here in Poulsbo, WA an Port Townsend, WA. and there others in the area. Good Luck.
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Old 13-05-2015, 11:48   #18
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

The only thing you should listen to in this sea of good, mediochre and other advice is have a professional rigger/surveyor do a good survey, and then do what they say! Or better yet have them do it. You can't play with safety. I have seen welded steel stantions ripped off the deck of a 165' fishing vessel. Big waves are like being hit by a train!
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Old 13-05-2015, 11:48   #19
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

3 years difference on quality boats that old are irrelevant... My 1974 boat had two owners with complete records of equipment installs and maintenance. The diesel engine had low hours, no obvious cabin leaks/water damamge, sails and lines appeared OK, and on rigging I couldn't see corrosion or feel barbs...

...so I made my offer a bit below asking price to pay for what I thought were critical repairs and called a well respected surveyor. After the boat is on the hard, you and the surveyor can check everything below the waterline. Shadow your surveyor and you will get a complete picture of what you are buying and if/how much you need to spend to get going.

Best of Luck,
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Old 13-05-2015, 12:11   #20
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

Thanks guys!


The crash of waves and salty air are the signs of freedom
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Old 13-05-2015, 13:12   #21
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

My boat is 41 years old with zero records. It sat 5 years on the hard unmoved and unchecked. It was cruised 2 years before that.

I've had it 4 years and have not replaced the rigging. I do know that there are no broken wires on any parts of the rigging. And that the rigging and all the connections look good and are reasonably shiny and clean.

I have mine set between 440-550lbs according to loos gauge.. You should probably go lower though on an old boat.

Boats like the Bristol 27 and Cape Dory 25 are overbuilt with low sail area and more stays than newer boats of the same size. If you are not going to terribly far off shore you may be alright at first with what you have depending on the surveyors opinion.

I used my experience with beach cats where I've had masts fall down before under load and had to swim/paddle the boat in. I did get to inspect the breaks also. (a bit of experience)

To test all parts of my "new" $2,000.00 sailboat, I took it out and sailed it in nice conditions. Then I took the boat out and sailed it in 20 knots, then 25, then 30. So far so good but I'm watching it.

Btw, I did replace my lifelines with Dyneema/polyester lines that I tied on since this video which I took a couple years back. I believe in testing my boats whenever possible in a safe location. I also have my kayak onboard for a backup ...............

Here's the 20 knot test in protected waters sailing upwind

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Old 13-05-2015, 14:12   #22
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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I have mine set between 440-550lbs according to loos gauge.. You should probably go lower though on an old boat.
I would not do that...
Loose rig is an invitation for disaster. Better replace it than sail with loosened wires.
If the rig is older than 10-12 years, just replace it with a new one, made of good quality components and add the cost to the total cost of purchase in the initial cost of purchase.
Most important are the chainplates that are not normally replaced with rig replacement - these should be checked carefully from all available directions. Are the chainplates visible also from the inside, maybe with some dismantling?
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Old 13-05-2015, 16:26   #23
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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I would not do that...
Loose rig is an invitation for disaster. Better replace it than sail with loosened wires.
Looks like you missed the point. I wasn't talking loose but less.

It's wasn't about the rigging, it was about the boat.

The rigging can be tightened to such a point that it can warp an old boat.


Btw, this was my 30 mph wind test on the rigging in protected waters. The wind here was about 22knots but it increase to 24-30mph for 4 hours during this trip:


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Old 13-05-2015, 22:09   #24
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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Looks like you missed the point. I wasn't talking loose but less.

It's wasn't about the rigging, it was about the boat.

The rigging can be tightened to such a point that it can warp an old boat.
Maybe Imissed the point, but:
The rig should be at c correct tension, no more nor less.
The correct tension is not a single figure - it is a band within which a boat may/should live.
The figures are not usually disclosed by the manufacturer, but a rigger or experienced sailor would know them.
Overtightened rig is as dangerous as an undertightened one.
Do we agree as far?
Now - if an old boat cannot be tightened to the proper tension (be that the lower figure of the allowed range) - it should be either fixed or discarded but not sailed with a loosened shrouds.
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Old 14-05-2015, 04:56   #25
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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Maybe Imissed the point, but:
The rig should be at c correct tension, no more nor less.
The correct tension is not a single figure - it is a band within which a boat may/should live.
The figures are not usually disclosed by the manufacturer, but a rigger or experienced sailor would know them.
Overtightened rig is as dangerous as an undertightened one.
Do we agree as far?
Now - if an old boat cannot be tightened to the proper tension (be that the lower figure of the allowed range) - it should be either fixed or discarded but not sailed with a loosened shrouds.
There are tons of sites explaining various ways to adjust rig tension and very few give you a number to use on a Loos Gauge. On many you adjust hand tight then go from there.

With the methods for a masthead sloop (see link) available online you should never approach anything near a number that would warp a boat.

I may have too much tension because I used a percentage of cable strength and a Loos Gauge. I have 440 on all shrouds plus the backstay and forestay. I have 550 on the forward lowers for a bit of prebend.

We used the Loos Gauge to set our diamond wire tension on Nacra Beach Cats and I/we were usually between 700-1000lbs (on the Nacra F-17) depending on spreader rake which I have forgotten but it gave a prebend of between an 1" to maybe 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" but that is a totally different setup. All this depended on the wind strength of course since we were crazy racer guys. Most cruisers rarely change the rig tension once set.

Anyway, those numbers lulled me into thinking 440-550 was okay but maybe it was a bit much on a 41 year old boat.

Practical Sailor - Boat Clinic: Tuning the Masthead Rig - Web Only Article
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:11   #26
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

People say get a survey. Good. BUUUUT. Now i do it, "ala cart" Becasue, I have had surveyors, miss stuff. Get a rigging company that you ask to do the work to look at the rigging. (get a bid at least) Get a diesel mech to go over the engine, and so on and so on. I missed some water tanks once. Take a hose, fill full and try to have another hold the hose and you look and feel for leaks. They are not expensive, but some are real fun to take out! good luck!
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Old 05-07-2015, 10:47   #27
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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People say get a survey. Good. BUUUUT. Now i do it, "ala cart" Becasue, I have had surveyors, miss stuff. Get a rigging company that you ask to do the work to look at the rigging. (get a bid at least) Get a diesel mech to go over the engine, and so on and so on. I missed some water tanks once. Take a hose, fill full and try to have another hold the hose and you look and feel for leaks. They are not expensive, but some are real fun to take out! good luck!
I am a surveyor and will freely admit that I do miss stuff.
Still a good surveyor will not miss anything important and will give you a good general idea regarding the vessel.
If you want perfection you can hire bunch of professionals and ask each of them to check his specialty. It will cost a lot more, take a longer time and will give better knowledge.
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:06   #28
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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I am a surveyor and will freely admit that I do miss stuff.
Still a good surveyor will not miss anything important and will give you a good general idea regarding the vessel.
If you want perfection you can hire bunch of professionals and ask each of them to check his specialty. It will cost a lot more, take a longer time and will give better knowledge.

very true
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Old 05-07-2015, 17:43   #29
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

Thomm,

Rig tension should have nothing to do with age of the boat. Or really the strength of the wire (though the wire size is generally selected to match the assumed tension). Our old J-35 used to sail upwind with 3,500lbs of backstay preassure. Combined wi 16" of pretend and the mast looked like a banana. Going downwind the rig was pulled forward to vertical. The Trip 40 needed huge tension on the uppers, loose middles, and moderate lowered, with adjusting preassure oh the runners, and normally firm preassure on the checks.

Every boat has its own tuning issues, and they change. What is right in 5kn is going to be horribly wrong in 20kn, and even worse in 30kn. It's a system, there is no one correct numbers.
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Old 05-07-2015, 21:39   #30
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Re: Buying first sailboat, how to check rigging soundness

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Thomm,

Rig tension should have nothing to do with age of the boat. Or really the strength of the wire (though the wire size is generally selected to match the assumed tension). Our old J-35 used to sail upwind with 3,500lbs of backstay preassure. Combined wi 16" of pretend and the mast looked like a banana. Going downwind the rig was pulled forward to vertical. The Trip 40 needed huge tension on the uppers, loose middles, and moderate lowered, with adjusting preassure oh the runners, and normally firm preassure on the checks.

Every boat has its own tuning issues, and they change. What is right in 5kn is going to be horribly wrong in 20kn, and even worse in 30kn. It's a system, there is no one correct numbers.
This is true, however on a normal cruising yacht, once you tune the rig you do not pay with the tensions. Some of the vessel even do not have tensioner on the backstay (besides the turnbuckle/s that are not meant to be tweaked underway).
On a racer or cruiser/racer you do change backstay tension to change mast shape, but do not touch uppers, lowers etc. underway.
Once again. if the numbers are not available from the manufacturer, the tensioning should be done by as advised on many internet sites, preferably by someone who understand what he does.
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