Navtec Hydraulics

Morgan’s Cloud was fitted with an hydraulic vang and with hydraulic backstays when we bought her. Initially we were skeptical, feeling that such complexity had no place on a cruising boat, especially one that sails to remote places.

But over the years we have come to appreciate the convenience and ease of use of our Navtec hydraulic rigging system with its cockpit mounted control panel.

We do believe that a key requirement for reliability with these systems is getting them serviced regularly by someone who really knows what they are doing. Jay Maloney of Maloney Marine Rigging gives our system a good going over every five years.

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Meet the Author

John

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

2 comments… add one
  • Dick Stevenson Aug 15, 2012, 4:56 am

    John, In wandering around old threads, I came across your Navtec comments. We shared your concerns for the similar reasons. Three suggestions: I determined that our Series 7 default length would be too long to have adequate backstay tension even if the turnbuckle was tightened all the way. We had stainless straps made so that the hydrolic backstay (HBS) could be taken out of the rigging completely and sized so the backstay could be tensioned by the turnbuckle. This allowed the rigging to be viable in the event of an offshore HBS failure or for a period where the HBS were away for repair. The straps were quite reasonably made in Turkey, much cheaper than a piece of wire that might substitute. We also made a simple Sunbrella cover for the exposed ram and seal to keep off the dirty rain that exist in many areas. The last thing we do is, after relaxing the rig, to put in a few pumps of tension. This keeps the seals always under some pressure from one direction and mitigates “panting” which occurs with atmospheric pressure changes. The latter two suggestions I have no clear idea about how effective they are, but they make me feel better. Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

    • John Aug 15, 2012, 9:12 am

      Hi Dick,

      All good suggestions, thank you.

      On “Morgan’s Cloud” we have turnbuckles mounted above the two backstay hydraulic rams (we have split backstays) that have enough throw to tighten the rig even with the rams fully extended. In fact we keep these turnbuckles tight enough that the boat could, in a pinch, be sailed without further tightening. So, we just use the rams to add tension when sailing to windward.

      Of course this means that we don’t get the full tuning benefit of having hydraulic rams in the first place. (When we raced the boat we kept the turnbuckles looser so we could drop the rig forward when running.)

      Like you, we keep a couple of pumps on the rams at all times.

      Having said all this, the three rams (two back stay and one vang) continue to be extraordinarily reliable. We have, touch wood, never had a failure in 20 years. We do get them rebuilt about every five years and the control panel every ten.

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