The Unknown Unknowns


Andy’s recent two posts on Dux high modulus rope rigging were fascinating. He did a great job of communicating his enthusiasm, without being a fanboy blindly extolling the virtues and ignoring the drawbacks of a product, as you see so often on the Internet.

He also wrote that he would explain:

why [Dux] can be considered to have already passed John’s 20-year field test.

And that’s what I want to explore in this post. But first, understand I’m not writing this to set some young whippersnapper straight. In fact, I have huge respect for Andy’s opinions.

That said, my rule in question is probably the one that has contributed most to our track record of successful voyaging—in 25 years we have only altered, or even delayed, our plans once due to a gear failure*.

Here’s my rule:

If your primary goal is to get out there and stay out there voyaging, don’t install any gear on your boat, at least if it’s mission critical, that has not been in common use for at least ten years and preferably twenty.

As you have probably guessed by now, I believe that high modulus rope standing rigging (Dux or otherwise) does not pass this test. Read on for why.

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 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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