The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1

During our cruise this summer to Labrador and the Quebec Lower North Shore, we motored quite a bit due to the fickle nature of the winds in that part of the world, but we also had some lovely and memorable sails.

On one of those great sailing days, as I was coiling down after tucking in a reef as Morgan’s Cloud bounded along over a sunlit—we had an amazing amount of sunshine—white-capped sea, it struck me how much I still enjoy the process of sail handling. Even after over a quarter of a century sailing this boat there are few things that bring me more satisfaction than a fast and clean mainsail hoist or a quick and efficient reefing.

And further, as advancing age takes its toll, making sure that our sail-handling systems are as easy to use and efficient as possible, particularly since we are sailing a 56-foot 26-ton (17-metre 23.6-tonne) boat with just two people in a part of the world where the wind speed tends to change quickly and with little warning, becomes ever more important.

Selecting the right rope for each halyard, sheet, lift and downhaul has been a big part of making our rig work efficiently and that’s what this chapter is about.

Would you believe I’m old enough to remember when even cruising boats had wire halyards and some racing boats even had wire spinnaker guys? Now that was scary. Thankfully those days are long gone, and of course the reason for their passing was the advent of high-modulus low-stretch ropes made of fibres that go under a plethora of names.

The downside is that some of these fibres and the ropes spun from them have a place on an offshore cruising boat and some don’t. So when faced with all these choices, how are we to know what will and will not work well for each purpose, and when high-tech rope may not be the right choice at all?

The good news is that I have an oracle we can refer to, his name is Jay Maloney. He has been our rigger for 25 years, during which we have sailed our boat over 100,000 miles. And each time we returned from a cruise, Jay and I have combined what I had learned in all those miles with what he had learned from rigging hundreds of boats, to improve our running rigging.

All this came together when we replaced our aging and cracked mast in 2005 and, at the same time, replaced most of the running rigging. Since then we have tweaked a couple of things, but now there is nothing that we would change.

So I’m going to share exactly what rope we use for each purpose, and why, including brand names.

Let’s dig in:

More Articles From Online Book: Sail Handling and Rigging Made Easy:

  1. Six Reasons To Leave The Cockpit Often
  2. Don’t Forget About The Sails
  3. Your Mainsail Is Your Friend
  4. Hoisting the Mainsail Made Easy—Simplicity in Action
  5. Reefs: How Many and How Deep
  6. Reefing Made Easy
  7. Reefing From The Cockpit 2.0—Thinking Things Through
  8. Reefing Questions and Answers
  9. A Dangerous Myth about Reefing
  10. Mainsail Handling Made Easy with Lazyjacks
  11. Topping Lift Tips and a Hack
  12. 12 Reasons The Cutter Is A Great Offshore Voyaging Rig
  13. Cutter Rig—Should You Buy or Convert?
  14. Cutter Rig—Optimizing and/or Converting
  15. Cruising Rigs—Sloop, Cutter, or Solent?
  16. Sailboat Deck Layouts
  17. The Case For Roller-Furling Headsails
  18. UV Protection For Roller Furling Sails
  19. In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing—Convenience and Reliability
  20. In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing —Performance, Cost and Safety
  21. The Case For Hank On Headsails
  22. Making Life Easier—Roller Reefing/Furling
  23. Making Life Easier—Storm Jib
  24. Gennaker Furlers Come Of Age
  25. Swept-Back Spreaders—We Just Don’t Get It!
  26. Q&A: Staysail Stay: Roller Furling And Fixed Vs Hanks And Removable
  27. Rigid Vangs
  28. Rigging a Proper Preventer, Part 1
  29. Rigging a Proper Preventer—Part 2
  30. Amidships “Preventers”—A Bad Idea That Can Kill
  31. Keeping The Boom Under Control—Boom Brakes
  32. Downwind Sailing, Tips and Tricks
  33. Downwind Sailing—Poling Out The Jib
  34. Setting and Striking a Spinnaker Made Easy and Safe
  35. Ten Tips To Fix Weather Helm
  36. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1
  37. Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 2
  38. Two Dangerous Rigging Mistakes
  39. Rig Tuning, Part 1—Preparation
  40. Rig Tuning, Part 2—Understanding Rake and Bend
  41. Rig Tuning, Part 3—6 Steps to a Great Tune
  42. Rig Tuning, Part 4—Mast Blocking, Stay Tension, and Spreaders
  43. Rig Tuning, Part 5—Sailing Tune
  44. 12 Great Rigging Hacks
  45. 9 Tips To Make Unstepping a Sailboat Mast Easier
  46. Cruising Sailboat Spar Inspection
  47. Cruising Sailboat Standing Rigging Inspection
  48. Cruising Sailboat Running Rigging Inspection
  49. Cruising Sailboat Rig Wiring and Lighting Inspection
  50. Download Cruising Sailboat Rig Checklist