Cruising Sailboat Running Rigging Inspection

All looks good from here, but what problems are lurking up there out of sight?

In Part 1 we inspected the mast, boom, and a lot of related stuff in the boat, including chainplates and the step, and in Part 2 we gave the standing rigging a good going over.

Now let's move on to the running rigging.

After that, we need your help. See under "Comment Request" at the bottom of the article.

Once we get all that done, I will, as promised, provide a downloadable checklist pulling all this together, including your input.

  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. Cruising Sailboat Roller Furler and Track Inspection
  51. Download Cruising Sailboat Rig Checklist
Subscribe
Notify of
16 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Edward Scharf

Your yes, to Tylska… is going back to this article on the new page.

Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Ginger gave me, years ago, an endoscope with a wireless display capability to a computer, Ipad or phone. It consisted of a small camera head (pencil diameter size), long cable (20-30 feet?) and a control box on the end for battery, transmitting and to adjust the light that surrounds the camera lens. The light can go quite bright and is a very important part of the package when pushed into dark corners.
About once a year this device makes a job much easier, even possible and a few times a year, it is just handy to look at things and plan work before performing boat yoga to get to the job.
It is water proof so I have used it, attached to a boat hook, to look at the prop and zincs when in really cold water which has allowed me to put off the chore of donning a wet suit etc. for a dive.
It is on the boat, so I have no idea of the manufacturer and I would say that things have changed, probably for the better, in the last decade or so. My sense was that it was surprisingly inexpensive, but as a present, can’t speak to that as well.
It is a very appreciated tool in my arsenal, and might be quite useful in looking into or up a mast at the lines.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rob Gill

Hi John, such a valuable series but a real task. May I suggest mast/collar/deck seal checks for seal/movement, and then check any block attachment points? Background – popular in production boat rigs, we had a small leak (into the cabin headliner) offshore around the mast collar for our keel stepped Z-Spar mast that we couldn’t seal from above or below. Only when we removed the mast to re-rig did we realise the cause.

Our alloy mast collar not only covers and protects the mast/deck seal but also provides the attachment for the halyard, vang and mainsheet turning blocks. The aft end of the collar is held securely down with an independent tie rod that screws into the mast shoe, to counter the loads from the mainsheet and vang. But at the forward end of the collar it was secured only with bolts through the deck, allowing it some flex. The turning block for our Code-0 halyard (grey&white in photo) is attached to the starboard side of the collar forwards and takes a lot of load, but there was no forward tie rod (due to the proximity of a main bulkhead). This halyard load had been lifting the front edge of the collar along with the sealant between the collar and the deck, allowing water ingress to the mast/deck seal.

We also found hair-line cracks in the old collar (casting) so swapped it out (great stock service and value from US Spars).

We changed the two forward/corner fastening under the deck to eye-bolt nuts, then tied each down to a newly tapped mast shoe using wire ties, eye-bolts and bottle screws (just enough access). We then added an L shaped stainless bar for block attachment to either side, further stiffening the collar. No movement now and no leak!

Screen Shot 2022-02-27 at 11.58.25 AM.jpeg
Dick Stevenson

Hi Rob,
I would keep a weather eye on the alloy collar. Mine started to show bending and dents from the stainless steel turning block’s shackles exerting pressure (point loading usually). I needed to augment with stainless steel collars.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Rob Gill

Thanks Dick, agreed. The side halyard blocks all attach to the stainless angle bar. The vang and mainsheet attach with a shackle directly to the collar as the lead is serviceable, but not ideal. So I am going to change this design and use another piece of L-shaped angle bar bolted along the aft edge, to which these blocks will then shackle.

Dan Perrott

We have a tackle inside the boom for extra purchase on our outhaul. A mix of wire and rope.
This will require the rivets holding goose neck end of the boom to be drilled out to remove it for inspection.
I expect we are not alone in this arrangement and it’s probably a good time to take it out and have a look.
(Boats with single line reefing setup probably have a selection of bits going on inside the boom).
We also have a purchase system inside out vang which is easier to access but still needs an extra look.

In addition if you notice chaff on a halyard somewhere unexpected (like several meters from the end) check to see what it’s rubbing on.
We now have added extra protection on our spreaders where halyards clipped to the bottom of the shrouds for storage were gentle wearing a groove in the aluminium.

Reed Erskine

I recently acquired a 10 m. endoscope with wifi connection to IOS devices that renders the camera image on a smart phone or tablet. It was made by Depstech, a company which offers a wide range of reasonably priced endoscopic imaging devices. It features greater depth of field than previous “bore scopes”. I’ve had some good results “fishing” messengers inside the mast with this kind of endoscope, and I bought this long one to hunt for a lost messenger that got loose in the mast during the 17 month covid layover while the boat was berthed in Montenegro. I’m worried that this loose messenger in the mast will eventually snag a halyard at an inopportune moment. Wish me luck.

Dick Stevenson

Hi John and all,
I have secured certain threaded D shackles for decades with a dab of silicone on the threads, a practice I learned from the rigger at HR&R back in the day. This has worked well for me with a minimum of fuss or mess.
I also do this with galvanized anchor shackles: not so much for securing as they will be moused, but more to make the threaded portion more easily removed when needed. Too often after a season (or two if I am remiss), these are quite hard to unscrew.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy   

Stein Varjord

Hi John,
I also love the Wichard shackles and on racing boats I have sometimes used them in applications with many times higher loads than they are meant for. I’ve managed to damage them, as in bending the bolt and changing the shape of the U part, but none have ever been close to actually letting go.

The collar that keeps the bolt from falling out is invaluable and the self-locking function is great, but many tighten them too hard, as we’re used too from other shackles. Too much can mar the surface and bend parts so the shackle works less smoothly. It still works just fine, but it’s a pity with such nice pieces.

Also, if the shackle is overloaded and bent, the U will become narrower and loose its spring function. Then (if not too much bent) it just works as a normal shackle. Conclusion: Totally worth going for, and even more so because of the reasonable price.

Neil McCubbin

One horror story that I heard is when the outer sheath fails at the masthead sheave and bunches up inside, preventing dropping, or even reefing the sail.
Inspection and prevention is the best solution.
When we had splices on our halyards we saw chafe. With knots, much less.
We have long tails on our halyards so can cut the top foot off and re-tie when I’m any doubt.
Perhaps we are wrong, but with 12mm T900 halyards on a 47 ft boat, we feel that we do not need its full strength.