.....rigging maintenance

Give your rigging a comprehensive check at least twice each season, preferably just before and just after the season. The maintenance routine will vary depending on whether you leave your boat in the water year-round, or haul out between seasons, or if you trailer your boat in and out of the water with each sail. The rigging deserves the same attention as that given to any "machine". That is, maintenance is a never-ending duty of the owner. You must keep an eye out at all times for danger signals which may cause a failure in the rig. Any chafed lines or sails, or fraying wire ropes should be repaired or replaced BEFORE the next voyage. Corroded fittings, frozen sheaves, or fastenings working loose in deck hardware should be attended to as soon as possible. A little oil or wax can sometimes work wonders. Care of the spars will vary depending on what they are made from. Aluminum spars require virtually no maintenance except for keeping them clean and preferably coated with wax. Aluminum tends to give off an oily residue that is not harmful, but can discolor the sails. Check for corrosion of the spars, especially where fittings are fastened. Also sight along the spars to make sure there are no bends, crimps, or "twists". A little paraffin in the boltrope groove will aid in hoisting the sails.

Wood spars require more attention. They should be well protected with a surface coating of spar varnish or synthetic coating such as polyurethane or paint. Also check for dry rot, especially at the mast base. If the mast is a glued-up type, check to see that glue joints are tight. Also give a check to all fastenings to see that they are tight and haven't worked free. Whether the mast is aluminum or wood, it should be stored so it is well supported along its length. If the mast is fitted with diamond stays or jumper stays, these can be left set-up while the mast is stored. Wood masts should be stored covered, but with good air circulation.

Always try to keep some spare parts with the boat for the rigging. Turnbuckle parts, cotter keys, and clevis pins always seem to get lost or damaged just when you need them. If you trailer your boat, be sure that no part of the rigging hangs down and drags on the pavement. A few miles of this will wear the jaws right off a turnbuckle. It is also a good idea to secure the ends of turnbuckles to the rigging as it is common for them to vibrate loose and be lost on the trip to or from the water. Also avoid putting bends or crimps in the stays when coiling them for travel. With rudders or dagger boards made from wood, avoid storing these in direct sun as they may tend to warp.

The number one enemy of Dacron sails is friction and chafing, mainly against other parts of the boat. Wrap the stays, spreaders, and other parts that contact the sails, with tape or other "chafing gear" to prevent wear on the fabric or stitching. Keep a close check for wear in the area of the headboard and clew regions. Keep sand out of the bolt rope groove of the mast and don't allow the sails to get dirty or sandy. Inspect the sails before each trip for small rips or torn stitching and take care of it as soon as possible to avoid more extensive damage and higher repair costs. Clean Dacron sails in a bathtub with fresh water and mild detergent. Air dry the sails, but avoid direct sunlight and condensation on the "down" side. Never expose the sails to any source of extreme heat. Don't wash Dacron sails in a washing machine nor dry them in a dryer. Never cram your sails tightly in the sail bag, especially if they are damp. Fold them or stuff them loosely AFTER you have removed the battens. Try to keep the bag open somewhat and store them where air will circulate. Don't put clean sails into a dirty sail bag; wash the bag as well.