Quick question: Is the niagara 31 rod or wire rigging?
In either case, starting off by loosening the rigging and cleaning and lubing it is a good idea. Depending on the rig, you may or may not want to use a halyard as a safety line when doing this. Do one section at a time... and mark the turnbuckles so that you can get them back to approximately where they were when you're done cleaning and lubing them.
You really will want a Loos gauge. Don't bother getting the non-pro gauges, since they're not anywhere as useful as the pro Loos gauges. You may need more than one, depending on the diameter of the standing rigging on your boat. I got the two gauges last summer for less than $300. Rigging Only in Fairhaven, MA is a good source for them. LINK
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.