Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: SF - South Bay
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Re: I bought my first boat.. now i have a million question
Photos may help.
Some terminology: Standing rigging holds the mast up (keeps it standing). Shrouds are the wires on each side which hold the mast up - you probably have 3 each side. Stays are front and back (forestay at the front, backstay at the back). Shrouds are connected to the hull using chainplates, which are normally bolted to a structural element.
You got a full survey before buying the boat, right?
If the shrouds are indeed attached to a rotten piece of 2x8, I would not sail until it is repaired. The forces on a shroud in moderate winds are enormous; if the chainplate tears out, the rig will come down. This would be bad. Also, stainless steel doesn't rust unless it is trapped in a damp, airless environment - like bolted or buried in a piece of rotted wood - so your chainplate may also be compromised. Any small crack in a chainplate is red lights and sirens!
Please do not sail until the situation has been professionally addressed.
As for a roller furler, there are strong feelings pro and con. On the positive side, it is definitely convenient. On the negative side it may prevent you from getting the best shape from your sail - so racing boats rarely have furlers, cruising boats often do. I would suggest that your priority should be to ensure the boat is safe and dry - standing rigging has been checked, essential maintenance completed. Then, if you have any money left over, look at a roller furler.
If you do decide to install one, the mast does not have to be removed - but the forestay does. So you need to be sure the mast is supported during this process. A professional installer may be able to advise.