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  #1  
Old 11-17-2009
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Sailboat Rigging Danger

I'm not sure what general conclusion draw from this, other than you should inspect your rigging ( ).

This does NOT appear to be a criticism of swageless fittings in general, but they are cited in the report.

I thought that I'd share with y'all.

- Ed

November 16, 2009
Alert 07-09
Washington, DC

SAILBOAT RIGGING DANGERS

Recently in the Florida Keys, the standing rigging of a 60’ inspected passenger carrying sailing catamaran failed, causing its rotating wing spar mast to collapse. Evidence suggests that the port shroud parted where it exits a swageless mechanical end fitting located on the upper mast at a common shrouds/stay connection. Although there were a number of passengers onboard at the time there were no resultant injuries. A six year review of Coast Guard casualty data shows 28 similar type casualties involving inspected sailing vessels. Of those 28, nine involved the failure of mast, spars and rigging components leading to dismastings; six of those involved sailing catamarans. Two separate catamaran dismasting resulted in two fatalities.
Common among the dismasting casualties was the failure of the mast’s standing rigging. While this investigation is ongoing, initial forensic metallurgical analysis of the failed cable strands showed visual corrosion and evidence of fatigue failure. The shroud cable and swageless end fitting had been installed seven years prior.

The Coast Guard strongly reminds all commercial vessel owners/operators, especially those of passenger carrying sailing catamaran’s of similar build, of their responsibility to maintain their vessels, associated equipment, systems and components in a satisfactory condition suitable for their employed service at all times. Owner and operators should not wait until regularly scheduled Coast Guard inspections to identify problems but should be ever vigilant and implement routine inspection, maintenance, and repair procedures in accordance with good marine practice and in alignment with applicable requirements. Owners and operators should consult the vessel manufacturer or other naval architecture, marine engineering services or qualified rigger regarding any concerns they might have regarding the regular flexing and working of their vessel’s standing rigging

Inspection requirements for small passenger vessels are found in 46 CFR 175-185. Additionally, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, by consensus with their local sail vessel industry, developed Inspection Note #13 that outlines an enhanced inspection regime for sailboat rigging, masts and associated components for their inspected small passenger sailing vessel fleet consisting almost entirely of catamarans. This information is useful to both marine inspection personnel and vessel owners/operators and is available by searching the web using the key words: “Sector Honolulu Inspection Note #13”. Manufacturer published guidelines on mast and rigging system maintenance can be found in “Rigging Service Guidelines” http://www.navtec.net/docs/RiggingService.pdf published by Navtec Rigging Solutions. Practical standing rigging inspection information from a marine surveyor’s perspective is available at Sailboat Rig Problems - J. Stormer.

This safety alert is provided for informational purposes only and operational or material requirement. This does not represent an official endorsement of Navtech Rigging Solutions, Dixieland Marine Inc, its services, products, or employees. Developed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis, United States Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC. Questions can be addressed to Mr. Ken Olsen at the email address below.

Office of Investigations and Analysis: Homeport:* Investigations

To subscribe: kenneth.w.olsen@uscg.mil
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  #2  
Old 11-17-2009
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Here's the link to Sector Honolulu Inspection Note #13.
It says replace wire every 6 years, fittings every 12 years, and chainplates every 18 yrs. It also says to visually inspect regularly and replace any defects found, but it doesn't say what regularly is.

http://homeport.uscg.mil/cgi-bin/st/...e81da918c09605
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Old 11-17-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimHawkins View Post
Here's the link to Sector Honolulu Inspection Note #13.
It says replace wire every 6 years, fittings every 12 years, and chainplates every 18 yrs. It also says to visually inspect regularly and replace any defects found, but it doesn't say what regularly is.
That's within the context of a chartering multi-hull. Please read the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by USCG Sector Honolulu
DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Hawaii’s small passenger sailing vessel fleet is comprised of 95% multi-hull vessels that operate in more extreme wind and sea conditions than experienced by the national inspected sailing fleet, often with passenger loads at or close to the vessels’ capacities. The inherent high initial stability of multihulls due to their beam and the resulting stiffness of the hull, especially when fully loaded, translate more force directly to the rig compared to similar sized monohulls that roll out (heel over) as wind pressure increases. This combination of unique sailing design and a high wind operating environment make regular inspection of key components critical to good preventive maintenance.
But to answer your question; you should visually check your rigging at the deck level before each sail, and go up the mast at least twice per season to visually inspect the shroud attachments and tangs. On wire the most common failure is where it enters the swage, individual strands will begin to break as they reach their fatigue limit. There are other forms of failure (like cracking of the swage) but strand failure the most common. Rod rigging is more difficult to inspect and usually just requires complete replacement at ~20 years of service because proper x-ray inspection is not cost effective for rigging that is nearing the end of it's service life. It is not maintenance free; the heads should be regularly inspected for crevice corrosion (see navtec website for more info).
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Old 11-17-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeelHaulin
On wire the most common failure is where it enters the swage
This is different from what I heard from CatalinaDirect and from a local rigger who replaced a shroud of mine. They both said that wire rigging most often fails one wire-diameter inside the swege, making it difficult if not impossible to tell beforehand through visual inspection.
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Old 11-17-2009
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If your rigging is properly tensioned to between 10-15% of breaking strength; the broken (loose) strand should pull away from the tensioned wires. If that happens it would not matter if it breaks outside the swage or one wire diameter inside. The thing to remember about wire rigging is that it fails slowly; not all at once (in most cases). So when strands start breaking free it is very evident that the wire has reached it's fatigue limits and it is time to replace it; where in rod rigging it snaps and fails in most cases catastrophically. That is the reason to replace rod rigging or switch to wire at or before the 20 year mark or so (or sooner if it is a heavily raced boat).
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Old 11-17-2009
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The nice thing about the mechanical fittings is that you can take them apart and inspect for internal corrosion/cracking.

The fact that the fitting which failed was on the upper end of the shroud indicates the problem was less likely to be corrosion related, and was probably either misalignment or the rigging was undersized to start with.
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Old 11-17-2009
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insurance companies tend to say any standing rigging over 5 years old must be replaced when you buy a boat ,there is a reason for this.
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Old 11-17-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mintcakekeith View Post
insurance companies tend to say any standing rigging over 5 years old must be replaced when you buy a boat ,there is a reason for this.
Our insurance company didn't say anything about that when we bought our boat 12 years ago, and it was 16 years old then. We replaced the forstay this year when we installed a roller/furler. Rod seems to last a long time, but we do inspect it regularly.
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Old 11-18-2009
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Originally Posted by paulk View Post
Our insurance company didn't say anything about that when we bought our boat 12 years ago, and it was 16 years old then. We replaced the forstay this year when we installed a roller/furler. Rod seems to last a long time, but we do inspect it regularly.
Depends on the policy; my first policy with Farmers wanted to know how old the standing rigging was. I had to get receipts from a PO that showed a complete re-rig 2 years prior. I don't know what the age limit was but I think it was more like 15 or 20 years.

At 27 years old; your rod rigging should definitely be x-rayed, mechanically tested, or replaced. At minimum it should be dye penetration and/or load tested. Both require removal from the boat to do. The problem with rod rigging is that the fractures are microscopic and grow into one another. When the fractures get large enough in quantity the reduced cross section that is strong will then not be able to carry the load and then you have an instantaneous failure that results in a snapped rod. Visual inspection cannot tell you if it is fatuiging in this way.
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