Confirming safety of Standing Rigging and essential systems - SailNet Community

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Old 04-07-2010
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Confirming safety of Standing Rigging and essential systems

I’ve recently taken over care and ownership of my family’s boat, an Albin Nibus 42. I grew up sailing on her, but until now have had little involvement in her upkeep and maintenance. She’s in generally good shape, I think, but I still have a lot to learn, and probably to spend, to keep her running well. I’m planning on thoroughly going through the boat to confirm the major systems are in order (ie standing rigging, steering systems, through hulls, etc).

Starting with the standing rigging: A recent article in Practical Sailor suggests a cruiser should have the rigging inspected and all the standing wire rigging replaced every 10-12 years…is anyone actually doing this? Our boat is 25 years old, we’ve never had a formal inspection, and have never replaced any of the wire rigging (it always looked fine). I’ll go over it when we recommission in a few weeks, but as I recall when I looked last season, there are no obvious problems (to my amateur eye) with the terminals, end fittings or swage fittings, no broken wire strands or visible rust. It may not be tuned very well, as we haven’t really known how to do that. Is it likely that the rig needs to be replaced just based on age (normal coastal cruiser type use over the last 25 years)? Do I really need a “professional” inspection, or is looking for obvious problems on my own good enough? I don’t want to skimp on safety (I’ll have my little toddler on the boat with me this summer), but I also don’t want to throw money at the boat unnecessarily.

Other similar questions: Is my own visual inspection of the steering system (I believe rack and pinion chain/cable), looking for obvious signs of wear in the wire, good enough, or do I need to call in a pro?

Through hulls: There are one or two that are covered with a thin, fine coat of corrosion/dust/rust, but the valves move fine and otherwise look secure. Is this superficial corrosion a sign that something more sinister is going on within?

Thanks….
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Old 04-07-2010
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... after 25 years, I think it'd be a no brainer to have a professional look your rig over. What are you saving if you don't? A few bucks in the bigger scheme of running a 42' boat. What would be the cost of losing the rig and replacement? (I'm also assuming the boat is not insured as an insurance survey will require some form of rig inspection.) Cough up the cash. You'll feel much better about it when it's been done and you know that the rig is sound.
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Old 04-07-2010
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It might be worthwhile to hire a surveyor to look at the entire boat, not just the rigging. Then you'll know what problems cropped up over the past 25 years.
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I would highly recommend you read the Boat Inspection Trip Tips thread I started, as it will help you get an idea of what is going on with your family's boat.

It might make sense to treat the boat as if you were going to be purchasing it... and get a survey, especially if anything shows up and triggers any alarms following your own inspection of the boat. Get a rigging and engine survey while you're at it. Between the three reports, you should have a very good idea of what the actual condition and status of the boat is.

One quick question—are the through-hull valves ball or tapered cone seacocks with a lever type handle or gate valves with a garden hose type handle? If the latter, the fact that they're moving and look secure doesn't mean a damn thing, and they really should be replaced.

I'd point out that most of this type of work can easily be done by any sailor that has a modicum of common sense and coordination. For replacing through-hulls, I highly recommend Maine Sail's tutorial on doing so. To learn about sealants I'd recommend reading my Marine Sealants in a Nutshell post on my blog.
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Old 04-07-2010
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Solid advice on all counts, and I would second what has been posted thus far.

I can tell you that most all riggers, and many people here, will tell you that you need to replace your standing rigging every 10 - 20 years, depending on use, location, etc.

They're not wrong. On the other hand, when you're taking over (or buying) a boat like this, there are many things that should be checked, replaced, etc. We have a 26 year old boat that we bought last year. We will eventually replace the standing rigging. And probably soon. But this year, we had a professional rigger inspect the entire rig, top to bottom. He found no problems. Is that a guarantee? No. Others will rightfully mention that you can't always see the problems. They are correct.

My only point here is that the advice to get the boat looked over by the pros, top to bottom, is good advice. And the results of those inspections will help you establish priorities on what, if anything, needs to be done first, and what can wait a little while longer.

Best of luck!
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I'd point out that the 10-20 year window has a lot to do with how and where the boat was used. If the boat was sailed only on nice weekends up in Vermont on Lake Champlain and stored for six months of the year, then 25 year-old rigging might be in perfectly good shape. However, the same boat, sailed every day, raced twice a week, year round down in Florida might need new rigging after only 10 years.
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Old 04-07-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I'd point out that the 10-20 year window has a lot to do with how and where the boat was used. If the boat was sailed only on nice weekends up in Vermont on Lake Champlain and stored for six months of the year, then 25 year-old rigging might be in perfectly good shape. However, the same boat, sailed every day, raced twice a week, year round down in Florida might need new rigging after only 10 years.
Agreed. In our case, our boat was in New England and the mast was pulled every year for nearly 6 months. Not the same as Florida.
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Old 04-07-2010
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Here is a link to an article with a number of photos showing examples of various rigging issues that might you help understand what a inspection looks for. Link> Sailboat_Rig_Article - J. Stormer
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Thanks to all who responded. Sailingdog, your posts on boat inspection were excellent, and the Stormer article produced sufficient anxiety that I've already called a rigger to come inspect the boat. A general marine survey probably is also in order as well, which I'll arrange. Probably $$ well spent now before something grim happens later...thanks to all...
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Just to follow up, I've called a rigger highly recommended by our yard, he laughed when I told him about recommendations to replace rigging over 15 years old, appreciates the sentiment as it's good for his business but states that the stainless wire and swaged terminals used on most boats built after 1982 fare much better than the stuff built up till that date, and it's not necessary to replace stainless rigging now just because of age, even if >30 years old. He's still going to do the survey for me, (and I'm going to get a general survey as well), but I'm reassured...just thought you'd like to know his response...
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