My personal opinion...
Synthetic rigging is a neat idea, but still in the early stages. We know wire rigging lasts a long time because it has been around a long time. synthetic rigging might last a long time, but that has yet to be proven.
For racers looking for a performance gain, people who like to experiment and be on the leading edge, even if they fall off a time or two, people who can afford the risks of experimenting I think synthetic rigging is a good and interesting option.
For me personally, it is still a bit too new, and I would not want to be sailing off shore or in remote areas with it, nor take the chance of things going wrong. I am just not at a place where the risks of trying it are worth the benefits. Others are and good for them, that's the only way it will get tested for the long term. Which camp are you in? Only you can decide, but from your post, I would advice to stay away from synthetics for the reasons listed above, but that's just advice.
As for changing the rigging yourself, if you have the mind and the time, I say go for it, but if you can find a professional rigger to get the materials from and perhaps some advice and a little help if needed, that might be a good idea.
I wanted to do a lot of the rigging on our boat to save money but more to know the rigging well, but due to time and the distance form the boat I was not able to do much. I worked with Port Townsend Rigging (In Washington State) and really enjoyed working with them. They let me do a bit of the work, as long as the mast did not take up room in there yard too long, and billed by the hour for their work. So basically, if I could cut down their work, I saved money, if I needed a lot of help and got in the way and made their portion take longer, it cost me more.
I was there when the mast came down and helped, and then stripped all the old rigging off, labeled it and rolled it up so the riggers could use it for reference. I rewired the mast (electrical) and after the new rigging was ready to attach, I worked with one of the guys to get it all attached to the mast and then was there and helped a bit getting the mast back up and installed.
I feel this worked well for me in my situation. I feel I was treated very fairly by the riggers, was able to save a little money doing a few things, was able to learn a lot through the process and was able to rely on the riggers knowledge when odd things came up (which many did).
For instance, I wanted to move from rope/wire halyards to all rope, but the sheaves where for wire only as the rope never reached them. To compound the issue, the mast head slots where not wide enough to take standard sheaves. The riggers saw the problem, called a local machine shop they work with regularly and had custom sheaves made at a very reasonable price, and suggested the correct line we would need for the halyards as they would need to be a bit undersized to fit through the mast head.
Figuring out all of this would have taken me a very long time, and likely would have cost me a lot more to have the sheaves made, after I bought the ones that would not fit, etc. Of course working with a different company I may have ended up getting taken to the cleaners with all of this, but again, I feel they handled it well and treated me very fairly, I would recommend them to anyone in the area.
Swagged vrs. mechanical fittings is another big debate. I originally wanted to go with all mechanical fittings as I could do them myself and work on them myself should I need to replace a stay at some point. Port Townsend Rigging could have actually made more money selling me mechanical fittings, but instead talked with me for quite a while about the different technologies, and I finally decided to go with swedged fittings and get a couple of mechanical fittings for replacing wires at sea if needed. In the end, it was cheaper to go this route then to get all mechanical fittings and assemble them myself, and I am very confident in the quality of the swedged fittings.
As an avid do-it-myself-er, it was a little odd to hire the riggers rather then doing it myself, but in the end I am very happy I did. Standing rigging is a very crucial part of the boat and a major safety concern. I feel I got a rig I can trust, and learned enough to be able to work on it myself in the future in a pinch, and all for a reasonable price.
But if you have the time and desire, doing it all yourself could be a fulfilling way to go to.
1964 Islander 32
Saint Helens, OR
Last edited by IslanderGuy; 09-28-2010 at 01:10 PM.