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Old 02-19-2012
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Going Aloft with Forestay Removed?

Hi all,

So we're (still) in the process of trying to get an odd type of roller-furler working that came with the boat. We're down to replacing the upper bearing assembly. Can't find an original since I'm pretty sure the company is out of business, and I don't think many of these exist anymore (every time I describe it to experienced sailors, the response is "a furler that works with hanked on sails? Never seen one of those." So we've got an upper bearing assembly from another furler that's as close as we could find to what we need. Naturally this requires a bit of rig cobbling to get it fitting right. (Using only the strongest components).

ANYway, all of this has necessitated several recent trips up the mast for me, with the forestay disconnected. I wondered how sturdy the rig was without the forestay, but since my weight is hanging off the front of the mast, I figured if anything, the backstay was the important stay. I've always heard that the shrouds do the majority of mast support work anyway. So I've been up several times with no problem.

Today, as I was tying up to do it again, a fellow sailor walked by, saw what we were doing, and announced that we needed to rig a temporary forestay using one of the halyards. He seemed quite taken aback when we explained we used both halyards on the bosun chair, one as a backup (which I thought was standard practice?).

I've since tried to research this issue but have been finding a lot of conflicting opinions, most without good reasons to back them up. So I'm wondering if anyone with good knowledge or experience can tell me why I should - or should NOT - be nervous about doing this without rigging a temporary forestay. Is the supposed security of a temp forestay really worth foregoing the redundancy of using the second halyard as a safety line?

Details:
1984 Catalina 27, standard rig, keel-stepped mast (supposedly, can anyone confirm that?), 4 lower and 2 upper shrouds. All chainplates relatively new and in good condition.

Thanks for any thoughts!

Joe
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Old 02-19-2012
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Yes, you need a halyard rigged as a forestay, my god...

The rest of what you wrote also seems insane, but if nothing else - clip a halyard somewhere up front before you go up again..
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Old 02-19-2012
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What all seems insane about this? And WHY do I need a forestay, when if anything my weight should be pulling the mast FORWARD? I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just trying to understand. That's why I asked. I don't just want to be told what to do, I want to know WHY?

Thanks!

Joe
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Old 02-19-2012
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Hi Joe, you need a forestay of some sort attached for basic safety - unless your boat is somehow "leaning" forward guaranteeing that you are indeed always forward of the mast, you're not, it just seems that way to you from your perspective.

And even if that were the case, it's still unsafe. You have at least two halyards, clip one to your chair and the other up front. It's the way it should be done at a bare minimum in my opinion.

The rest of what you wrote, while not really insane, seems to indicate that you don't have much experience with standing rigging yet and that you might think that it's less of a big deal than it really is to have safe standing rigging. Losing a mast to "hobbled together" rigging and weirdness aloft is bad and can be dangerous to your health. This stuff really matters...

Hope that makes sense?
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Old 02-19-2012
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Quote:
Details:
1984 Catalina 27, standard rig, keel-stepped mast (supposedly, can anyone confirm that?), 4 lower and 2 upper shrouds. All chainplates relatively new and in good condition.
If your Keel stepped it should be pretty obvious...The mast goes continously through the cabin roof and to the sole of the boat...Otherwise there would be a deck step of hinge/pin arrangement on cabin roof...

If you are keel stepped I would thing your plenty safe going up sans forestay as the mast itself is vertically supported and would have to bend/break under the leverage of your weight...

If it is deck stepped you don't have that support and are balancing on a hinge...much more dangerous...
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Old 02-19-2012
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Joe, your questions highlight your lack of knowledge regarding maintaining a rig safely.

I agree with others you have taken risks which could have resulted in your serious harm.

You may feel doing it yourself is worth the effort to learn but the cost of failure in both personal and financial loss could be great. If you don't understand why you could have ended up riding the rig down as it collapsed, you probably also don't have the knowledge to understand how to repair the furler.

I watched my first furler fail several times after it was installed and repaired by a rigger, its hard to pretend an inexperienced person can do it right first time.

Be careful, if you are not sure get a tradesperson to do the repairs safely.
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Old 02-19-2012
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Whenever possible I try and buck the trend. Not here though. Attach your jib or spinnaker halyard to something strong up forward, and crank it down before going aloft.

The mast itself is not strong, the rigging holds it up. Without rigging up forward, it is vulnerable to ANY forces that would pull aft on it. Personally, I wouldn't (and haven't) left my rig, even overnight, without a headstay or a halyard in it's place.

How sure are you that your mast if totally vertical, and that your boat sits level? When you're at the top, working on your furler, the vectors of force are (hopefully) downward but they aren't forward. It would be very easy to put an aft force on your rig (boat wake, you slip etc) and it might come down.

Attach a headstay and be safe. As for not being told, and the WHY of attaching a halyard.... well that's either a simple knowledge of geometry and/or experience talking, and I have little of either...

Your rig is deck stepped by the way, not keel stepped, which magnifies the problem.

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If you are looking for parts, please check out the video referenced in this thread:Video: A hank-on headsail furler?

If it looks like the one in the video, it's a "mariner" furler.

I hope that helps.

MedSailor
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Guys,

Thanks for the replies. I do understand what you're saying in general - my first impulse was to rig a halyard as a forestay as well... but it would mean losing a safety line. The only alternative I can think of to that is to take a length of line with me, and tie and retie it as a rolling hitch around the mast every couple feet. That's not really practical and frankly, no matter how much I know it would PROBABLY catch me, I have trouble with the idea of trusting a knot tied to a smooth vertical column to arrest a fall!

So I had to decide which one was more important, and frankly the failure of a single line (halyard, if I use the other as a forestay) seems more likely to me than the failure of the whole rig, from just my weight. I do understand that, if the mast is raked aft a bit, my weight is not necessarily pulling forward... but I've always read that in rigs with multiple lower stays (that attach at different points), the shrouds do most of the mast support work. Is this not true? Sure, I'd prefer to have both temp forestay and safety line... but we only have 2 halyards. Does anyone disagree that a line failure is more likely than a rig failure, given how we're rigged?

Regarding my basic lack of rigging knowledge... sure, I am not a rigger. But at the same time, what we're trying to do is not quantum physics. We're talking about a cable with a couple swivels on it, held together with clevis pins, right? We're replacing a bearing assembly... with one that is stronger. It's also slightly shorter, so we need to add a little length... with a fitting that is probably stronger than the cable. I just can't see how complex we need to make this particular job???

I appreciate your general concern. I obviously have a bit too, hence posting the question in the first place. But I'm trying to work through this on logic and facts, instead of general feeling. So if what I've done is unsafe, I'm trying to figure out exactly why? How could the rig have failed, given that it should be shroud supported (unless I've read inaccurate books)? I mean, the forestay is generally slack at the dock anyway, with the backstay tensioner slacked off (on the advice of several sailnetters plus a marina neighbor who keeps his C27 that way and IS a rigger).

Anyhow, I appreciate the input and don't mean to sound argumentative. But I'm still looking for actual facts as to WHY. So far, Squidd has provided one - not just because I agree with it, but because it's an actual fact that makes engineering sense.

Can anyone else come up with specifics either way?

Again, thank you for all the input...
Joe
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Hey, thanks for that thread, med. And I do understand the force vectors as you mention them... but still, aren't the shrouds doing the main mast support? If they aren't then I've read several inaccurate books and treatises on rig trim - not an impossibility, certainly.

So you're telling me you'd REALLY trust going aloft with one halyard more than you'd trust multiple shrouds to support a mast?

Re: mast stepping, we were told during the survey that the mast was keel stepped. It certainly APPEARS keel stepped, with no obvious fixture holding it at the deck. I've seen references to C27s both ways online, hence the confusion... but I guessed that if it were deck stepped there'd be a pretty obvious fixture where it meets the deck, no?

Thanks again...
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