I recently bought a new boat and the stays and shrouds look really loose. How do I go about "tuning" the rigging?
Dan Dickison responds:
Thanks for your question. What you need to know is that rig tune for performance generally dictates that you have more tension on your shrouds for windier conditions, and less for lighter conditions. However, if you're not interested in performance, and you simply want to ensure that your rig tune is approriate for the boat, we recommend that a little overtuning is probably the way to go.
First, make sure that the mast is straight in the boat from side to side. You can do this by using your main halyard to measure the distance down to the sheer on both the port and starboard sides of the boat. Just be sure that you measure to locations that are equidistant from the bow of the boat on each side. If the mast tip is in the center of the boat, then you just have to site up the aft side of the mast to make sure that it's straight. If it has a bend to port up high, it's likely that you'll need to tighten the starboard upper shroud, and vice versa. The idea is to keep track of the number of turns on the turnbuckles so that you can always get the mast in the ballpark regarding tuning.
Now that you've gotten it straight, take the turnbuckles one and a half turns beyond hand-tight and you're ready to go sailing. Pick a moderate air day and once you're out sailing, check to see if the leeward shrouds have any looseness to them. This isn't necessarily bad, but if it gets windy, you want them to be snug. So simply use your tools to tighten the shrouds incrementally. Tight the leeward ones first, then tack, and then tighten the ones on the new leeward side. After you get back to the dock or your mooring, site the mast again to make sure that it's still straight. If it is, then you should be good to go for the season.
Here's hoping that this information helps you. Should you need more indepth information, you can always call the experts at SailNet's Spar Shop at 800/234-3220. Good luck.