Video Sailing Guide Part 3: Rigging And Sails

Ex-Olympic yachtsman and principle coach at Parkstone Yacht Club, Hugh Styles gives advice on how to prepare the rigging and sails of your yacht before taking to the water.

Video Sailing Guide - Part 3 - Rigging & Sails Transcript

Now we're on the boat we need to look at the mast and the supporting structure for that.

The supporting structure of the mast is a standing rigging - we need to check how the wires terminate into these turn buckles.

If there are any frayed wires then that's obviously pretty dangerous and we need to change those and get them upgraded and then we need to also check the thread in the turn-buckle in here. If there's any stripping of the thread then that's obviously also dangerous.

Now if we move further down then the articulation of these joints here on to the chain plate - we need to also check any cracks or any deterioration of the metal straps that we're attaching on to.

And then also looking further down into the actual structure of the GRP of the boat or the wooden boat if you have one - then any cracks that we see around the edges of the high stress areas where the chain plates attach to the boat are also key areas for us to focus on.

When we're looking at the mast we need to focus on the mast sitting into the bottom of the boat so that it's actually really well attached in at the base of the mast.

And then when we come through to the deck - the mast needs to be well sealed into the deck so that there is no possibility of water ingress. You can see here we have a rubber skirt that goes and attaches on to the tube - and then around, nicely attached in with a jubilee clip round the base of it on to the deck fitting.

When we're then looking at the mast we need to check all the halyard attachments - as you can see here we've got them on a nice stainless steel ring around the bottom of the mast, attached into the deck and the blocks are then all run in a direction that gives them a nice clear run into the back of the boat.

The halyard comes out of the mast and we need to make sure we check for any fraying on any of the areas that might have wear - and make sure we've checked the whole length of the halyard.

When we're looking at the boat where the halyards come down from blocks on the deck and run all the way back to the coach roof - where we need to check the clutches.

We also need to look at the turning blocks so the halyard comes down from the coach roof to make sure the turning block's shackles aren't elongated. As you can see here - the shackles are around a nice piece of stainless on the deck - but if there's any chance of the shackle being elongated or stretched then we need to replace that.

The halyards come through the coach roof on most boats and then come into a bank of clutches - where the halyards are controlled by the person in the pit. We need to check the functioning of each of the clutches by making sure we open and close them all and that they do actually activate on the rope.

So then we move to the winches where we need to ensure that we've lubricated all of the cogs, pulls and springs.

Looking at the rudder and the tiller - there's a lot of load that we put through the tiller in order to control the boat and the bearings in the boat are important for us to check for play and slop. There are two sets in the boat - one on the top and one on the bottom of the rudder post and we need to make sure we've really, really well greased and lubricated those when the boats out of the water so there's no issues of any looseness in the blade as we're sailing.

The traveller and mainsheet system are highly loaded - controlling the power in the main sail and we need to check the car here for the ball-bearings, the cleats that control the ropes on the traveller system and the blocks and cleats in the main sheet system.

When we look at the main sail there are several high-load points in the sail that we need to look at and double check - the clew and the reef points that go up the leech of the sail.

As we go further up the sail we have batons - which provide support for the trailing edge of the sail, now as you can see - we already have some wear and tear on this baton and that's something we have to get reinforced before the start of the season.

So on the main sail we have a headboard which has cringles that goes through the top and as you can see the first one of these has deteriorated so we'd need to really replace that. The bull rope as well - it needs to be nice and smooth so that it can easily run up the track in the mast and then the slugs and the baton cars which also run up the mast need to be easily and freely moving so that there's no chance of them catching as they go up and down.

So it's a good idea to take the head sails off the boat and double-check all the areas of wear on them - in particular looking at the clew and the tack - which is very similar. Various areas of webbing which we need to double-check all the stitching on both sides of the sail to see if any of the stitching's being worn and come undone.

The head of the sail is an area that's highly loaded and as you can see there's quite a lot chafe on some of the cloth around here. That's because of the fact that the sail runs up and down the head foil which is on the front of the boat on the forestay, and we end up needing to check a lot of the stitching up and down here to make sure there is no deterioration of the cloth and the bolt rope pulling away from the actual sail.

When we're sailing down-wind it's good to use a spinnaker. Now a spinnaker has several areas which are a high load and therefore wear out much quicker than others. These are the head and clew and we have a lot of stitching in these areas which we need to double-check as well as double-checking the body of the spinnaker and all the seams. Now the spinnaker is supported by the spinnaker pole - which you've got here, and this attaches on to the clew and the mast via a mechanism at the end here which we need to make sure is lubricated really well. The piston which is this barrel here has to fire - it's obvious that we have to make sure that works under load so lubricating, servicing to make sure there's a smooth action of that pin when we come to put it on or off the clew of the spinnaker or on or off the mast.

The anchor needs to be securely fastened to the chain and we need to have enough depth for the area of water you would normally be sailing in. We need to also mark the chain so we know what depth of water we're in and then the other aspect to look at is the warp that attaches this on to the dock - we need to make sure it hasn't deteriorated over the winter and that it gives enough springiness in the warp to make sure that the boat stays securely attached to the dock without sudden loadings from any breeze that blows the boat around whilst it's attached to the dock.

And finally the fenders - we need to make sure they're securely attached to the boat - with the guard rails and that they're at a similar height in-between the boat and the dock and that they're well spaced along the side of the boat - so they add the maximum amount of protection from the boat on the dock.

The last thing is that you need to have enough air in them so that they can provide sufficient cushioning so that the boat doesn't get pushed on to the dock by any wind.


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