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Will the Mast Fall Down?

Yes, I finally got around to going up the mast to measure the standing rigging. The rigging is now over 10 years old, so due for replacement. The problem with stainless steel rigging is that you get crevice corrosion, which means that the steels gets eaten away in the areas where you can’t see it – down the cracks in the swaged terminals, for example. And then, when you least expect it, the mast falls down.

Not what you want.

So, in addition to regular inspections looking for those tiny cracks, it also means you have to replace the rigging by calendar dates.

So, up the mast I went again. Took me all day. And just as well we are planning the replacements, as I discovered a huge crack down the whole length of the swage terminal right at the top of our upper shrouds. It definitely wasn’t there last time I looked, and it definitely is there now.

So, as a temporary measure, I have hooked up the spinnaker halyard in parallel with the starboard shroud as a backup, and for now we will avoid sailing on starboard tack.

The plan is to use Dynex Dux for the rigging. This is Ultra High Molecular Weight Poly Ethylene (UHMWPE) (Dyneema, Spectra, Amsteel – they are all the same) that has then been pre-stretched at high temperatures. The result is a rope that is twice as strong as steel for the same diameter, has high chafe resistance (loggers drag trees, and fishermen drag nets onboard using this stuff), almost no stretch and very little creep. With a coating on it is also good for at least 10 years and probably over 15 years in the Caribbean sun (test for that are still ongoing).

It is also a lot lighter, and can be easily lashed and spliced. The only thing to avoid on it is sharp bends, so large radius thimbles need to be used when making eyes in it.

And, I believe, these days it is pretty much the same price as steel.

So, we shall see! I will keep you updated.

In the meantime, we are now on our way to Faro, via Albufeira and Vilamoura. There we shall be joined by my business partner Darren and his lovely wife LeeAnne. They will probably be with us for a week or so, and then we might jointly go inland to see some other bits of Europe. We shall see.

Last night we were anchored outside Albufeira, which was very pleasant.

Today we motored the 6 miles in flat calm to Vilamoura and anchored outside the beach there. We shall go ashore for the evening and see what we can see!

Then tomorrow we will head onwards to Culatra, just outside Faro.

Weather is still beautiful – blue skies, warm sunshine, water still swimmable (about 22 deg I believe), and usually a light sea breeze each day.

But, of course, the internet connections always suck.

Ah well.

One Response to “Will the Mast Fall Down?”

  • Heidi:

    We are now connected to the blogs again. If ;ou can only sail on a starboard tack, it seems you will be going in the same direction for ever!You may end up in Libya – not a good idea!

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