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Tartan 37 centerboard pennant conduit repair and hose replacement

A few months ago we re-rigged a Tartan 37 and as an added request the owner asked us if we would replace the centerboard pennant hose for him while the mast was down.

We had done a rigging inspection prior and found a crack in the headstay top swage eye.

Here is the crack from aloft – note how it looks a lot like a swage die scar










This is a picture of the swage after we cut it in half – cracked right through!










Anyway, the standing rigging replacement was fairly standard apart from the Harken furler being extremely difficult to take apart. In the end we managed to get it mostly apart, enough for us to replace the headstay without sacrificing the furler.
If you are planning on re-rigging your Tartan 37 (or any other sailboat for that matter) please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need advice or are looking for a knowledgeable standing rigging supplier.

Back to the centerboard pennant hose and conduit. This was a first for us, so we did a little research and inspected things before figuring out how best to tackle the job. The way the conduit is set up is as follows: the centerboard pennant exits the centerboard trunk in a forward direction about 6 inches below and 6 inches behind the mast step and all that is visible from the trunk is a short section of SS pipe approx 2.5 inches long protruding from the forward top edge. This short piece of pipe is connected to another much longer piece of SS pipe by a 6 inch long piece of hose with hose clamps and sealant. The longer piece of SS pipe runs forward underneath the mast step and then has a 90 degree bend that leads the pipe up through the center of the mast step and directly up inside the mast for approximately 4 feet. There is then an additional 2 feet or so of pvc pipe threaded onto the top end of the SS pipe to act as additional anti siphon height. The pennant hose runs from the centerboard, through the short SS pipe, through the 6 inch hose, up the long SS pipe and PVC section, then up the inside of the mast and out of an exit sheave a couple feet above the deck.

The following are pictures of the trunk exit-long pipe connection. Note the flexible hose connected with hose clamps.

Looking forward                                Close-up looking forward











Rusted hose clamps                         The hose was pretty rotten











The image below shows the two pieces of pipe where they almost meet. The mast step is to the left, the pipe exiting the trunk is slightly right. The old flexible hose is resting up on the trunk after we cut it off.









This is how to remove the long SS pipe, after disconnecting the flexible hose – yes, its hard to access and you might swear while disconnecting the hose clamps – tilt aft and lift up. Note the heat gun – we used it to help with the removal of the flexible hose. You can also see there is a small round plate welded onto the pipe where it meets the mast step. This is secured with three self tapping screws.









Initially we were planning on just changing out the flexible hose but after removing the hose we noticed that the stainless conduit was pretty badly corroded (almost all the way through in places) so we had the voids filled with weld (weld with high chromium and nickel content to avoid weld corrosion) and polished. The corrosion isn’t really unexpected because, as we know stainless steel in an oxygen starved environment is highly likely to corrode.

Here are before and after photos of the corroded pipe.












So now we had to re-install the conduit with new marine grade reinforced hosing. First we attached the hose to the end of the pipe, then we fished the pennant line up through the pipe, and then we inserted the pipe down through the step and aligned it with the short section that protrudes from the trunk.










The last step was fiddly, a little messy, but very doable. Install two hose clamps on each pipe connection, screw the round plate back onto the mast step and reattach the 2 foot length of pcv to the top of the long SS pipe. We actually added some sealant to the connections to help ensure a good seal.










Next step was stepping the mast after the re-rig. Don’t forget to prep the pennant to be fished up and out of the mast before you lower the mast through the deck collar.










Hopefully this post will help any Tartan 37 owners who need to work on their centerboard control system. Please feel free to comment on this post or contact us directly if you’d prefer.



Sailboat lifelines – plastic coated vs uncoated?

We significantly prefer uncoated 1×19 lifelines.
Here’s why:

Are your lifelines safe?

One of the principle means through which we ascertain the condition and safety of a sailboats standing rigging (spars, stays and shrouds) is through visual inspection. When performing a rigging inspection we look for signs of corrosion, cracks, broken wire strands, chafe, bent areas, or badly oxidized areas. This same inspection method applies when inspecting lifelines and when your lifelines are coated in a sheath of white PVC they are impossible to inspect safely. All we can do is to recommend replacement based on their apparent age and any visible defects close to the end terminals.

Note corrosion bleeding out through the plastic.

Note corrosion bleeding out through the plastic.

This is why the ISAF requires vessels longer than 28’ to have lifelines made of uncoated SS wire, or the equivalent HMPE (high molecular weight polyethylene) line , such as Dyneema or Spectra.

Besides being more resistant to corrosion, stainless steel 1×19 wire is stronger than the equivalent size stainless steel 7×7 construction plastic coated wire. Typical breaking strain differences are in the 30% range. So in addition to being easier to inspect, uncoated lifelines are significantly stronger.

We’ve heard proponents of plastic coated lifelines voicing concerns regarding the chafe of sails on coated vs uncoated lines, in our experience there is no measurable difference in wear and tear on sails from either product. We’ve been changing lifelines from plastic coated to bare for over a decade and never heard a complaint regarding this issue. If you have such significant damage to a lifeline that it results in “meathooks” on the wire it should be changed immediately anyway.

Another criticism of bare lifelines is that they are tough to hike out on for the crew sitting on the rail. In our experience neither bare nor plastic coated lifeline wire is comfortable to hike out on, we always recommend the installation of lifeline cushions for anyone who wants to provide any level of real comfort for their crew while racing.

Who knows what's going on underneath that pvc?

Who knows what’s going on underneath that pvc?

Have a look at the pictures in this article, which lifeline material would you rather place your trust in?

Stronger, easier to protect, and prettier too!

Stronger, easier to inspect, and prettier too!

We’d love to hear some feedback regarding this article.
If you are considering replacing your existing lifelines due to aging or damage, please CONTACT US with any questions regarding taking measurements, pricing estimates, or configuration of gates or lifeline cushions.

Top Down furlers. What are you waiting for?

Do you know what a “top down” furler is?
If not, watch this video from Selden about their GX top down furling system…



Check out their product catalog for both the CX and GX (Code zero) systems here – Selden GX and CX Furlers

Every client that we’ve supplied with a GX furling system has loved it! Flying a chute has never been so easy, especially when sailing short handed. Imagine being able to roll up your spinnaker just like your headsail roller furler?

If you have any questions regarding this product, or similar ones from other suppliers, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Rig Tuning Tips

Rig Tuning Tips

A rig tune is one of the most important aspects of the integrity of your mast. I cannot stress this enough. Incorrect shroud or stay tensions can result in catastrophic failures to your mast and endanger crew members.

Of course hiring a reputable rigger to do your tune is the best option, here are four areas to look at that will let you know at a glance whether or not your shroud and stay tensions are close to correct. Please keep in mind that these recommendations are in reference to the average cruising/leisure vessel with a sloop or cutter rig. The principles in general can be applied to most vessels though.

  • Lee side tension/slack. When you are sailing in up to 15kn of breeze, there shouldn’t be much slack in your lee shrouds. Any “rattle” or movement in the turnbuckle tangs (where the shroud attaches to the chainplates) is a problem.
  • Mast position and shape at the dock. Have a look up the back of the mast, everything should be in line, without and bends to either side. This is a very simple yet important inspection. Also stand on dock or side deck and look up the side of the mast. The masthead should be directly over the mast step, or in most cases, slightly behind the step, with a gentle bend forwards in the middle (a rig with an in-mast furler should be very straight fore and aft). There should NEVER be a bend in it that results in the middle of the mast bowing back towards the stern, and the mast head should NEVER be forwards of the step.
    Feel all matching shrouds (port vs starboard) to check for even tension. If there is a discrepancy between the port aft lower and stb aft lower for instance, this needs to be corrected.
  • Mast shape whilst sailing. When out sailing on a broad reach in wind above 10kn, go and look up the back of your mast. It should be in column, without any significant bends, especially around the spreader attachment points. If it is out of column you need to make adjustments to correct this. In all honesty this isn’t as simple as it sounds and I’d recommend getting in touch with an experienced rigger to do this.
    Do the same up the windward side of your mast, there should be very little “pump” fore and aft as you surge through waves. This is where adequate lower shroud and fore and backstay tension are important.
  • Interior. If you have interior doors or lockers that will not close, there is a possibility that your rig is overtensioned. Cap shrouds should be tightened to approximately 15-20% of breaking point. Going much beyond that can create weak points in the rig and risk a mast or rigging failure. Keep in mind that the interior inspection is not 100% reliable, as sometimes a correct tune will still cause misalignment inside.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Of course rig tuning is a very tricky subject to cover in a short blog post, but this should give you a good idea as to whether or not you need to have a pro come and look at your mast and rigging. Regardless, please make sure to have a rigging inspection performed at least once every two years, preferably at the beginning of every sailing season.

Please feel free to Contact Us with any questions or concerns regarding this, or leave a comment below.

Halyard Wrap, Diagnosis, Prevention and Repair.

Halyard wrap, diagnosis, prevention and repair.

DISCLAIMER: Although we will try to cover most aspects regarding halyard wraps, remember this is a BLOG and it is impossible to address every possible nuance and potential cause of these issues. It is always best to contact your local friendly yacht rigging service if you have any doubts as to how to deal with halyard wraps

In this post we will discuss some of the common causes of halyard wrap, how to spot them, and how to make sure they don’t happen again!

By far the most common cause (in our experience) of halyard wraps is a combination of poor halyard lead angle (the angle that the halyard makes when it exits the sheave box and runs to the top furler swivel) and lack of halyard tension.

To try and make this very simply. WHEN THE FURLER SPINS, THE HALYARD SHOULD NOT ALSO SPIN WITH IT. What is supposed to occur when furling and unfurling is that the halyard swivel allows the foil to spin while at the same time allowing the halyard attachment point, or top half of the swivel, to remain static. Most roller furling manufacturers recommend that there is a lead angle of greater than 7˚. If the manufacturer does not require this angle they install some kind of wrap preventer that is fixed to the forestay wire directly above the foil that (in theory) prevents the halyard from passing around the forestay wire. With poor halyard tension or condition, wraps can still occur to these systems.

To create the 7˚ lead angle one usually has to install a halyard restrainer of some kind. Harken makes one and so does Selden. The Harken restrainer is good for all rope halyards, while the Selden restrainer can accommodate both wire and rope halyards. The restrainer is mounted directly to the mast a few inches (depending on the situation) below the halyard exit point and the halyard is routed through it before attaching the halyard to the top furling swivel. The restrainer deflects the halyard downwards and then outwards towards the foil at an angle that makes it almost impossible for a wrap to occur, provided enough halyard tension is applied to prevent slack in the jib halyard up top. Even with the halyard undertensioned a good lead angle is usually sufficient to prevent wraps occurring

Another potentially cheaper way to create this 7˚ angle is to install a strop between the head of the sail and the swivel, this works if your sail is very short and leaves a lot of halyard running parallel to the foil. By installing a strop that allows the swivel to reach close to the top of the foil (minus a couple inches) you can potentially create enough of an angle to prevent wraps from occurring.

Furlers that have a “wrap preventer” attached to the forestay wire require that the preventer be tightly clamped to the wire so that it does not simply spin around when the halyard (or arm of the swivel) comes up against it. There are written instructions with these parts, follow them closely or they will not clamp tightly enough to the wire to be effective. Once they are worn out, replace them.

On halyard tension: When hoisting your headsail make sure to put good tension on the headsail, as if you were sailing in a good stiff breeze. Feel the luff to make sure it’s nice and snug. Sometimes a tight fitting boltrope can make a sail appear as if it is fully tensioned when in fact there is actually some slack up at the masthead. Feel that luff by hand before furling! If you are adjusting halyard tension whilst sailing, make sure to only slack the halyard once the sail is unfurled, and re-tension it before furling again.

An occasional cause of halyard wrap is a sail luff that is simply too long for the furler, thereby making it impossible to get adequate halyard tension and most likely pulling the top swivel over the top of the foil. This is bad. You should be able to see at least 1″ of foil sticking up above the top swivel with the sail fully hoisted. If you can’t, you need to shorten your sail.

How to diagnose the problem: This one is simple. If your furler is “jamming” or requires you to release a little and then furl some more in order to free it up, you most likely have a halyard wrap occurring. How to be sure? Break out the binocs or cast your eyes aloft whilst this jamming is occurring and watch the halyard. You will see it wrap around the top of the foil or forestay while someone is attempting to furl or unfurl it.

DO NOT PUT THE FURLING LINE ON THE WINCH. EVER! This is a wonderful way to break your forestay and potentially bring your rig down. If you are stuck out in a blow and can’t seem to get the sail to furl, depower it, let it flap, and keep trying. If it will completely unfurl but not furl up, unfurl it and drop the sail on the halyard. Winching it while a wrap is occurring is not going to help. At all.
Worst case, if a bad wrap has jammed everything and the sail is partly furled, obviously you can’t drop the sail, so remove the sheets and manually pass the sail around and around the foil to get it as under control as possible. WORST WORST case. Send someone aloft to try and free the wrap. If they can’t. Cut the sail off. Rather lose the sail than the mast.

A final word of warning: If you have been experiencing halyard wraps, and know that someone has attempted to winch the furling line to get it to furl, or that 250lb monster buddy of yours has heaved on it with all his might. Have a rigger go aloft (or you go aloft) and inspect the forestay at the masthead. There is a strong chance that the twisting tension on the forestay has damaged it. Look for wires that appear to be unraveled or even broken. This is VERY SERIOUS. You need a new forestay. Do not sail until one has been installed.

If you have any questions or comments we’d love to hear them. Please feel free to share this post with your friends through email or on Facebook, or Contact Us with any questions…