Every other year seems to bring on the next major boat project ~ not to mention all of the smaller and seemingly constant ones.  Living aboard full time puts plenty of extra wear and tear on a boat, so it is important to keep up with maintenance.  We’ve done our share!  

Think:  windlass (2014)…  stern extension (2014)…  dodger (2013)…  watermaker (2013)…    outboard (2013)…  electronics (2011)…  chain (2010)…  sails (2010)…  generator (2010)…  rigging (2007)…  dodger (2007)...


After 8 years of use since replacing the stays in Connecticut before we left cruising, we decided it was time to replace the standing rigging.  The plan is to upgrade the wire a size from 3/8” to 7/16” ~ forestay, main shrouds & diamond shrouds.

Most importantly, we wanted to get rid of the T-ball fittings that have been the cause of failures and dismastings of several boats that we are familiar with.  These T-balls fit into sockets in the mast, so to replace them we will have new tangs welded onto the rig.

Based on reputation we wanted to get the work done by Mack Sails in Stuart Florida.  This is something you want to get right!  It’s been great working with Colin Mack, he’s very hands-on and knowledgeable… and thus started our lesson on what wear and tear looks like in reality.

The boom, jib & mast came off easily with a crane and a little help from our friend Clark (Double Wide), as Mark was down with the flu.  



Once down it was easy to inspect the stress points of the rigging, including chain plates.

One would think that these beefy 1/2” stainless steel bars are pretty impervious to even the great forces of a mast, yet we learned otherwise.

Both chain plates had hair-line cracks in them in the two obvious (if you are Colin) stress points:  (1) the hole for the toggle/turnbuckle and (2) the first bolt hole.  Colin noted that even though the load is expected to be distributed over the 10 staggered bolts, for some reason the first bolt hole appears to see more stress.  

Starboard chainplate

Port chainplate

The forestay chain plate on the stem-fitting turned up with a crack right in the middle of the plate.  

This seems like an unlikely place since it is not an exposed area and goes through the deck.  

You never know where corrosion might turn up once cracks start, even for shiny and otherwise good-looking metal.  This chainplate from an Island Packet sailboat tells that story.  

Lesson here is that metal ~ even good quality metal ~ has a lifetime.  Our chainplates are original circa 1998 and will be replaced.

The mast had twin stress cracks on either side at the point of the taper.  This region of the mast flexes with pre-bend and pumping on our mast with rocker so is simply a normal use issue.  The cracks are at the joint so re-welding will take care of this area.  

IMG_4110 IMG_4112

The T-balls ~ one of the reasons for starting this job in the first place ~ looked relatively crack-free.

So, besides the planned new wire shrouds plus toggles and tangs, we are now in for new chainplates and a stem-fitting.  And that’s not even mentioning our sail issues (!!).  It is a long story that we’ll share later, but suffice it to say that there is a new set of sails coming along with our upgraded rig, complete with new sail track, slides and battens…  ca-ching!  Better sit down...

© M&M 2019