Ask the Rigger

camera downloads pictures 885 300x189 Ask the RiggerI own an older boat and I’m thinking of replacing some of the running rigging. What are your thoughts on the best type of line to use?

It all depends on what kind of sailing you are doing. You need to ask yourself, “Am I cruising around the bay, club racing and long-range cruising, or just racing full time?”

If you are cruising around the bay, you can get away with the lesser performance lines and go for price and durability. If you are club racing or long range cruising, you should go to a blended core to a full performance line for things like the main and genoa halyards. With control lines, you can get away with the lesser performance lines. If you are pushing the boat around the race course, the less stretch, the faster.

You should be using full performance lines with a low stretch core; the less stretch in lines transfer to the mast and boat turning energy into speed.

What’s the difference between mast rake and mast bend?

Mast rake is the angle of the mast fore and aft on the boat. It controls the center of effort of the boat, helping it point higher. Too much forward rake, the boat will turn down causing a negative steering moment. With too much aft rake, you will have to fight the rudder causing drag, which slows the boat down.

In a perfect world, you should have a couple of pounds of weather helm and rudder angle should not exceed three to seven degrees, unless steering wind shifts. You should tell your rigger during a mast tuning how the boat is performing. Mast bend is set to help your mainsail.

As a sail gets older you can increase the bend to get more performance out of the sail. When you order a new sail, the sail maker may ask to have you decrease the bend since the sail is new. The other thing bend does for you, is it flattens the mainsail in windy conditions helping you keep control and not getting over powered. Tell your rigger what you feel are the wind conditions you find yourself in the most. They will set the bend to fit the way you sail.

I’m looking for some new spinnaker sheets for my J-105, what brand do you recommend and why?

The J-105, just like most asymmetrical boats, uses a high heat covered line with a performance core. We taper the sheets, which reduces weight and leaves the core exposed. All line companies have equivalent line types. Color and feel is the only difference between most lines.

My anchor is always slipping, how much chain do I need and who makes the best anchor on the market today?

The anchor is probably the most argued boating topic ever. I feel that every type anchor has its purpose. We used to cruise with a CQR and a Danforth. The CQR was our workhorse. After getting a lot of education we switched to Mantis anchors. They use technology and NASA engineers to design their product. They added a roll bar that I know I could have used it in the past for more reasons than it was designed for.

When it comes to chain, we always carried 100’ on one anchor and 25 to 40’ on the secondary. That is all the boat could fit. Both anchors had 150’ of three-strand line; the more chain, in my opinion, the better. For storms we carried a bridal and another 300’ of three-strand that we could add in line to the scope. That worked for us.  You will have to find what works for your boat.
How can I keep my roller furling from overriding, it works for a while and then it gets hard to pull in.

You should control your furling line when you unfurl your sail. If you just untie it and unfurl, more than likely, it will get some loose rolls and possibly override. The other thing to look out for is the lead block into the drum needs to be at 90 degrees in the center of the drum guide. The last thing, is to make sure when the unit is furled, it has two wraps on the jib sheets and you should have at least five wraps on the drum.

Do you recommend buying a used roller furler?

We are against buying old furling units. Technology is so much better today than 10 to 20 years ago. Always remember there is a reason the furling unit was replaced in the first place. The foil connectors and bearings wear down over time. We end up having more time fixing the used unit than what a new one would have cost with installation.

Also, when fixing old units you don’t get a warranty, so even if you patch it, you will have to pay to repair it every time you have a problem. Most new units have a two to seven year warranty and rigging companies should back their work.

Alex Crowell is the owner of Bahama Rigging in Kemah, a full service shop for all sailboat rigging needs.

One Comment to “Ask the Rigger”

  1. Jim McKay says:

    How do I replace a worn drum line on my Hood roller furling? The line goes inside the drum rim and is secured inside the drum so that the knot is not easily accessible. It appears that the drum must be disassembled to access the secured end of the line. As a last resort, I have considered just splicing the new line to a small portion of the existing drum line.

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