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Ask Sail: Refitting Shrouds and Backstays

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Rick Evans Chautauqua Lake, New York asks:

Q: The shrouds and backstay on my 17-foot Montgomery trailer-sailer are maybe an inch or so too long, even with their turnbuckles screwed down as short as possible. I’d hate to try and cut down the stainless steel tangs they are attached to make them fit. Can I cut down the threaded fittings on the shrouds? Or is there another way to shorten them just a tad?

Win Fowler replies:

A: Your shrouds and backstay can be shortened by the length of the swage fitting at either end of the wire. Given the wire size on your boat, one swage fitting should be less than three inches long, so if your rigging is now an inch too long, the turnbuckles should accommodate the reduction. Any rigging shop with a swage machine can cut off old fittings and put on new ones. If the upper end is an eye, it may be less expensive to replace than the lower threaded end.

However, I would be concerned that your long shrouds are a symptom of a more serious structural problem. Is your mast step getting lower? That’s something you’ll definitely want to deal with before it gets worse.

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