Skip to main content

Rigging Inspection

Mike Allen of Beaufort, South Carolina, asks: "My standing rigging is 22 years old. It seems to be in good shape, but there is some oxidation and discoloration. Is there an ultraviolet penetrating dye that can be used to inspect standing rigging, chainplates, turnbuckles and other hardware? If so, do you know of any vendors?" Win Fowler
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Mike Allen of Beaufort, South Carolina, asks:

"My standing rigging is 22 years old. It seems to be in good shape, but there is some oxidation and discoloration. Is there an ultraviolet penetrating dye that can be used to inspect standing rigging, chainplates, turnbuckles and other hardware? If so, do you know of any vendors?"

Win Fowler replies:

A penetrating dye is a useful tool for finding otherwise invisible cracks in metal. The most likely trouble spots are lower-end swage fittings, but all swages, chainplates, clevis pins and turnbuckles should be inspected. You can get a kit for doing this (Spotcheck penetrant is one brand), which you can find online or at an industrial supply vendor like W. W. Grainger (grainger.com). The kits are not cheap and contain noxious ingredients in quantities larger than you’ll need for a lifetime of boating. You may be able to find a professional rigger who can do the test for less than you’ll pay for a kit. This will also save you from the chemical exposure.

Unfortunately, the cracks that these dyes find are not the only potential failure points in an old rig. Internal corrosion, poor swaging, work hardening and wire misalignment can all lead to rig failure without showing visible cracks. Industrial X-ray machines can find most of these problems, but the process may be comparable in cost to replacing your rigging.

After 22 years, I would seriously consider just going ahead and replacing everything as preventive maintenance. The generally accepted lifespan of standing rigging is 10 to 15 years. Ask your insurance company whether you can save on your premium by completely replacing your rig. This might ease the pain considerably.

Related

maintenance-02

Cruising: Old Sailors Never Die

“Old sailors never die, they just get a little dinghy.” It may be a hoary old joke, but one of my problems at age 79 is I can no longer get easily in and out of a little dinghy, and neither can my (several years younger than me) wife. For this, and various other reasons I will ...read more

01-LEAD-DSC_0953

The Mighty Compass

Here’s to the humble magnetic compass, without a doubt the sailor’s most reliable instrument onboard. It’s always there for you and with the rarest of exceptions, always operational. Yes, I love my chartplotter, autopilot, radar and AIS. They help me be a safer and more ...read more

02-En-route-Jost-Van-D

Chartering: Swan Song in the BVI

Joseph Conrad once wrote, “The sea never changes.” And while this may or not be true, something most definitely not open for debate is the fact we sailors, “wrapped in mystery,” as Conrad put it, are continually changing—whether we like it or not. I found myself thinking these ...read more

220307FP51_1JML0332

Boat Review: Fountaine-Pajot Aura 51

If you can sell more than 150 catamarans off-plan before the resin has even hit the fiberglass, you must be doing something right. Despite costing around $1.1 million once fitted out and on the water, Fountaine-Pajot’s new 51 has done just that. The French yard has been at it ...read more

00LEAD-IMG-9035

Ready to Fly a New Sail

It’s a typical humid, southern Chesapeake Bay summer day when I show up on the doorstep of Latell & Ailsworth Sailmakers in the one-stoplight, one-lane-roadway, rural tidewater town of Deltaville, Virginia. I’m late getting here to work on a new jib for my 29-foot, Bill ...read more

m5702_RACE-AREA-6

Dates for the 2024 America’s Cup Announced

Ever since making the controversial decision to hold the next America’s Cup in Barcelona, Spain, instead of in home waters, Defender Emirates Team New Zealand has been hard at work organizing logistics for the event.  The Racing Area for the Challenger Selection Series and the ...read more

00LEAD

A Force for Change: Captain Liz Gillooly

I first heard about Capt. Liz Gillooly in 2016 from my cousin while working three jobs in our shared hometown on the North Fork of Long Island and living with my parents to save money for a boat. But despite being the same age and growing up only 13 miles apart, Liz and I never ...read more

291726157_3222349914654950_8713674249134934221_n-2-1024x684

Sailing in the Growth Zone

The Goal This year, I’ve had a specific goal to be a better sailor. Some people have laughed and said, “Why do you need to be a better sailor? This was my 22nd year racing on the same boat, with the same crew. I like to win and want to make sure we stay at the top of the fleet. ...read more