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

Randall

Reeves Awarded CCA’s Highest Honor

The Cruising Club of America awarded Randall Reeves the 2020 Blue Water Medal for his solo Figure-8 voyage. The Figure-8 comprises a loop around the American continents and a loop around the Antarctic, keeping the Americas to port and Antarctica to starboard. The voyage was ...read more

BOOK-REVIEW-Ocean-Sailing-Cover---Bloomsbury-promo

Book Review: Cruising Club of America, Great Lakes Station

Reviewed by Amanda Balasubramanian As we were preparing for our first significant offshore passage in 2013, I read every book on ocean sailing I could find. However, while there were a number of helpful books full of technical information, I also longed for the personal stories ...read more

Henri-Lloyd

Gear: Henri Llloyd Fremantle Gear

Henri Lloyd looked to the past for inspiration when designing its newest line of racing gear—specifically the kit worn by Dennis Conner’s Stars and Stripes campaign (also designed by Henri Lloyd) during the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. The new collection, with its ...read more

Suggested Crop

Ask Sail: When to Use a Vang Sheet

TO VANG OR NOT TO VANG Q: Last year, I bought a new, fully-battened Dacron main for my 36-footer. Unlike the old one, the new main is loose-footed. I have a mid-boom sheet arrangement and a traditional (non-rigid) vang. Is the vang really doing anything? It seems to me that ...read more

PradaCup-2048x

Video: INEOS UK Advances to the Prada Cup Finals

On Saturday, in what was surely the most exciting race of the series, INEOS Team UK beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to earn a spot in the Prada Cup finals. The race was extraordinarily close, seeing shifty breezes, nine lead changes in just under 30 minutes and boatspeeds topping ...read more

BoatTalk-2048

VIDEO: Sailing Not just for Millionaires

Sailing and boating can come with a hefty price tag, but there are plenty of ways to get on the water without breaking the bank. In this episode of Boat Talk, SAIL's managing editor Lydia Mullan and Power & Motor Yacht's executive editor Charlie Levine share tips on getting out ...read more

Cornell-2048x

Elcano Challenge Resurrected

In late 2020, sailing legend Jimmy Cornell set off on his Elcano Challenge, a green-powered circumnavigation aboard the custom Outremer Aventura Zero. Unfortunately, shortly after setting out, the boat encountered major power-generation issues. "I took the decision to turn ...read more

F8V-BOOK-for-SAIL---1

Book Review: The Figure 8 Voyage

“What is the color of the ocean that rolls beneath Pacific trades? How does a wave curl and crash at 47 degrees south? Can an albatross remain awing in the worst of weathers?” Randall Reeves has always found images to be the most compelling part of the stories we tell about the ...read more