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

Rescue

Cruising: Safety Lessons Learned

It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared. This ...read more

01-LEAD-'22.01.10_FALKEN-Maiden_Emma-Bow

At the Helm: Sailplans

The first thing you notice when you look at the sailplan for the Farr 65, Falken, which Mia and I recently added to the fleet here at 59-North, is the sheer number of headsails. Falken was built in 1999 as a racing boat to go around the world, and the crew would have carried the ...read more

01-PR-2-Throwing-it-Back-_©LaurensMorel

Racing Class Reunion

Where does an old VO70 go to retire? Right back to the racing circuit, apparently. This spring saw a remarkable contingent of Volvo Ocean Race one designs back on the water and duking it out on the Caribbean circuit. While it’s no surprise that some of the VO65 teams intending ...read more

05-Sailboats-moored-in-sheltered-waters-off-of-Kärrsön

Charter: Sweden

With 2,000 miles of coastline, 270,000 islands and seemingly countless bays and inlets, Sweden is truly a sailor’s paradise. One of the top sailing destinations here is the archipelago just outside the country’s second largest city Gothenburg (locally known as Göteborg), on the ...read more

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more