No rigging, no sailing!!  There have been a few close calls recently so we thought we would collate the information in one place so we can all learn and sail more safely.  Mostly this has little to do with the age of a boat - rigging failure can occur at almost any time.  But simple precautions can go a long way to preventing it.

(Click on the pictures for larger versions)

Rigging in general

Rigging has a limited life and should be inspected regularly.  The high tensions involved will expose the slightest weakness in the components involved, sometimes with disastrous results!  Most insurance companies insist on periodic inspection and replacement - with good reason!  Even if they don't, you should have your rigging checked every few years.  I know from experience!  When we bought our boat there was no record of rigging work at the time.  Some years later, we had a catastrophic failure of the upper stay leading to a broken mast.  The corrosion that caused it was not obvious and was entirely contained inside the swage at the bottom of the stay.  We were out of the rest of the season and out of pocket!  Around 5-7 years is the expected life of rigging but it should probably be inspected before then.


The U-bolts that attach the end of the stays to the plates below deck are the cheapest component to replace but easily ignored.  The picture shows what happens when they fail - it happened to 2 of the fleet in the same season.  You need to periodically check that the nuts are tight and regularly check the bolts by completely removing them.  Corrosion happens in the area that passes through the deck.  If you're unsure, replace them!  A new bolt (Likely to be a Ronstan RF544, but check yours) will cost you less than $20 each at Whitworths and may save you a mast!

Chain plates

The 60cm long stainless steel bars that attach the deck plates to the hull look like they should outlast any other component on the boat!  It turns out that the design leads to lateral pressure on the plate and, as we experience just recently, can lead to the it
snapping.  Fortunately that's all that snapped!  We decided to replace both bars at the same time and, as shown (left), the other one was also in the process of failing - maybe not so far off.  If your plates are like ours, you can check for "deflection" of the bars by placing a straight edge along them.  They tend to bend at the top bolt hole (arrowed) that secures them to the hull.  If the bar  is not straight like the one in the picture, it has been bent by the rigging and should be removed for inspection and, most likely, replaced.  If you're not sure, removing the bars to check & re-installing them is only the work of a couple of hours.  (If you mark your turnbuckles carefully, you'll know how much to re-tighten them afterwards).  We replaced ours with thicker, wider steel bars with holes drilled only on the centre line.

I've also included a picture of the deck portion of a plate from another Cav 28 that was probably damaged in a collision.  The owner had a pair of new plates made - once again from higher grade steel.

Rigging events in the last few years - make sure it doesn't happen to you!

U-bolt failure (2 boats)
Stay failure, broken mast
Badly corroded mast - replaced before failing
Snapped chain plate
Almost snapped stay