Towards the end of day 2 of my first work session with Inanda i decided i’d had enough of cleaning out the bilge and thought it would be good to start work on the rig and sails. Pete had kindly already shipped the bowsprit but not attached any of it’s rigging, that wasn’t a bad idea as it meant that had i been less than confident in moving the boat around in a tight space i could have quickly unshipped the prod again and thus reduced the total boat length by a good few feet. As it happened it was mirror-calm the morning i moved the boat for the first time and really gusty when i moved her back……which was entertaining as it was then a busy Sunday afternoon with an audience to entertain and yes it did go slightly wrong.
My first rig job was bending on the mainsail which i attached at all 4 corners and laced onto the boom and gaff, then attached the parrels. I wasn’t sure how the rest of the luff lacing worked and by then it was getting late as i had already done a 12 hour working day by then so i just rough-stowed the main for now and got its cover on. After that it was really too windy to hoist the sail and finish the lacing work.
What i thought i would do instead is quickly rig the bowsprit after Pete brought the cranse iron over : i’ve never had one of those before !. So i attached the chain bobstay, laced on the bowsprit shrouds (whisker stays) and attached the forestay. All of those are basically laced on with small-stuff lashings except that when i was heaving one of the lashings tight the old cordage literally broke in my hand and i fell over backwards…..almost went for an unintended swim !. That made me look at all the shroud lashings on the boat and most of them were similarly old, thin and crusty/work hardened so i decided to replace them all with thicker material but far less runs per shroud. To my eye the lashings all look too long as the distance between eyes is something like 10 inches, i don’t know why i feel that’s too much but when i replace shrouds i will have them all made longer and have a shorter lashing span. It’s almost as though they are intended for deadeys rather than simple lashings. I know there are some neat modern deadeyes about for small rigging solutions and that might be one way to go. Over time i will want to replace all the shrouds including the bowsprit stays. She is currently rigged with all galvanised wire which is getting a bit rusty and the obvious thing is to re-rig with that. As it’s the kind of work i used to do day-in and day-out at Dickies yard i could just get a load of wire and a hand swaging press and do the whole job myself. The alternative solution i am looking at is just to use Vectran and have ‘soft’ rigging all round.
The old lashings are a mixture of 2 and 3 mm 3 strand and multi-strand but all very crusty and stiff. Some of that might just be salt but with lots of rain over the winter i suspect that it’s just old and sun-damaged cord. As the shroud lashings and shackles are a critical component i decided to replace all the lashings in one go and any of the galvanised shackles that were at all rusty. Generally i took shackles out of the system wherever i could, in the shrouds for example there is now only one shroud that has a shackle at the wire terminal and only then because the hard-eye is too small for a good lashing. The new lashings are all 6mm braid on braid, 7 turns of that by far over-match the strength of the shroud wires. Several of the shrouds will need replacing this year, i am tempted to investigate modern ‘soft’ shrouds for some of them as they will be better for less chafe. The chain bobstay is temporarily replaced with a thick piece of rope until i can get a new ‘posh’ one made. That’s the one place where i might stay with stainless steel for abrasion resistance or have a system whereby all tension can be taken out of the bobstay and it be held up against the prod when i am anchored….a soft stay on a tackle for example. Thinking about it further…the outer forestay doesn’t do much work except hold the bowsprit up and resists the aft pull of the mainsheet. The main load on the bowsprit and masthead will come from the jib which is on its own wire stay and is heaved up hard on a handy-billy.
New shroud lashings for now. Aft 2 shrouds look less than healthy. Marilyn is temporarily stowed at the shrouds but needs some nice chocks.
Pete spotted that i had got the bowsprit wires on back to front and queried the rope bobstay, being a bit concerned about chafe. I agree that chafe would be a problem if the anchor chain was allowed to grind away on the stay. The boat does have a very heavy, mainly chain anchoring set-up and that is something i will be changing very soon to my usual system of 2 boat-lengths of lighter (but stronger) high-spec chain and lots of nylon. For now if i anchor i will be using a chain hook on a nylon strop so that the chafe would be rope-on-rope .
The job of just re-doing 13 lashings took an entire afternoon what with hauling the rig back a bit to do the aft (caps) first and then letting it forward again to do the rest. I also completely used up the 50 metres of 6mm braid that i bought. Inanda doesn’t have any backstays of any kind so she relies on the aft cap shrouds to pull the forestay against. Pete did think i had got the shrouds as tight as was acceptable on the boat without putting undue stress on the seams. I am very tempted to add running backstays for windward sailing as the amount of forestay sag and luff-sag is obvious in the sailing photographs. Just thinking out loud here about stay-loads, compression-loads and stresses on an old boat…..i want the boat to sail well and that does mean being able to get the jib luffs a bit straighter and harder than they are now. With very little component of aft lead in the shrouds it would need lots of tension in those 2 aft shrouds to counter the forward pull and keep the luffs taut. Pre-loading those shrouds any more probably isn’t good for the boat at this stage in her life and especially until i get the frames sorted. A serious alternative would be to rig running backstays and preventer stays to the hounds and masthead respectively and run those to a point-in-space aft with a tackle to heave them back with…..essentially a maxi-boat runner system. The tension is then only ‘on’ when i need it and ‘off’ with the boat at rest. Sometime i must talk about Tim and Pauline Carr’s solution with an even older boat that they turned into a total race-beast with a gaff rig and were able to have a straight forestay.
The current jib system is that she is obviously cutter rigged with her jib on a Wykeham-Martin furling gear and that is heaved up tight with a handy-billy. What that means is that when the jib is up there are essentially 2 things acting as forestays as the jib has a wire luff. That puts double the necasary compression load in the rig at those points and is a very old-fashioned way of doing things. In the future i might consider a modern (soft) roller-furling system coupled with running backstays so that those loads are all in one place and reduced overall. Certainly it would be a good idea to have an easily managed reefing and furling system on all the sails. Working at the mast to put reefs in looks ok as there is reasonable space at the mast. The mains’l reefing seems to be a conventional slab-reefing system but with reef nettles as well. If i can reduce the need to work forward i will do and i suspect that i will heave-to to do sail changes like that….with a long keel she should heave-to properly. The one thing that i might bring aft is the staysail halyard which needs a purchase in it….the stays’l is what really powers the whole rig up (from my experience with cutters so far)
Thinking ahead one thing i will do is make the boat more secure for me to move forward as most sail handling will be done at the mast. What i am working on right now is a plan for a fixed sprayhood frame over the raised section of coachroof which would have a soft (rope) handrail going to a braced stanchion at the forward end of the coachroof….back to the pilot boat idea but with 2 fixed ends and string.
I have never used a Wykeham-Martin furling gear either but it does look as though the idea is to attach tack and head to their respective furler components, run the tack out with it’s outhaul and then hoist the sail as a furled unit, it certainly isn’t a jib reefing system. Inside that of course is a conventional stays’l on hanks and that definitely needs a new and more powerful halyard. Many of the boat’s blocks are cutesy wood which look lovely but i might replace the ones aloft with more reliable modern ones ‘tarted-up’. The next job with the rig will be replacement of most of the old halyards and maybe add lazy jacks for that long boom and gaff. As she is set up at present the only lines aft are her sheets but i may alter that such that i can top-up the boom from aft and furl the jib from the cockpit as well.
Clare Thomas photograph.
So, quick jobs summary. (future jobs list)
Replace all shrouds….investigate ‘soft’ rigging.
Experiment with running backstays/preventer stays.
Re-rig bobstay with either wire or ‘haul-up’ system.
Replace all halyards
Change stays’l halyard to 2:1 and lead aft.
Replace blocks aloft.
Rig lazy-jacks and lead aft.
Run VHF cable externally up one shroud.
Alan said : ”