ROnstan Orbit

Ronstan Ball Bearing

Harken Black Magic

Harken Ball Bearing

Holt Snatch Block

Holt Snatch Block

Just as there are many rope choices, blocks (or pulleys as many refer to them) also have a vast array of manufacturers and designs. Holt, Ronstan, HarkenSchaeferLewmar, are just a few of the options available to choose from. If you head down to your local chandlery, you will see that aside from the super “Gucci manufacturers” (like Karver), that Harken and Ronstan are the clear choice when it comes to ball bearing technology. When looking for a quality ball bearing block you want to make sure that those little balls aren’t made out of cheap white plastic. Instead, make sure those ball bearings are black instead of white, they’ll last longer. The same goes in regards to the sheaves themselves, the white ones will disintegrate quickly from U.V. and are not worth the hassle considering their lifespan. The best kind of ball bearings that I have come across are of the Torlon variety. The Torlon ball bearing, as far as I know, can only be found in the Harken and Schaefer block line-up (there could definitely be others). Of course you don’t always need the rip roaring action of ball bearings. So in some applications, like a boom topping lift for example, you are better off with a non-ball bearing or plain bearing unit. Although ball bearings are nice, less moving parts makes for less maintenance. When it comes to choosing a good sturdy non-ball bearing blocks, I like Schaefer Marine’s black sheave lineup.

Schaefer Block

Schaefer Non-ball Bearing

Lewmar Ball Bearing Block

Lewmar Ball Bearing Block

KArver Ball bearing block

Karver Ball Bearing Block

Yes, there are better/fancier/pricier blocks out there that are great, but I find these products unnecessary and overdone in most cruising sailboat configurations. Long story short: if you are looking for good quality yet well priced ‘ball bearing action’, look to Harken or Ronstan! For something sturdy yet something that doesn’t require the speed of let’s say a spinnaker sheet block, then I recommend Schaefer’s black Delrin sheave blocks. Check them all out for yourself and tell us what you think. What is your favorite block and why? We’d love to hear from you!

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Views from Aloft

Muller Marine from Aloft

Our Views from Aloft segment made it’s 2014 debut last week at Muller Marine in beautiful downtown Eastport, Annapolis, MD.

Back Creek at the Severn River from Aloft

Here I went aloft using our self hoist.

J105 from Aloft

J105 from Aloft

This was a full inspection for insurance, not part of our FREE inspection promo.

Bubble Cam The Rigging Company


This type of inspection covers every rigging related nut, bolt and pin via our 10 page inspection/survey inspection packet.

Eastport Yacht Yard from Aloft

It was a beautiful day (finally), but a gusty one. Welcome to Spring and thanks for taking a look at the view.


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Lubricants for Sailboats!

There are many lubricant products that all claim to do different things, or do they? So it is easy to see why this can become confusing. Not to mention there are even more lubrication products becoming available on the market every day. I have been on many boats and usually see mixture of WD-40 and some sort of dry lubricant or silicone spray. Rarely, do I see grease of any kind unless it is for some sort of engine related use. Today I would like to talk about what lubricants pertain to your boat’s rigging, what you need to keep on board, and what can stay a-shore.

WD40 for boats

Spray Lubricants; Aero KroilLiquid WrenchT-9 Boeshield or PB Blaster are exceptionally good penetrants. They can come in very handy if you need to lubricate in-between tight places like the threads of a seized screw for instance. These types of lubricants can typically be left at home. Usually you only need break screws free if you a working on something that has severely lacked maintenance, which is usually part of a bigger project like a mast and rigging refurbishment. Although it says on the can that WD-40 is a penetrant, it wouldn’t be my first choice for achieving lubrication or penetration over the aforementioned products. That is not say that WD-40 isn’t a GREAT product. It can definitely come in handy in various marine applications. Our shop will generally use WD-40 to clean, de-grease, and dissipate moisture. Namely in servicing a boats winches (you can read more on that here). It can also be used to remove/ clean up any excess sealant. Although you should have a can of this with your winch service kit, Wd-40 can typically be left a-shore for the average club and buoy racer. Most people overuse these products and one should practice restraint when resorting to these spray lubricants. Most of these lubricants are petroleum based and leave an oily finish which can collect dirt and dust. T-9, however, from the Boeing Corporation is a special type of spray lubricant that when dry will leave a waxy finish, thus attracting less dirt then these other lubricants. Originally developed for the aircraft industry, T-9 can come in handy in tight to reach places that would typically require Teflon grease or the like. Some of the applications that are ideal for Boeshield are plunger pins in aluminum spinnaker pole ends, aluminum blocks with metal bearings, or aluminum sheaves with stainless steel sheave pins that cannot be easily accessed.

Household 3in1 oil for boats too

Dry Lubricants; I would try and stay away from silicone spray all together. Yes, this does leave a slick finish but it also leaves behind a pretty thick film of non-marine grade silicone that is not easily removed and moreover is not designed for marine use. Non-marine silicone can cause mildew and certain plastics/rubbers to disintegrate or have a shortened life expectancy. When talking about dry lubrication on a boat the best choice is Team Mclube’s SailKote. Now just like anything else this is a wonderful product when used in the proper application. SailKote is to be used in just about every type of ‘sliding’ application imaginable, i.e. non ball bearing; sail tracks, jib lead tracks and even traveler tracks. Please note it is NOT to be used in ball bearing applications, only where the hardware ‘slides’ across or through a track. Mclube’s Sailkote should always be on-board of any sailing vessel at all times.

MClube NEW OneDrop

Oils and Conditioners; The famous household 3 in 1 oil actually should have a home aboard a boat, and that home should be with the winch service supplies. This is a ‘one drop’ll do ya’ type of product and is mainly recommended for use on winch pawls and springs. For the club racer or the day sailor, this can stay in the garage. Team Mclube also has a new product for anything with composite ball bearings, it is called OneDrop conditionaler. So this would be for any plastic, Torlon, non-metal ball bearing piece of hardware on your boat, i.e. Harken furler’s, Schaefer Furlers, Harken Batt Cars, and much more. This product can probably be kept at home as well, for I cannot think of one emergency that one might encounter where soap, water or any of the other above mentioned lubricants couldn’t handle the job, at least temporarily.

Team Mclube's SailKote

I want to just take a second to touch on the hydraulic oil subject, as I am asked about it regularly. Of course the best bet in this case is to see your local rigger. Just keep this in mind: Hydraulic oils vary based on the boats geographical location and use. Usually it will need to be a low viscosity grade that stands up to relatively high temperatures. It also needs to be free of all detergents, which could cause gases to expand within the cylinders and cause seals to become compromised.

Harken Winch Grease

Finally, Grease; There a lot of greases, Furlex greaseHarken greaseLanocoteSuper Lube and the New Marelube just to name a few. Super Lube is an automotive product that I stand behind 100%, and is totally acceptable for marine applications. You can use it almost any where requiring grease. All of these various grease manufacturers, in my opinion, provide a very similar product. Harken and Furlex grease come in a handy applicator, which is why I like them, because it makes less of a mess based on the required application. Lanocote has unfortunately been surpassed (again, in my opinion) by these other synthetic/Teflon based lubricants. Mainly because Lanocote is very temperature sensitive and because it is based on lanolin which makes it not smell good and it can become rancid after a while. Marlube is Forespar’s (makers of Lanocote) newest lubricant that provides all of the latest and greatest in lubrication technology. To me, it is simply the official marine industry’s Super Lube. All of these lubricants can be adequately used on any furling gears, metal ball bearings, turnbuckle threads or any hardware requiring a little grease.

T-9 Boeshield

If needed T-9 can be used temporarily in place of these previously mentioned spray lubricants, even WD-40, but I wouldn’t use the other lubricants in place of T-9. So if it were my boat, I would keep 1 tube of Harken gear grease, 1 big can off SailKote, 1 can of T-9 Boeshield,  and a full roll of heavy duty paper towels on board as a minimum. These three products should remedy any and all of your lubricating needs aboard your boat (rigging wise). I hope this helps you choose the right lubricant the next time you are in your local chandlery.

If you have a question that you would like to ask us, just leave us a comment and we will get back to you.

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A Home Team Win

Team Wave Muscat, Leigh Mcmillan, Oman, Wins

Just 5 days ago the Extreme Sailing Series finished up ACT 2 in Muscat, Oman. Leigh McMillan and the top notch team aboard The Wave Muscat came out victorious once again. The home snuck into the lead position just in front of Americas Cup skipper Dean Barker of Team Emirates New Zealand. The last spot on the podium was held by the Swiss Team Alinghi with uber-fit olympian Anna Tunnicliffe on board.

Check out the highlights…

Posted in Americas Cup, Around the World, Extreme Sailing Series, Home is where the heart is, Maritime News, Modern Yachts, Multihulls, Racers, Sailing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stanchion Bases

Stanchion Base

Stanchion bases are an often forgotten about, yet important, portion of our boat. They are responsible for giving our boat’s lifelines ‘a foot to stand on’ – so to speak. Unfortunately, these stanchion bases are also the reason for most soft decks; this is because of the long fulcrum that is naturally created by the stanchion. Stanchion bases, especially the ones with the stanchion welded directly to them, are prone to breaking the seal due to this fulcrum. I personally prefer a ‘socket style’ base with a drain hole. This allows the stanchion to sit semi-loosely in the base, allowing for a bit more free articulation.

Here the Base is Welded Directly to the Stanchion. Although it Looks Sleek, it is not Preferred.

Here the Base is Welded Directly to the Stanchion. Although it Looks Sleek, it is not Preferred. “Very Prone to Cracking”.

So far, the best design I have seen is one that avoids the stanchion base all together by glassing long tubes with drains into the deck. These tubes extend a couple of feet below the deck just inside the the hull. Then a ‘freakishly’ long stanchion is inserted into these tubes and held in place using either a through-bolt or a drilled and tapped set screw. ~(We, at The Rigging  Company prefer a drilled and tapped or through bolted set screw with all of our stanchion bases).

The result is a much stronger stanchion that leaves the deck looking cleaner and best of all, promises no more pesky bases that can leak into your boat’s core. This is still a relatively new design and can be seen on a lot of today’s newer race boats. Unfortunately, we cruisers, will need to wait a little longer until this design makes its way into the cruising boat market as standard equipment.

Tartan Stanchion base

Socket Style Stanchion Base

In the meanwhile, we will have to do our best not to overlook this very important component. I know, no one likes to deal with these pesky stanchion bases, because they are so damn hard to reach and there is usually about 8 or more of them. If you are just too bothered to handle it yourself, then hire someone to do it for you. Either way make sure it gets done! It will make all of the difference in the world to your boats longevity (and your wallet) just by taking the time to ensure that they are sealed properly.

Resealing the stanchion

Make Sure You Scrape, Clean and Acetone Wipe the Old Sealant to Prepare the Surface for the New Sealant.

In general it is a good idea to re-seal and inspect your stanchion bases every 5 years or so depending on geographical region and use. I mention ‘inspecting the stanchion base’, because they can crack over time, especially at the welds or if dissimilar metals are being used -this now becomes a safety issue as our life lines need to be able to support our body weight to ensure that we stay on the boat.

Cracked Stanchion Base

Cracked Stanchion Base, Be Extra Cautious With Aluminum Bases or Stanchions


As far as the sealant is concerned, make sure that you (or the individual that you hire) chooses a good adhesive sealant (NOT silicone) that remains flexible throughout its life span. This is crucial to ensuring a good seal as the base and deck are constantly being worked and tweaked (trying to break the seal) anytime the life line is loaded. We use and recommend Boat Life or 3M UV 4000 to seal up your boat’s stanchion bases.

I hope this information was helpful. Please leave us a comment if you have any questions or concerns.  We’d be glad to help.

Have you already waited too long? Is your deck soft and rotten already? Be sure to ask us about additional tips n’ tricks on making repairs and installing stanchion bases properly.

And as a bonus…………..make sure those lifelines are secure!

Freshly Resealed Stanchion Base With the Set Screw Properly Drilled and Tapped into the Stanchion. "I like it"

Freshly Resealed Stanchion Base With the Set Screw Properly Drilled and Tapped into the Stanchion. “I like it”

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