When Replacing Electrical Items in the Mast

Raymarine Wireless Tacktick Mast Head Fly

Raymarine Wireless Tacktick Mast Head Fly

Re-wiring and replacing the fixtures in the mast is a task that most of us boat owners need to face at some point. Let’s address what needs to happen during this process and what is the most efficient way to do this.

OGM Tri-Color Anchor Strobe w/ Photodiode

OGM Tri-Color Anchor Strobe w/ Photodiode

Forespar ML II w/ Light Guard

Forespar ML II w/ Light Guard

First, the mast needs to be un-stepped. Therefore it could be a smart idea to handle any other items that could benefit from the mast being out.

Next, begin by removing the old masthead fixture, the old steaming light fixture, and the old VHF antenna. Now remove all of the old wires and any remaining hardware. In some cases there are electrical items that need to be re-used. These items could be a radar and cable, as well as a digital wind instrument. Be sure to carefully remove these items as well and inspect them closely (now’s the time).

Shakespeare Squatty Body VHF Antenna

Shakespeare Squatty Body VHF Antenna

Perko Spreader Light, Adjustable Mount

Perko Spreader Light, Adjustable Mount


Once all electrical items have been removed, you should check to see if there is a conduit present and how it may or may not be fastened. A properly installed conduit offers; no wire slap, clean wire runs, and most importantly, the ability to run additional wires or trouble shoot existing ones with ease, even when the mast is up.

Sailboat Mast Conduit

Properly Installed ConduitInstalling a conduit is a bit’ of a ‘trick of the trade’. It is best here to seek the assistance of a professional rigger if one needs to be installed. Make sure to ask your rigger what technique he or she might use. At T.R.C., we will use aluminum or PVC irrigation tubing. This type of tubing offers a sleeker connection at the joint. Our conduits are then riveted using a pair of aluminum rivets (to avoid dissimilar metals) every 3′ or so along the length of the mast. I like to counter sink these rivets because it makes it look more finished and also gives you no issues if there might be future sanding.

Properly installed conduit


After the conduit is ready to go, you are now ready to fish-in a messenger line. From here you can begin to pull in your new wires. Always try and leave in a service messenger when finished. Unless the conduit is full of course, we don’t want to be misleading anyone in the future. I tend to make it a practice to pull-in the large wires or the wires with permanent ends first. Now go ahead and drill, tap, and dry fit your new fixtures. Make sure you take your time and think it through and follow the manufacturers guidelines. Never use sheet metal or self tapping screws, even if provided by some manufacturers. Always drill and tap, or rivet your fixtures along with a dab of sealant for a secure hold.

marine grade electrical connectors and heat shrink tubing

Forespar ML II Wiring Guide

Make sure you use marine grade connectors that heat shrink. Additionally, before making any connections, slide on a piece of marine grade heat shrink tubing. Marine grade heat shrink tubing has an adhesive that is released when heated. After your connections are made and heat shrunk, make sure to provide some sort of strain relief for the cables (pictured below).

Proper strain relief for electrical cables at mast headNext, install the fixtures permanently using a sealant as an isolation barrier. Pull out any remaining slack at the butt of the mast. Trim all of your cables to a neat and even length. Leave enough slack for service lengths. Finally test all of the light fixtures through the mast and label the cables accordingly.

As always, don’t be afraid to ask, so leave a comment or ask a question, we will reply. Thanks for the read!

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The World’s Largest Mast….

Largest Mast In the World Stepped

…was stepped last month at the Perini Navi Yard in Italy.  Just look at the size of the masthead!


This incredible carbon fiber wonder measures just over 250′ and weighs in at just over 16 metric tons…pretty light considering.

75' Carbon Fiber Furling Boom

The furling boom provided by Future Fibres could be its own sailing yacht measuring just over 75’! There are only a handful of boats on the Chesapeake Bay that length…just for some perspective.

Viareggio Sailing Yacht, Worlds Largest Mast

Read the full story here.



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Not all ‘T’ Terminals are Created Equal……

‘T’ Terminals, ‘T’ Balls, Gibb Hooks, Shroud Terminals, and Lollipop Fittings are just some of the nicknames for these special fittings. I would just like to take a minute to address the different terms associated with these fittings; their uses and misuses.

Gibb Plug

Rubber Gibb Plug

It appears that many boats in today’s sailboat market use these types of fittings. Although there are few instances of where there is a problem, I believe many of these “T” type fittings aren’t being used in their appropriate application. I like to use the ‘T’ Terminal or Gibb Hook specifically for articulating stays, like running back-stays or removable stay-sail stays. These are always to be rigged in conjunction with special rubber plugs (pictured left) which ensure that the stay won’t become dislodged aloft. For side shrouds it is recommended to use the preferred Shroud or Lollipop Terminal (pictured below left) instead of the ‘T’ Ball or Gibb Hook. Even though some boats do, never should any of these stays be used for a head-stay or forestay of any sort (at least not in my opinion). Additionally, it is really hard to hang/ rig any furler that uses this type of fitting.

Shroud Terminal or Lollipop Fitting

Shroud Terminal or Lollipop Fitting

T Ball, Gibb Hook, or 'T' Terminal

T Ball, Gibb Hook, or ‘T’ Terminal







Having said that, some companies like Hayn Marine claim that you can use their Shroud Terminal in place of any ‘T’ Terminal or Shroud Terminal, but never the other way around. As a general rule, we think you should always use the backing plate made specifically for the terminal that you have chosen to use.

The 'Armpit' of a 'T' Terminal

The ‘Armpit’ of a ‘T’ Terminal

To inspect ‘T’ terminals or Lollipop Fittings you need to look at the two natural weak points; at the bend or the ‘arm-pit’ of the fitting (pictured right), and also where the wire exits the swage.

“Where the wire exits the swage is a typical weak point for all swages.”

 Especially with ‘T’ Terminals this can be an issue as the shank has a specific angle to which it is bent, this angle may vary based on manufacturer. The fitting will not allow for much (or any) deviation from this pre-set angle. Sometimes it may be necessary to go aloft and bend the terminal down to the appropriate angle once the mast has been stepped. This practice is okay as long as you only do it once and don’t bend it back and forth too often. Leaving it at an unfair angle will surely result in shroud damage or failure.

'T' Terminal backing Plate

‘T’ Terminal Backing Plate

Shroud Terminal Backing Plate

Shroud Terminal Backing Plate







Lastly, you or your rigger will need to be careful as to which manufacturer you choose for your ‘T’ Terminal replacement. As the title reads, “Not all ‘T’ Terminals are Created Equal”. So, although the Alexander Roberts ‘T’ Terminals look a lot like the Gibb ‘T’ terminals, some will vary slightly in throat/shank diameter, shank angle, head width, and even the height of the head. I recommend fitting each terminal in the corresponding backing plate/tang before swaging or making the mechanical portion. Sometimes a little grinding and polishing of the ‘T’ head is necessary to make them fit. Sometimes an entirely different manufacturer will need to be used. Just be sure to figure this out before you begin to make the stay, it will make your life a lot easier.

T Terminal

Let us know if you have any questions. Thanks for the read, talk to you again soon!


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Views from Aloft


South River Liberty Marina

Remember: You Can Click on the Image for a Larger View!

Aloft on the South River at Liberty Marina. Sunny Days Aloft on the Chesapeake Bay I am conducting an aloft inspection for insurance. Tayana 55 on the chesapeake bay   The boat is a quite large Tayana 55 lower shroud tang Tayana 55. Cracked Tang. Fatigued stainless It turns out that the lower shroud tang has cracked! Bummer. South River Maryland Aloft An electric winch and a beautiful day once again from 75′ in the air.

Electric winches

This Guy Loves Electric Winches for Going Aloft

Thanks for taking a look at the view. ~T.R.C.

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How to Stow Your Inner Fore-Stay


Stowing the inner stay appears to be quite the challenge sometimes. All too many times I have seen systems that are either over complicated, under engineered or are just plain ineffective. Below I describe a method that is very straight forward, simple and effective. 

inner stay storage clip

Almost in every case imaginable, the inner stay storage bridle, is the key piece to any effective inner stay storage system.  However, these days it seems harder and harder to find these clever little bent pieces of  bent tubing. Wichard, was one of the original makers of these bridles and they called it a Stowage Clip. Also, C.Sherman Johnson, who used to make a beautiful one of these (similar to the design of Wichard’s), has for some reason redesigned it to what I think, is not as good of a design (see pic below). We here at The Rigging Company will simply make our own as they are needed. For reference, the one pictured above is the only image I could find that is similar to the one we make. This is what they are supposed to look like.



Next you will need two attachment points at (or slightly aft) and forward of the mast, preferably, just off to one side. If you don’t already have something in place, i.e. a stanchion base, mast pulpit, Dorade box, sturdy handrail, or maybe even one of the shroud chainplates or turnbuckles, I would recommend some folding pad eyes, mounted on the deck. The folding pad eye is nice as it folds flat when not in use.



The forward pad eye is for the stowage bridle attachment, which will require either a short strop or a small block and tackle between the welded eye on the bridle and the pad eye. This should keep the stay just forward and off of the mast and spreaders (see diagram). The aft pad eye is to attach the terminal of the stay by way of either a quick release lever, block and tackle, or direct attachment. I personally prefer the block and tackle because I like to take these big, heavy and expensive inner stay levers down below and out of the way. (Read more here for a quick note on choosing and setting-up your quick release levers.) Using the tackle between the bridle and forward pad eye instead of a strop (as pictured above) is our preferred method. This will require the stays end terminal to be simply shackled, lashed or otherwise directly attached to the aft pad eye. The stay is then tensioned using the stowage clip and tackle.


This set up is simple, tried and trued. The placement of the two attachment points at deck level (i.e. pad eye’s, turnbuckle, stanchion base etc.) is the key to the functionality of the system. The goal is to allow the stay to be stowed aft, with adequate tension so that it is out of the way and tight, yet forward enough to keep it off of the mast and the spreaders. Keep this in mind when setting up your inner stay storage system.

~I hope you find these blogs useful and helpful. We are always looking for new ideas on what to write about. So if you have an idea that you would like us to write about or even would like to guest blog on our site to plug yourself, your business or your boat, feel free to shoot us an email or leave us a comment (below) and we will get back to you.



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