Spring is right around the corner, although there have been a few days that have had us feeling like spring is already here. This amazing winter has moved some people to start preparing earlier rather than later. Not only does one need to prepare the boat and de-winterize the engine, but we shouldn’t forget about the rigging either. It is a sailboat after all. Here are some things you may want to make sure are in good
working order before you go on your first sail for the year.
- Halyards, how did they weather? Attach the working end to the bitter end and run all of the halyards to the top and back down. They may have chafed or become worn over the winter. You want to make sure that the halyards are in proper working order before setting sails with them. For those of you who were smart enough to remove your halyards and take them home for the winter, you are ahead of the game!
- If you have loosened the rigging make sure to put turns back on and tune, pin and tape, NEATLY! If you did not loosen it go ahead and do so if for nothing else but to just turn the turnbuckles. This is one of the best ways to inspect the standing rigging. Throw away any old cotter pins and tape and go ahead and splurge and buy yourself a fresh roll of tape AND some cotter pins. Standing rigging, although an extremely crucial component, is often forgotten and left unchecked. This is the main reason that standing rigging fails!
- Make sure all of those winches are all spinning freely and making that trademark ‘clicking’ sound. Although all of the winches should be serviced yearly, I will understand if you only do it once every two years, at least ;-0).
“If you do not hear that ‘clicking’ sound the winch is unsafe to use and needs to be taken apart and serviced. A winch that doesn’t spin or even worse spins freely in both directions can really bring on a bad situation.”
- Of course, you should have removed your sails for the winter. If you haven’t done so already, then do so now. Just lower or remove them, and lay them out on the lawn; giving them a good ‘once over’, maybe even a wash. Once the sail is back on make sure that you can furl and unfurl it at the dock several times without any problems.
Just a quick note on furlers…
Sails that are up on a furlers all year long tend me to make me think the owner really is not practiced, or perhaps doesn’t know at all, how to take his or her own sail down. If it’s not enough that it makes the sail last longer, do yourself a favor and do it just for the practice. Consider it crucial knowledge to sailing. The last reason is you can’t very well run the halyard for inspection (as mentioned above), if you don’t take the sail down. The halyard will also be attached to what is called a halyard swivel, which could probably also use an inspection.
If you are unsure the first time taking your sail down, be sure to ask around for someone who knows what they’re doing. I am sure that they’ll be more than delighted to help you douse, flake and stow your sail ;-0). Not only is checking over these items a good method of annual inspection, but it can also help make you more practiced at understanding your boat’s rigging and sails.
Read more: here are some additional guide lines to inspecting your own rigging as well as some tips to help you static tune your mast.You can also run your halyards. If you have any doubts, questions or concerns, then please contact your local rigger or sailmaker. Have a question? Leave us a comment below.
See you on the water.