Your sailboat rigging should be thoroughly checked once a season. The best way to do this is by pulling the mast or masts out of the boat and running down a check list. One can also spot most major problems from a bosun’s chair, and if done regularly, is generally more cost effective. It is strongly recommended that you have the spars pulled at least once every 5 years depending on the conditions that your boat and its rigging have been subjected to.
To help you do your own rigging check, here are some general guidelines for the average sloop rigged boat. For any specific questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call.
A. DECK LEVEL AND BELOW DECKS
1. Check the boom gooseneck for worn pins, cracked welds, etc.…
2. Check the boom for bends or dents.
3. Check all block attachment points on the boom for fatigue or wear, i.e. vang bails, sheet bails.
4. Check all blocks and shackle attachment points for bent pins, distorted shackles, missing or loose ring pins, etc.…
5. To check halyards, attach a spare line (or the bitter end of the same line) to the shackle end and pull up on the halyard slowly. Check the line and check the shackle for proper operation.
6. Check all shroud, stay, and lifeline swages for cracks.
7. Check lifelines where they go through stanchion post for excessive wear.
8. Make sure the mast sits flush on the mast step.
9. If your mast is keel stepped, make sure the mast is securely chocked where it goes through the deck.
10. Check the chain plate attachment points below deck for wear. Also check for signs of rot or any evidence of water damage.
11. Make sure the chain plates or chain plate cover plates appear sealed and tight where they go through the deck.
12. Check turnbuckles for bends in the body or stud, cracks, excessive rust, as well as ensure all turnbuckles are secured properly. Either by way of cotter pin, locking nut or ring pin.
B. THE MASTHEAD – Before going aloft please consult with a professional as severe injury or death can occur!!!
1. Check all welds for cracks.
2. Check any masthead gear for secure attachment.
3. Check that all pins are properly secured, either by way of cotter pin or ring pin.
4. Make sure the sheaves turn freely and the pins that hold them-in are secure.
5. Check for sharp edges where halyards exit.
6. Make sure all fasteners, rivets, screws are tight.
7. Check head and backstay swages for cracks.
8. If you have an external mainsail track, as you descend, check the fasteners to make sure they are tight.
1. Check swages for cracks.
2. Check the shroud tangs for wear.
3. Check to make sure all clevis pins are properly secured.
4. Make sure the tang bolt (if present) is tight and locked in a secure manner.
1. If spreaders or brackets are welded, look for stress cracks (see pic below).
2. Make sure spreader bases are secure.
3. Make sure the spreader is well fastened to the base.
4. Tape or silicone over any sharp bolts or cotter pins in this area.
5. Check spreader tips, where spreader intersects the wire, for corrosion (remove any tape or boots) and ensure spreader tips are secured to upper shrouds by seizing or clamps.
For rod rigging service and inspection intervals, read more here.