Rig Integrity (Chafe, Rattle and Roll)

Antrim, Jim


A rigging preparation primer for your downwind ride to Hawaii



All halyards

  • ·        Inspect internal halyard exits at top & bottom of mast to look for any possibility of misalignment or chafe. Rivets, spreader bars, wrapped lines, wire halyards with burrs inside mast can cause severe chafe problems.
  • ·        Look for UV degradation or any sign of wear. Replace it before you start!
  • ·        Rig extra fully external halyard – Easy to replace, easy to inspect for chafe. Possibly keep this one in reserve for emergency, or for going aloft.
  • ·        Tape snap and twist shackles closed when you raise a sail.


Spinnaker halyards particularly vulnerable in long downwind race!

  • ·        At masthead rotate halyard pull direction from side to forward – reaching to running angles. If it will rub anywhere, correct the problem.
  • ·        Is last lead point a spectacle (fairing eye) or a block? Stretchy halyards reduce shock loads but are more prone to chafe as they stretch in and out. Use blocks, not eyes, if you have a stretchy halyard. Low stretch halyard through eye may be OK if eye is very fair. Cover that portion of halyard.
  • ·        Mark halyards for full hoist. Sometimes fully raised halyard (snug) can reduce chafe. On the contrary, over hoisting can cut halyard.


Main halyard

  • ·        Have someone raise the main when you are at the top of the mast.
  • ·        Mark the halyard for full hoist. Over raised main halyard will often cut the line.
  • ·        Rotate headboard to the side, in downwind position. Does edge of sheave cut the halyard?
  • ·        Cover halyard at any potential wear points


Jib halyards, topping lift, staysail halyards

  • ·        Similar logic to above



Reduce potential wear at spreader tip

  • ·        Good spreader patches. (John Amen recommends window material as an excellent anti-chafe patch.)  Think about spreader patches when reefed.
  • ·        Round and/or cover spreader tips
  • ·        Carry a good sail repair kit. You will need it!

 Lifeline/stanchions Look for potential wear points on jibs when reaching

Short ties to prevent spinnakers being pinched between shrouds & mast



  • ·        Inspect all sheaves for wear, loose pins. Lubricate journal bearings (axle pins) with Lanocote or Lithium grease (heavy lubricant). Wash out all ball bearing blocks and lubricate with light lubricant. Don’t forget the outhaul, and the spinnaker pole or bowsprit.
  • ·        Inspect high load areas – Vang attachments, gooseneck for any sign of wear, cracking or looseness. A magnifying glass can help with fine fatigue crack detection.
  • ·        Lubricate pins with heavy lubricant as above. A squeaky vang or gooseneck pin can drive you nuts.
  • ·        Lubricate and stabilize anything that rattles


            Cable tie so screw can’t fall out.


  • ·        Use cotter pins or rings. Plastic cable tie is not reliable for long distance.
  • ·        Tape pins and sharp corners to avoid catching sails and lines.
  • ·        Avoid trapping water in turnbuckle with tape.


  • ·        Check tangs, turnbuckles, chainplates for corrosion, fatigue, wear, unintended movement.
  • ·        Corrosion at the bottom end of a wire stay in the swage is a common problem.
  • ·        No kinks in wire or rod! Swage must be exactly aligned with stay.
  • ·        Good caulking at chainplates and well-sealed partners will make your trip happier.
  • ·        Good support for mast at partners.


Check for UV degradation in non-metallic running rigging. Often characterized by stiff whiskers on the line. Line feels stiff and scratchy, not soft and slippery.


  • ·        Harness - Get a gone one that you can’t fall out of, though stiff seat is nice.
  • ·        Get comfortable with going aloft before you start the race.
  • ·        Have a line to tie yourself to the mast.
  • ·        Tools, pins, tape in a bag with easy access to your hand.
  • ·        Wear protection: gloves, shoes, long pants & sleeves.
  • ·        Sail set preferable to steady roll.
  • ·        External halyard preferred.
  • ·        Check for chafe in the halyard you are on before you go aloft.
  • ·        If possible, go up on two halyards for redundancy.
  • ·        Tie to halyard, don’t rely on shackle. NEVER rely on a snap shackle.
  • ·        Reliable, attentive person on the halyard, two cleats.


Required by race rules and very useful for repairs

Splint for broken boom, spin pole, mast, emergency rudder/tiller

Strap the off watch into his pipe berth gag

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