Thursday, 2 June 2016

Rigging & Sail Maintenance - Anchored At Ascension Island

We've covered over 9000 nautical miles since leaving Asia last year, with much of the Indian Ocean passage sailed in heavy reaching and windward conditions. From Cape Town onwards, the sailing has been mainly down wind, generating different loads and different wear on the systems.

Anchored safely at Ascension Island, we turned to essential maintenance on sails and rigging. Our standing rigging, all 1x19 wire, had been replaced in Cape Town, so our work there was limited to checking terminals and rig tension.

However the down wind sailing has taken a toll on our main halyard - with the boom run out around 45 degrees, the head board of the sail flops out to 90 degrees. This lays the halyard diagonally across the edge of the sheave in the top of the mast, leading to excessive wear. We'd already sleeved the worn halyard with Dynema sheathing,  but even that was eventually cut through by the edge of the masthead sheave.

So, on our last night at sea the main halyard parted and the sail came sliding down into the boom bag, without us even noticing, until Ley checked the deck soon after coming on watch. We tidied up the sail and reefing lines, centered the boom and proceeded under poled out genoa, losing only 3/4 of a knot in boat speed.

After removing the remains of the halyard from inside the mast, we were able to run a new mouse line down the mast, using a bicycle chain to weight the line.  The chain is flexible enough to roll over obstacles and heavy enough to keep moving downwards - once at the base it can be fished out with a hook or with a magnet on a stick.  The mouse line was then used to re-install the (shortened) halyard, which we'll now declare as "suspect", due to UV damage over the years. Fortunately we do have another (spare) halyard in the mast, for the mainsail.

UV Sail Damage

Our genoa also needed quite a bit of work. The Sunbrella sacrificial cloth, replaced in Thailand around five years ago, has worked to protect the Hydranet sail cloth when the sail is furled, and the Sunbrella itself is still in reasonable condition. However the thread used at the time has failed, only where it is exposed when the sail is furled.

So we re-stitched every seam and panel join all the way up the leech of the sail, for a distance of a about 250mm into the body of the sail. We always use Tenara thread for sail and canvas work, as it outlasts the fabric. 

However in this case the sailmaker did not have access to Tenara, so we find ourselves re-sewing seams just five years on.

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