By Andrew Spaulding, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a sailboat racer, you worry about all of the mechanical readiness that we discussed last week and also you have to worry about your standing and running rigging. Of course, you wouldn’t get far without your sails, but I’ll leave sail maintenance up to your local sail maker. Before you head out for the big race, cover this check list and you are giving yourself the best chance for a trouble free regatta.
The first stop on your list should be all of the deck level turnbuckles to make sure that all of the cotter pins are in place holding the turnbuckle adjustment and clevis pins in place. Make sure the pins are all taped up well to keep the sheets and guys (or tack line) from getting fouled. With discontinuous rigging one of the crew is headed aloft to inspect the spreader tip turnbuckles.
While aloft, it is a good idea to check on the mast fitting and the running rigging that is aloft. Be sure to check the mast head sheaves for uneven wear and loose pins. Make sure the top of the roller furler foil has the cap on it or it is taped well to prevent halyards from getting caught in the top of the foil. While checking the furler, make sure to inspect the foil joints to ensure they are tight.
Check the running rigging (sheets, halyards, etc.) for chafe, pulled threads, and excessive wear. The high wear spots are where the shackle end sits on mast head sheave while sailing, and where the clutch holds the halyard. Jib sheets and spinnaker sheets and guys (or tack line) get pulled over and around the standing rigging and lifelines grabbing cotter pins and split-rings that can pull and break threads in the line, so check them carefully.
On the subject of lifelines, be sure to check all of the attachment points. If the lifeline is attached well to a loose bow pulpit they won’t perform as designed in an emergency. Inspect the lifeline for signs of rust or broken strands. If your lifelines are vinyl covered, consider changing to uncovered lifelines, because the vinyl cover can hide damage and rust compromising the strength of the lifeline without your knowledge.
Inspect your hydraulics if you have them. Fill the fluid reservoir to the proper level. Check the piston rod to make sure there are not any nicks or gouges in the rod that would damage the rod seals as the rod goes in and out.
One of the most important things to check and probably the most ignored rigging on a sailboat is the steering system. Inspect the attachment and adjustment at the quadrant. Tighten the u-bolts, inspect the wire for broken strands, look for corroded nicro-press fittings, and check the sheaves for excessive wear and proper attachment to the boat. It is important to also check the top end of the steering system in the binnacle. Check the chain ends where they attach to the wire and make sure the wheel bearing and shaft are good and properly held in place.
Other things to check - nav lights, other lights, instruments, engine fluids, shift cables, anchor and rode, safety gear (jack lines, life jackets, harnesses, etc.). Oh, and be sure to clean and lubricate shackles, blocks, and your foil track.
Good luck on the race course!