Day 156 – Rigging Check

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Wed 18 May 2022 06:46
Noon Position: 10 11.8 S 095 16.4 E
Course: SW Speed: 3 knots
Wind: SSE Force 2
Sea: slight Swell: S 1.5 m
Weather: sunny, hot
Day’s Run: 62 nm

Yesterday I received an email from Sylph’s shore manager giving me an update
on Mark and Coconut. Apparently Coconut has experienced problems with both
her fore-stay and inner fore-stay where they attach to the mast, to do with
split pin failures. Now Coconut can only set a reefed mainsail. Wayne said
that he is hove to in a gale west of Spain so, based on this very rough
position, I am guessing he has at least 500 miles to go. My thoughts are
with Mark and I hope he makes it the rest of the way with mast intact.
Given the report on Mark’s problems I thought it might be a good idea to
give Sylph’s rigging a check with a focus on split pins. I have been meaning
to do a rigging check for some time and conditions yesterday afternoon were
ideal for a climb aloft. My check showed that everything was in order though
I was concerned about the clevis pin for the fore-stay at the masthead as it
had crept to one side and was putting a lot of pressure on the port-side
split pin. Initially I thought I would just keep a close eye on it but then,
on further contemplation, thought that with the calm weather I was not going
to get a better opportunity to try to do something about it before Adelaide.
The question was what could I do. The conclusion I came to was to try to
realign the clevis pin and replace the port-side split pin.
So I prepared my tool bag and hoisted it aloft with the spinnaker halyard.
(Fortuitously I had found the sheave from the broken spinnaker halyard block
in a deck scupper and was then able to repair the block and refit the block
and halyard when I did the rigging check). After a fair bit of
jigging around (I won’t go into the details) I managed to centre the clevis
pin and fit a new split pin. Unfortunately, in the process the bushes that
sit between the clevis pin and the mast tangs came adrift so now the clevis
pin is sitting against the mast tang’s slightly over-sized holes; however, I
do not think this will pose a serious problem between here and Adelaide.
I believe the ultimate problem with the fore-stay fitting at the masthead is
that there is a link plate between the clevis pin and the fore-stay eye.
This is a little bit longer than the standard clevis fitting and as Sylph
pitches and rolls the link plate acts like a ratchet trying to pull the
clevis pin to one side. Which way it wants to pull the pin would depend on
the tack. So, for instance, on the port tack the fore-stay would have
greater pressure on it as the stay moves to starboard and less pressure on
it when it slackens a bit as it moves to port, hence the ratchet effect. At
least that is my theory at this point.
It was already my intention to remove and inspect the fore-stay when we get
back to Adelaide but now I will also be modifying the masthead fitting to
ensure there can be no sideways movement within the mast tangs (there is a
swivel built into the clevis fittings which allows the fore-stay to move so
as not to work harden the fore stay wires where they enter the swage). Also
I think I will replace the clevis pin with a bolt and castellated nut.
I appreciate that the above is a bit technical and I probably have not
explained my “theory” all that clearly but maybe my musings will promote
some discussion among other yacht owners and possibly prevent a rig failure
down the track.
Meanwhile, conditions continue light. We are south of ten degrees but still
no wind. The Ineffable advises that the winds will be picking up tomorrow.
At least while they remain light I won’t be worrying about the fore stay.
All is well.