Boogie Nights

A sweary hyperactive maritime professional, really very keen on laughing a lot, doing their best to avoid all the trappings of societies' expectations by acting on impulse to any adventurous idea that wafts by. Let's go!

bienvenu, hola, ciao!

20 May 2014

This game is rigged

You know those straightforward jobs you see other people doing and plan to do yourself?
Those little things, such as unstepping a mast to replace the standing rigging (the metal cables that hold the mast up to non-yotties) and then put it straight back again and go sailing?

Well, that's exactly what I planned just over a year ago.

According to insurance companies when rigging passes its 10th birthday, it is no longer fit for insuring. It ceases to be. It is no more. It suddenly turns to marshmallow and is instantly vaporised by a mere sneeze.
Despite looking to be perfectly healthy, it was finally time to swap out the metal cables for new ones.
Fucking insurance, they're riding the pockets of the riggers, no?

£1600 for a new set of standing rigging. Great. Where's my credit card.

I had the mast unstepped for the first time and carefully tagged all the cables, coiled them up, put them in the Clio of doom and headed to the Plymouth based rigging company, where they made me a new set while I waited.

Casually, the director of the rigging company asked me to remove the spreader brackets when I got home, "give them a bit of a clean" he said, "tell me what it looks like" he said, "then put them back with loads of sealant" he continued.

I felt sweaty palmed about this request. What did he know that I didn't? I mean, I'd never heard of a Dehler mast failing. This is German manufacturing. They're supposed to be pretty fucking marvellous aren't they?
Not a mention of any mast worries on my insane 50 page survey that went into minute detail about a corroded tab on a bus-board and slight crazing of a window. You'd think that mad surveyor might have mentioned something, right?

It took a week before I had the courage to drill out the rivets and unbolt the spreader brackets from the mast.

This is what I saw.

A mocking smiley face.

With each mocking face, another few thousand of my redundancy payout kerchinged its way past my bleary vision.

This wasn't what I had hoped to see.

What had happened was, when Dehler assembled the mast in 1989, they hadn't sealed the stainless steel brackets from the alumium mast. Over the years, salt water had seeped into a hollow area between the bracket and the mast and effectively became an electrolite. The two metals are of different nobility, the aluminum turned to salts and eventually the area thinned significantly, causing a hole to appear and weakening the area generally. The spreaders can really load up the mast in these areas when sailing in strong winds. What potentially could happen is that the mast could fail at any one of these thinned areas. If the mast failed, it could cause serious injury. It could kill a crew member or hole the boat as it comes down. You know a big enough hole to sink us. This kind of thing is never taken lightly.

Without hesitation, I called the man in Plymouth. At the same time Dave Nicholls, my friendly local Essex based rigger had a look and also spoke to the other rigging company on my behalf.
Was it repairable? If so, how much?

The answer was yes. But it would be costly. A rough estimate of around £3000 was quoted to sleeve the mast at both spreader sections. Internal sleeving was deemed not possible.
£5000 was quoted for a new mast.

I called my insurance company. Surely they might help. Afterall, that's what insurance is for, right?


It would seem that had I left the spreaders alone, never inspected under them, allowed it to fail, then the insurance would have paid up.
However, since I had found the problem (a manufacturing defect that I couldn't have known about in advance or prevented) and avoided possible crew death or boat sinking issues, the costs of this are entirely my own.

Thanks Velos Insurance, thanks for nothing. Shysters.

I decided to go for a new mast, as I didn't want to devalue the boat by having a sleeved mast.
While I was going for a new mast, I had to get a new boom to match. And while we were adding a new boom, then we needed a new vang. (we meaning my husband Dehler, the sidekick furry beast Banjo and I of course)
And since we were having a mast made from scratch, then I could specify just what I wanted from the outset.
  • Inner forestay - check
  • extra trisail track - check
  • double jib halyard - check
  • double main halyard -  check


It's a bit like having a partner and you don't like his appendage anymore. 

"Yes, I'd like a new one please, can it be a bit deeper section, same length, yes I'm happy with the length, but can you make it a bit more useful, you know, can it do a few more party tricks?  Oh and make it shiny too. I'd like to be able to polish it as well as climb it."


nearly two months after the promised delivery date, at the very end of July my new mast finally turned up.

I had planned to be over half way around Britain by then and I still had to get new sails made.
The Funny Way Round project clearly wasn't going to happen in 2013.


The breakdown of what re-rigging costs, for those curious:

  • Single Clutch £49.92 plus vat
  • 6 x blocks £123.24 plus vat
  • Mast base £183.74 plus vat
  • Delivery £15 plus vat
  • Dehler 36 CWS Mast £4,053.73 plus vat
  • Selden B152 Boom £1,097.89 plus vat
  • Rope-3rd Reef/Luff lines £58.68 plus vat
  • Short spini track/plunger £214 plus vat
  • Fit owner supplied Inner forestay £76 plus vat
  • Winch Pad 110x110/5deg £52.74 plus vat
  • Cleats on mast x 4 £76 plus vat
  • Clutch XAS-Genoa halyard x 2 £99.84 plus vat
  • Steaming light cable only £30 plus vat
  • Deck light cable only £30 plus vat
  • Rod Kicker/10S/HD Spring £348.34 plus vat
  • Tri-sail track £318.95 plus vat
  • Carriage of Tube/Plymouth £240 plus vat
  • Carriage of Mast/Essex £400 plus vat
  • Block PBB50 Fiddle/Becket £44.45 plus vat
  • Block PBB50 Fiddle £25.10 plus vat
  • Rope B/B 8mm White £7.44 plus vat
  • Splice BOB £10 plus vat
  • Walder boom slide £30.65 plus vat
  • Halyard - Main/D2  £207 plus vat
  • Halyard - Genoa/CS £142.71 plus vat
  • Halyard - Genoa/MB £85.50 plus vat
  • Halyard - Spinnaker/BOB £78.38 plus vat
  • Boom Lift/BOB £40.42 plus vat
  • Toggle for bottom of Forestay £43.75 plus vat
  • Screw Luff 6x17.5 FLX200 £5.60 plus vat
  • Labour/FOC as above £0
  • Sheave Box Al-70/RivetFix £32.38 plus vat
  • Inner Forestay Fittings Strip/overhaul furlerdrum £40.41 plus vat
  • Block, BBB30 SGLE, Swivel £29.36 plus vat
  • M6 Fastenings for winch £5.20 plus vat
  • Lewmar winch for mast £220
  • echomax active radar reflector £380
  • radio aerial £donated
  • tacktick wireless wind speed £800
  • deck flood light £70
  • friendly local rigger labour time £900
  • replacement standing rigging £1600 
                               Totals: £13,925


 ...You'd think this should be the end, but it isn't...

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