Running rigging update

We had been considering chafe and age of the jib and spinnaker halyards. We explored options but ultimately the cost of new line was not attractive so I decided to use the leftover of my Robline Admiral 10,000 Plus spool, which cost me about $2.7/foot a few years ago. So Sunday I went to work: I got to the boat at 10:30 and left at 19:30, not taking time for much of a break. I’m so slow!

The old jib and spinnaker halyards and the end of my spare rope spool!

My first observation is that I think that the chafe on the jib halyard was inside the mast, about 117 inches below the sheave. It seemed to coincide with the exit point of the staysail sheave. I think what was happening was these two halyards were chafing on each other inside the mast. I’m not sure though, so additional monitoring will be required.

My second observation was that with the leftover from the spool, I didn’t have enough to cut both a jib and a spinnaker halyard. The good thing is that when I cut the staysail halyard from the spool I made it just long enough to work as a jib halyard. So I swapped the staysail halyard for the jib. Then I cut a spinnaker halyard, and the leftover was used for the staysail. I had to do splices, reeving ends, and stitched whippings, which added to the time used.

I’m very much considering reeving lines for the staysail, jib, and spinnaker halyards to reduce UV exposure. It’d be additional work to prep and put away the boat, but maybe the cost savings are worth it. All right, to the calculator! Say these 3 halyards cost me about half of the spool so $900. I’m thinking this would add about 20 minutes before and after a sail, so 40 minutes. Say we go out about 30 times a year, that would be 20 hours of work per year. Say the lines would need to be replaced every 3 years otherwise and we can add 3 years to the line by doing this, we would be saving $450 on the lifetime of the halyards. Since we added 3 years * 30 outings * 40 minutes = 60 hours of labor, the labor cost is about $450 / 60 = $7.5. Right, I can make more money by using this time in other places, so I think I’m going to skip on this.

Standing rigging considerations

I’d like to put my thoughts in writing to gain a better understanding of what I’d like to do with Changabang. Let’s focus for now on standing rigging.

Re-fueling in Half Moon Bay


Since 2018 (see below for why this year matters), I think we can consider the following:

  1. Preparation for the Route Du Rhum 2018: 1,500 miles.
  2. RdR itself: 3,500 miles.
  3. My preparation for the RTW: 1,000 miles.
  4. My first attempt: 5,000 miles.

That’s 11,000 miles. For planning purposes we need to take the following into consideration:

  1. The 2024 Pacific Cup will probably amount to 2,200 miles one way, followed by a 3,000 miles return trip.
  2. Practice leading to the PacCup may amount to another 800 miles.
  3. A full second attempt at the RTW adventure would be about 30,000 miles.

This amounts to about 36,000 miles. 1 and 2 added together: 47,000 miles.

For perspective, the rigging may be taking the worst of the trip when going around Cape Horn and up the West Coast of South America (or getting there), 20,000 miles into the RTW. In other words, the rigging will already have about 37,000 miles.

The mast

The carbon mast was fully inspected in February 2018. Including replacing the shrouds and a few splices/ropes, the cost for that in France was a little over 5,000 Euro. Here in the Bay Area, it would be prohibitive as an operation. At this point, I am going to trust that the mast itself is sound. This includes spreaders, the sheave boxes, tangs, fittings, etc.

As a reference, the labor to replace the standing rigging on Double Espresso was over $5,000 in 2015. This difference right there may explain why France leads the world in short-handed sailing. Also, for reference, when I discussed the mast construction with the builder, he said it was built for durability/safety. It’s not a flimsy, very light mast.

When visually inspecting the mast in situ nothing shows signs of concern. In addition, I think that visual inspection only goes so far. Demasting and inspection in the shop would only go so far too. True non-destructive testing would be required.

In conclusion, trust and keep inspecting the mast. If anyone knows a place where dismasting and inspection can be done for a reasonable cost, let me know (and yes, I know that nobody reads this 😉 ).

I’ll say in passing that the same applies to the carbon bowsprit. I’m just going to trust that it won’t break.

The chainplates

There are no chainplates per se on Changabang. All rigging anchor points are built in the same way:

  • A large stainless pin is where the standing rigging attaches.
  • It’s held in place by a fiberglass pocket.
  • That pocket is attached to the boat using unidirectional fiberglass cloth that distributes the load in the hull.

The picture below may show what this looks like in practice. What could go wrong here? To be honest, I’m not sure. Maybe the stainless steel pin would corrode so much that it would … disintegrate under the load. Or the fiberglass would break. All that is hard to imagine happening in the near future. So again, I’ll trust the chainplates and all anchor points for the standing rigging (shrouds, forestay, backstays).

Anchor point for the V1


All the lateral rigging was replaced in 2018. This includes everything in between the horizontal pin seen above in the picture to the top of the mast as seen in the below picture: turnbuckles, articulations, dyform/monotoron cables.

Anchor point for the V2/D3 shrouds

NavTec’s guide seems to recommend a full inspection after 6 years or 40,000 miles. We’re hitting the 6-year mark in 2024. Depending on the conditions, NavTec says the cables can last between 5 and 20 years!

At the end of my RTW, the standing rigging would be 7.5 years old and have accumulated 47,000 miles. It’s a bit of a stretch compared to guidelines, but then the whole rigging seems oversized. Hence, here again, I think I’m going to trust that the shrouds will last.

Kevlar cables rigging

In addition to the shrouds, the following standing rigging contribute to the mast stability:

  • The forestay on which the solent is hoisted.
  • The inner forestay on which the staysail is hoisted.
  • The upper running backstays.
  • The lower running backstays.

All of these are NavTec sleeved Kevlar cables, of different ages. It should be noted that for all upwind work, only the forestay, the shrouds, and the mainsheet are actively keeping the mast upright. The backstays come into play when we start to crack off the wind. Note in the first picture above that the lower backstays meet with the inner forestay and the upper with the forestay. What this means is that the spinnaker halyard is not counterbalanced by anything. In other words, it seems like the most likely failure would be to lose the masthead, which in and of itself is not that bad (to be fair, preparing this would be several days of work at sea, up the mast, so no simple feat) as long as we carry fractional spinnakers.

For the Kevlar cables NavTec seems to be much less optimistic and recommends changing the cables every 30,000 miles or 6 years (these are the upper limits). Considering that the forestay cable is damaged and is always loaded, we will certainly invest in replacing that. All the others look just fine when inspected visually. I truly struggle to understand what could go wrong with these cables, considering that neither the running backs nor the inner forestay get loaded much/often. In particular, I don’t feel it is necessary to replace the lower running backs, which are barely loaded when loaded!

Similarly, the inner forestay is only loaded hand-tight (using a purchase system). It’s really there to hoist the staysail (and then it’s loaded on the winch) and safety in case the forestay were to snap. If for some ungodly reason it was to break when in use, it would certainly not be good. The conditions warranting a staysail (or storm sail) would likely mean trouble once the cable breaks and the staysail falls overboard. But the mast would still be up and I would have to fly the staysail from the forestay. This doesn’t feel like a major loss. Is it worth saving $1,000 though?

The upper running backs are only loaded when big headsails (gennaker, code O, spinnaker) are flown. But still, they are not cranked on really hard.

In the final analysis, replacing the upper running backs and the staysail forestay feels more like purchasing peace of mind insurance. The total cost to replace the forestay, inner forestay, upper running backstays, re-using the existing cable fittings, is about $5,000.

The boom

I replaced the gooseneck and re-surfaced the carbon fitting where it attaches to the mast. So I think that’s good to go. The boom, of course, was repaired. I’m going to trust what I am being told, which is that it is now stronger (even though it’s not 100% straight). I am also going to trust that all the boom fittings are good to go. The parts that I have doubts about are the boom-end sheaves, which are showing their age, after almost 20 years under the sun. But I’ve struggled getting them out so that’s a future project. The cost here is going to be less than $500, hopefully.

Lashings & blocks

There is a fair amount of ofter components, which are structural and help keep the mast up, mainly lashings and blocks (for the purchase systems used for the running backs and the inner forestay). We replaced all of the lashings that were structural. I keep an eye on the blocks and they seem to hold up. It’s somewhat funny to think that we invest so much in standing rigging but when considering the full system it could all come down because a small pin in a block gives up. See this story (second picture).


I hope the above makes sense. When the budget is tight difficult choices need to be made. I know I’m in part kicking the can down the road as eventually some of the above will need to be done. I’m hoping that the boat will be back in France where things are more affordable.

Let there be light

Today, I spent 90+ minutes hanging off the mast finishing the installation of the masthead light. I’m not excited about having a crimp-on splice out in the element; let’s hope it will be sufficiently watertight. We also have a temporary solution to the anchor light, which is battery-powered and can be hoisted on a halyard.

After that and saying goodbye to Alex, I went out for some sailing. The wind hovered around 10 kts. I am always amazed at how much this boat loves power-reaching. Even with just the main and jib up we were powering at 9+ kts. I tightened up the wind angle and sailed out for 4-5 miles. Then I flipped around and hoisted the Flying Fish spinnaker. The more I use this sail the more I like it. It was again really happy as a reaching spinnaker and we were able to hit speeds greater than 9 kts. The key concern with this sail is that it’s 0.75 oz density cloth and I need to not push it or it will lose its shape.

As I was saying …

Plans don’t turn out as they are supposed to. One finding of the rigging inspection was that the electrical wiring to the masthead light (used when motoring) was chafed through. I wanted to replace the wire and get the light to work again. Unfortunately, that wire was so corroded that it snapped and fell back into the mast.

Chafed wire

From there, a new adventure in boat projects started. The wire was coming out of the mast through a hole used by the thick radar cable. I didn’t think another wire would go through so I decided to drill another hole. After that, it was a long uphill battle to try to get the wire through. After many attempts, I finally got a reeving line (Dyneema twine with a bit of weight) through.

A reeving line

Next, I wiggled a new electrical wire through and used the reeving line to get it to come down to the mast foot. I went up the mast countless times in this process but finally got to a good place, where we can now install a new line and power it up, which is a project for next weekend. Boat projects never stop to amaze me how they take unexpected turns. This all started with “Let’s just check the bulb”. The insides of the lamp were so corroded that the wires just came off with a gentle pull.

Plans …

Don’t they ever turn out as we want them to? A lack of wind caused the cancellation of our weekend trip. Instead, we’re doing bits of work. Alex hoisted me up the mast again and I looked at the standing rigging and the mast. I took plenty of pictures here. I can’t say that it’s all perfect but aside from the upper headstay fitting, everything seems ok. I also took the opportunity to check under the bungee cords connecting the backstay to each other. And there too everything looked good.

Finally, last week we tried the B&G auto-pilot and for some reason it started steering the wrong way again, like it did then. So I swapped the wiring again, and that resolved it. I replaced the battery in the NKE crew remote and we’ll need to re-pair it to the boat.

The crew remote for the NKE system

And finally, I replaced the dog bone for the staysail. Speaking of which, we finally tried the staysail with the A2 up, and that was a lot of fun! See video in the gallery below:

A few nice videos here.

What’s on the menu?

We continue to proceed through the long list of small jobs. Last weekend I removed the primary clutch for the spinnaker, staysail, and mainsail halyard. I wanted to replace the red tongue (see picture) as it was broken on the mainsail, and malfunctioning on the spinnaker. I did fix the mainsail one but the spinnaker clutch is still not working as designed, which is a bit of a nuisance.

This one is new. Ours are … old looking 😉

It took a while to remove it from the boat, disassemble it, clean it, and put it all back together. It was oddly satisfying though, except for the finding that the spinnaker halyard line is still not grabbing, and requires a push on the red tongue to grab.

I also replaced the starboard cam cleat for the spinnaker tweaker that wasn’t 100% springing back in the locked position, took it home, and rebuilt it using Harken’s kit.

On Memorial Day weekend, we have plans to go sailing offshore for a couple of nights, hopefully leaving Friday evening, and returning to the Bay on Sunday evening. The next Monday we plan to meet with another sailor to get some coaching and advice on our sail wardrobe.

And then Tuesday 9/5, I plan to bring the boat back to the boatyard to have the recent bottom paint job inspected. The diver noticed that the paint washed off in a few places, which was not expected!

Working on the clutch.

On the Pacific Cup front, we have paid the remaining 2/3 of the entry fees. So that’s us getting locked in a little more.

On the list of important things to do, I am going to try to replace the boom end sheaves, which will require hammering out the sheave axle. I’m working on getting quotes for the sleeved Kevlar cables. Of course, we continue to explore sail purchases, in particular spinnakers. But even used, these don’t come cheap! It’s time to look into scheduling the engine maintenance too. There’s a strong need to go up the rig and inspect everything, maybe remove rust stains. The list is long as you would know …

Oh, and I completed the online training part of the offshore safety at sea training required by the PacCup!

Finally, some sailing

Last Saturday I took Changabang for a stroll in light wind off the California Coast. I didn’t put the mainsail. I just hoisted the cruising Flying Fish spinnaker and sailed close angles to the wind (110-100 TWA; 75-60 AWA). The spinnaker was quietly happy with that. After an hour I turned around and hoisted the large code 0, trying to keep the AWA at 55. All in all, it was a really nice day of sailing; we even hit speeds of about 8 kts!

Flying Fish spinnaker stretched tight for close reaching

Sunday, with Alex, we finally completed the navigation lights replacement projects. While Alex was busy working in close quarters aft, moving foam in and out of reserve flotation compartments, I continued to replace old lashings. In particular, I replaced the bowsprit lashing (well, one of the 3), as well as the lashings for the low friction ring used for the roller-furler tack. So, now we have 3 functioning lights (port, stern, starboard), which are handy when sailing at night in harbors or bays. Offshore we would use the masthead tri-color light.

That’s all for now.

Small jobs, making dough, no sailing

The above pretty much summarizes what’s been going on with Changabang. We’ve been going through a few small boat jobs:

  • Shortened mainsail outhaul as the bowline chafe cover was 30 % chafed through in one spot.
  • Navigation lights replacement:
    • Refit stern nav lights brackets
    • Installed new LED stern nav lights
    • Wired starboard and stern nav lights (need to do port + re-install foam)
  • Replaced traveler Ronstan cam cleat (x 2)
  • Replaced lower backstay Dyneema loop (x 2)
  • Replaced cam cleat for inner jib car control line (x 2)
The old traveler cam cleats

The soccer season is back in swing with tournaments so I’m back on the pitch refereeing games to put a bit of money in the cruising kitty. As a result, Changabang’s sails have not seen the sun in a while now. I’ll say that I also injured my shoulder doing work in cramped spaces.

I had a good conversation with Atelier Cables in France about the standing rigging, in particular, the sleeved Kevlar stays (head, inner, back upper x 2, back lower x 2).

Next, I’m hoping for my shoulder to feel better so that we can go sailing next weekend. I have plans to install more cam cleats to offer better management of the hydro-generator’s down/uphaul tackle, as well as lead the main and spinnaker sheets to the companionway to allow for release from inside the boat. I would like to go up the rig again for an inspection. The bottom already needs a clean-up job. I’d like to replace the boom-end sheaves. The list is long …

Boat projects!

If you own a boat you know. If you don’t then lucky you!

Ever since I purchased Changabang there’s one piece of equipment I’ve wanted to replace: the control mechanism for the throttle/gear shift of the diesel engine. Although very corroded it works except for one annoying thing. There’s a button on it that disengages the gear shift, which allows you to rev up the engine when using it to charge the batteries. It’s not important at all especially since one can simply disconnect the gear shift cable from the engine, accomplishing exactly the same outcome.

But I had been advised to replace it and I had purchased the part necessary to replace it. Last weekend under Alex’s encouraging nudge we started the work. It was quite the party to remove the old control mechanism. We had to take it apart just to get it out, which took many hours. Once we had it out we had to surrender to the fact that we were not going to be able to salvage the throttle lever. Lucky for us, Helmut’s Marine had one in stock, which Alex picked up Monday.

And so yesterday we finished the work. Today I confirmed that everything seems to work as intended. In fact, it looks for one reason or another we managed to gain one extra knot of boat speed. Our max motoring speed is now 7.28 kts. I don’t want to write a blow by blow recap of how this project went because, at every turn, we had to improvise a little, purchase new tools and hardware.

We also addressed a nagging problem. The port backstay clutch was not gripping the rope. No amount of cleaning would fix it. We took it off the boat, opened it, partly disassembled it, removed the rust, did a bit of sanding, and put it back into action. I also hope this repair will last. When things had to be done fast this clutch was a real liability when switching backstay. I’m glad we worked on this.

Spending time offshore

We are signed up for the 2024 Pacific Cup race to Hawaii. In preparation, I wanted to get some offshore double-handing under our belt, to know what it feels like. Last weekend we left Saturday morning and came back Sunday afternoon after spending a little over 200 miles at sea. It was good work. We sailed a bit away from the Coast and then sailed downwind. During that leg we changed the spinnaker 3 times, trying a douse by releasing the tack line first, and one by releasing the sheet first instead. I think we concluded that easing the sheet is best, with a bit of tack line off too. Then, with the water ballast full, we came back upwind towards the coast until the sun came down and proceeded to sail due West for the whole night. When the sun came back up we turned back towards HMB, sailing with the A1.5 spinnaker, then the gennaker. Finally, I chose to motor-sail the last 5 miles or so as the wind came down.

A tiny figure-eight voyage 😉

I didn’t get seasick, which was a positive surprise. I think with Alex we each found our space. There are few things to sort inside the boat for a longer stay at sea, but generally speaking, I think I was pleasantly surprised. The one thing that bothered me the next day or so was that I think that we need to be a little more respectful of safety guidelines, and in particular tethering to the boat at night.

Of course, things broke:

  • The spinnaker halyard chafe cover came undone, which could have required a trip aloft. I’m lucky that wasn’t required. This was fixed underway. Although that halyard has seen better days!
  • A bolt on the starboard tiller broke. That still needs fixing.
  • The jib halyard is showing chafe in an unexpected place, which will require investigation.

We used the hydrogenerators to charge the batteries to full twice, which was good. Food-wise, it was the usual JetBoil & freeze-dried combo. I was well hydrated the first day but not so much the second day. I need to continue to drink through the night. Sunday morning we were greeted by dolphins who swam along Changabang for a while.

I was a little sore the next day, which, considering how much work we did compared to our usual sails outings, was not bad at all!

As a separate update on the maintenance front, I’ve been replacing Dyneema control lines for the jib cars, the lashings on the inner headstay blocks, and some of the safety lashings on the backstay blocks. The running rigging, after baking in the sun for the better part of 6 years, has seen better days!

All right, that’s all for now. Just a bunch of random thoughts collected into a blog post.

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