Standing Rigging (or ‘Name That Stay’)

Published by rigworks on november 19, 2019.

Question: When your riggers talk about standing rigging, they often use terms I don’t recognize. Can you break it down for me?

From the Rigger: Let’s play ‘Name that Stay’…

Continuous

Forestay (1 or HS) – The forestay, or headstay, connects the mast to the front (bow) of the boat and keeps your mast from falling aft.

  • Your forestay can be full length (masthead to deck) or fractional (1/8 to 1/4 from the top of the mast to the deck).
  • Inner forestays, including staysail stays, solent stays and baby stays, connect to the mast below the main forestay and to the deck aft of the main forestay. Inner forestays allow you to hoist small inner headsails and/or provide additional stability to your rig.

Backstay (2 or BS) – The backstay runs from the mast to the back of the boat (transom) and is often adjustable to control forestay tension and the shape of the sails.

  • A backstay can be either continuous (direct from mast to transom) or it may split in the lower section (7) with “legs” that ‘V’ out to the edges of the transom.
  • Backstays often have hydraulic or manual tensioners built into them to increase forestay tension and bend the mast, which flattens your mainsail.
  • Running backstays can be removable, adjustable, and provide additional support and tuning usually on fractional rigs. They run to the outer edges of the transom and are adjusted with each tack. The windward running back is in tension and the leeward is eased so as not to interfere with the boom and sails.
  • Checkstays, useful on fractional rigs with bendy masts, are attached well below the backstay and provide aft tension to the mid panels of the mast to reduce mast bend and provide stabilization to reduce the mast from pumping.

Shrouds – Shrouds support the mast from side to side. Shrouds are either continuous or discontinuous .

Continuous rigging, common in production sailboats, means that each shroud (except the lowers) is a continuous piece of material that connects to the mast at some point, passes through the spreaders without terminating, and continues to the deck. There may be a number of continuous shrouds on your boat ( see Figure 1 ).

  • Cap shrouds (3) , sometimes called uppers, extend from masthead to the chainplates at the deck.
  • Intermediate shrouds (4) extend from mid-mast panel to deck.
  • Lower shrouds extend from below the spreader-base to the chainplates. Fore- (5) and Aft-Lowers (6) connect to the deck either forward or aft of the cap shroud.

Discontinuous rigging, common on high performance sailboats, is a series of shorter lengths that terminate in tip cups at each spreader. The diameter of the wire/rod can be reduced in the upper sections where loads are lighter, reducing overall weight. These independent sections are referred to as V# and D# ( see Figure 2 ). For example, V1 is the lowest vertical shroud that extends from the deck to the outer tip of the first spreader. D1 is the lowest diagonal shroud that extends from the deck to the mast at the base of the first spreader. The highest section that extends from the upper spreader to the mast head may be labeled either V# or D#.

A sailboat’s standing rigging is generally built from wire rope, rod, or occasionally a super-strong synthetic fibered rope such as Dyneema ® , carbon fiber, kevlar or PBO.

  • 1×19 316 grade stainless steel Wire Rope (1 group of 19 wires, very stiff with low stretch) is standard on most sailboats. Wire rope is sized/priced by its diameter which varies from boat to boat, 3/16” through 1/2″ being the most common range.
  • 1×19 Compact Strand or Dyform wire, a more expensive alternative, is used to increase strength, reduce stretch, and minimize diameter on high performance boats such as catamarans. It is also the best alternative when replacing rod with wire.
  • Rod rigging offers lower stretch, longer life expectancy, and higher breaking strength than wire. Unlike wire rope, rod is defined by its breaking strength, usually ranging from -10 to -40 (approx. 10k to 40k breaking strength), rather than diameter. So, for example, we refer to 7/16” wire (diameter) vs. -10 Rod (breaking strength).
  • Composite Rigging is a popular option for racing boats. It offers comparable breaking strengths to wire and rod with a significant reduction in weight and often lower stretch.

Are your eyes crossing yet? This is probably enough for now, but stay tuned for our next ‘Ask the Rigger’. We will continue this discussion with some of the fittings/connections/hardware associated with your standing rigging.

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Maritime Page

What is a Shroud on a Sailboat? A Detailed Exploration

In the fascinating world of sailing, there’s a crucial piece of hardware known as a shroud on a sailboat. This integral part has quite a role to play, ensuring the stability and proper functioning of your seafaring vessel.

Like a trusted companion, it bears the strain of winds and waves, maintaining the mast’s vertical position. But what exactly is it? How does it work? Let’s dive into the details.

what is a shroud on a sailboat

What is a Shroud on a Sailboat?

Picture yourself on a sailboat, your eyes following the sturdy mast upwards as it pierces the clear blue sky. It stands tall and unyielding, bearing the sails that capture the wind and drive you forward. But how does it maintain its vertical position in the face of gushing winds and raging storms? That’s where the shroud comes in.

Shrouds on a sailboat are essentially the standing rigging wires that run from the masthead to the sides of the boat. They offer lateral support, keeping the mast stable and upright. In simple words, shrouds are the strong arms that support the mast when the wind blows from the side.

Now, let’s peel back a layer and take a closer look at the different types of shrouds that help your sailboat function seamlessly.

Different Types of Shrouds

When it comes to the rigging of a sailboat, understanding the different types of shrouds goes a long way in ensuring the safety and performance of your vessel. Each type of shroud serves a unique purpose, working in harmony to uphold the mast’s stability. Let’s delve into the intricate world of cap shrouds, uppers, and lower shrouds, and unravel their unique roles.

Cap Shrouds

Imagine the mast of your sailboat as a towering fortress. It braves the wind, waves, and weather, standing tall and strong. But even a fortress needs its guards, and in the case of your mast, these are the cap shrouds.

Cap shrouds extend from the very top of the mast to the sides of the boat, anchoring it firmly against the lateral forces induced by the wind and the sea. They act as the primary support system, preventing your mast from swaying excessively side-to-side. But their role isn’t limited to just fortifying the mast. They also contribute to the overall stability and balance of the sailboat, allowing you to navigate the waters with confidence.

For a detailed exploration of various sailboat types and to understand where cap shrouds play a pivotal role, check out our extensive guide on Different Types of Sailboats Explained .

While the cap shrouds guard the topmost part of the mast, the section just below the masthead, known as the uppers, has its line of defense too. Uppers, or upper shrouds, provide crucial support to this part of the mast.

They work hand-in-glove with the cap shrouds, forming a second line of defense against the lateral forces. Uppers ensure the part of the mast they hold remains steadfast and upright, contributing to the overall rigidity of your sailboat’s structure.

Lower Shrouds

And then we come to the base. The lower part of the mast, which takes on a significant amount of strain and stress. This is where the lower shrouds step into the picture.

Lower shrouds secure the lower third of the mast, reducing the side-to-side motion that could result in undue strain on your boat’s structure. By minimizing this movement, they prevent potential mast damage and ensure your sailboat maintains its balance.

The type and number of shrouds used on a sailboat can vary. Factors such as the sailboat’s design, its size, and the conditions it will sail in, all influence the shroud setup. Some sailboats may even feature intermediate shrouds, adding another layer of support.

Now that you’re familiar with the various types of shrouds and their roles, it’s time to explore the materials they are crafted from. Because just like the sails that catch the wind (learn more in our Comprehensive Guide on Types of Sails on Sailboats ), the material of your shrouds significantly influences your sailing experience.

Now that you know the roles of different types of shrouds, let’s talk about what they’re made of.

Materials Used for Shrouds

Shrouds are typically made of stainless steel wire, which offers durability and strength. However, the advent of modern materials has seen a shift towards synthetic fibers such as Dyneema and Vectran . These materials offer the same level of strength but at a fraction of the weight, making them an excellent choice for racing yachts. You can learn more about such yachts in our article Racing Sailing Yachts – Black Sails .

Just as you would pay attention to the quality of sails for your boat (check out our comprehensive guide on Types of Sails on Sailboats ), selecting the right material for shrouds is equally crucial.

Now, having understood the different types of shrouds and the materials used, let’s turn our focus to one of the most crucial aspects of shroud setup – the proper tension.

Importance of Proper Shroud Tension

Just like a finely tuned instrument, your sailboat requires a perfect balance. A big part of that balance lies in achieving the right shroud tension. Too loose, and the mast could sway more than necessary, affecting your boat’s performance and potentially causing damage. Too tight, and you could put excessive pressure on the hull, leading to unwanted strain and even structural damage. The right tension ensures optimal sail shape and the best performance of your vessel.

Finally, let’s discuss the critical aspect of maintaining and replacing shrouds, which ensures your sailboat continues to ride the waves effortlessly.

Maintaining and Replacing Shrouds

Maintaining your shrouds isn’t a one-off task; it’s an ongoing commitment. Regular inspections for wear and tear, corrosion, and proper tension can keep potential issues at bay. Small problems can be spotted and fixed before they snowball into expensive repairs or dangerous situations at sea.

Replacing shrouds can be a tricky business, depending on the size and complexity of your rigging. While minor repairs can be done by a knowledgeable sailor, it’s recommended to hire a professional when it comes to complete replacement.

Costs for shroud replacement can vary, depending on the material used, the size of the boat, and the complexity of the rigging. However, investing in quality shrouds and proper maintenance can save you from potential damage and costly repairs down the line.

In the fascinating world of sailing, understanding the nitty-gritty of each component makes the journey even more rewarding. We hope this article has shed light on the importance and functionality of shrouds on a sailboat. Next time you’re out sailing, remember to appreciate these silent warriors that help navigate the high seas.

For more exciting content about the world of sailing, be sure to check out our list of Best Sailing Movies and learn more about Sailboat Racing Flags and Signals .

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Table of Terms about Shrouds on Sailboats

Faqs about shrouds on sailboats, what is a shroud on a sailboat.

A shroud is a standing rigging wire that provides lateral support to the mast of a sailboat.

Why are shrouds important on a sailboat?

Shrouds maintain the stability and vertical position of the mast, enabling optimal sail performance and boat balance.

What are the different types of shrouds?

The three main types of shrouds are cap shrouds, upper shrouds, and lower shrouds, each supporting different sections of the mast.

What materials are commonly used for shrouds?

Shrouds are typically made from stainless steel, but modern variants can also use synthetic materials like Dyneema and Vectran.

How often should shrouds be replaced?

The frequency of replacement depends on the condition of the shrouds. Regular inspection helps detect wear and tear, dictating when a replacement is needed.

About the author

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I worked as an officer in the deck department on various types of vessels, including oil and chemical tankers, LPG carriers, and even reefer and TSHD in the early years. Currently employed as Marine Surveyor carrying cargo, draft, bunker, and warranty survey.

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The Standing Rigging On A Sailboat Explained

The standing rigging on a sailboat is a system of stainless steel wires that holds the mast upright and supports the spars.

In this guide, I’ll explain the basics of a sailboat’s hardware and rigging, how it works, and why it is a fundamental and vital part of the vessel. We’ll look at the different parts of the rig, where they are located, and their function.

We will also peek at a couple of different types of rigs and their variations to determine their differences. In the end, I will explain some additional terms and answer some practical questions I often get asked.

But first off, it is essential to understand what standing rigging is and its purpose on a sailboat.

The purpose of the standing rigging

Like I said in the beginning, the standing rigging on a sailboat is a system of stainless steel wires that holds the mast upright and supports the spars. When sailing, the rig helps transfer wind forces from the sails to the boat’s structure. This is critical for maintaining the stability and performance of the vessel.

The rig can also consist of other materials, such as synthetic lines or steel rods, yet its purpose is the same. But more on that later.

Since the rig supports the mast, you’ll need to ensure that it is always in appropriate condition before taking your boat out to sea. Let me give you an example from a recent experience.

Dismasting horrors

I had a company inspect the entire rig on my sailboat while preparing for an Atlantic crossing. The rigger didn’t find any issues, but I decided to replace the rig anyway because of its unknown age. I wanted to do the job myself so I could learn how it is done correctly.

Not long after, we left Gibraltar and sailed through rough weather for eight days before arriving in Las Palmas. We were safe and sound and didn’t experience any issues. Unfortunately, several other boats arriving before us had suffered rig failures. They lost their masts and sails—a sorrowful sight but also a reminder of how vital the rigging is on a sailboat.

The most common types of rigging on a sailboat

The most commonly used rig type on modern sailing boats is the fore-and-aft Bermuda Sloop rig with one mast and just one headsail. Closely follows the Cutter rig and the Ketch rig. They all have a relatively simple rigging layout. Still, there are several variations and differences in how they are set up.

A sloop has a single mast, and the Ketch has one main mast and an additional shorter mizzen mast further aft. A Cutter rig is similar to the Bermuda Sloop with an additional cutter forestay, allowing it to fly two overlapping headsails.

You can learn more about the differences and the different types of sails they use in this guide. For now, we’ll focus on the Bermuda rig.

The difference between standing rigging and running rigging

Sometimes things can get confusing as some of our nautical terms are used for multiple items depending on the context. Let me clarify just briefly:

The  rig  or  rigging  on a sailboat is a common term for two parts:

  • The  standing rigging  consists of wires supporting the mast on a sailboat and reinforcing the spars from the force of the sails when sailing.
  • The  running rigging  consists of the halyards, sheets, and lines we use to hoist, lower, operate, and control the sails on a sailboat.

Check out my guide on running rigging here !

The difference between a fractional and a masthead rig

A Bermuda rig is split into two groups. The  Masthead  rig and the  Fractional  rig.

The  Masthead  rig has a forestay running from the bow to the top of the mast, and the spreaders point 90 degrees to the sides. A boat with a masthead rig typically carries a bigger overlapping headsail ( Genoa)  and a smaller mainsail. Very typical on the Sloop, Ketch, and Cutter rigs.

A  Fractional  rig has forestays running from the bow to 1/4 – 1/8 from the top of the mast, and the spreaders are swept backward. A boat with a fractional rig also has the mast farther forward than a masthead rig, a bigger mainsail, and a smaller headsail, usually a Jib. Very typical on more performance-oriented sailboats.

There are exceptions in regards to the type of headsail, though. Many performance cruisers use a Genoa instead of a Jib , making the difference smaller.

Some people also fit an inner forestay, or a babystay, to allow flying a smaller staysail.

Explaining the parts and hardware of the standing rigging

The rigging on a sailing vessel relies on stays and shrouds in addition to many hardware parts to secure the mast properly. And we also have nautical terms for each of them. Since a system relies on every aspect of it to be in equally good condition, we want to familiarize ourselves with each part and understand its function.

Forestay and Backstay

The  forestay  is a wire that runs from the bow to the top of the mast. Some boats, like the Cutter rig, can have several additional inner forestays in different configurations.

The  backstay  is the wire that runs from the back of the boat to the top of the mast. Backstays have a tensioner, often hydraulic, to increase the tension when sailing upwind. Some rigs, like the Cutter, have running backstays and sometimes checkstays or runners, to support the rig.

The primary purpose of the forestay and backstay is to prevent the mast from moving fore and aft. The tensioner on the backstay also allows us to trim and tune the rig to get a better shape of the sails.

The shrouds are the wires or lines used on modern sailboats and yachts to support the mast from sideways motion.

There are usually four shrouds on each side of the vessel. They are connected to the side of the mast and run down to turnbuckles attached through toggles to the chainplates bolted on the deck.

  • Cap shrouds run from the top of the mast to the deck, passing through the tips of the upper spreaders.
  • Intermediate shrouds  run from the lower part of the mast to the deck, passing through the lower set of spreaders.
  • Lower shrouds  are connected to the mast under the first spreader and run down to the deck – one fore and one aft on each side of the boat.

This configuration is called continuous rigging. We won’t go into the discontinuous rigging used on bigger boats in this guide, but if you are interested, you can read more about it here .

Shroud materials

Shrouds are usually made of 1 x 19 stainless steel wire. These wires are strong and relatively easy to install but are prone to stretch and corrosion to a certain degree. Another option is using stainless steel rods.

Rod rigging

Rod rigging has a stretch coefficient lower than wire but is more expensive and can be intricate to install. Alternatively, synthetic rigging is becoming more popular as it weighs less than wire and rods.

Synthetic rigging

Fibers like Dyneema and other aramids are lightweight and provide ultra-high tensile strength. However, they are expensive and much more vulnerable to chafing and UV damage than other options. In my opinion, they are best suited for racing and regatta-oriented sailboats.

Wire rigging

I recommend sticking to the classic 316-graded stainless steel wire rigging for cruising sailboats. It is also the most reasonable of the options. If you find yourself in trouble far from home, you are more likely to find replacement wire than another complex rigging type.

Relevant terms on sailboat rigging and hardware

The spreaders are the fins or wings that space the shrouds away from the mast. Most sailboats have at least one set, but some also have two or three. Once a vessel has more than three pairs of spreaders, we are probably talking about a big sailing yacht.

A turnbuckle is the fitting that connects the shrouds to the toggle and chainplate on the deck. These are adjustable, allowing you to tension the rig.

A chainplate is a metal plate bolted to a strong point on the deck or side of the hull. It is usually reinforced with a backing plate underneath to withstand the tension from the shrouds.

The term mast head should be distinct from the term masthead rigging. Out of context, the mast head is the top of the mast.

A toggle is a hardware fitting to connect the turnbuckles on the shrouds and the chainplate.

How tight should the standing rigging be?

It is essential to periodically check the tension of the standing rigging and make adjustments to ensure it is appropriately set. If the rig is too loose, it allows the mast to sway excessively, making the boat perform poorly.

You also risk applying a snatch load during a tack or a gybe which can damage the rig. On the other hand, if the standing rigging is too tight, it can strain the rig and the hull and lead to structural failure.

The standing rigging should be tightened enough to prevent the mast from bending sideways under any point of sail. If you can move the mast by pulling the cap shrouds by hand, the rigging is too loose and should be tensioned. Once the cap shrouds are tightened, follow up with the intermediates and finish with the lower shrouds. It is critical to tension the rig evenly on both sides.

The next you want to do is to take the boat out for a trip. Ensure that the mast isn’t bending over to the leeward side when you are sailing. A little movement in the leeward shrouds is normal, but they shouldn’t swing around. If the mast bends to the leeward side under load, the windward shrouds need to be tightened. Check the shrouds while sailing on both starboard and port tack.

Once the mast is in a column at any point of sail, your rigging should be tight and ready for action.

If you feel uncomfortable adjusting your rig, get a professional rigger to inspect and reset it.

How often should the standing rigging be replaced on a sailboat?

I asked the rigger who produced my new rig for Ellidah about how long I could expect my new rig to last, and he replied with the following:

The standing rigging should be replaced after 10 – 15 years, depending on how hard and often the boat has sailed. If it is well maintained and the vessel has sailed conservatively, it will probably last more than 20 years. However, corrosion or cracked strands indicate that the rig or parts are due for replacement regardless of age.

If you plan on doing extended offshore sailing and don’t know the age of your rig, I recommend replacing it even if it looks fine. This can be done without removing the mast from the boat while it is still in the water.

How much does it cost to replace the standing rigging?

The cost of replacing the standing rigging will vary greatly depending on the size of your boat and the location you get the job done. For my 41 feet sloop, I did most of the installation myself and paid approximately $4700 for the entire rig replacement.

Can Dyneema be used for standing rigging?

Dyneema is a durable synthetic fiber that can be used for standing rigging. Its low weight, and high tensile strength makes it especially popular amongst racers. Many cruisers also carry Dyneema onboard as spare parts for failing rigging.

How long does dyneema standing rigging last?

Dyneema rigging can outlast wire rigging if it doesn’t chafe on anything sharp. There are reports of Dyneema rigging lasting as long as 15 years, but manufacturers like Colligo claim their PVC shrink-wrapped lines should last 8 to 10 years. You can read more here .

Final words

Congratulations! By now, you should have a much better understanding of standing rigging on a sailboat. We’ve covered its purpose and its importance for performance and safety. While many types of rigs and variations exist, the hardware and concepts are often similar. Now it’s time to put your newfound knowledge into practice and set sail!

Or, if you’re not ready just yet, I recommend heading over to my following guide to learn more about running rigging on a sailboat.

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Skipper, Electrician and ROV Pilot

Robin is the founder and owner of Sailing Ellidah and has been living on his sailboat since 2019. He is currently on a journey to sail around the world and is passionate about writing his story and helpful content to inspire others who share his interest in sailing.

Very well written. Common sense layout with just enough photos and sketches. I enjoyed reading this article.

Thank you for the kind words.

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Sailboat Rigging:  Part 1 - Standing Rigging

When we talk about sailboat rigging, we mean all the wires, ropes and lines that support the rig and control the sails. To be more precise, the highly tensioned stays and shrouds that support the mast are known collectively as standing rigging , whilst the rope halyards, sheets and other control lines come under the heading of running rigging.

A Freedom 44 Cat Ketch

Some sailboats with unsupported masts, like the junk rig and catboat rigs have no standing rigging at all.

Bermudan sloops with their single mast and just one headsail will have a relatively simple rigging layout - those with a single set of spreaders especially so.

The most complex rigging of all will be found on staysail ketches and schooners with multi-spreader rigs.

A Bowman 57 staysail ketch

Fairly obviously, the mast on a sailboat is an important bit of kit.

Let's make a start by taking a look at the standing rigging that holds it up...

Standing Rigging

Cruising sailboats will have their mast supported by 1 x 19 stainless steel wire in most cases, but some racing boats may opt for stainless steel rod rigging. Why? Well rod rigging has a stretch coefficient that is some 20% less than wire, but...

  • It's more expensive than wire;
  • It's more difficult to install and adjust;
  • It suffers from metal fatigue, signs of which are difficult to spot;
  • It's less flexible and has a much shorter useful life span

So it's 1 x 19 stainless steel wire for us cruising types.

sketch showing main elements of standing rigging on sloop sailboat

Cap Shrouds

These are the parts of a sailboat's rigging that hold the mast in place athwartship. They're attached at the masthead and via chainplates to the hull.

Lower Shrouds

Further athwartship support is provided by forward and aft lower shrouds, which are connected to the mast just under the first spreader and at the other end to the hull.

The mast is supported fore and aft by stays - the forestay and backstay to be precise.

Cutter rigs require an inner forestay upon which to hang the staysail, which unlike a removable inner forestay, becomes an element of the overall rig structure.

As this stay exerts a forward component of force on the mast, it must be resisted by an equal and opposite force acting aft - either by swept-back spreaders, aft intermediates or running backstays.

Another stay that deserves a mention is the triatic backstay. This is the stay that is found on some ketches, and it's the stay from the top of the mainmast to the top of the mizzen mast.

It's a convenient alternative to a independent forestay for the mizzen. Although it makes a great antenna for an SSB radio , it does ensure that if you lose one mast, you're likely to lose the other.

Multi-Spreader Rigs

With the lower shrouds supporting the mast athwartship at the lower spreaders, intermediate shrouds do the same thing for any other sets of spreaders. These take the form of a diagonal tie between the inner end of one spreader and the outer end of the spreader below it.

Continuous or Discontinuous Sailboat Rigging

The shrouds on all single-spreader rig and some double-spreader rigs are continuous. With three or more spreaders, this arrangement becomes impractical - discontinuous rigging is the way to go. So what's that?

Well, if you consider the mast rigging as a series of panels, ie:~

  • Lower Panel ~ From the deck to the first set of spreaders;
  • Top panel ~ From top set of spreaders to the masthead;
  • Intermediate Panels ~ Between each set of spreaders.

Then discontinuous rigging is when each shroud is terminated at the top and bottom of each panel.

The main benefits of discontinuous sailboat rigging is:~

  • The rig can be more accurately set up, and
  • Weight aloft is substantially reduced;
  • It can be replaced in small doses.

Chainplates, Turnbuckles and Toggles

sailboat rigging turnbuckle, rigging screw, bottle screw and toggle

It's through these vitally important sailboat rigging components the shrouds are attached to the hull.

The chainplate is a metal plate bolted to a strongpoint in the hull, often a reinforced section of a bulkhead.

It must be aligned with angle of the shroud attached to it through a toggle, to avoid all but direct tensile loads.

Whilst cap shrouds will be vertical - or close to it - lower shrouds will be angled in both a fore-and-aft direction and athwartship.

the toggle, a vital element of the standing rigging on sailboats

Artwork by Andrew Simpson

Toggles are stainless steel fittings whose sole purpose in life is absorb any non-linear loads between the shrouds and the chainplate.

Consequently, they must be of a design that enables rotation in both the vertical and horizontal planes.

Note the split pin! These are much more secure than split rings which can gradually work their out of clevis pins - with disastrous results.

Turnbuckles, or rigging screws or bottlescrews, are stainless steel devices that enables the shroud tension to be adjusted.

Next: Part 2 - Running Rigging

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Practical Boat Owner

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How to set up your rig: tension your shrouds on masthead or fractional

David Harding

  • David Harding
  • March 15, 2021

How to set up three common types of rig: the traditional masthead with a single set of in-line spreaders, single-spreader swept fractional rigs, and fractional rigs with two sets of swept spreaders. David Harding reports

shrouds on a sailboat

How to set up your rig : tension your shrouds on masthead or fractional

If boats were cars, many of those I see sailing along would be coughing and spluttering down the motorway at 35mph in third gear with three flat tyres and a smoky exhaust. Others would cruise past in top gear at 70, making half the noise and using a fraction of the fuel.

Would these top-gear drivers be working any harder? Would they have cars that were faster by design and more expensive? Not at all. They would simply be the ones who had pumped up their tyres, learned their way around the gearbox and had their engines serviced.

shrouds on a sailboat

It’s worth keeping an eye on your leeward cap shrouds during early-season outings after the mast has been re-stepped. The ones on this yacht could do with a little more tension

The obvious question, then, is why so many boat owners seem to leave their quest for efficiency and economy on the dockside.

One answer is that many are unaware how inefficiently their boats are performing. Another is that there’s no MOT for sailing boats and no driving test to make sure people know how to sail them (thank goodness on both counts).

Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that an efficient rig is fundamental. If the rig’s not right, the sails have no hope of setting properly.

And that’s important whether you’re racing or cruising, because sailors of both persuasions ultimately want the same: maximum lift for minimum drag.

For racers, that means more speed and better results. They carry more sail because they have more crew to handle it and more weight on the rail to balance it.

Cruisers carry less sail but, if it works efficiently, it means less heel, less leeway, better pointing, less tacking, a lighter helm and greater comfort than if it’s working inefficiently – plus the ability to get home before night falls or the pub shuts. Who can object to that?

What matters is that the sail you’re carrying is driving you forwards, not pushing you sideways.

When I question cruising sailors about the state of their rig I often get the reply ‘Oh it doesn’t matter – I’m not racing!’.

Those I know who have done something about it, however, have been delighted by the transformation their boats have undergone and have had to agree that cruising fast and comfortably is definitely better.

Setting up your boat rigging

In this article we’re going to look at how to set up the three most common types of rig: the traditional masthead with a single set of in-line spreaders, single-spreader swept fractional rigs, and fractional rigs with two sets of swept spreaders.

For simplicity we’re assuming the use of 1×19 rigging except where mentioned otherwise.

Variations in rig type are almost infinite by the time you take into account deck-stepped and keel-stepped masts, masthead rigs with swept spreaders, jumper struts, fractional rigs with in-line spreaders, and so on.

Once you understand the basics, however, you’ll find that you can apply your knowledge to good effect on most types of rig.

Rig-tuning is not only for the experts. Experience helps, of course, and a multiple-spreader fractional rig is harder to tune than an old tree-trunk of a masthead rig from the 1970s.

Nonetheless, with practice, a good eye and some observation you will probably find you can set it up pretty well.

You might want to call in a rigger or an experienced rig-tweaker to help or to do it for you the first time, and perhaps to check it periodically thereafter, but at least if you know what to look for you’ll notice when anything needs adjusting.

A word of warning when it comes to boatyards that have re-stepped your mast: sometimes re-stepping means just that and no more.

I have been on boats whose owners have assumed that the yard had set up the rig, whereas in fact it had just been dropped in and the bottlescrews hand-tensioned to stop it falling over.

It’s scary to think of the number of boats that must have been sailed in this condition.

What you will need to tune your rig Essential A calm day: don’t try setting up your rig in more than a few knots of wind A boat that’s floating level fore-and-aft (and preferably laterally as well) Screwdriver/lever bar Spanners (fixed or adjustable) Needle-nose pliers for split-pins Electrical insulation or self-amalgamating tape Lubricant for bottlescrews Tape measure (folding/small cassette type, or ideally folding rule) Useful Spring balance Long tape-measure Rig-tension gauge

The importance of enough tension: Why tight is right

If you think you’re being kind to your boat by leaving the rigging slack, think again. It’s true that some keelboats (such as Squibs and XODs) sail with the leeward cap shroud waving around in the wind, but that doesn’t work on yachts designed to go to sea.

Rigging that’s under-tensioned puts infinitely more load on the wire, bottlescrews, terminals and hull structure because of the snatch loads every time the boat falls off a wave. When it hits the bottom of the trough, anything that’s free to move gets thrown forwards and sideways before being brought up short by whatever happens to be in the way to stop it. That applies to the crew, to loose gear down below or to the mast. Think of the inertia to which a mast is subjected because of its height, and you can imagine the loads involved.

If the rigging is sensibly tight, on the other hand, movement and the consequent stresses are minimised.

Boats are built to withstand the static loads of a properly-tensioned rig, but asking them to cope with constant snatch loading is unfair – so don’t kill your boat with kindness.

As we discuss in the sections on the types of rig (below), masthead configurations with in-line spreaders need less cap-shroud tension than swept-spreader fractional rigs. This is because in-line caps are only supporting the mast laterally. The backstay stops it moving forwards, so each wire has a separate, clearly-defined role.

Aft-swept caps support the mast both laterally and fore-and-aft. Being swept aft typically about 25°, they need to be under a lot of tension to keep the forestay tight. Because they’re also at a much shallower angle to the mast, they bear between three and five times the load of the forestay.

With fractional rigs, then, it’s vital to keep the cap shrouds tight. If they’re too loose, the forestay will sag too much, the headsail will become too full and its leech will be too tight. Then the boat will become unbalanced, heel too far, make more leeway and lose both speed and pointing ability.

Structurally, under-tensioned rigging with a swept-spreader rig presents a problem in addition to the issue of snatch loading. Tension in the leeward cap shroud is important in keeping the mast in column, to the extent that Loos and Co (the manufacturer of the popular rig-tension gauges) states that a mast loses 50% of its lateral stiffness when the leeward cap goes slack. When this happens, the mast is effectively hinging around the forestay and the windward cap shroud and is far more prone to pumping as the boat bounces around.

The main reason why under-tensioned rigs on cruising boats stay standing as they do is that manufacturers build in enormous margins.

Even so, proper tension means better performance and greater safety. The ‘it doesn’t matter – I’m only cruising’ excuse for slack rigging just doesn’t cut it!

How to measure rig tension

shrouds on a sailboat

This Loos gauge (left image) is indicating that the 6mm wire in the cap shroud is at 22% of its breaking strain (730kg). To measure the stretch, extend a tape measure (right) (or ideally a folding rule) to 2,000mm and mark this distance up the wire…

shrouds on a sailboat

…but start with the end of the tape a couple of millimetres above the top of the swaging. As the wire is tensioned it will stretch, increasing the gap below the end of the tape.

Experienced riggers and rig-tweakers will often tension the rigging at the dockside by feel, then sight up the mast and make any adjustments under way.

Most people aren’t confident enough to do this, though – so what are the best ways to check the tension as you wind down the bottlescrews?

The simplest and quickest way is to use a rig-tension meter, such as the Loos gauge. Once you know the diameter of the wire, it will give you the load both in kg and as a percentage of its breaking strain.

The gauge for rigging of 5m and 6mm (and up to 14% of breaking strain on 7mm) typically costs around £65, while the bigger version for wire from 7mm to 10mm is closer to £200.

If you don’t have a tension gauge, you can calculate the percentage of a wire’s breaking strain by measuring its stretch, normally over a distance of 2m: when 1×19 wire has stretched by 1mm over a 2,000mm length, it’s at 5% of its breaking load whatever its diameter.

Most cruising boats have rigging made from 1×19 wire. On sportier boats it might be Dyform or rod, in which case 5% of breaking load is indicated by stretch of 0.95 and 0.7mm respectively. For the purpose or our illustrations we’ll assume 1×19.

For accurate measurement the rigging needs to be completely slack. Hold the end of the tape a couple of millimetres above the top of the swaging, then measure 2,000mm up the wire, secure the other end of the tape here and start tensioning. When the gap between the top of the swaging and the end of the tape has increased by 1mm, you have reached 5% of the wire’s breaking strain, so 3mm equates to 15% and 5mm to 25%.

Bear in mind that 1×19 wire will be affected by bedding-in stretch during its first few outings, so new rigging will need to be re-tensioned a time or two during the first season.

Sensible precautions 1. Don’t force dry bottlescrews: keep them well lubricated. 2. Don’t use massively long tools for extra leverage on the bottlescrews. If you can feel the load, you’re less likely to strain or break anything. 3. Most boats will flex to some extent when the rig is properly tensioned. If you’re concerned about excessive bend, take it easy, use a straight edge across the deck to check for movement, and seek advice. 4. The percentages of breaking load quoted assume that the rigging is of the correct diameter as specified by the designer, builder or rigger.

How to set up a masthead rig with single in-line spreaders

This is the simplest type of rig to set up. Whether it’s keel-stepped or deck-stepped and supported by forward lowers or a babystay, it’s the same basic procedure.

Step 1: Get the mast upright athwartships

shrouds on a sailboat

Measure the distance to fixed points on both sides that are symmetrical about the centreline, such as the base of the chainplates.

If you don’t have a long tape measure, use the halyard itself (this is where a spring balance can help you gauge the same tension on each side).

Centre the masthead by adjusting the port and starboard cap shrouds until the measurements are the same, then hand-tighten the bottlescrews by taking the same number of turns on each side.

Re-check and adjust as necessary.

shrouds on a sailboat

A long tape measure is useful for getting the mast upright.

Step 2: Setting the rake

shrouds on a sailboat

Rake is determined principally by the length of the forestay. Some roller-reefing systems allow no adjustment but you can increase length by adding toggles.

Adjust the forestay and backstay, checking the rake with a weight suspended from the end of the main halyard. One degree of rake is about 6in (15cm) in 30ft (9m).

Hand-tight on the backstay’s bottlescrew (or gentle use of the tensioner) is fine at this stage.

shrouds on a sailboat

Rake is measured from the aft face of the mast, at or below boom-level. If the boat’s rocking around, suspend the weight in a bucket of water to dampen the movement.

Step 3: Tighten the cap shrouds and backstay

shrouds on a sailboat

Take no more than two or three full turns on one side before doing the same on the other.

Count carefully.

You’re aiming to tension the caps to 15% of their breaking strain, measured as explained on page 41.

That might be much tighter than you’ve ever had them before!

Tension the backstay to 15% of its breaking load.

Note: Using ordinary hand-tools on the bottlescrews, it’s hard to over-tension the rigging

Step 4: Tighten the lowers / babystay

shrouds on a sailboat

A mast should bend forward in the middle, though only to a small extent on masthead rigs of heavy section.

This ‘pre-bend’ is principally to counter two factors in heavy weather: increased forestay loads pulling the top of the mast forward, and the head of a reefed mainsail pulling the middle aft.

Together, they can result in the middle of the mast bowing aft, which makes it unstable and is bad for sail trim. For maximum strength in extremis it should be straight.

Use the forward lowers or babystay to pull the middle of the mast forward. The bend thus induced should be no more than half the mast’s fore-and-aft measurement.

Then take up the slack in the aft lowers.

They don’t need to be tight; they’re just countering the forward pull.

Sight up the luff groove to make sure the mast is straight laterally. Correct any deflections with the lowers.

If you set up the caps properly to start with, you should not adjust them again at this stage.

Step 5: Check the rig under sail

shrouds on a sailboat

First, make sure the leeward cap shroud isn’t waving around in the breeze. You should be able to deflect it with a finger by a few inches; no more.

If it’s too loose, take a turn or two on the leeward bottlescrew, then tack and do the same on the other side.

Now sight up the back of the mast.

It should be straight athwartships and bending slightly forward in the middle.

Athwartships deflection might make it look as though the top is falling away to one side (see diagram), but it won’t be if it was centred properly in Step 1. Straighten the middle by adjusting the lowers

If it’s straight or bending aft in the middle, try increasing the backstay tension (but not beyond 30% of its breaking strain) and, if necessary, tensioning the forward lowers/babystay and slackening the aft lowers.

Remove any lateral bends by adjusting the lowers.

Once you’re happy, lock off the bottlescrews to make sure they can’t come undone.

shrouds on a sailboat

Inverted bend (mast bowing aft in the middle) is bad for sail trim and potentially dangerous for the rig.

Setting up a fractional rig with single, aft-swept spreaders

Widely used on smaller cruisers and cruiser/racers, this configuration needs a very different approach from an in-line masthead rig

This stage is the same as with a masthead rig (scroll up).

Step 2: Set the rake

shrouds on a sailboat

This time, however, rake is set by the forestay and cap shrouds rather than the forestay and backstay.

With a swept-spreader fractional rig it’s the cap shrouds, not the backstay, that stop the mast moving forward. They provide both fore-and-aft and lateral support, so they’re doing two jobs.

The backstay’s principal role is to control the topmast and mast-bend. Because it’s above the point where the forestay joins the mast, it’s not pulling directly against the forestay and therefore has less effect on forestay tension. How much it pulls against the forestay depends on factors including the height of the topmast, the stiffness of the mast section and the tension of the lower shrouds (which determine the bend).

Step 3: Tighten the cap shrouds

shrouds on a sailboat

Forestay tension is achieved primarily through the caps, and because they’re swept back at such a shallow angle they need to be seriously tight.

Their maximum tension is 25% of breaking load, but it’s best not to tension them all the way in one go because that would result in a very bent mast: tensioning the caps pushes the spreaders, and therefore the middle of the mast, forward.

Start by taking them to about 15% of breaking load, then tighten the lowers to pull the middle of the mast back so it’s straight.

This is how the swept-spreader fractional rig works: the caps and lowers are working against each other, caps pushing and lowers pulling, to stabilise the middle of the mast. Sight up the mast when it’s straight to check for lateral deflection, correcting it with the lowers.

With a flexible mast you might need to repeat the process, taking the caps to 20% before tensioning the lowers again.

Otherwise go straight to the next stage, which is to pull on the backstay.

Since the backstays on fractional rigs often have cascade purchases at the bottom you can’t measure the tension by stretch as you can with wire, so you have to do this by feel: pull it tight, but don’t go mad.

Tensioning the backstay bends the mast and therefore shortens the distance from the hounds (where the caps join) to the deck. This loosens the caps, so it’s easier to tension them back to the 20% mark.

When you let the backstay off, the caps will tension again and should be at about 25% of breaking load – but no more.

Step 4: Set the pre-bend

shrouds on a sailboat

Take a few turns on the lowers to achieve the right amount of pre-bend. It should be more than with an in-line masthead rig, but a mast should never bend to more than 2% of the height of the foretriangle even with the backstay tensioned (that’s about 180mm in 9m, or 7in in 30ft).

Check to see how far the mast bends with a tight backstay. The optimum bend will often be determined by the cut of the mainsail, or recommended by the sailmaker or class association.

Pre-bend is vital because most fractional rigs don’t have forward lowers or a babystay, so if the mast were to bend aft in the middle (inverted bend) it could collapse.

In fresh conditions, especially under spinnaker, it’s a wise precaution never to release the backstay completely. That stops the upper section of the mast being pulled too far forward.

The caps should be tighter than with a masthead rig, with no significant slack on the leeward side when the boat’s hard on the wind and heeling 15-20°.

If the static tension is up to 25% but the leeward cap is always slack, the boat might be bending. That’s a topic beyond the scope of this article!

Sight up the mast to check the bend both fore-and-aft and athwartships, adjusting the lowers as necessary.

Setting up a fractional rig with two sets of aft-swept spreaders

As mast sections have become slimmer, this is now a popular configuration on boats between 30ft (9m) and 40ft (12m) but it’s more complex to tune.

This stage is the same as with the other types of rig.

Follow the procedure as described for single-spreader fractional rigs. Generally speaking, more rake improves upwind performance but too much will induce excessive weather helm and hamper performance downwind. Getting it right might involve some trial and error.

Steps 3 & 4: Tighten the caps and set the bend

shrouds on a sailboat

The same fundamentals apply as for a single-spreader rig, but this time after each tensioning of the cap shrouds, which induces bend, you have to straighten the mast by tensioning both the lowers (also known as D1s) and the intermediates (D2s).

The D1s control the bend between the deck and the upper spreaders and the D2s between the lower spreaders and the hounds, so their areas of influence overlap.

On boats where the D2s terminate at the lower spreaders you have to send someone aloft to adjust them. These are referred to as discontinuous intermediates.

If they run over the spreader tips and down to the chainplates (continuous intermediates) you can do everything from on deck.

You need to achieve an even bend fore-and-aft. If the mast is bending too much at the bottom and is too straight at the top, tighten the D1s and slacken the D2s.

S-bends can creep in athwartships and make it look as though the top of the mast is off-centre. If you set up the cap shrouds properly it shouldn’t be, so don’t fiddle with them any further now: take out the bends with the D1s and D2s.

You’re aiming for a cap-shroud tension of 20-25% of breaking strain, as with a single-spreader fractional rig, and again the sweep-back of the spreader means that the caps will be slackened as you pull on the backstay.

As with other types of rig, get the boat heeling around 20° on the wind, tension the backstay and feel the leeward cap to make sure there’s only minimal slack.

Removing any kinks and S-bends can take more tweaking of lowers and intermediates, the latter being more fiddly to adjust if they’re discontinuous.

If the masthead looks as though it’s falling off one way, it’s probably because the D2 on the opposite side is too tight.

shrouds on a sailboat

Left: Windward lower too loose. Right: Windward intermediate too tight.

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Standing Rigging: How Tight Is Right?

Standing rigging tension is a peculiarly under-addressed subject. Easy to see how it would worry a new boat owner or someone going to sea.

Most experts step aboard, yank or twang the shrouds and stays and mutter, Pretty slack, Too Tight, or, Thats about right.

Youll find in the sailing literature very few discussions of the question: What does tight mean?

Even riggers rarely explain how much tension they like to see.

There are a few sailors who like the rigging so tight you could send an elephant up the backstay. It can result in excessive loads and wear on fittings, chain plates and the hull. The ultimate penalty for those who can’t stand any sag in the forestay is what ocean racing sailors call a gravity storm or, less dramatically, dropping the rig.

Others like to take up the slack just enough so that the rig is at rest when the boat is motionless. This approach sometimes leaves excessive slack to leeward that can result in shock loads, excessive wear and misalignment in fittings. It may take longer, but the ultimate penalty is the same.

In between (and probably in the most logical position) are those who like to take up the slack and stretch the wire just a bit. This is frequently accomplished, at least for the stays, with an adjustable backstay. When sailing, especially on the wind, tighten down to minimize slack in the forestay. When reaching, running or at anchor, ease off.

But the question is: How much stretch…especially in the shrouds?

If you stretch the wire 5% of its breaking strength, it will be considered moderate tension. Crank in 15% of the breaking strength and it is regarded as tight. These figures apply for any diameter of wire. You need only know the wires breaking strength.

Three years ago, in the June 15, 1995 issue, we published a discussion of the views of author Richard Henderson, Skenes Elements of Yacht Design and several riggers, along with an evaluation of an excellent booklet published by Sailsystems about a Selden Mast approach (described in detail in the October 15, 1991 issue) and an entirely new method developed by Michael Dimen, who called his gadget a Rigstick.

Mentioned was the familiar (see photo) Loos rigging tension gauge, which comes in two sizes. The Model 91 ($39) is for wire 3/32″ to 5/32″. The Model 90 ($45.50) is for 3/16″ to 9/32″. The gauge depends on the bending property of aluminum plate.

The strange-looking gauges don’t willingly produce great accuracy because you have to hold one reading steady while noting another, which also requires that you make a judgment about where the centerline of the wire falls on a scale. Not easy to do.

The big name in galvanized and stainless cable (as wire is called in the trade), cable hardware and tools, Loos & Co., Inc. went looking for a better mousetrap.

Who did Gus Loos go to? The guy who designed the original gauge, his old friend, Donald J. Jordan, an 82-year-old retired Pratt & Whitney engineer who has been sailing out of Marblehead, Massachusetts, in the likes of Lightnings, Friendship sloops, Sound Schooners (which was the prized New York Yacht Club class in 1918), Pearson Wanderers and currently in a 16′ Starling Burgess design, appropriately called a Marblehead.

The old tension gauge wasnt bad, said Jordan. But it tended to get bent. Then the patent ran out and I told Gus we could do a better one.

The new version (see photo) is a distinct improvement over the old aluminum version. A better design, its also much more substantially made of aluminum, stainless and nylon.

The design problems were interesting, Jordan said. A conventional cable tension gauge has two rollers at the ends with a spring-loaded plunger in the middle and a dial gauge to measure the plunger movement. The wheels have to rotate…because they must permit some small but vital movement. That makes the tool expensive. My approach was to have two stationary wheels and a carefully contrived square slider in a arc-slot on the other.

The new Loos gauges use a long-lasting stainless spring to produce the tension. Slip the lower grooved wheels on a shroud or stay, pull the lanyard to engage the upper hook, relax, read the tension at your leisure and consult the scale to learn the pounds of pressure on the wire and the percentage of breaking strength of the wire. There are three wire gauge notches in the edge. The gauge can be left on the wire while turnbuckle adjustments are made.

The accompanying booklet, very well-done, contains a good tight discussion of the subject; some recommendations; a table on how to equalize tension in different sizes of wire, and line-drawn diagrams clearly showing rig tensions (windward and leeward) created by light, medium and heavy winds.

The wire gauge comes in three sizes, for 3/32″-5/32″, 3/16″-1/4″ and 9/32″-3/8″. West Marine sells them, respectively, for $57.99, $69.99 and $$122.99. Defender Industries cuts them to $49.95, $51.95 and $105.95. Prices in the BOAT/U.S. catalog are in between.

What if, instead of 1×19 wire, you have rod rigging? There are four new models that are bigger, heavier and, of course, more costly. They work the same, but take some arm strength. One is for .172-.250 rod, another for .281-.375. Two others models are for metric rod. West Marine sells the rod gauges for $186.99. Neither Defender nor BOAT/U.S. shows them in their catalogs.

Contact- Loos & Co., Inc., 901 Industrial Blvd., Naples, FL 34104, 800/321-5667. Rigstick, 311 Jackson, Port Townsend, WA 98368; 800/488-0855. Sailsystems, PO Box 1218, Marblehead, MA 01945; 978/745-0440.

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Sailing Ship Shroud and Rigging Explanation

SinaFarzad July 26, 2019 Everything about Sailing Leave a comment 6,352 Views

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How a mast is stabilized in a vessel? What are the tools and components of a craft that keep everything in its place? What is a Sailing Ship Shroud ? How does it differ from the Rigging System ? Well, this is the paper you need to cover all these questions. Read on and see for yourself.

Technical Definition

Shroud and rigging compared, shroud vs. forestay and backstay, terminology and jargon, modern sailing ship shrouds vs. the classic types, categorizing vessels by their rigging system, safety checking the lines and deadeyes.

Getting to know all the components of a vessel might be a complicated task. However, Sailingyes is here to help you out through this introduction on the sailing ship shroud and rigging – two of the most important mechanisms of a watercraft.

A shroud is a set of cables or ropes that keep the ship’s mast in its place. The main purpose of this structure is to create pressure lines on each side of the boat mast, holding the pole(s) tight.

Such a cable usually connects the mast/pole to the gunwale, but some models utilize channels to transfer the linking points. A channel, therefore, is an additional structure attached near the gunwales to create a panel for shroud joins.

To understand the concept of shrouds (aka sidestays) you must get to know the ship rigging. Vessels use systems of lines, ropes, and/or links to stabilize masts and sails. These systems are called rigging and sidestays are a member of them, being an arrangement of ropes to balance out the sheet holding pole(s).

So, rigging is a general term referring to all the cable structures balancing out specific components on the deck. That’s while the term shroud points out a particular member of the rigging system, specialized in cleaving to the masts/poles.

A forestay is a cable that connects the jib or mast to the bowsprit, whereas the backstay links them to the backend of the vessel—mainly to the transom. However, a sidestay does the same thing in the right and left flanks of the boat.

The goal of a forestay is to stop the mast from falling backward. And a backstay generates an opposite pressure line to do the same thing on the contrary direction. So, their function is comparable to the shrouds as the only two major differences here is the direction in which they hold onto the mast and adjustability. (See below).

Some crafts own a running forestay and backstay, which allows the skipper to adjust them when necessary. Some other boats/ships also combine the running systems with the standing ones to offer stability and versatility at the same time. A sidestay, however, is always standing (or fixed) and the mariners do not utilize them as an adjustment tool.

  • Deadeye is a spherical shape at the end of each sidestay rope that allows the lanyard to pass through its holes and create more tension. (It’s called so because its 3-hole models look like skulls).
  • Lanyard is a line that runs back and forth between the deadeyes’ holes.
  • The mainsheet is the rope that allows controlling the mainsail of a boat.
  • The bowsprit is a horizontal pole-like structure attached to the bow. It allows the forestay to extend even further, creating more adjustability.
  • Running rigging is a scheme of ropes/lines that the skipper uses to regulate the sheet(s) and stay(s).
  • Standing rigging refers to a group of links/ropes that hold the upstanding components in their place.
  • The mast is a flagpole-like structure carrying the sail(s).

Modern Sailing Ship Shrouds vs. the Classic Types

The main difference between the modern and traditional versions of ships’ shroud is the material. Older vessels used to utilize steel as the main material to create the rigging lines and deadeyes. Modern ones, however, prefer employing innovative fabrics such as stainless steel wire, stainless steel rod or synthetic fiber.

The earlier fabrics where strong enough to bear incoming pressures, but they were not easy to maintain or inspect. Some cracks could stay invisible to the naked eye on the old versions of shroud ropes.

Modern products are easier to maintain and their materials make it uncomplicated to check for cracks or weaknesses. Of course, not all novel fabrics are such. Solid rod stainless steel, for instance, offers better aerodynamic usage but it requires x-raying when it comes down to safety and/or crack checks.

Being the most common type, a sloop rig is a cost-effective option, carrying the largest sails. It contains 1 sail and 1 headsail while having the least complicated running and standing rigging structure. Since it doesn’t contain many forestays, backstays, and shrouds, the number of winches and controlling lines are limited, agreeing much simpler navigation.

Moreover, there are no extra sheets to cover the main; so, you can experience the best windward movement with this rig type. However, since having only one mast makes it hard to generate enough force, sloops employ very large sheets. This makes it difficult to change the boom position in vessels which have hank.

Categorizing Vessels by Their Rigging System :Cutter

It has 1 mast, but there are 2 sails fixed to it. The larger sail in front is called a jib, whereas the smaller one is entitled a staysail. Because of this spectacular rig system, you will have more sidestays and running rigging lines to deal with. But it offers more navigating options as you can reef the sheets or utilize only one of them (usually the staysail) to navigate on the extremely windy weather conditions.

A downside to a cutter rig is that you cannot depend on its tacking performance. That’s because the stay sheet may get in the way of the jib and make it thorny for amateur mariners to tack.

Offering a flexible sail plan, a ketch has 2 masts and 1 headsail. one of the masts is right in front of the rudder and it’s called the mizzen mast. The mainmast, however, contains the headsail and the mainsail, and it’s usually taller than the mizzen mast.

Due to having 3 sheets, the number of shrouds, stays, and lines that you must deal with is more than other rig types. But the upside of owning such a system is being able to navigate with more options. That said, you can either reef the headsail and the main to continue with the mizzen mast sheet or utilize all of them at once.

This rig has 2 masts and 1 headsail while containing a short mizzen mast behind the rudder post. Utilizing this boat would let the skipper navigate with more navigating options, but the downside is that the mainsail covers the mizzen mast during the upwind movement. This can reduce the efficiency of having an extra mast, leaving you with only more components (e.g. ropes, sidestays, winches, etc.) to handle.

A small failure on the deck may effortlessly lead to drastic problems in the future. A minor crack on a sidestay or deadeye, for instance, may leave you with a broken rig and an unstable mast. So, a 20- to 30-minute rigging inspection is vital before heading out on the water. Here’s how to do so.

Safety Checking the Lines and Deadeyes

Things You Need

  • A magnifier
  • A Scotch-Brite pad
  • Some lubricant

How-to Instructions

  • First, walk around the deck and visually check the fittings. See if there’s any sign of rust or corrosion in the area.
  • Next, get down on your knees to inspect the shrouds and the chainplates. Clean the fittings up and utilize your magnifier to see if there’re any cracks.
  • Look for any sign of pulling or lifting in the chainplates while inspecting the cracks around the sealant—if it goes through the deck.
  • Give a hand-feel for the tension of the stays. Try to determine whether or not they all feel about the same and none of them is looser than the rest.
  • Do the same thing for the forestay and backstay, making sure they are properly fixed. If your forestay is fitted with a roller furling mechanism, you better check it over carefully as well. (Forestays are more likely to get damaged during docking).

Reference (s):

Sailing Fundamentals

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What is a Sailboat Stay?

What is a Sailboat Stay? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

A sailboat stay is a cable or line that supports the mast. Stays bear a significant portion of the mast load.

Stays are a significant part of a sailboat's standing rigging, and they're essential for safe sailing. Stays support the mast and bear the stress of the wind and the sails. Losing a stay is a serious problem at sea, which is why it's essential to keep your stays in good condition.

Table of contents

‍ How to Identify Sailboat Stays

Sailboat stays connected to the top of the mast to the deck of the sailboat. Stays stabilize the mast in the forward and aft directions. Stays are typically mounted to the very front of the bow and the rearmost part of the stern.

Sailboat Forestay

The forestay connects the top of the mast to the bow of the boat. The forestay also serves an additional purpose—the jib sail luff mounts to the forestay. In fact, the jib is hoisted up and down the forestay as if it were a mast.

Boats equipped with roller furlings utilize spindles at the top and base of the forestay. The spindles rotate to furl and unfurl the jib. Roller furlings maintain the structural integrity of a standard forestay.

Sailboat Backstay

Backstays aren't as multifunctional as forestays. The backstay runs from the top of the mast (opposite the forestay) to the stern of the sailing vessel, and it balances the force exerted by the forestay. Together, the forestay and the backstay keep the mast upright under load.

Sailboat Stay vs. Shroud

Stays and shrouds are often confused, as they essentially do the same thing (just in different places). Stays are only located on the bow and stern of the vessel—that's fore and aft. Shrouds run from the port and starboard side of the hull or deck to the top of the mast.

Best Sailboat Stay Materials

Traditional sailboat stays were made of rope and organic line. These materials worked fine for thousands of years, and they still do today. However, rope has limitations that modern sailboat stays don't.

For one, traditional rope is organic and prone to decay. It also stretches, which can throw off the balance of the mast and cause serious problems. Other materials, such as stainless steel, are more ideal for the modern world.

Most modern fiberglass sailboats use stainless steel stays. Stainless stays are made of strong woven stainless steel cable, which resists corrosion and stress. Stainless cables are also easy to adjust.

Why are Stays Important?

Stays keep the mast from collapsing. Typical sailboats have lightweight hollow aluminum masts. Alone, these thin towering poles could never hope to withstand the stress of a fully-deployed sail plan. More often than not, unstayed masts of any material fail rapidly under sail.

When properly adjusted, stays transfer the force of the wind from the thin and fragile mast to the deck or the hull. They distribute the power of the wind over a wider area and onto materials that can handle it. The mast alone simply provides a tall place to attach the head of the sail, along with a bit of structural support.

Sailboat Chain Plates

Sailboat stays need a strong mounting point to handle the immense forces they endure. Stays mount to the deck on chainplates, which further distribute force to support the load.

Chainplates are heavy steel mounting brackets that typically come with two pieces. One plate mounts on top of the deck and connects to the stay. The other plate mounts on the underside of the deck directly beneath the top plate, and the two-bolt together.

Mast Stay Mounting

Stays mount to the mast in several ways depending on the vessel and the mast material. On aluminum masts, stays often mount to a type of chain plate called a "tang." A tang consists of a bracket and a hole for a connecting link. Aluminum masts also use simple U-bolts for mounting stays.

Wooden masts don't hold up to traditional brackets as well as aluminum. A simple u-bolt or flat bolt-on bracket might tear right out. As a result, wooden masts often use special collars with mounting rings on each side. These collars are typically made of brass or stainless steel.

Sailboat Stays on Common Rigs

Stays on a Bermuda-rigged sailboat are critical. Bermuda rigs use a triangular mainsail . Triangular sails spread their sail area vertically, which necessitates a tall mast.

Bermuda rig masts are often thin, hollow, and made of lightweight material like aluminum to avoid making the boat top-heavy. As a result, stays, and shrouds are of critical importance on a Bermuda rig.

Traditional gaff-rigged sail plans don't suffer as much from this issue. Gaff rigs use a four-pointed mainsail. This sail has a peak that's taller than the head and sometimes taller than the mast.

Gaff-rigged cutters, sloops, schooners, and other vessels use comparatively shorter and heavier masts, which are less likely to collapse under stress. These vessels still need stays and shrouds, but their stronger masts tend to be more forgiving in unlucky situations.

How to Adjust Sailboat Stays

Sailboat stays and shrouds must be checked and adjusted from time to time, as even the strongest stainless steel cable stretches out of spec. Sailboats must be in the water when adjusting stays. Here's the best way to keep the proper tension on your stays.

Loosen the Stays

Start by loosening the forestay and backstay. Try to do this evenly, as it'll reduce the stress on the mast. Locate the turnbuckles and loosen them carefully.

Match the Turnbuckle Threads

Before tightening the turnbuckle again, make sure the top and bottom threads protrude the same amount. This reduces the chance of failure and allows you to equally adjust the stay in both directions.

Center the Mast

Make sure the mast is centered on its own. If it's not, carefully take up the slack in the direction you want it to go. Once the mast is lined up properly, it's time to tighten both turnbuckles again.

Tighten the Turnbuckles

Tighten the turnbuckles as evenly as possible. Periodically monitor the direction of the mast and make sure you aren't pulling it too far in a single direction.

Determine the Proper Stay Pressure

This step is particularly important, as stays must be tightened within a specific pressure range to work properly. The tension on a sailboat stay ranges from a few hundred pounds to several tons, so it's essential to determine the correct number ahead of time. Use an adjuster to monitor the tension.

What to Do if you Lose a Stay

Thankfully, catastrophic stay and shroud failures are relatively rare at sea. Losing a mast stay is among the worst things that can happen on a sailboat, especially when far from shore.

The stay itself can snap with tremendous force and cause injury or damage. If it doesn't hurt anyone, it'll certainly put the mast at risk of collapsing. In fact, if you lose a stay, your mast will probably collapse if stressed.

However, many sailors who lost a forestay or backstay managed to keep their mast in one piece using a halyard. In the absence of a replacement stay, any strong rope can offer some level of protection against dismasting .

How to Prevent a Stay Failure

Maintenance and prevention is the best way to avoid a catastrophic stay failure. Generally speaking, the complete failure of a stay usually happens in hazardous weather conditions or when there's something seriously wrong with the boat.

Stays sometimes fail because of manufacturing defects, but it's often due to improper tension, stripped threads, or aging cable that hasn't been replaced. Regular maintenance can prevent most of these issues.

Check the chainplates regularly, as they can corrode quietly with little warning. The deck below the chainplates should also be inspected for signs of rot or water leakage.

When to Replace Standing Rigging

Replace your stays and shrouds at least once every ten years, and don't hesitate to do it sooner if you see any signs of corrosion or fraying. Having reliable standing rigging is always worth the added expense.

Choosing a high-quality stay cable is essential, as installing substandard stays is akin to playing with fire. Your boat will thank you for it, and it'll be easier to tune your stays for maximum performance.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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Sailboat Parts Explained: Illustrated Guide (with Diagrams)

When you first get into sailing, there are a lot of sailboat parts to learn. Scouting for a good guide to all the parts, I couldn't find any, so I wrote one myself.

Below, I'll go over each different sailboat part. And I mean each and every one of them. I'll walk you through them one by one, and explain each part's function. I've also made sure to add good illustrations and clear diagrams.

This article is a great reference for beginners and experienced sailors alike. It's a great starting point, but also a great reference manual. Let's kick off with a quick general overview of the different sailboat parts.

General Overview

The different segments

You can divide up a sailboat in four general segments. These segments are arbitrary (I made them up) but it will help us to understand the parts more quickly. Some are super straightforward and some have a bit more ninja names.

Something like that. You can see the different segments highlighted in this diagram below:

Diagram of the four main parts categories of a sailboat

The hull is what most people would consider 'the boat'. It's the part that provides buoyancy and carries everything else: sails, masts, rigging, and so on. Without the hull, there would be no boat. The hull can be divided into different parts: deck, keel, cabin, waterline, bilge, bow, stern, rudder, and many more.

I'll show you those specific parts later on. First, let's move on to the mast.

shrouds on a sailboat

Sailboats Explained

The mast is the long, standing pole holding the sails. It is typically placed just off-center of a sailboat (a little bit to the front) and gives the sailboat its characteristic shape. The mast is crucial for any sailboat: without a mast, any sailboat would become just a regular boat.

I think this segment speaks mostly for itself. Most modern sailboats you see will have two sails up, but they can carry a variety of other specialty sails. And there are all kinds of sail plans out there, which determine the amount and shape of sails that are used.

The Rigging

This is probably the most complex category of all of them.

Rigging is the means with which the sails are attached to the mast. The rigging consists of all kinds of lines, cables, spars, and hardware. It's the segment with the most different parts.

The most important parts

If you learn anything from this article, here are the most important parts of any sailboat. You will find all of these parts in some shape or form on almost any sailboat.

Diagram of Parts of a sailboat - General overview

Okay, we now have a good starting point and a good basic understanding of the different sailboat parts. It's time for the good stuff. We're going to dive into each segment in detail.

Below, I'll go over them one by one, pointing out its different parts on a diagram, listing them with a brief explanation, and showing you examples as well.

After reading this article, you'll recognize every single sailboat part and know them by name. And if you forget one, you're free to look it up in this guide.

Diagram of the Hull Parts of a sailboat

On this page:

The hull is the heart of the boat. It's what carries everything: the mast, the sails, the rigging, the passengers. The hull is what provides the sailboat with its buoyancy, allowing it to stay afloat.

Sailboats mostly use displacement hulls, which is a shape that displaces water when moving through it. They are generally very round and use buoyancy to support its own weight. These two characteristics make sure it is a smooth ride.

There are different hull shapes that work and handle differently. If you want to learn more about them, here's the Illustrated Guide to Boat Hull Types (with 11 Examples ). But for now, all we need to know is that the hull is the rounded, floating part of any sailboat.

Instead of simply calling the different sides of a hull front, back, left and right , we use different names in sailing. Let's take a look at them.

Diagram of the Hull Parts of a sailboat

The bow is the front part of the hull. It's simply the nautical word for 'front'. It's the pointy bit that cuts through the water. The shape of the bow determines partially how the boat handles.

The stern is the back part of the hull. It's simply the nautical word for 'back'. The shape of the stern partially determines the stability and speed of the boat. With motorboats, the stern lies deep inside the water, and the hull is flatter aft. Aft also means back. This allows it to plane, increasing the hull speed. For sailboats, stability is much more important, so the hull is rounded throughout, increasing its buoyancy and hydrodynamic properties.

The transom is the backplate of the boat's hull. It's the most aft (rear) part of the boat.

Port is the left side of a sailboat.

Starboard is the right side of a sailboat

The bilges are the part where the bottom and the sides of the hull meet. On sailboats, these are typically very round, which helps with hydrodynamics. On powerboats, they tend to have an angle.

The waterline is the point where the boat's hull meets the water. Generally, boat owners paint the waterline and use antifouling paint below it, to protect it from marine growth.

The deck is the top part of the boat's hull. In a way, it's the cap of the boat, and it holds the deck hardware and rigging.

Displacement hulls are very round and smooth, which makes them very efficient and comfortable. But it also makes them very easy to capsize: think of a canoe, for example.

The keel is a large fin that offsets the tendency to capsize by providing counterbalance. Typically, the keel carries ballast in the tip, creating a counterweight to the wind's force on the sails.

The rudder is the horizontal plate at the back of the boat that is used to steer by setting a course and maintaining it. It is connected to the helm or tiller.

Tiller or Helm

  • The helm is simply the nautical term for the wheel.
  • The tiller is simply the nautical term for the steering stick.

The tiller or helm is attached to the rudder and is used to steer the boat. Most smaller sailboats (below 30') have a tiller, most larger sailboats use a helm. Large ocean-going vessels tend to have two helms.

The cockpit is the recessed part in the deck where the helmsman sits or stands. It tends to have some benches. It houses the outside navigation and systems interfaces, like the compass, chartplotter, and so on. It also houses the mainsheet traveler and winches for the jib. Most boats are set up so that the entire vessel can be operated from the cockpit (hence the name). More on those different parts later.

Most larger boats have some sort of roofed part, which is called the cabin. The cabin is used as a shelter, and on cruising sailboats you'll find the galley for cooking, a bed, bath room, and so on.

The mast is the pole on a sailboat that holds the sails. Sailboats can have one or multiple masts, depending on the mast configuration. Most sailboats have only one or two masts. Three masts or more is less common.

The boom is the horizontal pole on the mast, that holds the mainsail in place.

The sails seem simple, but actually consist of many moving parts. The parts I list below work for most modern sailboats - I mean 90% of them. However, there are all sorts of specialty sails that are not included here, to keep things concise.

Diagram of the Sail Parts of a sailboat

The mainsail is the largest sail on the largest mast. Most sailboats use a sloop rigging (just one mast with one bermuda mainsail). In that case, the main is easy to recognize. With other rig types, it gets more difficult, since there can be multiple tall masts and large sails.

If you want to take a look at the different sail plans and rig types that are out there, I suggest reading my previous guide on how to recognize any sailboat here (opens in new tab).

Sail sides:

  • Leech - Leech is the name for the back side of the sail, running from the top to the bottom.
  • Luff - Luff is the name for the front side of the sail, running from the top to the bottom.
  • Foot - Foot is the name for the lower side of the sail, where it meets the boom.

Sail corners:

  • Clew - The clew is the lower aft (back) corner of the mainsail, where the leech is connected to the foot. The clew is attached to the boom.
  • Tack - The tack is the lower front corner of the mainsail
  • Head - The head is the top corner of the mainsail

Battens are horizontal sail reinforcers that flatten and stiffen the sail.

Telltales are small strings that show you whether your sail trim is correct. You'll find telltales on both your jib and mainsail.

The jib is the standard sized headsail on a Bermuda Sloop rig (which is the sail plan most modern sailboats use).

As I mentioned: there are all kinds, types, and shapes of sails. For an overview of the most common sail types, check out my Guide on Sail Types here (with photos).

The rigging is what is used to attach your sails and mast to your boat. Rigging, in other words, mostly consists of all kinds of lines. Lines are just another word for ropes. Come to think of it, sailors really find all kinds of ways to complicate the word rope ...

Two types of rigging

There are two types of rigging: running and standing rigging. The difference between the two is very simple.

  • The running rigging is the rigging on a sailboat that's used to operate the sails. For example, the halyard, which is used to lower and heave the mainsail.
  • The standing rigging is the rigging that is used to support the mast and sail plan.

Standing Rigging

Diagram of the Standing Riggin Parts of a sailboat

Here are the different parts that belong to the standing rigging:

  • Forestay or Headstay - Line or cable that supports the mast and is attached to the bow of the boat. This is often a steel cable.
  • Backstay - Line or cable that supports the mast and is attached to the stern of the boat. This is often a steel cable.
  • Sidestay or Shroud - Line or cable that supports the mast from the sides of the boat. Most sailboats use at least two sidestays (one on each side).
  • Spreader - The sidestays are spaced to steer clear from the mast using spreaders.

Running Rigging: different words for rope

Ropes play a big part in sailing, and especially in control over the sails. In sailboat jargon, we call ropes 'lines'. But there are some lines with a specific function that have a different name. I think this makes it easier to communicate with your crew: you don't have to define which line you mean. Instead, you simply shout 'mainsheet!'. Yeah, that works.

Running rigging consists of the lines, sheets, and hardware that are used to control, raise, lower, shape and manipulate the sails on a sailboat. Rigging varies for different rig types, but since most sailboats are use a sloop rig, nearly all sailboats use the following running rigging:

Diagram of the Running Rigging Parts of a sailboat

  • Halyards -'Halyard' is simply the nautical name for lines or ropes that are used to raise and lower the mainsail. The halyard is attached to the top of the mainsail sheet, or the gaffer, which is a top spar that attaches to the mainsail. You'll find halyards on both the mainsail and jib.
  • Sheets - 'Sheet' is simply the nautical term for lines or ropes that are used to set the angle of the sail.
  • Mainsheet - The line, or sheet, that is used to set the angle of the mainsail. The mainsheet is attached to the Mainsheet traveler. More on that under hardware.
  • Jib Sheet - The jib mostly comes with two sheets: one on each side of the mast. This prevents you from having to loosen your sheet, throwing it around the other side of the mast, and tightening it. The jib sheets are often controlled using winches (more on that under hardware).
  • Cleats are small on-deck hooks that can be used to tie down sheets and lines after trimming them.
  • Reefing lines - Lines that run through the mainsail, used to put a reef in the main.
  • The Boom Topping Lift is a line that is attached to the aft (back) end of the boom and runs to the top of the mast. It supports the boom whenever you take down the mainsail.
  • The Boom Vang is a line that places downward tension on the boom.

There are some more tensioning lines, but I'll leave them for now. I could probably do an entire guide on the different sheets on a sailboat. Who knows, perhaps I'll write it.

This is a new segment, that I didn't mention before. It's a bit of an odd duck, so I threw all sorts of stuff into this category. But they are just as important as all the other parts. Your hardware consists of cleats, winches, traveler and so on. If you don't know what all of this means, no worries: neither did I. Below, you'll find a complete overview of the different parts.

Deck Hardware

Diagram of the Deck Hardware Parts of a sailboat

Just a brief mention of the different deck hardware parts:

  • Pulpits are fenced platforms on the sailboat's stern and bow, which is why they are called the bow pulpit and stern pulpit here. They typically have a solid steel framing for safety.
  • Stanchons are the standing poles supporting the lifeline , which combined for a sort of fencing around the sailboat's deck. On most sailboats, steel and steel cables are used for the stanchons and lifelines.

Mainsheet Traveler

The mainsheet traveler is a rail in the cockpit that is used to control the mainsheet. It helps to lock the mainsheet in place, fixing the mainsails angle to the wind.

shrouds on a sailboat

If you're interested in learning more about how to use the mainsheet traveler, Matej has written a great list of tips for using your mainsheet traveler the right way . It's a good starting point for beginners.

Winches are mechanical or electronic spools that are used to easily trim lines and sheets. Most sailboats use winches to control the jib sheets. Modern large sailing yachts use electronic winches for nearly all lines. This makes it incredibly easy to trim your lines.

shrouds on a sailboat

You'll find the compass typically in the cockpit. It's the most old-skool navigation tool out there, but I'm convinced it's also one of the most reliable. In any way, it definitely is the most solid backup navigator you can get for the money.

shrouds on a sailboat

Want to learn how to use a compass quickly and reliably? It's easy. Just read my step-by-step beginner guide on How To Use a Compass (opens in new tab .

Chartplotter

Most sailboats nowadays use, besides a compass and a map, a chartplotter. Chartplotters are GPS devices that show a map and a course. It's very similar to your normal car navigation.

shrouds on a sailboat

Outboard motor

Most sailboats have some sort of motor to help out when there's just the slightest breeze. These engines aren't very big or powerful, and most sailboats up to 32' use an outboard motor. You'll find these at the back of the boat.

shrouds on a sailboat

Most sailboats carry 1 - 3 anchors: one bow anchor (the main one) and two stern anchors. The last two are optional and are mostly used by bluewater cruisers.

shrouds on a sailboat

I hope this was helpful, and that you've gained a good understanding of the different parts involved in sailing. I wanted to write a good walk-through instead of overwhelming you with lists and lists of nautical terms. I hope I've succeeded. If so, I appreciate any comments and tips below.

I've tried to be as comprehensive as possible, without getting into the real nitty gritty. That would make for a gigantic article. However, if you feel I've left something out that really should be in here, please let me know in the comments below, so I can update the article.

I own a small 20 foot yacht called a Red witch made locally back in the 70s here in Western Australia i found your article great and enjoyed reading it i know it will be a great help for me in my future leaning to sail regards John.

David Gardner

İ think this is a good explanation of the difference between a ”rope” and a ”line”:

Rope is unemployed cordage. In other words, when it is in a coil and has not been assigned a job, it is just a rope.

On the other hand, when you prepare a rope for a specific task, it becomes employed and is a line. The line is labeled by the job it performs; for example, anchor line, dock line, fender line, etc.

Hey Mr. Buckles

I am taking on new crew to race with me on my Flying Scot (19ft dingy). I find your Sailboat Parts Explained to be clear and concise. I believe it will help my new crew learn the language that we use on the boat quickly without being overwhelmed.

PS: my grandparents were from Friesland and emigrated to America.

Thank you Shawn for the well written, clear and easy to digest introductory article. Just after reading this first article I feel excited and ready to set sails and go!! LOL!! Cheers! Daniel.

steve Balog

well done, chap

Great intro. However, the overview diagram misidentifies the cockpit location. The cockpit is located aft of the helm. Your diagram points to a location to the fore of the helm.

William Thompson-Ambrose

An excellent introduction to the basic anatomy and function of the sailboat. Anyone who wants to start sailing should consider the above article before stepping aboard! Thank-you

James Huskisson

Thanks for you efforts mate. We’ve all got to start somewhere. Thanks for sharing. Hoping to my first yacht. 25ft Holland. Would love to cross the Bass Strait one day to Tasmania. 👌 Cheers mate

Alan Alexander Percy

thankyou ijust aquired my first sailboat at 66yrs of age its down at pelican point a beautifull place in virginia usa my sailboat is a redwing 30 if you are ever in the area i wouldnt mind your guidance and superior knowledge of how to sail but iam sure your fantastic article will help my sailboat is wings 30 ft

Thanks for quick refresher course. Having sailed in California for 20+ years I now live in Spain where I have to take a spanish exam for a sailboat license. Problem is, it’s only in spanish. So a lot to learn for an old guy like me.

Very comprehensive, thank you

Your article really brought all the pieces together for me today. I have been adventuring my first sailing voyage for 2 months from the Carolinas and am now in Eleuthera waiting on weather to make the Exumas!!! Great job and thanks

Helen Ballard

I’ve at last found something of an adventure to have in sailing, so I’m starting at the basics, I have done a little sailing but need more despite being over 60 life in the old dog etc, thanks for your information 😊

Barbara Scott

I don’t have a sailboat, neither do l plan to literally take to the waters. But for mental exercise, l have decided to take to sailing in my Bermuda sloop, learning what it takes to become a good sailor and run a tight ship, even if it’s just imaginary. Thank you for helping me on my journey to countless adventures and misadventures, just to keep it out of the doldrums! (I’m a 69 year old African American female who have rediscovered why l enjoyed reading The Adventures of Robert Louis Stevenson as well as his captivating description of sea, wind, sailboat,and sailor).

Great article and very good information source for a beginner like me. But I didn’t find out what I had hoped to, which is, what are all those noisy bits of kit on top of the mast? I know the one with the arrow is a weather vane, but the rest? Many thanks, Jay.

Louis Cohen

The main halyard is attached to the head of the mainsail, not the to the mainsheet. In the USA, we say gaff, not gaffer. The gaff often has its own halyard separate from the main halyard.

Other than that it’s a nice article with good diagrams.

A Girl Who Has an Open Sail Dream

Wow! That was a lot of great detail! Thank you, this is going to help me a lot on my project!

Hi, good info, do u know a book that explains all the systems on a candc 27,

Emma Delaney

As a hobbyist, I was hesitant to invest in expensive CAD software, but CADHOBBY IntelliCAD has proven to be a cost-effective alternative that delivers the same quality and performance.

https://www.cadhobby.com/

Leave a comment

You may also like, guide to understanding sail rig types (with pictures).

There are a lot of different sail rig types and it can be difficult to remember what's what. So I've come up with a system. Let me explain it in this article.

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

shrouds on a sailboat

The Illustrated Guide To Boat Hull Types (11 Examples)

shrouds on a sailboat

How To Live On a Boat For Free: How I'd Do It

shrouds on a sailboat

How To Live on a Sailboat: Consider These 5 Things

Own your first boat within a year on any budget.

A sailboat doesn't have to be expensive if you know what you're doing. If you want to learn how to make your sailing dream reality within a year, leave your email and I'll send you free updates . I don't like spam - I will only send helpful content.

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shrouds on a sailboat

How to Tune a Sailboat Mast

Here are some general guidelines for tuning your mast’s standing rigging . please see our blog on  how to properly adjust a turnbuckle  before you begin. as always we recommend seeking the advice of a professional rigger for more specific tips and tricks regarding tuning your boat’s rigging..

Your boat must be in the water. Begin by just slacking off all of the side shrouds as evenly as possible, so that all stays can be adjusted by hand. Once loose, try and adjust all turnbuckles so that they are pretty much equally open (or closed) from port to starboard respectfully. Also go ahead and line up the cotter pin holes (if present) in the studs so that they are in a pin-able position. Now is also the time to balance out the threads, between the upper and lower studs of the turnbuckle, IF they are not even. Do this by unpinning the turnbuckle from the chainplate – BE CAREFUL HERE –  to ensure the mast is secure before unpinning any one stay. Lastly, loosen all halyards or anything that may pull the mast to port, starboard, forward or aft.

1.  Check by sighting up the backside of the mast to see how straight your spar is side to side. You can take a masthead halyard from side to side to ensure that the masthead is on center. Do this by placing a wrap of tape 3′ up from the upper chainplate pin hole on each upper shroud. Cleat the halyard and pull it to the tape mark on one side, mark the halyard where it intersects the tape on the shroud. Now do this to the other side, the mark on the halyard should also intersect the tape similarly. Please note: when the mast is equipped with port and starboard sheaves, instead of just one center-line sheave, it will appear slightly off to one side. Just keep this in mind……

2.  Using the upper shrouds as controls, center the masthead as much as possible using hand tension only. Some masts are just crooked. If yours is(are) crooked, it will reveal itself when you loosen all of the stays and halyards initially and sight up the mast. Although you should use hand tension only, you can use a wrench to hold the standing portion (the stay portion) of the turnbuckle. If for some reason the shroud is totally slack and you still can’t turn the turnbuckle by hand then the turnbuckle may need to be serviced, inspected, and maybe replaced.

3.  Tune the mast from the top shroud on-down, making sure the mast is in column.  Remember:   as you tension one shroud by adjusting the turnbuckle, to loosen the opposing shroud the same amount.

How to tune a sailboat mast

4.  Once the mast is fairly straight from side to side, tighten the shrouds all evenly using tools for tensioning. Typically, for proper tension, the shrouds should be tightened using these guidelines; uppers are the tightest, and then fwd. lowers, then the aft lowers and intermediates should be hand tight plus just a turn or two. ~ With an in-mast furler it is recommended to tension the aft lower a bit more to promote a straighter spar (fore and aft) for better furling. 

5.  Now you can tension the aft most backstay (s). If the backstay has an adjuster it should be set at a base setting (500-1000 lbs). If the backstay simply has a turnbuckle then it should be tightened well. After this has been done, in either situation (adjustable or static backstay), one should site up the mast from a-beam and notice that the masthead has a ‘slight’ aft bias. If there is no aft bias, too much, or the mast is inverted (leaning forward), then the forward most forestay (s) will most likely need to be adjusted to correct this. If a furler is present then seek the council of a professional rigger or refer to your furler’s manual for instructions on how to access the turnbuckle if there is one present.

6.   Finally, sight up the mast one last time and make any necessary adjustments.  

7.  MAKE SURE ALL TURNBUCKLES AND PINS HAVE  COTTER PINS AND ARE TAPED NEATLY  TO PREVENT CHAFE!

Read HERE for how to use a LOOS & Co. Tension Gauge!

Here is a little vid from our friend Scott at  Selden Masts  (click the link then hints and advice for more info) on rig tune…..

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcCALZ4x6R4&w=420&h=315]

Is your mast fractionally rigged, only has a single set of lowers or is just plain different? Be sure to leave any  questions or comments below.

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58 Comments

I have a fractional rig with a cap shroud and one lower V1. The spreaders are swept aft with no backstay, and the rig is set up for a fathead main. The worse diameter is 5mm. The boat is 23 feet long. Could you provide any tuning advice for this style of rig. The past owner said he set the rig up at 10% breaking strength on the upper and 4% on the lowers which seemed really low for this style of rig. Any input would be very helpful as we go to rig the boat tomorrow

If you look at our reply below for the FarEast 23R tuning explanation, this should help shine some light on the topic. As far as percentage of breaking strength is concerned, just ensure a good static (dock) tune, then sail-tune setting tensions to the minimum requirement, and don’t exceed 30% of breaking strength.

Cheers, ~T.R.C.

Any hints with tuning a sportboat that only has a set of uppers, a short forestay and no backstay????

Just got an email from someone else with almost the same question, for a FarEast 23r. Since I don’t know what Sport boat you have, I’ll just copy and paste my reply here. Generally, these “guidelines” work for just about ANY type of sailboat. The article is trying to focus on the concept of mast tuning rather than specific numbers, but also touch on how a guide can be created that is specific to YOUR boat and your style of sailing.

Thanks for the comment and enjoy the read.

“The Fareast 23r looks like a fun boat and simple in terms of rigging. I am a bit surprised that there isn’t any real support offered to the aft end of the top of the mast given the masthead kite. The boat must sail at enough of an angle downwind when loaded that the main leech and vang support the masthead….. but it must work.

As for appropriate tension, in terms of what’s fast, you will need to dig into the class a bit and figure out who’s figured out what. Ultimately the maker of your sails should have some data in terms of prebend for the mainsail and perhaps even jib luff curve (a.k.a. intended sag). If you can gather that info, I would do a static dock tune and then make adjustments until I achieve the sailmakers recommended pre-bend.

Additionally, you may be able to start with the Fareast 28r’s base setting for just V1 and D1 and try that to get started. Or at least see how that compares to the previous owners’ notes.

I haven’t’ sailed the boat but as a general guideline, and as you will read in the comment section of this article, you will need to start with good dock tune. The amount of tension is irrelevant at this point, contentedness and straightness is numero uno….. and then just the order of tension.

Order of Tension (Single aft swept spreader rig) – the uppers are the tighter of the two: upper and lower. The upper is in charge of providing you headstay sag (or tension). The lower will allow the mast to create mid mast bend, or keep it from bending. The forestay length gets adjusted to affect the mast’s rake, the amount aft lean.

Once a straight and centered mast with adequate rake and a touch of pre-bend is achieved (static tune), using hand tension only and you can’t tighten it ‘by hand’ any further, add three or four whole turns to the uppers and one full turn to the lower. If you have pre-bend recommendations, now check them and adjust as needed. Then go sailing close hauled, ensure you are trimmed and canvased correctly given the condition, and observe the leeward shrouds.

IF the leeward shrouds are flailing about loosely in the lulls, add tension by hand while sailing until they just begin to fetch up. Count the number of turns, tack and do the same thing on the other side.

IF the leeward shrouds aren’t slightly moving in the lulls, you’re likely a bit a tight and you should do the opposite of the above procedure.

For me, while sailing close hauled, properly trimmed, and properly canvased, if I see the leeward shrouds just starting to slack in the puffs or waves, then I feel like the boat’s tune is typically pretty dialed in. Then if I want to make cheat sheet “Tuning Guide” when I get back to the dock, I pull out my loose gauge, pen and paper and note: today’s wind and wave condition, and the Loos Gauge setting that I thought was ideal.

Soon you’ll have created the Fareast 23r Tuning Guide😉

Hope that helps.”

I have a 1965 Alberg 30. On a starboard tack the boat has more weather helm than on a port tack. I have not been able to achieve a balanced helm on either tack. New full batten main, new 150 roller furl genoa.

Other than the boat being evenly ballasted from port to starboard, e.g. holding tanks, fuel tanks, below deck furnishings, and storage items, I would check the rig from side to side. A crooked mast or poor static tune can result in the boat sailing differently on both tacks. A good way to test this is either sighting up the mast at the dock to ensure that the mast is relatively straight side to side and in column. You can also see that when beating (aka hard on the wind), you have to make adjustment’s to the mainsail sheet tension (NOTE: the traveler will likely need to be adjusted to mirror the same setting as on the previous tack). If notice that with the traveler in the same position on each respective tack that the sail is bubbling or flogging more on one tack than on the other, it is likely necessary to re-tune the mast. This can be done at the dock by following the guidelines in the article once the everything has been appropriately loosened to tension.

Let us know if this helps.

Any Hints, tips for tuning a 1977 Whitby 27 sloop 1/4 ton rig?

Nothing special that I can think of. Just follow the guidelines in the article. From what I can gather there are only a single set of lowers correct? Are the spreaders aft swept at all or just straight out? If it is single lowers and no sweep to the spreaders you’ll need to set the rake using the forestay adjustment to set the rake and the backstay to control the forestay tension. If you are interested in optimizing sail tuning, like in racing situations: higher wind sailing conditions will desire more tension on the shrouds, a bit more tension on the lower than the upper, but only slightly; and in lighter winds loosen them up a bit, a tad looser on the lower than the upper.

Hope that helps, and good luck.

How do I tune /2 in rigging. Neither of the loos gaug s are large enough?

Thanks for the question. Yes, I think the Loos gauges only go up to 3/8″ wire. First let me say that a tension gauge is not a must for proper tuning, more for tension recording and also not exceeding max tension which is typically hard to achieve without additional fulcrums or wrench extensions. Having said that, if you know that you need one simply search google for cable tensioning gauges. There are a few others like this one https://www.checkline.com/product/136-3E , pricing is not easily apparent and may be excessive for your needs.

My recommendation is that if you have a good local rigger have them do a static dock-side tune and perhaps sail-tune in the boat’s ideal conditions. Perhaps they can provide a tutorial on their process for you to be able to make rigging adjustments over time.

Hope that helps.

Hi. Nice article. I have a Mirage 27 (the Bob Perry design). It’s a masthead rig with single spreaders and the shrouds on each side come to the same chainplate. I have been tuning so that tension on the lower and uppers is the same and trying to set them so that (as you say) the leeward shrouds are just slightly slack. But how do I induce mast rake? I have a split backstay with a 6:1 purchase on the adjuster; should the mast have rake even with the adjuster off? or do I just haul on it? or should the tension on the inners and outers be different?

HI Michael,

You will need to lengthen the headstay and shorten the backstay. This can be done a few ways either with turnbuckle adjustment or actually shortening and lengthening cables, sometimes you can add or remove toggles also.

Hope that helps!

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I recently purchased a 1988 Catalina S&S 38 and experienced my first launch this season, including stepping the mast and tuning the rig. As we prepared, we found that the Cap Shroud and Intermediate Shroud were clamped together at the four spreader ends. The folks at the yard had never seen that, and I certainly didn’t know why it was there … possibly to keep the spreader ends and shrouds consistent? Anyway, as I am learning how to tune my rig, it seems to me that these clamps would prevent me from tuning the cap shroud and intermediate separately and correctly Thoughts? Should I remove them and re-tune the rig?

So it is a double spreader rig I take it? The upper shroud wire should run freely through the first spreader, or the closest one to the deck, and be clamped at the top spreader. The intermediate shroud wire should be clamped at the lower spreader.

Before stepping, if this was done correctly, both upper spreader and lower spreader should be clamped equal distance from the mast attachment point, when looking at the mast from port and starboard.

In other words, you should measure the distance from where the upper shroud attaches to the mast to the end of the upper spreader and it should be the same distance on the other side, port to starboard. Then the same goes for the intermediate shroud and the lower spreader. The upper shroud should run freely through the lower spreader although it is covered by the clamp, but not actually clamped at the lower spreader, j ust the top one.

If all 4 spreaders are clamped equally port to starboard. You should be good to tune from there. The spreaders should show a slight up angle, to be specific slightly more up at the upper spreader than at the lower, but all of them should be just ever so slightly pointing up. You even want to think about clamping them slightly higher than that before tensioning, as this will pull them down and into their preferred angle, just slightly up. Specific angles are really only determined on the spar builders drawing and vary for manufacturer to manufacturer. Generally it is pretty clear where they want to sit. With the shrouds loose if you find that angle that appears to be the right one, and push them up slightly from there then clamp. This will allow them to be pulled down slightly once tensioned.

Kind of a tricky thing to explain in writing but hopefully it helps.

Have further questions? Give us a call 443-847-1004, or email us [email protected]

I have a Catalina 275 fractional rig with single swept back spreaders and an adjustable backstay. My questions are: how much rake, tension on cap and lower shrouds and on chain plate should cap shroud be forward and lower aft. I am racing and want the best performance. Thanks for any help. Bill

If the two shrouds are on the same plate, right next to each other, and the pin holes are the same diameter, and the plate is configured in a fore and aft configuration, I would choose the aft hole for the lower shroud and the forward one for the upper shroud.

In terms of specific rake, you will need to look towards the maker of your sails and or the boat manufacturer. I discuss how to measure rake in the preceding comments.

“You can measure rake by hanging a small mushroom anchor from the main halyard, with the boat floating on its lines, if you wish”

For racing I would start off with a good static tune at the dock by following the points in the article. If you know it’s going to be light day, start off with light rig tension. Be sure to use either Velcro wrap style cotter pins or simply lash the upper and lower shroud turnbuckles together to secure them. This will give you access to removing the pins or lashing while sailing and adjusting the stays.

From there you will need to sail tune for that days specific conditions, your shrouds will tell you what needs to be tighter and looser. I have answered how to do this a few times already in the comments below, please take your time to peruse the comments section to see what sail tuning entails. Doing this will always ensure that the cable tensions are set up ideally for the conditions and the boat can be sailed at maximum potential.

“For racing, ideally once the static tune at the dock (the part we just talked about) is done, go out and sail tune. Do this by going hard on the wind and checking to see if the leeward shrouds are just starting to dance, this is ideal. If they are swaying about they are too loose for the current conditions. If the leeward shrouds are tight, they may be a touch to tight. Tension and loosen as needed; count what you did and to what shroud, then tack and do the same to the other side.

ALWAYS secure the turnbuckles when you are finished adjusting them.”

Just hit ‘Ctrl F’ and search the page for “sail tune” and “rake”

I am trying to tune a Hallberg Rassy HR36 masthead rig. The rig has two in-line spreaders. The cap shroud is 3/8 inch and terminates at the lower spreader. From the lower spreader, the cable transitions to a 5/16 inch cable passing over the upper spreader to the masthead. A second 9/32 inch cable runs from the lower spreader to the mast (just below the upper spreader). The Selden rigging suggests that the “upper shroud” be at 15 percent of the breaking strength of the cable. In this situation, is it 15 percent of the 3/8 inch lower portion? If so, how should the upper 5/16 inch and 9/32 inch cables be tensioned?

Thanks for your help.

Hi Bryant, good question. Once proper alignment and centering of the spar has happened (static tune), and you are perhaps a hair tighter than hand tight on all shrouds, you can begin to tension things to a percentage of breaking strength. Do this by using the cables at the deck and use their diameters to determine the tensioning amount.

The V1 (aka cap shroud) in your case is a 3/8″ cable which supports the two cables above ii, hence its large diameter. The 5/16 V2,D3 and the 9/32 D2 total 19/32. So if 15% of the 3/8 cable is achieved you will below that threshold for the cables aloft. Does that make any sense?

With that in mind there is a range of acceptable tension from light air to heavy air. 15% sounds like a good middle of the road tension. Generally you do not want to exceed 30%. Sail tuning in ideal conditions is generally the best way to determine the right tension, but 15% of breaking strength sounds like a good place to start.

Don’t forget your cotter pins and tape, especially aloft.

Hope that helps and thanks for the question.

T.R.C. Thanks you for the clarification regarding the V2,D3 and D2 load distribution. When I set the V1 tension to 15%, the tension on the V2,D3 was at 8 %. I then tensioned the forward shroud to 12 % and the aft shroud to 10 %. Then I tensioned the backstay to 14 %. After doing this, I measured the tension on the V1 to be 10 %. The only information I could find regarding tension on the D2 was that is did not have to be tensioned much. I tensioned it to 5%. The mast sights straight and I used a bossen seat on a halyard to measure to the lower part of the V1, which also indicated that the mast was straight. Did I overtension the fore and aft stays? Is the tension in the D2 too much or too little? Again, I appreciate your advice.

When you tighten the backstay it usually induces a bit of aft bend in the mast which will soften the upper shroud (V1) a bit. You can just take up on it again to get it back to 15% if you like. As I said there is a acceptable range for all of the stays, which you are well within. Everything else sounds like you did a pretty good job. Next up sail tune and see if there is excessive waggling on the leeward side, but in moderate breeze. The shrouds will begin to sway as the breeze builds, this could be a telltale to either reduce sail a bit or you can add some tension to the shrouds all the way around.

Should be all good as they say.

T.R.C., your advice has been invaluable. I took her out in 12-15 knots and was very happy with the sail luff and stiffness of the rig. Thanks for you help!😁⚓️

Hi , can you provide any tuning guides for a Swan 38 Tall mast single spreader rig with baby stay, I am keen to set the rig up for new North sails and race her competitively. The mast is an exact Nautor factory replacement in 1998. She shall not have furling sails.

Hi Peter and thanks for the comment.

Unfortunately we do not have a guide for that boat. I would ask the sailmaker however to see what info he or she might have. Alternatively you can always start with a good static tune and then sail tune the boat as I describe in some of the comments below. This is the best way. I may use a Swan 45 Tuning guide as the template and then just fill in my own numbers over time. This is ideal, but infidelity start with asking the sailmaker you are working with, he should have some good info.

This may seem like a silly question, but it has me perplexed. How long should my cotter pins be? Long enough to ‘jam’ against the surrounding body, to prevent rotation? Otherwise, I don’t see how they’ll prevent my stays from loosening.

The length should be the minimum amount to just be able to bend the legs. Too long and they get caught up on things, too short and you can’t adequately bend the legs to keep the pin in place. The head of the pin is a actually providing the security.

Does that help?

Great article to get me started, thanks! I just have a few questions…

I originally owned a Tanzer 7.5. Her mast was rigid and simple to tune with a LOOS and an eyeball. I however now own a Mirage 33 (1982) and things are a bit more complex (but not too much). When I bought her the mast was already stepped and the owners said they replaced the forestay (inside the furler) 1 season ago. I went about the boat tuning the rig as best I could but I started second guessing the rake. I found noticeable rake in the mast with virtually no backstay tension on. So I think my forestay stretched (being “new”) and I need to bring it forward.

How do I measure how much rake (at rest on the tensioner) is enough? With my rig as is I felt worried that if I pulled down on the backstay tensioner I might buckle my mast by bending it too far. It seems to me it’s ALOT of downward pressure on the column when you pull down on her especially if the mast was already raked or maybe in my case leaned too far back to start? She has a babystay too, I wasn’t sure how far to tension that other than to assist adding bend\rake but since I had too much already I just lightly tightened it and hoped for the best!

Thanks for the question. With the backstay tensioner completely off, you should be able to adjust the static/ base tension of the backstay with a turnbuckle (s). Loosen the Baby Stay so that it is completely loose, sloppy, to take it out of the equation. Then mark furling line spool direction and remove the line. Next, open the furler up to gain access to the turnbuckle inside, if present. Remove all cotter pins or locking nuts to free the turnbuckles on the headstay and the backstay. You should then loosen things so that the headstay and the backstay can be adjusted by hand. Close the headstay turnbuckle and open the backstay turnbuckle to reduce rake, and vice versa if wanting to add rake.

You can measure rake by hanging a small mushroom anchor from the main halyard, with the boat floating on its lines, if you wish. Then once you achieve the desired mast rake go ahead and tension the forestay and backstay a few turns equally with tools; not too tight, but a good base light air setting, or as loose as you can imagine the headstay ever needing to be. Lastly, tension the baby stay a bit until it just starts to tug on the mast, helping induce bend. From here the backstay tensioner will do the rest: wind it on and it will tension the headstay and induce mast bend via the baby stay. You may have to take the boat sailing and adjust things as you find out how it performs at various degrees of rake and bend.

I hope that’s not too wordy, but helps explain it all a bit. Feel free to email or call with further questions.

Regards, ~T.R.C.

Can you provide some specific information regarding rig for 1980 C&C 32. Looking to purchase new main and want to get the most from it for Wednesday nights. Boat currently does not have a pony stay, it has been removed. Can replace that track/car. What should initial bend look like, keel step is fixed so assume I need to some chock aft of mast at deck? Have rod rigging but no Loos gauge for same, should I acquire one? Love this site, very helpful RayK

Thanks for the compliment. This may be less technical than you might expect. I would start with the basic guidelines given in the article to ensure a good base, static tune setting. A Loos gauge is good but not needed. If you focus on getting the spar straight, side to side, with a slight aft bias and then the tension is set so that it feels fairly tight. I know that sounds vague, but keep this in mind: if you are anticipating heavier wind make things a bit tighter, and loosen things up if less windy. The order of tension, in regards to the which shroud (upper vs intermediate vs lower) is important; more so than the amount of tension. Make sure nothing is so loose it is just flapping about.

The headstay should have some good slack to it with the backstay adjuster totally off. Adjust the backstay and headstay turnbuckles, with them in the slack position until the masthead is favoring a slight aft lean or rake, but only slight. From there, tension the backstay adjuster very tight and see what the headstay tension feels like, should be very tight.

PLEASE NOTE: if the backstay adjustment is totally bottomed out at this point, the backstay needs to be shortened a bit. Just pay attention to how this affects the rake. …

This part is where the pony stay or the baby stay will play a critical part, for mast bend. You may even find the pony stay to be good for mast pumping in light air and waves. Making this baby stay removable is a good idea, as well as, we’ve found that Dynema rope is the best choice here.

So… a centered mast head, side to side. A straight, in column mast from the top on down. A slight aft rake to start with…and as you begin to wind on the backstay and the baby stay you will add some rake but also a good bit more bend.

Take this set up for a few test sails and see how things act, in different conditions. After that you can make some adjustments here and there as needed: weather helm, shroud tension, mast rake, pre bend, etc…Moving chocks and using a Loos gauge.

ADDT’L TIP: Chocks and mast step position affect bend and rake properties. Want more rake? Chock mast aft in collar and move step forward. Want more bend? Chock mast forward in collar and move mast aft. As all things, there is more to it than that, but that’s the gist of the whole chocks and mast step thing…

“Sail Tuning” is a blog we are in the works of, but the punchline is that if hard on the breeze, and the leeward shrouds are excessively loose, and you are sure you aren’t over canvased…then go ahead and take turns on the leeward side until they just stop waggling, count what you’ve done, tack and mirror the turns on the other side.

Once the boat is set up for that specific condition, and you return to the dock, you should take your loose gauge and record these settings…creating a tension gauge setting for various conditions.

Hi, Thanks for your information. I have a Dehler 34. 1986… How much mast prebend and rake is recommended? The boat is new to me in March. Raced ok but I want to get a new main and want it to fit a well tuned mast. What do you think of a 2 degree rake and 4″ prebend at the speaders? Also, I have a Harken furler, How do you measure the forestay tension? Thanks, Duke

The answer, this boat is pretty sporty so it should show some rake. The spreaders are swept slightly aft so this will produce some natural bend just to tension the headstay.

Head-stays are always tough to measure with any sort of gauge, there are some class specific tricks for using a gauge in funky ways in order to get data, but they aren’t really reliable in my opinion. If you live in a typically windy area, go for bit more shroud tension, headstay tension and mast bend, and see how the boat feels. This will take some trial and error. If the forestay feels too stiff, slot too tight, loosen the uppers a bit, thus reducing bend and slackening the headstay.

Once the boat is sailing well in the ideal conditions, record that bend and those tensions. This is where I would leave things set, record it, and then just adjust shroud tension to affect bend and headstay in order to compliment different wind strengths and sea states. It takes quite a bit of back and forth, and documentation to get it right. One designers have already worked all of this out and then they share it for others…..very helpful. The rest of us will have to be the trailblazers for this type of information for other boat owners with the same (similar) boats to benefit.

Hope that helps, thanks for the kind words, and good luck. Once you figure things out post a link here for others with the same boat…..would be helpful.

Hello, Thanks for all of this great info. I just purchased a 37′ boat with a 3/4 fractional rig and a tapered mast. I was wondering if there were any special considerations when tuning the fractional rig? Currently the stays and shrouds are a little loose and can be wiggled (borderline flopping) by hand although the mast stands and is visually centered. (We are in SW Florida and the boat went through a direct hit by hurricane Irma like this and still stands tall!) Also is it advisable to increase shroud tension in small increments first on one side and then do the same on the opposing side? Thanks so much for any info

Hi Nathan. There are some thoughts, so fractional masts are usually fitted with aft swept shrouds and spreaders. If so, this means that the uppers also tension the headstay and create mast bend. The lowers then also act to reduce mast bend, so the tighter you make them you are actually reducing mast curve, thus powering the mainsail up. So be conscious of these two thoughts when tensioning the shrouds. The rest is fundamentally the same as the guide suggests. Loose or wiggling shrouds (excluding the scenario where we are talking about the leeward shrouds under sail), should be tightened. Doing things in increments is definitely a good idea.

Hope that helps. Thanks for the questions.

Thanks!! Now that you say that about the swept spreaders helping create mast bend it makes perfect sense. I had an ‘oh duh’ moment. I’ll probably err on the side of looser lower shrouds knowing if we need more power we can always tighten them up. Thank you again this helped immensely!

I want to buy a tension gage. Most familiar with Loos. But do I need Pt 1 or 2? (Pretty sure I don’t need 3 or Pro.) I have two rigs to tune: a 1972 Morgan 27 and a Catalina 22, I think 73 or thereabouts. The Morgan 27 is mine, fresh water for life, and 99.9% most likely factory wire. The Catalina 22 is a borrower in the Gulf, but pretty sure the owner has never tuned it. My problem is I can’t find the gage of wire for either standing rigging anywhere! Any help?

I think this one will do… https://sep.yimg.com/ca/I/yhst-70220623433298_2270_120385950 . The Morgan is likely 3/16″ wire and the Catalina is likely 5/32″, that’s an educated guess. Hope that helps.

I just purchased a 1980 C&C 40. I was told that I need to replace the rod rigging as it is “too old”. The mast is down and the rod rigging seems ok but I have not done any penetration testing. Does rod rigging need to be replaced due to age? Thanks Rigging Co.

Not replaced, but re-headed. This can mean that some stays need to be replaced as a whole, but not typically not the whole set. There are instances where you’ve almost replaced all of it anyways, so full replacement just makes sense. Other than those scenarios, full replacement is due after a certain mileage with rod…60,000 NM. Please keep in mind these standards are very general recommendations. It sounds like in your case, you should send in the rod, tangs, and chainplates for service and inspection. once we receive everything we will make a quote for the recommended services and/or replacement.

Hope that helps and give us an email for more info.

I have had a problem with securing the spreaders to the shrouds, resulting in the spreaders dropping. I am using stainless wire to seize them but still having a problem. Any tips on how to do this properly?

Seizing the wire onto spreaders with hinged spreaders is a bit of a trick of the trade that requires some practice. We use the X’s and O’s method. The end result should be something that looks like this… https://theriggingcompany.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/2012-06-07_14-26-09_899.jpg?w=900 . A trick to make the wire bite into the spreader end a bit more is to wedge a small piece of leather between the spreader and the wire before seizing. Also parceling and serving the wire where it intersects the spreader will help create more bite too. Lastly, and I don’t like this method but you can install a bull dog cable clamp beneath the spreader, nuts facing in, to keep it from dropping when slack.

I hope that helps a little. Thanks for commenting.

I am struggling to get enough rake into my mast. 33 foot Charger 33 keel stepped. Have loosened forestay and moved mast foot forward by about 10 mm. Should the chocks in the collar be adjusted? Runners and 2 spreaders, and check spreader. Spreaders do not have much aft angle. Move mast step more forward? Outers are tight with inners looser. Thoughts?

Hey Bernard,

Yeah, it sounds like chocks are the last thing. Maybe remove the chocks with the rigging slack and see if you can get the mast to sit where you like it with just hand tension. Then chock it where it wants to sit. It sounds like you are on the right track everywhere else, perhaps add a toggle into the headstay and shorten the backstay is next. Good luck and I hope that helps somewhat.

Hi, We have a Lagoon Catamaran with fractional rig, upper and lower shrouds, fore stay and upper and lower diamonds. No back stay. The mast has a degree of pre-bend. I do not plan to drop the mast.

I may have to do some work on the port side upper diamond. Is it as easy as just undoing the turnbuckle? Or do I need to loosen the starboard one at the same time. If it needs replacement should I also replace the starboard one even if in good condition?

As a further question, what happens if a diamond breaks, does it result in mast failure?

You would need to loosen the other counterpart to that stay for sure. It is just good practice, will keep the mast straight, and also make your life easier for removal install. Now, do you replace both? I don’t know. How old is the standing rigging? Why are you replacing the one? If it is not all due for replacement and you are just replacing due to damage, just do the one, but loosen both sides to do this.

Hope that helps and thanks for the visit.

Hello! I recently purchased a keel-stepped 1982 Goman Express 30 which came with an Alado Furler. I have been sailing it since May of this year. My question is this: Despite relocating mast wedges at the cabin roof to bias the lower mast aft about 2″, I still have a pronounced backward bend (10 degrees or so) just above the highest spreader. When sailing on jib alone, most wave action causes the mast to pump right at the bend point. I have a split backstay that is as un-tensioned as possible and the forestay only has another inch of adjustment left. There is no baby stay.

How can I get the bend out of the mast? How concerned should I be that the mast might break at that point?

Thanks in advance for your reply!

Eric Hassam – Delta Flyer

Thanks for taking the time to comment on our site. It sounds like you are on the right track. So one other adjustment that you have is the mast step position. This greatly affects mast bend on keel stepped masts. For a stronger bend and less rake, move the mast butt aft. For more rake and less bend (probably what you need to try), move the mast step forward a bit. If neither of these help, you may be off to have your headstay shortened and this means it is too long. This is likely not the case, but it is a possibility.

Keep in mind….A mast should have a slight aft rake bias along with a small amount of mast bend. This is quite normal. You can send us a picture if you’d like a second opinion on if it is over-bent. Having said all of that, even if you remove all of the mast bend, the mast may still pump. This is a design flaw in many spar designs that lots of end users have experienced. This can be remedied by redesigning the stay lay out. Is there a place for a staysail stay and/ or runner backstays? If so add them. Is there a place for a baby stay? If not, that may be a consideration.

Thanks again and I hope that helps.

Hi, I have a 48 foot yawl with a 7/8 fractional rig, is the tuning procedure the same as a masthead rig? I seem to have trouble getting aft rake and proper headstay tension. Also, is there a particular tension number the upper shrouds should have? many thanks in advance

Hi Bill, thanks for taking the time. 7/8 is very close and I would treat it like a masthead rig, especially if the none of the spreaders are aft swept. Tesnsion the headstay using the backstay(s). This should pull the top of the mast aft. If there are any other forward stays, i.e. stay sail stay, forward lowers, or anything else that could be holding the mast forward, go ahead and loosen those completely. You then may need to tighten the Tri-attic (the stay that connects the top of the mizzen and top of the main) if present. OR if the mizzen needs more rake too, then lossen all forward stays and pull it back using the available aft stays for this as well.

Hope this helps and please email us and send some pictures if you need more help.

I have a 1972 Morgan 27, which has both forward and after lower shrouds. I wish to remove the forward lowers so I can trim a 110% jib inside the stays. I see a lot of boats without forward lowers and think this will work OK, but wonder if I should increase the size of the aft lowers and beef up the chain plates. Any suggestions?

THANKS FOR YOUR INPUT. I AM GOING TO REMOVE THEM ANYWAY AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS. “HOLD MY BEER, WATCH THIS….” FAMOUS LAST WORDS.

Lol! Good luck. Call us if you need assistance.

I have rod rigging on my Beneteau 32s5

Any other guidance on tuning them vs wire rigging

Hi and thanks for commenting.

Just follow the guidelines in the write up. The over all goal is that the mast needs to be straight and in-column when looking at it from side to side.

Fore and aft, the mast should show a very slight lean aft. Depending on whether or not the spreaders are in-line or aft swept; you should also see some slight bend if there is any aft sweep to the spreaders just from the tension of the uppers.

A Rod stay tends to run a bit tighter than wire, so keep that in mind.

For racing, ideally once the static tune at the dock (the part we just talked about) is done, go out and sail tune. Do this by going hard on the wind and checking to see if the leeward shrouds are just starting to dance, this is ideal. If they are swaying about they are too loose for the current conditions. If the leeward shrouds are tight, they may be a touch to tight. Tension and loosen as needed; count what you did and to what shroud, then tack and do the same to the other side.

ALWAYS secure the turnbuckles when you are finished adjusting them.

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Wow, I would hate to be charged by her for three trips up the rig and forget the screw driver the rubber plugs that are sacraficial and replaced everytime removed just to clean the stainless 1×19 rigging.

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Shrouds are the lines that run from the top or middle of the mast down to the deck on either side of the mast. Shrouds are part of a boat's standing rigging and are usually steel cables that are attached to the deck with a chain plate and tightened with turnbuckles .

A mast may have one or more sets of spreaders , which are horizontal spars that cross the mast like a lowercase "t".

The upper shrouds (or " uppers ") are the shrouds that go from the deck all they way to the top of the mast, usually through the tips of the spreaders.

The lower shrouds (or " lowers ") are the shrouds that only go partway up the mast.

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Loos & Co Inc. - Cableware Division

Cableware® Division / How To’s / How to use Tension Gauges

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How to use Tension Gauges

How to use tension gauges video transcript.

Ahoy mateys

Hey today lets talk a little bit about the tension of your stays

I’ve got good news and bad news

The good news is Loos and Company helps take some of the guess work out of what the tension ought to be

Now they make three different tension gauges and it’s a function of how big your stays are, the size of your cable

So this is the middle one and there’s one for smaller cables and one for bigger cables

Now there’s certain tolerances that your stay should be within and that helps right here

They’ve got a little thing on here

The bad news is you’re not going to find a chart somewhere that says you have ABC boat and your stays are a quarter inch and you have such and such a sail, so your tension needs to be 900

While the tension on the stays is also a function of sailing performance, the shape of the sail

But you know there are certain tolerances that you should be within and Loos helps take the guesswork out of that

Now you may say to yourself well hey I’m not a professional rigger, what do I need this for?

All the more reason you need one of these

You know these professional riggers they can go around and they can test things out pretty well

Here you want to make sure that you’re somewhere in the tolerance levels of this and then fine-tune it as you get more comfortable and learn more about sailing

Especially racing sailors tension is very very important

Well let’s talk with Eddie the shop foreman here at the Salient Emporium who is a professional rigger to give us some general guidelines as to what we should be looking for and what we should have on our stays

And then he’s going to come on board my boat and we’re going to go through the process of how to use this gage and how to tighten the stays

Alright guys so here we are with Ed, a professional rigger, give us a little more information

Now Ed, as a typical cruising sailor how tight do I want my rigging to be?

You want it, you don’t want it tight tight but you do want it on the tight side because what you want to do is that so when you’re sailing if you’re on a starboard tack then the rigging on the port side is not loose

So you want everything to stay tight so say when the wind comes across starboard side pushing the sail and everything that way then if everything is too loose and all your rigging

you’ll see it on the port side will hang loose and vice versa if you want a port tack then all of the wind of the rigging on the starboard side will be loose

You don’t want to be able to see it moving around in the wind

So you want it to be a little bit tighter than looser?

Okay, now on this gauge here we’ve got now I’ve got quarter inch stays

I’ve already tested that guy’s

So here we’re going to go on anywhere from 450 pounds of tension to 2,000

Where do I wanna be at

I would start that somewhere about in the middle

So maybe somewhere around the 900 to 1100

Somewhere in that area at 11-13 percent

All right now is that for all the stays or just the two main ones that go up to the top

Well the uppers and the forward and the lowers will be tighter than your, the uppers your back stay head stay will be tighter than your lowers will be

Okay so we’re going to go out to the boat and see where I am

Now I did notice guys I took my main halyard and I brought it down

I measured on the starboard side and I brought it over to the port side and I seem to off a little bit there

You know so the mast is not quite straight

So I wanna straighten that out first

You want to get it to the center of the boat as far as side-to-side

You don’t want it more towards the starboard side, the top, or the port

You want to have it dead center of the boat

Okay now what stage are those the first ones we want  to do?

We will start with uppers and get the masthead in the center of the boat as far as side-to-side

Okay, and then we’re gonna do the ones that go up to the spreaders?

Do the lowers yeah and that way once you get to the top of the mast in the center then you work down and you get the rest of the mast lined up with it

Okay, and so the tension is really a matter of the size of the cable?

And sail shape and kind of sailing you’re doing?

All right well guys let’s go out and just see how we do this, how we test this, and then how we actually adjust the turnbuckles to get the right tension

All right let’s go

Okay what we want to do is make sure the top of the masthead is in the center of the boat, side to side

So what we’ve done we’ve got a line hook here to the main hired and we’ll stretch it down to the top of the staunch and then go to the other side to see how they compare

You always want to make sure that whatever you use is it’s the same on both sides

That way you get a good accurate measurement

So we’ll pull it down and top of the staunch is right here so we’ll go to the other side of the boat and do the same thing and see how far off we are

All right so Eddie has given me this, let me see what we got here

You can see we are that far off so the mast, that top of the mast is actually heading towards the starboard side of the boat

So what we want to do is either loosen up on the starboard side and crank up on the port side, pull it over to get it straight

Or just crank up on the port of the rigging if it’s loose enough maybe we can pull it over and straight it out that way

And then once get it in the center then you take up evenly on both sides so that everything is tight

The same tightness on both sides and a mast stays on the center of the boat

Okay we’re going to check the tension now on this

We’re going to use the Loos gauge

Check tension on the upper

To use this we’ve added a safety feature here so we are gonna clip this around here so if we drop it, it doesn’t fall overboard

Okay then you just put the stays in between these two knobs here at the bottom

And you pull back on this and let it clip in there

And that’s where you get your reading from

You can see it’s on about 17 and then we look down this gauge here and 17 is up here

We need to be down in this area here somewhere

So that’s telling us we need to tighten up on this cord upper to get it one thing to get the mast over this way but also tighten up on the rig all together

All right yeah I’m pretty far off there Ed

All right now let’s look down at the turnbuckle and how do I actually do that

Okay once you get the locking nut loose

Not all boats have the locking nut sometimes they just have the stud coming down into the turnbuckle

And then there’s just cotter pins going through to hold it in place so if you have that you just pull those cotter pins out and then it’s ready to loosen or tighten

To tighten this we’re going to put the wrench on the flat spot of the fitting here coming down the rigging

And you can stick a screwdriver into the turnbuckle, the body turnbuckle, and turn it

Most time it’s counterclockwise to tighten so we will put a few turns on this and then check our tension gauge and see how much it changed

Okay so I’m tightening up on the turnbuckle and we’ll see how it changes on the gauge as I’m tightening up on this

Well this is pretty good Ed because we’ve got the gauge in place and as you’re tightening I can see it’s moving and we’re getting closer to, let me see what number we wanted

We wanted 32 and we’re at 25 right now so we’re getting there

Okay but now before we tighten up too far on this what we ought to do is check the top of the masthead again and see if we’re getting closer to pulling the mast back over to the side

we don’t want to go too far this way and then watch and loosen up on this side and pull it back on the other side

Okay so we want to take it in small increments?

All right well let’s test this and see here where we are on our straightening

Inside we are now here, we’ll take it over to the outside

Tail a little bit these gotta go to port just a little bit more but we’re getting real close

Actually right now we have gone too far to the port side

So when you tighten up on the starboard side and bring masthead back over this way a little bit

Alright so now we’re going to bring the gauge back over here and work on this one

Okay so you can see we’re right on 25 over here so we still need to get down into this area here around 30-32

So when we tighten that we bring that down, we’re also going to be tightening the other side too?

Yes we’re going to pull on the other side

So masthead back in the center and at the same time we’ll be tightening the rig both the uppers to get where it needs to get

Tightened it up on the starboard side now to bring the masthead back over this way and also tighten everything down to get it where it needs to be on the gauge

All right so now Ed we’re up to about 26-27

All right so now we’re on 30 here now we need to check for our straightness again?

Yes we’ll check straightness again and if we still want to make it tighter at that point if the mast in the middle then we want to take up the same on both sides

Take a turn here take a turn there or two turns here two turns there

It’s that way once it’s in the center we’ll keep it in the center

Okay so we’re kinda just gonna bounce back and forth?

Okay it’s pretty much right at the same height from each side to side so we got the mast pretty much in the center of the boat now

So then what we’ll do, we’ll work down from that

We’ll go down to the lowers and get the middle of the mast lined up with the top and the bottom

Okay we’ve got this set on 30 which is about midway of where I wanted to get it at

We’ll leave it there, we’ll get everything tightened and pinned and locked back in place and then we’ll start with the forward air flows get them tensioned and get the middle of the mast lined up with the top and the bottom

And you take it out sailing and check things out and then we’ll recheck it once you come back in

All right so now on these other ones that we’re going to do here

These things here ‘the half lowers and full lowers’ those need to be the same tension?

No they will not be as tight as the uppers are

they will be somewhere around the 20-26-28 somewhere in that range

Okay so we’re gonna do that next

All right Ed so now I got a pretty good idea of how this thing works and really it’s pretty neat

I don’t want to tie you up so I’ll go ahead and do the forward and half stays and can you come back and check me then?

Sure yeah I can check it, but just don’t forget when you get done, make sure all the turn buckles are locked back down so these nuts will screw down to the top and the bottom will screw up to the bottom

and then once you’re done that as an extra safety thing put in these caudal rings as it will go through the turnbuckle and in the holes and the studs there and that would keep those turnovers from backing out on their own

All right well I’m gonna give it a shot Ed

Man I tell you what, I’m just really shocked at how loose these stays were and how crooked my mast was

I’ma feel a lot better about heading out tomorrow

You’re sailing should be a lot better

Well thank you

All right Ed what do you think?

Well first thing I’m going to check is I want to make sure you got the mast in a straight column going all the way up and what I’m going to use is I’m gonna look at the sail track and if it’s off one way or the other here in the middle it’ll look like a snake or look like a banana

It would be bent so I’m just gonna look up the mast and see if it looks straight

Actually Dominic you’ve done a pretty good job as the mast track is straight all the way to the very top

Wow! All right

So the next thing we want to do probably is to check the tension on all the rigging to make sure everything’s at the proper tension

Okay and you’ve got that on actually pretty well, it’s up on 29

So you’re right in the area of where I wanted you to be

As long as this one’s the same and then what you want to do is just take this off of here and go over to the port side and make sure that everything is set to the proper tension on both sides

Which I would say they’re going to be because if not the mast when we pull it over to that side of the boat would not have been straight

And that you’ve got it exactly on 29 so that looks good

All right so I’m ready to be a professional rigger?

No, but you will be able to go out and adjust your sails and get it fine-tuned for you to sail the boat you know to what it’s supposed to be sailed at

I’ll get this cable out of the way here Eddie

Well Ed I really appreciate the help on this I think it’ll be helpful for a lot of cruisers

I’m headed out tomorrow so I’m gonna give it a test

Okay well good you definitely will see an improvement in the sailing I’m sure of that

Guys did you see how easy that was?

It didn’t take long at all and I’ll tell you what, I feel much better about going out sailing tomorrow, knowing that I’ve got even tension

I mean this thing was so far off it was unbelievable

This (Loos Tension gauge) I think is going to very very handy to have on board on a regular basis

Anyway guys happy and safe boating to you, your family, and friends

The Loos Tension Gauges take the guesswork out of cable or rod tension adjustment. The tension gauges are especially designed for accurate, repeatable tuning of a sailboat’s standing rigging.

Professional Model #PT-CR

Model #PT-CR

(Cable Railing)

Sizes 1/8, 3/16, and 1/4

shrouds on a sailboat

Model 90 & 91

Sizes 3/32 to 9/32 and 2.5mm to 7mm

Model RT Series

Model RT Series

(Sail Rigging (Rod))

Sizes .172 to .375 and 4.4mm to 9.5mm

The  Loos tension gauges  take the guesswork out of cable or rod tension adjustment. The tension gauges are especially designed for accurate, repeatable tuning of a sailboat’s standing rigging.

Contrary to popular thought, a slack rig is more punishing on a hull than a properly adjusted, tight rig. Insufficient tension will not reduce the loads transmitted in the hull. Slack rigging will punish the spar and rigging needlessly by allowing excessive movement, chafe and shock loading. Modern fiberglass hulls should not be damaged by a properly adjusted, tight rig.

Figure 1 lists the rigging tension under different conditions for a typical boat with a properly tuned rig and with a slack rig. It will be noted that the maximum load is the same. However, for properly tuned rig the leeward / shrouds will not go slack under normal sailing conditions.

The lateral stiffness of the mast and the fore and aft stiffness of the spreaders is reduced by a factor of 2 when the leeward shrouds go slack. This Important structural characteristic is not generally recognized.

Rigging tension is becoming more important as a result of the trend toward the use of mast bend to control mainsail shape under different wind conditions. Mast bend will also affect the shape and trim of the jib, since mast adjustment generally affects forestay tension. The expert skipper will benefit by maintaining consistent rigging tension while developing the optimum sail shape and sailing tactics.

Sailboat Rig Tension Gauges

Safety and Performance

The failure of a fitting, shroud or stay could damage your boat, buckle the mast or even cause personal injury. To avoid such failure of (cable or rod) and fittings from fatigue or shock loading, it is important to set up your standing rigging with the proper tension. Too little tension in the shroud will permit the leeward shroud to go slack, only to fetch up with a jolt when the boat rolls or pitches. A less common problem is excessive tension. This can cause permanent stretch to the (cables or rods) and possibly damage the mast.

PERFORMANCE

The actual set of sail under load is determined by the cut of the sail and the shape of the structure which supports the sail. Rigging tension plays an important part in determining the set of the sails.

When the boat has been tuned for peak performance, measure (cable or rod) tension should be recorded. The stainless steel used to make the rigging can stretch a little bit over time under high loading. Thus, marking turnbuckles, etc. cannot guarantee that subsequent adjustments will provide the desired tension. Only by gauging is it possible to repeat the initial tuning or improve it.

Limiting the sag of the forestay is perhaps the most important benefit to performance from having the proper rigging tension. Forestay sag permits the jib luff to fall off to leeward, tightening to leech and seriously degrading the performance to windward.

Tension in the upper and lower shrouds will influence the mast bend and set the mainsail. This is especially important on modern, fractional rigs where the mast bend is used to de-power the sail in heavy winds.

If the shrouds are not set up with enough tension, the leeward shrouds will go slack when the boat is sailing to windward. This can result in fore and aft pumping of the mast in a head sea. This mast movement will change the shape of the mainsail and can cause performance loss as well as possible structural damage.

Specific tension requirements for your application must be obtained from the boat, mast, or sail manufacturer or the manufacturer of the product on which the (cable or rod) is used.

en_US

shrouds on a sailboat

Sailboat Stays: Everything You Need to Know

by Emma Sullivan | Aug 10, 2023 | Sailboat Maintenance

shrouds on a sailboat

Short answer sailboat stays:

Sailboat stays, also known as rigging stays, are structural wires or ropes used to support the mast of a sailboat. They provide lateral stability and prevent excessive vertical movement of the mast. Stays generally run from various points on the mast to different parts of the hull or deck, ensuring the integrity and balance of the entire rigging system.

Understanding Sailboat Stays: A Comprehensive Guide

As a sailing enthusiast or someone considering taking up this exhilarating water sport, understanding sailboat stays is an essential aspect of your knowledge base. Whether you’ve just purchased your first sailboat or simply want to expand your understanding of the technical elements involved in sailing, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to become a confident and capable sailor. So, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and delve into the fascinating world of sailboat stays!

1. What are Sailboat Stays?

Let’s start at the basics – what exactly are sailboat stays? Well, these are essential components that support the mast on a sailing vessel . They consist of wires or ropes attached to specific points on the mast and then secured elsewhere on the boat ‘s deck or hull. The purpose behind stays is to provide stability for the mast by counterbalancing its immense forces during navigation.

2. The Functionality of Stays

To truly grasp how sailboat stays work, imagine yourself onboard a racing yacht gliding through choppy seas with strong winds propelling you forward. The mast takes on massive amounts of tension from opposing forces like wind pressure and gravitational pull. In such circumstances, without proper support, your vessel would be at risk of losing control or even experiencing a catastrophic collapse.

That’s where boat stays come into play! These supporting systems ensure that your mast remains upright, secure, and efficiently transfers loads from sails to other parts of the boat ‘s framework. By strategically distributing tension throughout various stay points along with shrouds (diagonal supports), mainstays (fore-and-aft supports), and backstays (rearward supports), your vessel can maintain stability even under fierce conditions.

3. Types of Sailboat Stays

Stays come in several different forms depending on their positioning and intended function:

– Forestay: Located at the bow (front) of your sailboat, this crucial stay helps to stabilize the mast against forward movement. It connects to the top portion of the foredeck and restricts the mast from leaning too far or buckling under pressure.

– Shrouds: These diagonal supports are attached at spreader bars further up the mast and extend outward, connecting to either side of your vessel’s hull. Shrouds help counteract lateral forces on the mast, preventing it from shifting sideways.

– Backstays: Positioned aft (rear) of your sailboat, backstays provide additional support by countering backward tension exerted on the mast. They inhibit excessive bending while balancing other forces acting on the stays.

4. Materials Used in Stays

Historically, traditional sailboat stays were crafted using natural fibers such as hemp ropes or even metal chains for larger vessels. However, modern technology has revolutionized stay construction with high-performance materials like stainless steel wires or synthetic fibers such as Dyneema and Spectra.

These new-age materials offer superior strength-to-weight ratios, resistance to corrosion, and heightened durability in comparison to their predecessors. Sailors benefit from reduced maintenance demands while enjoying extended longevity for their staying systems.

5. Maintaining and Inspecting Stays

To ensure optimal functionality and safety aboard your sailboat, routine inspections and maintenance of stays is crucial. Regularly check for signs of wear and tear such as frayed wires or weakened sections in synthetic stays. Additionally, keep an eye out for loose fittings or improperly fastened connections that may compromise stability.

If you detect any issues during inspection or observe unusual behavior while sailing (such as excessive flexing), promptly address them with professional assistance. A well-maintained staying system will not only enhance your overall sailing experience but also safeguard against potential accidents.

In conclusion, understanding sailboat stays is a fundamental aspect of becoming a proficient sailor. By comprehending their purpose, types, materials used, and maintenance procedures associated with stays, you’re now equipped with knowledge to navigate the vast waters confidently and securely. Sail on, fellow seafarers, and may your sailing adventures be filled with smooth winds, picturesque vistas, and unforgettable memories!

How to Properly Install Sailboat Stays: Step-by-Step Instructions

If you’re a seasoned sailor or just stepping into the world of sailboats, knowing how to properly install sailboat stays is crucial for a smooth and safe sailing experience. Stays are essential components that provide support and tension to the mast , ensuring stability and reducing the risk of damage while out on the water. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of installing sailboat stays with detailed instructions that will have you sailing in no time.

Step 1: Prepare Your Tools and Equipment Before diving into the installation process, make sure you have all necessary tools and equipment at hand. This includes an assortment of stainless steel shackles, turnbuckles, cotter pins, wire cutters or cable crimpers (depending on your preferred method of termination), tape measure, wire rope clips, and a strong knowledge of basic knot tying techniques .

Step 2: Inspect Your Existing Rigging Begin by inspecting your existing rigging system thoroughly. Look out for signs of wear or corrosion such as broken strands, frayed wires, rusted hardware, or any other visible damage that could compromise the integrity of your rigging. It’s vital to identify any potential issues before proceeding further.

Step 3: Measure and Order New Stays To ensure accurate measurements for your new stays, use a tape measure to determine the required length. Remember to consider any deviation from straight alignment due to deck bends or attachment positions on deck fittings. Once measured accurately, order high-quality replacement stays made from marine-grade stainless steel for maximum durability and resistance against weather elements.

Step 4: Remove Old Stay(s) Carefully remove the old stay(s) by loosening turnbuckles or detaching shackles one end at a time. Be mindful not to let go of loose ends as they may swing dangerously when released from tension. Keep track of each disconnected part so reinstallation becomes easier later on.

Step 5: Attach New Stay(s) Begin by attaching the lower end of your new stay(s) to their respective deck fittings or chainplates. It’s essential to ensure a secure connection using proper stainless steel shackles or other suitable hardware, depending on your boat’s configuration.

Step 6: Adjust and Tension With the lower ends securely attached, it’s time to adjust and tension the stays. To do this, utilize turnbuckles or rigging screws depending on your sailboat ‘s setup. Gradually tighten each stay until they are taut but not excessively stretched. This step requires careful attention as overtightening can lead to excessive strain on both the rigging and the mast.

Step 7: Terminate the Upper End To terminate the upper end of your stays, you have two common options – wire rope clips or cable crimps. Both methods require precision and care to create a secure termination point capable of withstanding heavy loads and frequent vibrations while sailing.

Step 8: Inspect and Test After completing the installation process, always conduct a thorough inspection of your newly installed stays. Look for any signs of weakness, improper tensioning, or potential hazards that may affect proper functionality. Once satisfied, give your rigging system a gentle shake or two to confirm stability before setting sail .

By following these step-by-step instructions meticulously, you’ll have successfully installed new sailboat stays, ensuring safe travels on open waters . Remember that routine inspections and maintenance of your rigging system are crucial for longevity and safety purposes. So before planning future sailing adventures, make sure you have properly installed sailboat stays to enjoy an exhilarating journey with peace of mind!

Frequently Asked Questions About Sailboat Stays: Your Queries Answered

Introduction to Sailboat Stays

Sailboat stays are a unique and exciting way of experiencing the water. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a first-timer, staying on a sailboat offers an unforgettable adventure . But we understand that many questions may be floating in your mind about this unconventional type of accommodation. Fear not, because we have compiled some commonly asked questions and provided detailed, professional, witty, and clever explanations to put your queries to rest.

1. Is staying on a sailboat safe ?

Absolutely! Safety is of paramount importance for both the boat owner and guests. Boat owners must comply with strict safety regulations, ensuring that all necessary equipment is onboard. Additionally, experienced sailors are always available to guide you through any potential concerns. So rest assured, you’ll be in good hands throughout your stay.

2. What amenities can I expect on a sailboat?

While sailboats may be compact compared to traditional accommodations like hotels or apartments, they offer everything you need for a comfortable stay. Most boats come equipped with basic amenities such as sleeping quarters (cabins), bathrooms (heads), kitchen facilities (galley), and dining areas (salon). Some even have luxurious extras like air conditioning and entertainment systems.

3. Will I experience seasickness while staying on a sailboat ?

Seasickness is certainly a concern when spending time at sea. However, it predominantly affects those who are more prone to motion sickness or exposed to choppy waters. Sailboats are typically situated in calm anchorages or marinas where the rocking motion is minimal. If you’re worried about seasickness, prepare accordingly by bringing over-the-counter remedies or consulting with medical professionals who can provide effective solutions.

4. How do I manage privacy on a sailboat?

Privacy can sometimes feel limited aboard a sailboat due to its close-quarters layout. However, boat owners usually go above and beyond to ensure their guests have ample personal space by assigning separate cabins or creating privacy curtains. It’s essential to communicate your privacy needs beforehand, so the boat owner can make suitable arrangements for your comfort.

5. What activities can I engage in during a sailboat stay ?

Sailboat stays offer an abundance of unique activities to keep you entertained. Besides enjoying recreational water sports like snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding straight from the boat, you can also fish, swim in pristine waters, explore nearby islands, or simply relax on deck while appreciating breathtaking sunsets. Each day brings new opportunities for adventure and leisure during your sailboat stay.

6. Can anyone book a sailboat stay , even without sailing experience?

Absolutely! You don’t need any sailing experience to enjoy a sailboat stay. Boat owners often provide basic training upon arrival to familiarize guests with the vessel’s features and operations. They are there to assist you throughout your stay, ensuring that you have an enjoyable and hassle-free sailing vacation.

7. How do I find reputable sailboat stays?

To find reputable sailboat stays around the world, numerous platforms specialize in connecting guests with experienced boat owners looking to share their vessels. By conducting thorough research or seeking recommendations from fellow travelers or online communities dedicated to boating enthusiasts, you’re likely to discover trustworthy options that meet your expectations.

Sailboat stays provide a one-of-a-kind experience for those seeking adventure on the open waters . Regardless of concerns about safety, amenities, seasickness, privacy, activities, or sailing experience — there’s something for everyone on a sailboat stay. So step aboard this extraordinary mode of accommodation and prepare for a memorable journey filled with relaxation and enchantment at every turn of the tide!

Top Tips for Maintaining and Inspecting Sailboat Stays

Sailboat owners understand the importance of regular inspection and maintenance to ensure their vessel is in optimal condition. One significant area that requires attention is the sailboat stays, essential components for maintaining mast stability. Neglecting proper care can lead to potential dangers and even structural failures. In this blog post, we will provide you with top tips for maintaining and inspecting sailboat stays.

1. Regular Cleaning: It may seem obvious, but a simple yet effective way to keep your sailboat stays in good condition is through regular cleaning. Over time, dirt, saltwater residue, or even bird droppings can accumulate on the surfaces. These contaminants not only impair the aesthetics but also contribute to corrosion and degradation of the material. A thorough rinse with clean water and a mild detergent goes a long way in preserving the integrity of your stays.

2. Visual Inspection: Before setting sail or after returning from an expedition, it’s crucial to visually inspect your sailboat stays carefully. Look out for signs of fraying, corrosion, kinks, or any other damage that may compromise their strength and integrity. Also, pay close attention to fittings and connections; loose or damaged hardware can weaken the whole system.

3. Check Tension: Proper tension is critical for maintaining stability during sailing trips. Using a tension gauge specifically designed for wire rigging systems allows you to measure tension accurately at various points along your stays. Aim for manufacturer-recommended tension levels or consult an expert if you’re uncertain about the specifications for your particular boat model.

4. Lubrication: To prevent rusting and assist with smooth operation, apply appropriate lubricants regularly to any moving parts of your sailboat stays like turnbuckles or clevis pins. It’s advisable to use products specifically formulated for marine applications as they offer superior protection against harsh marine environments.

5. Rigging Tune-Up: Periodically assess the overall rigging system alongside regular stay inspections by employing the services of a professional rigger. They possess the expertise to spot potential issues that may have gone unnoticed and can recommend adjustments or replacement parts as needed. Maintaining a good relationship with a trusted rigger ensures your rigging receives comprehensive care.

6. Weather Protection: Exposure to extreme weather conditions can accelerate wear and tear on your sailboat stays. When not in use, consider covering them with UV-resistant guards or fabric sleeves that shield against harmful sunlight, while also minimizing the impact of rain, snow, or ice on the stays’ surfaces.

7. Record-Keeping: Keeping detailed maintenance records is highly beneficial for sailboat owners. Documenting inspections, repairs, replacements, and specific notes about your stays’ condition allows you to monitor patterns and plan future maintenance schedules more effectively. Additionally, these records serve as useful references when discussing any concerns or seeking advice from industry professionals.

By adhering to these top tips for maintaining and inspecting sailboat stays, you ensure the safety and longevity of your vessel while maximizing its performance on the water. A well-maintained rigging system gives you peace of mind during sailing adventures, knowing that every precaution has been taken to minimize risks associated with stay failures or malfunctions. So don’t overlook this crucial aspect – prioritize the care of your sailboat stays today!

Evaluating Different Types of Sailboat Stays: Pros and Cons

When it comes to evaluating different types of sailboat stays, there are several factors to consider. Stays play a crucial role in supporting the mast and keeping it upright, so making the right choice is essential for smooth sailing . In this blog post, we will dive into the pros and cons of various sailboat stays, helping you make an informed decision.

1. Wire Rigging: Wire rigging is the most commonly used type of stay on sailboats . Its popularity stems from its strength and durability. Made from high-tensile stainless steel wires, it offers excellent support and can withstand heavy loads. This makes it suitable for larger vessels or boats that frequently navigate challenging waters .

Pros: – Superior strength: Wire rigging can handle significant tension without breaking or stretching. – Long-lasting: Unlike other materials that degrade over time, stainless steel wires resist corrosion and have a longer lifespan. – Versatile: Can be used for both standing rigging (supports when stationary) and running rigging (controls while sailing).

Cons: – Complexity: Installation requires experience as specialized tools are necessary to adjust tension properly. – Cost: Wire rigging can be expensive compared to alternative materials. – Weight: The weight of wire stays may affect performance on smaller boats with limited stability .

2. Synthetic Materials: Synthetic materials like Dyneema or Spectra have gained popularity in recent years due to their impressive strength-to-weight ratio. These fibers are coiled together to form a lightweight yet durable stay.

Pros: – Lightweight: Synthetic stays reduce boat weight , enhancing speed and maneuverability. – Low maintenance: They do not corrode like metal stays, reducing upkeep requirements. – Easy installation: Less knowledge required than wire stays as there is no need for specialized tools.

Cons: – Chafe susceptibility: Synthetic materials are susceptible to chafing against contact points, which necessitates protective coverings or regular inspection. – UV degradation: Prolonged exposure to sunlight can weaken the fibers over time, requiring periodic replacement. – Cost: Synthetic stays can be expensive initially, though they often provide long-term cost savings in terms of maintenance.

3. Rod Rigging: Rod rigging consists of solid metal rods that are corrosion-resistant and extremely stiff. Typically made of stainless steel or carbon fiber composite, this type of stay offers a unique set of advantages.

Pros: – Stiffness: Rod rigging provides exceptional rigidity, resulting in minimal stretch under heavy loads. – Low windage: The slender profile reduces drag, improving sailing performance in light winds . – Reliability: Potential failures are easier to detect as rod rigging shows signs before complete rupture.

Cons: – High cost: Rod rigging is more expensive than wire and synthetic options due to the manufacturing process and materials used. – Limited flexibility: Unlike wire or synthetic stays, rod rigging cannot accommodate dynamic adjustments during prolonged use. – Specialist installation: Requires professional expertise with specific knowledge and skill set for proper fitting.

In conclusion, choosing the right sailboat stay depends on various factors such as boat size, sailing conditions, budget, and personal preferences. While wire rigging remains the go-to option for many sailors due to its strength and durability, synthetic materials offer lightweight alternatives with low maintenance needs. On the other hand, rod rigging provides unmatched stiffness but comes at a higher cost and requires specialist knowledge for installation. By carefully assessing these pros and cons, you can confidently make an informed decision about which sailboat stay best suits your needs. Happy sailing!

The Importance of Properly Tuning Sailboat Stays for Optimal Performance

Sailing enthusiasts understand that achieving optimal performance on a sailboat requires attention to detail and careful tuning. One crucial aspect that often goes overlooked is the proper tuning of sailboat stays. Yes, those seemingly inconspicuous cables or rods that support the mast play a pivotal role in determining a boat’s overall performance on the water .

Now, you may be wondering what exactly is meant by “tuning” sailboat stays. In simple terms, it refers to adjusting the tension of these rigging components to attain maximum efficiency and minimize any potential issues while sailing . This process involves ensuring that the stays are neither too loose nor too tight but rather precisely tuned to strike an equilibrium.

Why does this matter? Well, let’s delve into why properly tuning sailboat stays is of utmost importance for optimal performance.

Firstly, properly tuned stays greatly affect a sailboat’s stability and balance while under sail . When tensioned correctly, they help counteract the forces exerted on the mast by wind pressure and sails . A well-tuned rig keeps the mast in an upright position, preventing excessive movement that could negatively impact sailing performance . Without stable stays, your boat may experience excess heeling or dangerous oscillations, making it harder to maintain control over speed and direction.

In addition to stability, properly tuning your stay also ensures efficient power transfer between your sails and hull, maximizing overall boat speed. When stays are accurately adjusted, they allow for better alignment of the mast with respect to the wind direction. This alignment optimizes how sails catch and utilize wind energy effectively – allowing you to harness nature’s power efficiently while gliding through the water like a pro!

Furthermore, balanced tensions in your stay system contribute to enhanced upwind sailing abilities – perfect for those thrilling races or navigating challenging conditions. In these scenarios where boats must tack into the wind at different angles, precise tuning of stays becomes even more critical. Properly tensioned rigging increases the boat’s ability to point higher, enabling it to sail closer to the wind without losing speed or experiencing excessive leeward drift.

Now, we wouldn’t be discussing sailboat stays’ optimal tuning without highlighting the importance of safety. While increased performance is undoubtedly appealing, a properly tuned rig also decreases the risk of catastrophic failures. Loose stays can lead to mast pumping (undesirable vertical movement), creating tremendous strain on rigging components and potentially causing structural damage or failure. Conversely, overtightened stays can put excessive stress on the mast, placing it at risk of cracking or even snapping during heavy winds or sudden maneuvers. Neglecting proper tuning could result in costly damages as well as endanger the crew onboard.

It’s not just about a mechanical advantage; tuning your sailboat stays can also have psychological benefits! Picture this – you’re out on the water, racing alongside fellow sailors, and you’ve spent time meticulously honing your boat’s performance. With every sail trim adjustment and precision tuning placed into action, you feel an unspoken bond with your vessel – knowing that you’ve optimized its capabilities to their fullest potential. This connection adds an element of confidence and satisfaction that only comes from understanding and taking control of every aspect of your craft.

In conclusion, proper tuning of sailboat stays is far more than just an arcane nautical art – it is vital for achieving optimal performance on the water. From stability and speed enhancements to improved maneuverability and safety measures, a finely tuned rig elevates both sailing pleasure and competitiveness. So next time you set sail, remember to pay extra attention to those humble but mighty stays; they hold the key to unlocking exciting adventures while embracing the timeless allure of sailing!

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‘The Shrouds’ Review: David Cronenberg Draws on His Wife’s Death for a Brilliantly Cerebral Thriller About the Physicality of Grief

David ehrlich.

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shrouds on a sailboat

A quintessentially late film from an artist who’s always been ahead of his time, “The Shrouds” is Cronenberg at his most inhospitable; so far as the project’s emotional availability and commercial appeal are concerned, it makes “ Crimes of the Future ” seem like “ Barbie ” by comparison. And yet, as with so many of Cronenberg’s most resonant movies, its morgue-like coldness eventually reveals itself to be deeply comforting to some degree — if not while you’re watching it, then perhaps as its big ideas begin to seep into your bone marrow during the days and weeks that follow. 

Between its paranoid scramble of a plot and a protagonist who becomes increasingly difficult to see as anything more than an avatar for its auteur, “The Shrouds” lends itself to a sort of delayed appreciation; its story only makes sense with the detached perspective that might begin to develop in the time between the death of a loved one and the funeral service at which they’re laid to rest. Body is reality, Cronenberg likes to say, but what becomes of that reality when the body in question is buried six feet under the ground? 

His name is Karsh, he’s played by a smirking Vincent Cassel (whose slab-like face and wiry gray hair make him a dead ringer for Cronenberg, even before he dons the sunglass that complete the illusion), and the fancy technology that afforded him his Tesla is called “GraveTech,” which is start-up speak for a wired cemetery that allows mourners to watch their loved ones rot in real-time, either with an app on their phones or via the monitors affixed to the top of each headstone. It’s effectively a cinema of the dead, as so many conventional films have become since they were shot. 

On that night, it’s possible that actual cameras are involved in the GraveTech process, but the bulk of the data that comes back from the beyond is generated by the radioactive shrouds that Karsh slips his corpses into before they’re buried; imagine the sort of sexy funeral gown that might debut at Fashion Week and you’ll have the right idea. At the very least, you’ll understand why this is one of several Cannes movies this year co-financed by the production arm of Yves Saint Laurent.

It’s a relatively safe and solid concept, at least by the very low standards of technology created by someone in a David Cronenberg film, and it seems to be fulfilling its intended purpose for Karsh and his clients. But there are… complications. For one thing, GraveTech hasn’t been able to stop Karsh’s teeth from eroding because of the grief — this may be the talkiest movie that Cronenberg has ever made, subject to even more verbal logorrhea than we got with “A Dangerous Method,” but his characters are still better expressed through their bodies than they are with their words. 

shrouds on a sailboat

Alas, Karsh is a fictional stand-in for David Cronenberg instead of the real McCoy, and that means he’s filled with fanciful hopes and surrounded by characters who solely exist to confound them. Characters like Diane Kruger’s Terry, a prickly dog groomer and the sister of his Karsh’s late wife Becca, who happens to look exactly like her. What psychic stress might that incur for a man so determined to remain in touch with his spouse that he created a surveillance camera on which he could spy on her for all eternity? And just to add injury to insult, Kruger also plays Becca, appearing nude in a morose series of nightmares that find Karsh relieving the various, mutilating surgeries that his wife endured as part of her cancer treatment at the hands of a doctor who she used to date. 

shrouds on a sailboat

Ever the pragmatist, Cronenberg knows better than to fall into that trap himself, but does that make him cruel for organizing Karsh’s entire life around the same principle? That question will become a beguiling lifeline as “The Shrouds” departs from coherent narrative logic and begins to unfold itself in the murky waters of international conspiracy and accusations of schizophrenia — slowly at first, but then so fast that you can no longer tell which way is up. 

Cassel’s slowly eroding smarm makes it amusing enough to watch Karsh fumble his way deeper and deeper into the maze of his own emotions (presumably as a means of sparing Cronenberg from suffering the same fate), even though the direction is so sedate and antiseptic off that it often feels as if the film isn’t moving forward at all. The flat aesthetic — and Howard Shore’s complementary score, which supplies more of the same numbing drone that he gave to “Crimes of the Future” — befits a story about a man struggling to deny the colorlessness of life after loss, and looking in all of the wrong places for a vibrancy that might take its place. “I lived in Becca’s body,” he tells someone, in a vintage piece of Cronenbergian syntax. “It was the only place I really lived.” 

Ours too, to some extent. What I love about “The Shrouds,” and why I can’t stop thinking about it, is that it remains completely unresolved as to GraveTech’s ultimate value. While I’d argue that Cronenberg doesn’t evince much faith in the purported function of this death technology, that doesn’t stop him from seeing a measure of quixotic and all-too-human sweetness in Karsh’s quest for continued signs of life. Becca is gone, and no trick of the imagination will bring her back. There’s something to be said for the old-fashioned brain hack that out of sight is out of mind. But how beautiful it is that we’ll always keep looking for our loved ones in the world, even when we know exactly where to find them.

“The Shrouds” premiered in Competition at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival. It is currently seeking U.S. distribution.

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If Only David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds Weren’t So Lifeless

Portrait of Bilge Ebiri

In David Cronenberg’s The Shrouds , emotions manifest themselves through changes to the body. A man bleeds because he’s nervous. Grief rots the teeth. And love, in one of the film’s more startling images, seems to mimic the effects of a late-stage terminal disease. There is talk of religion, but the film’s protagonist, Vincent Cassel’s Karsh Relikh, made up to look like Cronenberg himself, insists that he’s an atheist. But he does believe in an afterlife. Or, maybe more accurately, an afterdeath: Karsh has developed a technology that will allow him to watch his beloved late wife’s body decay in the grave, and he wants to share it with the world.

That’s the “shroud” of the title: a nifty piece of engineered cloth outfitted with many tiny X-ray cameras that is placed in the deceased’s coffin, allowing their loved ones to watch them slowly rot away. It was born out of Karsh’s anguished desire to enter his wife Bekka’s (Diane Kruger) coffin and be buried alongside her, but now it’s part of his funereal tech empire. Someone asks him about the Shroud of Turin early on; he reminds them that the ancient relic that purported to capture the face of Jesus was a fake. But Relikh’s shrouds are real. As someone who doesn’t believe in a spiritual concept of the self, maybe this is his answer to religion: If our emotions are our bodies, then perhaps, in watching our bodies decompose, we can truly reveal a secular version of the soul.

The Shrouds is clearly a very personal film for Cronenberg, who has spoken openly of the pain of losing his wife to cancer several years ago. But then again, Cronenberg makes personal films. Movies like A Dangerous Method and Crimes of the Future don’t happen because someone wants to make a quick buck. I will admit to not being a fan of the director’s later efforts (I prefer the earlier, funnier ones), but it feels like a gift to the world that he keeps making them, pursuing his own twisted muse no matter where it takes him.

Cronenberg has always been fascinated by control, and The Shrouds really goes to town on the idea. Early in the film, Karsh goes on a blind date with a woman who tells him she lives in a house designed by her architect ex-husband. The date itself was “engineered” (I’m pretty sure that’s the word used) by Karsh’s dentist. But of course, Karsh has one-upped them all: He owns the restaurant where they’re meeting, which also happens to be in a cemetery that is also partly his. Later, Karsh’s mess of a brother-in-law, Maury (a very funny Guy Pearce), who seems to be both financially and emotionally adrift in the wake of his divorce from Bekka’s sister, Terry (also Kruger), will attempt to exert his own power over the narrative. Kruger also shows up as the voice of Hunny, an artificially intelligent avatar placed inside Karsh’s phone, who seems able to playfully change attitudes and shapes based on how Karsh is feeling — but is he controlling her, or is she controlling him? And when Karsh finally begins to experience something resembling love again, questions hang in the air: Who made this happen? Was this affection also engineered? You see, even we atheists wrestle with the question of free will.

Unfortunately, The Shrouds , for all the many ideas floating around in it, feels more like a series of interesting notes for a film than an actual feature. Some of the plot involves Karsh’s attempts, with Maury’s help, to investigate an act of vandalism that happens in his futuristic cemetery. Some of it involves a series of alarming growths he discovers on his wife’s bones: Did somebody put them there, or did they organically spring up? There is talk of industrial espionage, the possibility of using the shroud tech as a broader surveillance system, and some suspicions about whether Bekka died of natural causes. There’s adultery and cuckoldry and suspicions of adultery and cuckoldry and doubles and all the other good Cronenbergian ideas. But none of it really fits together. And most of it — save for one fantastically intense sex scene — is talk, delivered with such obviousness that the artistry is absent. Much of The Shrouds could be a video essay someone made about a really interesting Cronenberg film called The Shrouds .

The parts that do resonate feel like physical metaphors ripped out of real life. In flashbacks that intrude on his present, Karsh relives the affection he shared with Bekka during her illness as she progressively loses more parts of her body and an embrace could result in a bone fracture. When we talk of love, we like to talk of tenderness; Cronenberg, ever the master of spiritual wordplay, asks us to interrogate that idea — the notion that adoration and fragility are so intertwined — and takes it to its logical, symbolic, and physical extremes. He does so, I suspect, because aging and illness (in ourselves and our loved ones) will eventually force most of us into that dark nexus. Cronenberg is transmitting to us from the borders of death, behind the enemy lines of inconsolable grief. And the man’s mind is still so alive that it seems churlish to ding this movie for being so — God, this isn’t the word I want to use, but I must — lifeless . Sadly, the inertia eventually gets to us.

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More From Forbes

The best ‘dota 2’ heroes after the 7.36 patch.

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The new Dota 2 patch has made some heroes very strong.

The biggest Dota 2 patch in a year arrived earlier this week and it once again completely changed the game, with every single hero getting at least two big additions to their kit. This unsurprisingly completely upended the Dota 2 meta with forgotten heroes becoming some of the most popular overnight.

It has taken a few days for players to figure out exactly what is what, but now the data is starting to show the best Dota 2 heroes after the 7.36 patch . There is likely more to be discovered, and some more meme-style builds that are popular likely won't last, but right now these are the best Dota 2 heroes to play in patch 7.36.

Templar Assassin

In my first match mid on the new patch I was against a Templar Assassin and it was not fun. The hero has been given massive buffs almost everywhere to the point where she quickly becomes impossible to lane against while outputting massive damage. Psy Blades is now an innate ability and can get a slow with a facet, but the biggest changes came to Refraction, which now gives her multiple damage shields instead of blocking one instance of damage. This means a lot of traditional counters with damage over time are much less effective, and TA can tank a lot more damage.

Templar Assassin's win rate is up over eight and a half per cent since the patch, which is the largest increase of any hero. Until Refraction gets nerfed and she becomes less of a tank to all incoming damage TA will likely be a very strong pick for all mid-players.

Juggernaut has become the top carry in 7.36 and its mainly because of the damage he can output. His innate ability gives him 10% more damage against targets that are facing him, which makes him very difficult to stand and fight, and the favored new facet allows his Blade Fury to crit with the same damage as his Blade Dance, which can massively increase the damage he does during the spin.

shrouds on a sailboat

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With only minor early game nerfs to his damage, Jugg has gone from a hero who wouldn’t hit hard until he got items to one that can do serious damage from the outset, and when he gets the items his damage goes through the roof while still having the survivability Jugg has always had.

Legion Commander

Legion Commander has two of the strongest facets in the entire game but one of them makes her almost unkillable in some matches. With the Stonehall Plate facet Legion gets a damage barrier equal to the damage she does to heroes with Overwhelming Odds, which in any game is incredibly strong, but in a match against an illusion or summon hero she can rack up a massive barrier just before she enters a duel.

The other facet gives everyone who damages the loser of a duel bonus damage, but it just isn’t quite as good as the other so seems to be rarely picked. But that isn’t an issue when the first is so strong. Legion is a truly unkillable tank when played well, and is surely due a nerf.

Wraith King

Another melee core has shot up the win rate chart in Dota 2 since the 7.36 patch, with Wraith King getting some big damage buffs with his new facet. While one of the facets keeps his skeleton summons in a relatively unchanged format, if you select the other it replaces them with a new ability called Spectral Balde that places a curse on any enemy that Wraith King attacks. The curse deals base pure damage along with 70% of the original attack damage after a three second delay, which is almost like giving him a free echo saber and drastically increases his damage.

He also got a buff with his innate ability, with the old aghs effect of him turning into a wraith for a short time before he dies now just being a standard part of his kit. Although to give the same effect to the rest of the team he still needs Aghs. These two big buffs have made Wraith King a top hero in Dota 2 .

The other heroes on this list are the ones with the biggest win rates in the new patch and are ones that are obviously very strong. Abaddon is not in the same boat, his win rate has barely changed, and while still strong he isn’t being discussed as one of the top heroes. However, after playing two games as offlane Abaddon I’m convinced that he is stronger than ever (at least in my low-level pubs).

My Abaddon build is nothing revolutionary, but with one of his new facets you can make a build where you return so much damage that squishy carries simply can’t hit you. The Mephitic Shroud facet turns your Aphotic Sheild into a larger damage block that returns 80% of the damage it absorbs to enemies around you but removes the explosion damage. Combine this with a first item Blademail and you can simply run at enemies with your bubble on, hit Blademail when that disappears and then reapply the shield when Baldemail ends. From there it’s just about becoming as tanky as possible to absorb more damage, and eventually, the likes of Drow and Sniper simply can’t hit you without doing too much damage to themselves. I’ve absolutely dominated two games with this build, and I’m surprised more people haven’t figured it out yet.

Mike Stubbs

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Vela Sailing Supply

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IMAGES

  1. Shrouds: why and when to replace them aboard

    shrouds on a sailboat

  2. Free Stock Photo of Sailboat shrouds

    shrouds on a sailboat

  3. Ignore your sailboat mast rigging at your peril!

    shrouds on a sailboat

  4. Detail of the Shrouds Side Stays on a Sailing Yacht Stock Image

    shrouds on a sailboat

  5. Sailboat Rigging: Part 2

    shrouds on a sailboat

  6. Ep 141

    shrouds on a sailboat

VIDEO

  1. HMS Granado. Video 40. rigging the main shroud’s

  2. Model making. Sailboat Shrouds. Scale 1/72

  3. A Fat Man In A Shed Makes Fire

  4. 1986 Hunter 31 For Sale Texas

  5. Star class

  6. Replacing the forestay-Com-Pac 23 sailboat

COMMENTS

  1. Standing Rigging (or 'Name That Stay')

    There may be a number of continuous shrouds on your boat (see Figure 1). Cap shrouds (3), sometimes called uppers, extend from masthead to the chainplates at the deck. Intermediate shrouds (4) extend from mid-mast panel to deck. Lower shrouds extend from below the spreader-base to the chainplates. Fore- (5) and Aft-Lowers (6) connect to the ...

  2. What Is A Shroud On A Sailboat? A Detailed Exploration

    Shrouds on a sailboat are essentially the standing rigging wires that run from the masthead to the sides of the boat. They offer lateral support, keeping the mast stable and upright. In simple words, shrouds are the strong arms that support the mast when the wind blows from the side. Now, let's peel back a layer and take a closer look at the ...

  3. Sailboat Shroud: Everything You Need to Know

    Short answer sailboat shroud: A sailboat shroud is a part of the standing rigging system that supports the mast and helps maintain its stability. These load-bearing wires or cables are attached to the sides of the boat and provide crucial support for the mast by counteracting lateral forces. Understanding the Importance of a Sailboat Shroud:

  4. Shroud (sailing)

    Shroud (sailing) Shrouds as they might have looked on a late 17th-century tall ship. On a sailing boat, the shrouds are pieces of standing rigging which hold the mast up from side to side. There is frequently more than one shroud on each side of the boat. Usually a shroud will connect at the top of the mast, and additional shrouds might connect ...

  5. Standing rigging

    The shrouds support each section laterally and the stays support each, fore and aft. Standing rigging comprises the fixed lines, wires, or rods, which support each mast or bowsprit on a sailing vessel and reinforce those spars against wind loads transferred from the sails .

  6. Sailboat Stays and Shrouds: Essential Rigging Components Explained

    Short answer: Sailboat stays and shrouds Sailboat stays and shrouds are essential components of the rigging system that provide support and stability to the mast. Stays run from the masthead to various points on the boat, preventing forward and backward movement, while shrouds connect the mast laterally to maintain side-to-side stability. Together, they help distribute

  7. Sailboat Shrouds: Essential Rigging Components for Stability

    Short answer: Sailboat shrouds. Sailboat shrouds are essential components of the standing rigging system that provide lateral support to the mast. They consist of multiple tensioned wires or ropes running from the mast's upper sections to the sides of the boat. Shrouds help maintain rig stability and distribute forces exerted by wind ...

  8. Explaining The Standing Rigging On A Sailboat

    A little movement in the leeward shrouds is normal, but they shouldn't swing around. If the mast bends to the leeward side under load, the windward shrouds need to be tightened. Check the shrouds while sailing on both starboard and port tack. Once the mast is in a column at any point of sail, your rigging should be tight and ready for action.

  9. Sailboat Rigging: Part 2

    Cap Shrouds. These are the parts of a sailboat's rigging that hold the mast in place athwartship. They're attached at the masthead and via chainplates to the hull. Lower Shrouds. Further athwartship support is provided by forward and aft lower shrouds, which are connected to the mast just under the first spreader and at the other end to the ...

  10. Inspecting, Maintaining and Replacing Standing Rigging

    Aug 14, 2015. It's one of the most important features on a sailboat, but many owners put standing rigging at the back of their minds when it comes time to do their pre-season safety checks. A prudent sailor should inspect his or her standing rig at least once each season and should know when the time comes to replace most or all of it.

  11. How to set up your rig: tension your shrouds on ...

    Step 3: Tighten the cap shrouds and backstay. With the mast now upright laterally and the rake set, tension the cap shrouds by taking the same number of turns on each. Take no more than two or three full turns on one side before doing the same on the other. Count carefully.

  12. Standing Rigging: How Tight Is Right?

    Standing rigging tension is a peculiarly under-addressed subject. Easy to see how it would worry a new boat owner or someone going to sea. Most experts step aboard, yank or twang the shrouds and stays and mutter, Pretty slack, Too Tight, or, Thats about right.

  13. Sailing Ship Shroud and Rigging Explanation

    A shroud is a set of cables or ropes that keep the ship's mast in its place. The main purpose of this structure is to create pressure lines on each side of the boat mast, holding the pole (s) tight. Such a cable usually connects the mast/pole to the gunwale, but some models utilize channels to transfer the linking points.

  14. What is a Sailboat Stay?

    A sailboat stay is a cable or line that supports the mast. Stays bear a significant portion of the mast load. Stays are a significant part of a sailboat's standing rigging, and they're essential for safe sailing. Stays support the mast and bear the stress of the wind and the sails. Losing a stay is a serious problem at sea, which is why it's ...

  15. Sailboat Parts Explained: Illustrated Guide (with Diagrams)

    Sidestay or Shroud - Line or cable that supports the mast from the sides of the boat. Most sailboats use at least two sidestays (one on each side). Spreader - The sidestays are spaced to steer clear from the mast using spreaders. Running Rigging: different words for rope. Ropes play a big part in sailing, and especially in control over the sails.

  16. Know-how: Modern Rigs 101

    Know-how: Modern Rigs 101. Peter Nielsen. Updated: May 20, 2024. Original: Mar 5, 2020. This classic Sabre carries the kind of masthead rig typical of its era; note how the large genoa sheets outside the shrouds (left); This X-Yachts performance-cruiser provides an excellent example of a modern fractional rig; note the narrow headsail (right ...

  17. How to Tune a Sailboat Mast

    1. Check by sighting up the backside of the mast to see how straight your spar is side to side. You can take a masthead halyard from side to side to ensure that the masthead is on center. Do this by placing a wrap of tape 3′ up from the upper chainplate pin hole on each upper shroud. Cleat the halyard and pull it to the tape mark on one side ...

  18. How to measure standing rigging on your sailboat

    Posted by Rod Favela on Nov 28th 2015. There are five critical dimensions that are needed to spec out and build a shroud or stay on any sailboat: - Pin to pin or bearing point to pin length. - Diameter of the cable. - Diameter of upper and lower pins. - Type of upper and lower terminals. - Type of cable (1x19, Compact strand, Dyform, or 7 strand).

  19. Shrouds

    Shrouds are the lines that run from the top or middle of the mast down to the deck on either side of the mast. Shrouds are part of a boat's standing rigging and are usually steel cables that are attached to the deck with a chain plate and tightened with turnbuckles.. A mast may have one or more sets of spreaders, which are horizontal spars that cross the mast like a lowercase "t".

  20. How to use Tension Gauges

    Sizes .172 to .375 and 4.4mm to 9.5mm. The Loos tension gauges take the guesswork out of cable or rod tension adjustment. The tension gauges are especially designed for accurate, repeatable tuning of a sailboat's standing rigging. Contrary to popular thought, a slack rig is more punishing on a hull than a properly adjusted, tight rig.

  21. Replacing a Broken Shroud on our Sailboat WITHOUT a RIGGER ...

    In this episode, Replacing a broken Shroud on our Sailboat WITHOUT a RIGGER!, our new rod has finally arrived in Grenada and we are ready to replace or broke...

  22. Sailboat Stays: Everything You Need to Know

    Short answer sailboat stays: Sailboat stays, also known as rigging stays, are structural wires or ropes used to support the mast of a sailboat. They provide lateral stability and prevent excessive vertical movement of the mast. ... - Shrouds: These diagonal supports are attached at spreader bars further up the mast and extend outward ...

  23. 'The Shrouds' Review: David Cronenberg Brilliant Grief Thriller

    Inspired by the loss of the director's wife, "The Shrouds" is a grief story as only David Cronenberg would ever think to shoot one: Sardonic, unsentimental, and often so cadaverously stiff ...

  24. Review: 'The Shrouds' Is the Best and Worst of Cronenberg

    In David Cronenberg's The Shrouds, emotions manifest themselves through changes to the body. A man bleeds because he's nervous. Grief rots the teeth. And love, in one of the film's more ...

  25. The Best 'Dota 2' Heroes After The 7.36 Patch

    The Mephitic Shroud facet turns your Aphotic Sheild into a larger damage block that returns 80% of the damage it absorbs to enemies around you but removes the explosion damage.

  26. Sailboat Standing Rigging

    Standing rigging for your sailboat. Anything from shrouds and stays to lifelines: get it a Vela Sailing. Swaging, Cable, Dyform and much more. WE SHIP WORLDWIDE: More Info. Toggle menu. FREE SHIPPING* US Continental (min order $98) International (min order $750) * Does not apply to oversized items.