Mailport January 2013 Issue

Mailport: January 2013

Standing Rigging Q

I have a Morgan 382 with Navtec wire rigging and turnbuckles. The boat spent most of its life in the Pacific Northwest, and the standing rigging is more than 20 years old. I bought her used, and I think some of the rigging may be original (34 years old). But it looks great: no barber-poling, no loose strands, no cracks on the fittings, no spots at the swages where water collects. I sail off the Pacific Coast for a few days each year, but mostly cruise inland waters of the Salish Sea.

I regularly read advice suggesting I should replace the standing rigging every 10 years, but I am almost afraid to touch stuff that looks so good. What advice would you give?

Terry Thatcher

Via email

We recommend having a good rigger inspect your rigging for you. (Brion Toss,, is a great resource in your area.) There is no hard and fast rule on rigging replacement, but in our opinion, 10 years is a little too soon, given the kind of sailing that you describe, if corrosion is not apparent; however, 20 years is definitely a concern, when you consider cycle loading. Always remember that the way stainless steel looks is not a good guide for judging integrity; shiny surfaces can be hiding flaws and weak spots.

If it were us, we would not trust 34-year-old stainless-steel rigging in an offshore passage. The swages in particular would be a concern.

For your limited sailing—and with a rigger’s advice—you might get by with replacing only the essential stays first, but we would still consult a rigger before going that route.

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