Splice Failure Linked to Fatality

On the 4th of September 2015, Andrew Ashman was killed during an accidental jibe, when the boom delivered a fatal injury to the base of his neck. The boat, CV21 Ichor Coal, had been running in strong conditions, and yawing allowed the wind to get on the wrong side of the mainsail, as occasionally happens. A preventer was rigged, but a strop securing a low friction ring turning block near the bow failed, allowing the boom to cross the cockpit unrestrained. On such highly engineered boats, how did this happen?

Dyneema Abrasion Test

As outlined in our previous report on lifelines, high modulus polyethylene (HMPE) fiber rope has revolutionized sailboat rigging during the past decade (see Fiber lifeline Protection Plan, PS September 2015 online), however sailors arent the only ones benefitting from the introduction of this super-strong, low-stretch cordage. Virtually any application that once employed a stranded wire-rope-ranging from tow cables to hoists-is now also served by HMPE. The widespread availability of generic brands of this super-strong, low-stretch cordage made us curious. How do these non-marine brand products compare to known marine brands? And what types are best suited for the various sailboat applications?

Inspecting Rivets and Screws for Trouble

One of the interesting conclusions from our testing was the surprising strength among all of the test fasteners when loaded in the shear. Even old fasteners, as old as 20 years or more, can continue to offer good service in small spars if maintained reasonably well and engineered with an adequate safety margin.

A Riveting Report: Spar Fasteners

Every sailor eventually feels the pull to add hardware to their spars. Maybe a piece of hardware has broken off, or the fasteners look suspect. Or you perhaps you want to add mast steps, or a cheek block for external reefing.

Anti-Seize Coatings for Spars

If youve ever been humbled by a single impossibly stuck fastener, or plan on adding hardware to your spar, running gear, or deck, this report on anti-seize protectants is right up your alley.

DIY Rig Check

Here are two good examples showing the problems associated with the lower or deck level use of swage terminals for your standing rigging. Swaging is a process where tubular stainless steel fittings are essentially crimped onto rigging wire under high pressure.

Mechanical Terminal Pull Test

Swageless wire-rope terminals have long been a favorite piece of rigging kit among all kinds of sailors. These terminals are inspectable, reusable, and can be assembled with simple hand tools. But for all of their acknowledged advantages, data is scarce about their mechanical efficiency. How much, if any, do they weaken the wire rope they are attached to?

Swage Fitting Breaks Surprise PS Testers

During the first round of mechanical terminal testing, testers were surprised to see that wire failures were occurring at loads that were at least 10-percent lower than expected. The swaged-end fittings had been applied by a rotary swage machine, which is considered to be a very reliable way to form swaged terminals.

Poured-Socket Assembly Requires Special Care

The most common error with poured sockets is insufficient cleaning of the wire, and/or using the wrong solvent to clean it. Even dry, stainless wire, when new, can have a residue of lubricant left over from the extrusion process. If this lubricant is not removed, it can compromise the adhesion of the wire yarns to the filler material in the socket.

Methods to Mess Up Your Screw-on Terminals

All of the mechanical terminals we tested are based on the same assembly concept: The rigger opens the cover yarns, and then slides a wedge over the core yarns, near the end of the wire. The rigger closes the cover yarns over the wedge, and then, screws together the two outer parts of the terminal over the wedge, compressing the material, and thus generating friction. Simple, but like any assembly, it can be done wrong. Here are a few things to watch out for when assembling a mechanical terminal.

In Search of the Perfect Portable Boarding Ladder

Last year, we ran a review of a Union 36, and the opening photo of the boat featured a unique folding ladder that I hadnt seen before. The ladder, instead of hanging vertically, folded out at a comfortable angle in a way that seemed-at least in the photo-pretty practical for routine boarding. One problem: the maker-the American Ladder Corp., based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., appears to be out of business.