This weekend I went down to install the replacement jib halyard (that’s the line which keeps the jib sail up – which in our case is a furling sail wrapped around the main forestay at the bow). If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll remember our former halyard – a steel cable – broke during a windy day a few weeks ago. It shouldn’t have broken in those conditions (it wasn’t that windy – we still haven’t determined the exact cause), but we’ll keep a careful eye on it in the future.
Anyway, the weekend before last I went up the mast and got the top piece of the old halyard down. Then took the old halyard to West Marine who sent it to their rigger to have a new one made. This past saturday I picked it up, and we went down to the boat to install it. The process turned out to be a bit more challenging than expected (see below).
Here’s a slideshow showing me going up the mast several times, and the new halyard. Thanks to Sue, dockmaster at Joyner Marina, for taking some of the shots!
See larger slideshow
Here’s the process we went through to get this installed:
- Prepped to go up the mast, got out the bosun’s chair and connected it, tied leatherman to my shorts and put it in pocket, took some sail ties, tied the coiled new halyard to the chair, got out a camera for Karen to take pictures, and took the old shackle (which I had cleaned last weekend).
- Once up the mast I first went to connect the shackle to the top of the jib furling unit. Uh oh – the shackle would not go through the new eye. West Marine had installed an eye which was maybe 1 mm too small! Just like that, the first trip was a failure. But, to avoid other issues, I decided to insert the other end of the halyard into the mast. Another problem: the steel eye loop would not fit through the very narrow finger-width opening above the pulley into the mast. With my precarious position up the mast I couldn’t force it in. So, I had Karen take me back down.
- Back on the boat, I found a shackle one size down in my spares. Then I decided I could squeeze the eye to near flat and wrap it with electrical tape so it would fit the hole. Re-prepped to go up, and tried again. This time, things went much more smoothly. We got the shackle on, then I started uncoiling the line. Once it was untangled I inserted the taped end into the mast and it went in! Down it went. Karen could see it through the hole in the bottom. So, I had her let me down.
- I needed to borrow something to make a hook to grab the other end inside the mast. Another boater had a perfect piece of stiff copper wire with which I made a hook. Grabbed the halyard on the first try. Then we struck some more bad news… the other end wasn’t reaching the fixture at the mast designed to tighten the halyard. It was too short by 6 inches. At this point, I opted to join the local marina party rather than going on (it was getting dark anyway).
- The next morning I concluded one of three things had happened. Either the cable was made too short (unlikely), the line was hung up on something inside the mast, or the top of the jib furling unit had slid down after the old halyard broke. So, I prepped to go up again. By the way, we have electric winches, so Karen isn’t getting tired taking me up and down.
- Once up top, I realized quickly that the jib furling unit had slid down – about 6 inches! So, all we would need to do is unwrap the sail and pull the halyard to bring it down further. Fortunately we had light winds. But, before I came down, I went ahead and cleaned some of the stainless steel fixtures on the mast which were getting rust stains.
- We let the jib sail out in 5 knots of wind and in just a few minutes had managed to attach the new halyard. Yay!