We had our rig inspected recently, something we try to have done every year. The mast and standing rigging passed with flying colors. The rigger was really impressed with how good they looked for their age, and said we might get five more years before having to re-rig the mast.
But the crossbeam bridle has a boo-boo. This tiny little crack is a risk to the mast.
The crossbeam goes across our bows and keeps them pointed in the same direction. It also creates a place to tack the forestay, which holds the mast up and carries the headsail. To oppose the upward pull of the headstay, the crossbeam depends on a wire bridle raised in the center by a strut to create a big triangle. The bridle is 5/8” wire with 1” forks on both ends and a turnbuckle to tighten it. Pretty big stuff. Replacing it is not going to be cheap.
But we really can’t ignore it. Take Two’s mast fell down about 12 years ago when a minor fitting broke. The problem probably showed up first as a little crack just like this one, but nobody noticed. The rigger has seen two crossbeam failures in his career, and both resulted in the mast coming down. For a variety of reasons, that is something we’d rather avoid.
Of course nothing is guaranteed, but we do what we can to mitigate risks like that. We try not to push the boat (or ourselves) too hard, and we fix problems when they come to our attention. So we'll have some rigging work done in the coming weeks. The inner forestay chainplate has already been repaired, but not yet reinstalled. After that is done and the crossbeam bridle is replaced, we'll give the rig a good static tune. In the meantime, we'll replace the spare jib halyard and get the sail itself to the loft for a professional repair of the patch Tanya made in the Bahamas.