The price of safety

As you know I normally sail alone – so if I kill myself then that is my own fault and I am the one who suffers most of the consequences. Jill will be sad but she will get the insurance money, the dog will be sad but only at meal times, the kids lives will carry one pretty much as they did before and some of you blokes will have to do a bit more work and look at a little less boat porn. Other youtube films and blogs are available.

However, this summer there will be up to five of us aboard so I am thinking a bit more about safety.

I have already been told that I am an eejit for putting the radio aerial on the gantry rather than the masthead – this will cut the range from 20 miles to around 16 miles. On the other ha nd the radio will still work if the mast comes down so swings and roundabouts.

The mast coming down is a bit of a worry. I should obviously replace all the standing rigging – but I am told that will cost me around £800. Now compared to the safety fo five people this is small beer. However, where do you stop?

survival suits all round

epirbs all round

life raft


Of course none of this will be of much help in the event of the most likely accident which is falling overboard when moving from the shore to the boat via the dinghy – it will not stop the lobsterpots, floating containers or itinerant sub-aquatic rocks that get in the way.

Suddenly the budget has gone up so much that the sailing will never happen. I am getting close to £1000 for the bill before I leave the Solent – and almost none of that is on boat stuff but all on fees and fuel.

I have been told on a forum that I am a fool not replace all the standing rigging – but I have also been told that some riggers suggest that the standing rigging only needs replacing once every 20,000 miles or every 16 years. I have no idea how old the rigging is on Harmony but I assumke it is less than 16 years old and it has certainly not done 20,000 miles of ocean sailing. I am pretty conservative with the amount of sail I have up and am not an on the edge sort of sailor bashing along with a lee rail under the water. Harmony is a Centaur anyway so who she will just sliop sideways if you over stress her.

The Cenatur has a back stay but it also has two shouds on each side – the lower set are well astern of the mast so the back-stay should not be critical – ditto the side stays – if one of them goes then the mast should stay up. the forestay parting will bring the mast down and as it is hidden inside the roller reefing I have no idea what sort of condition it is in. I will drop the mast when I get to Hayling Island yacht co and then give the rigging a thorough ispection and replace all the lights with LEds at the same time.

I think I will replace the forestay just to be safe but the others I will have to take a risk.

This is about Centaur Project, Dylan Winter's Blog, Sailing around Britain.

28 Responses to “The price of safety”

  1. 8 March, 2014 at 12:52 pmRon says:

    The ‘safety’ people always know best. Ha, ha.
    Especially when it’s not their money.

    Yes of course you are mad.
    We are all mad, otherwise we wouldn’t go sailing.

    My son goes sailing in a boat he built himself, AND goes rock climbing too.
    He’s totally of his rocker :)
    But I’d trust him with my life, and have done.

  2. 8 March, 2014 at 2:15 pmRob Whelton says:

    £800 sounds steep, I paid just over half that for a 27ft boat inc bottlescrews. But anyway it often seems to be a clevis pin or split pin that causes rig failure, not the wire itself.

    • 8 March, 2014 at 4:12 pmdylan winter says:

      That was an estimate from one of the forums – I am sure I can find a better price – although I was told that the average rig should be good for 16 years or 20,000 miles

  3. 8 March, 2014 at 4:02 pmSteven says:

    How big is the rigging wire and how much do you need?

    • 8 March, 2014 at 4:12 pmdylan winter says:

      dunno – I will measure it up and chase down some quotes once I get around to Hayling Island Yacht Co

      – although there is a local rigger

      so I do not yet know the size of the problem – if there is one

  4. 8 March, 2014 at 4:15 pmDrew says:

    So you have a vhf that will reach 16miles, a diesel donkey under the deck, a reliable outboard with enough power and a life jacket each. Given your sailing area this year you would have to behave like a total twonk and not watch the weather to come to any harm.
    All I would add is a decent pair of bolt cutters in the unlikely event of the mast coming down you can cut the rigging to get tidied up so you could motor in

    • 8 March, 2014 at 6:19 pmJ. Peter Haliburton says:

      I agree, and was into my forth paragraph here saying basically the same thing, when I thought I was being too long winded and removed it. Anyway, I would add including harnesses, tethers, jacklines and a couple of secure attachment points in the cockpit.

  5. 8 March, 2014 at 6:57 pmHenrik Scheel says:

    Standing rigging replacement and ultimate saftey are two different things. If the mast comes down you will only be in danger if it hits you in the head. What you want is to contemplate what you do, if the boat is going to sink.

    You must have an self-inflatilble liftraft. And I also travel with my dinghy inflated on deck as a backup. I have AIS and a Epirb and a stationary VHF mast mounted. Thinking about getting a portable VHF as a supplement, dont really like the stationary VHF because of power supply issues when sinking.

    But Epirb and liferaft are must have when going off-shore!

  6. 8 March, 2014 at 7:12 pmcraig says:

    I went over my standing rigging with a magnifying glass, no corrosion, hairline stress cracks or irregularities in the wire. So as far as I can see there is no reason to replace it. My decision is to go sailing as safely as I can afford, but I will not be put off by my lack of fancy gear.

    My boat was built in the 60’s it’s survived up to now, so I guess it’s pretty safe!

    • 8 March, 2014 at 8:13 pmdylan winter says:

      apparently the bottle screws are brass rather than stainless steel – which is a good thing apparently

  7. 8 March, 2014 at 9:34 pmLuis says:

    I would say you are far more likely to die on a road accident driving to the boat than enjoying coastal sailing after having checked the weather forecast.
    If you start worrying about what can go wrong in a sailing boat, than you might as well just take the family on a holiday in Centre Parks, or some crap like that.

  8. 8 March, 2014 at 9:53 pmSimon says:

    Maybe you should drop the dangerous sport of Sailing and consider taking up motorcycling Dylan? The insurance industry, judging by the annual premiums charged, seem to think I’m more of a risk sailing 20 times a year than doing 200 35mile round trips commuting into the centre of Manchester a year. Fly to San Francisco, rent a big Harley Davidson and take Jill on a trip around California – did it a few years back great fun!

  9. 8 March, 2014 at 11:30 pm133bhp says:

    Just add a second forestay above the first, wire or rope, as a backup.

    I use swageless himod and/or self swage, have no problems in 3 years of bouncing around. Or have swages done by post , cheap enough.

    Portable dsc radio, mobile phone and decent dink (you have aux engines) , lifejackets, couple of tethers, thats pretty reasonable.

  10. 9 March, 2014 at 9:17 amPaul Rogers says:

    Rigging wire gets brittle after it has work-hardened by being stressed to over 50% of it’s yield strength.

    Riggers check this by flicking the wire (like cracking a whip). If it won’t flick, it is brittle and should be replaced.

    Great fun! Try it.

  11. 9 March, 2014 at 1:21 pmSteven says:

    My point is is that I have several hundred feet of 3/16″ stainless rigging wire of which some might manage to make its way your way.

  12. 9 March, 2014 at 1:55 pmSteven says:

    Smack dab in the middle of the US… Iowa

  13. 9 March, 2014 at 2:45 pmSteven says:

    I’ll send it by owl post

  14. 10 March, 2014 at 3:22 pmSalty John says:

    The most important life saver on a boat is a single minded determination to stay on board. For that you need harnesses and strong points and rules for when the crew should wear harnesses, and procedures to work the boat safely.
    The biggest danger in a dismasting is getting hit by the mast and your gantry should protect you against that. Good wire croppers will help with getting tidied up afterwards.
    But you know all this!

  15. 11 March, 2014 at 8:27 pmEuan Mckenzie says:

    Have you got a spinnaker halliard. Secure it to to pulpit clear of the roller reefing and it will give you confidence if your fore stay breaks.

    That said its the one piece of standing rigging i would replace if I had to choose

  16. 13 March, 2014 at 3:15 pmJulian says:

    what happens after all this and the kids say they are off mountain biking with their mates instead????? :-)

  17. 27 March, 2014 at 9:17 amrichard bullock says:

    Just one thought Dylan about “changing all the bulbs to LED”. If you have a mast head tri-colour surely you then don’t need to change the steaming light and bow and stern lights as these will only be used when the engine is running and therefore not draining the battery. A few pounds saved eh? (nice Adrian at Boatlamps might not like that but hey ho I’ve just upgraded all mine with him!)

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