Thursday, April 9, 2020

OMG I started this post ONE YEAR ago!!...Pulling the Rig on CINNABAR - February 2019

April 2020
New Zealand Lockdown Day 15 - All is well with us and the boat.

I started this post one year ago, almost completed it, then got busy/distracted and never finished. Boat maintenance and repair is likely of little interest to "normal" people, i.e. non-yachties, but it is a large part of our lives so if you think living on a boat is all about sunsets and happy hours, (how we wish it were), it is NOT. 

MAY 2019: Riverside Drive Marina and boatyard, CINNABAR's tented home for the southern hemisphere winter (aka northern hemisphere summer)

February 2019 - Before beginning CINNABAR's spa treatment in the boat yard (where she still is now April 2020) we decided to pull her rig (remove the mast) so that we could inspect it closely and service, repair, refit as necessary. There was nothing wrong with the mast or rigging, but after six years of cruising and nine years since it was last removed (before the 2010 Pacific Cup Race), it was time for some routine maintenance.

We interviewed and hired a professional rigger to help us out. Matthew, who owns C-Spar Rigging, was highly recommended to us and he is an impressive guy. He's been around the world four times competing in the Whitbread round-the-world races (afterward renamed the Volvo Ocean Race and now named The Ocean Race).

With CINNABAR's deep draft (3 meters) we would have to travel to Matthew's shop during high tide otherwise we would get stuck in the mud. The plan: motor to the boatyard at the beginning of high tide, pull the mast, and then motor back to our marina near the end of high tide, hopefully making it back before it got too shallow. Would we be able to pull the rig in two hours? If not we would have to wait to return until the next high tide later that night, ugh.

We made it to the boatyard at 12:30 p.m., the beginning of the high tide. The big red crane was in position and ready to start lifting CINNABAR's boom and mast.

We hired local boat-builder Glenn (left) to help us out. He and Matthew (right) remove the boom.

We hoisted Matthew up the mast to attach the lifting strap (thank you electric winches!).

Matthew (L) tends the lines as Glenn and I wrap the bottom of CINNABAR's mast to protect it and to keep all the hanging bits together.
The crane starts lifting the mast. Even though made of carbon fiber, it is still a heavy mass.

CINNABAR's mast is off the boat.

Matthew balances the base of the mast on a dolly preparing to put it on two rolling saw horses.

CINNABAR's mast ready to move to its storage location.
(manually wheelable on the two specialized dollies)

Luckily we got the boom and mast removed from CINNABAR by 2:00 p.m. so we were able to make it back to the marina on the same high tide. We had plenty of inches (not feet) under our keel for the trip back to the dock.

The mast is ready for Tom and Matthew to start working on it.

Later, Tom and Matthew removed the rigging and Tom trailered the rod rigging to Auckland (2.5 hr. drive each way) to replace some of the parts. 

Tom used ALCYONE'S van and Matthew's trailer to take the rod rigging to the special service shop in Auckland. Matthew approves the load.

The machinist at excellent KZ Marine  in Auckland with the special cold head machine, dies, materials, and expertise to service the rod rigging.

Overall, the fittings and standing rigging were in pretty good shape. None of the rods or rod heads showed any wear or cracks and were still well lubricated when disassembled and inspected. Most of the hardware was readily removed from the spars without breakage or corrosion. We considered switching to another system for the rigging, like wire or synthetic fiber, but in the end, it made the most sense to stick with the rod rigging. It has definite benefits and has worked well. The rod rigging is original at 17 years of age. General recommendations vary, but some say major inspection is every ~6 years with replacement at about 12 or 18 years of age or 30,000-60,0000 nautical miles sailed, depending on use. Since the Nitronic-50 rod (extra strong and durable SS) was in such good shape, we have not sailed excessive distances, and we have the rod-screw length to do it, we elected to do a mix of retain some rods, replace some, and head/re-head all, effectively refreshing all of the standing rigging. 

(Some reference details: 
11 total rods/segments. 4 new rods, 7 re-used rods, all headed or re-headed. 
- Forestay (1 rod, -30 (was -25); replaced)
- Backstay (2 rods), -17; lower replaced)
- Capshroud uppers (2 rods with spreader bends (V2/D3), -22, replaced)
- Capshroud lowers (2 rods (V1), -30; reused)
- Diagonals (2 upper, (D2) -30; 2 lower (D1), -30); all reused)

* Forestay replaced because of general abuse by furler, headfoil, high loads.
* Forestay size increased (to -30) because original size (-25) no longer available
* Capshroud uppers replaced because is area of highest loads
* Capshroud uppers cannot be re-headed due to spreader bend/'bushing'
* There are a total 22 rod heads (and 2 spreader bends) doing the essential task of keeping the mast upright.
* Nitronic-50 dash num (e.g. -30) is min. breaking strength in 1000 lb units.

End of reference)

These are some of the rod heads, stemballs, and tip cups after cleanup with a grey 3M Scotchbrite wheel. They were still well-covered in lube (Tef-Gel or Teflon grease)  with zero signs of cracking or corrosion. We elected  to  re-head some of the rods and replace others.
The insulated backstay to enable it to be used as the antenna for the HF/SSB radio. The delrin components of the insulator, assembled left, disassembled right, isolates the lower backstay segment from the upper segment which is connected to the HF radio's antenna tuner. This keeps humans on deck from getting shocked by radio transmissions.
Dual stainless steel chainplates per side, with some recent known leakage through the deck, caught before any significant corrosion could occur. They will be cleaned up and reused.
(Port side, inward/unseen faces)

The base of the mast has a dense fiberglass shoe with large alignment holes  (for the mast step posts) as well as an internal hydraulic mast ram (mounted inverted and rated to 10,000 psi / 30,000 lbs!) to lift the mast onto the spacer plates and tension the standing rigging.

All lines and hardware stripped from the spars and organized into bins for storage. It is surprising how the weight all adds up - each bin was very heavy to lift.

Matthew and Tom (and I helped too) got our boom and mast prepared for winter storage as we would not be putting it back in until 2020. There was not room in CINNABAR's tent for the mast so we stored it at Matthew's location at another boatyard called Dockland 5.

Fast Forward to February 2020 - We returned to New Zealand in December 2019 and were immediately up to our ears in various boat refit/repair projects including repainting the deck and hull, as well as the mast, which resides at a separate boatyard. Over time, the old mast paint gets severely oxidized and chalky, so even though it looked OK (not great), it was time to have it repainted. To prep for this job we had to remove most of the remaining bolted-on hardware.

We subsequently cleaned and polished every single part and screw that was removed. You can't put ugly, dirty, and/or corroded parts back on a beautiful new paint job!

We used a variety of tools to remove all of the mast hardware, Everything came off except the mains'l and spinnaker pole tracks. There is a lot of work and very little value in removing these long tracks..

A not-flattering shot of Sylvia removing the storm trysail track. Most of the stainless steel fasteners readily unscrewed from the carbon fiber mast, thankfully. However, there always have to be some that are problematic. With a manual impact driver and penetrating fluid, all but about 4 of the reticent screws come out. The 4 broken ones will have to be drilled out.

The masthead tri-light housing had turned into a spider condominium during the NZ winter. The spiders were NOT happy to be rousted. 

We had to remove the spreaders and prep them for painting as well.

After removing the hardware we had to  move the mast into a big shed so it could get painted. Inside the shed, the painter had to build a plastic tent (spray booth) to keep dust and other flying debris off the wet paint.

After the mast got painted we started putting all the hardware back on the mast, but we only got a few pieces installed when New Zealand went into lockdown. Here's a look at the glossy new stick:

AwlCraft 2000 Acrylic Polyurethane paint, Matterhorn White, with 2 coats of UV inhibiting gloss. 

RESULT OF LOCKDOWN: Dockland 5 closed its gates and we are not allowed back in until lockdown is over, so all boat work at that yard is postponed until we can get back in. CINNABAR is at Riverside Drive Marina which is still open because yachties live on their boats there, so luckily we can continue our work on the boat. Also, since the boat is just across the street from the house we are renting and is in a tent this work area is firmly contained within our "bubble". Yes, we do see other yachties at the boatyard/marina but everyone is careful to maintain appropriate social distancing.

OUR CURRENT SITUATION: We are halfway through New Zealand's mandatory 4 week (at least, TBD) lockdown which seems to be working well here. Good news...our tourist visas were automatically extended through September 25, 2020 so that is no longer an immediate concern. Will we be able to sail to Fiji as planned? Who knows? All the yachties are in "wait and see" mode as regards border closures. But for the moment we are in a good place and we have a good support system.

View from our living room windows and back patio, Hatea River, Whangarei. The masts in the picture are in the Riverside Drive boatyard/marina where CINNABAR is.


  1. Thanks for sharing update. Looks Great..

  2. Personally, I think Sylvia looks Da Bomb in her photo.