We started replacing the running rigging back in September. See Home Handicrafts — Splicing for the start of this. We're not done, but we're close. Really close. And I'm getting better at splicing.
The start of this effort is an exhaustive enumeration of all the running rigging. Red Ranger is a double-headsail ketch: two headsails, main, mizzen, and room for a spinnaker and a mizzen stays'l. She has running backstays. I wound up with two dozen individual lines.
For Your Entertainment, here's the list.
¼″ Lazy Jacks (2), Mizzen Outhaul
⁵⁄₁₆″ Whisker Pole Topping Lift
⅜″ Running Backstays (2), Reefing Lines (2), Topping Lifts (2), Halyards (3)
⁷⁄₁₆″ Mizzen Sheet, Halyards (2) Stays'l sheets (2)
⁹⁄₁₆″ Main Sheet. Yankee Sheets (2)
Because the headsail sheets were replaced only about 8 years ago, and are kept below during the winter, they weren't replaced. The furling lines aren't on this list, either.
And. We also replaced the docklines we replaced, either. They're all ⅝″.
Inventory was Phase I. Start a spreadsheet with ALL of the lines listed.
Phase II is figure out the length. This is a riot because you can't easily measure the lazyjacks: they go up and down on both sides of the sail and are — you know — pretty high up the mast. But not too high. Maybe half the distance to the spreader. Or so. I dunno. I went with a total of 150′ between the two of them. Turns out the mizzen is shorter than I estimated; I'll need to measure this again.
The topping lifts, similarly, go from boom end to mast top. Times 2. Plus the length of the boom. Approximately. Pythagorean Theorem. It's the hypotenuse of mast height and boom length times two plus the boom length. (Answer for the main is 134′.) Note that the mast height is 56' from the water. The boom is something like 10' above the water. So. Really. The topping lift is closer to 116′. Mizzen is something like 80′.
Most everything else is slightly easier to estimate. Sheets are easy. Halyards are twice the mast height. Reefing lines can be pulled out and measured.
Phase III was to select line. There are — of course — a million choices of weaves and fibers and vendors. Without doing a lot of analysis, I settled on NewEngland Ropes products. I bought Sta-Set lines for most things, and VPC for halyards. We don't race. We don't cross oceans. We're coastal cruising lightweights. I wanted stuff I could but from Defender.com and Ropes.com.
Phase IV was to try and color-code the lines. I wanted red, blue, gold, green for spinnaker, yankee, stays'l, and main/mizzen. Halyards would be flecked, and sheets would be solid colors (or white fleck.) Other lines could be black or white. The reefing lines would be blue for the first and red for the second. This doesn't work out well, but I came close. (The old reefing lines were white and impossible to sort out.)
Phase V is order them. When they arrived, I labeled them carefully. A box of rope was a confusing mess. Each chunk has to be positively identified and labeled before doing anything else. I wrote the purpose on the packing list, and on the tags for each hunk of line, forcing me to make a list and check it twice.
Phase VI is installation. We're almost done. Not quite finished, but close. Really close.
What's important is almost all of these lines have an eye spliced into them. Mostly, the eyes are pretty small, which is pleasant. In most cases, the hardware is held in place with clevis pins, which is also nice.
I'm an okay splicer. I struggle with the process. I have trouble burying the crossover as deeply as professionals do. But. I can use extra stitching to hold things in place.
Yesterday was mains'l halyard day.
The main'l halyard has a shackle spliced on. Permanently. No clevis pin.
Step 1 is to cut the end of he halyard off. The free end of the new halyard will be stitched onto the old halyard and pulled through the mast, so the cut needs to be super-super clean. No lumps of melty line. If I was really cool, I think I'd know how to use a hammer and a rigging knife to chop it off cleanly.
Then I can cut the shackle off the halyard. I can also admire the splice. It's a really good one with a deeply-buried crossover.
Step 2 is to do the splicing. Important: with the shackle inside the eye. This is so important I remind myself about it constantly. I forgot to include the shackle when working on the mizzen halyards. You cannot pull the splice apart. You have to cut it off to try again.
On the lower-left side, you can glimpse the paper splicing instructions from Sampson Ropes. They're great. I like written instructions. I don't like videos.
This went tolerably well. I was able to get the core buried without too much complaining and struggling.
Here's my eye splice with hardware.
The blue Sharpie lines of my initial marks for the placement of the loop are visible. At some point, I should start using a pencil or something. You can kind of see the lump of buried crossover inside the cover below the splice. It's not a perfectly smooth lump. I'm still working on my tapering and burying skills.
But it's an acceptably small lump because the core slid over it without too much coercion.
The cover's braid seems evenly spaced. So I got that close to OK.
One of the tricks seems to be putting the line on a winch to properly stretch it. Stretching the line slims it down, making it easier to "milk" the core over the crossover.
I didn't take a picture of the old and new halyards stitched together. I'm getting better at creating a strong connection that can make a tight turn around a small sheave. The first time I did this, I put tape around it, also, to make sure that the sewing didn't get caught on anything as it went around the sheaves.
I don't seem to need to tape anymore; this went up flawlessly. It's always a joy when the stitching goes through the block smoothly. And. When the new line pops out of the mast, you know it's done.
I still have two halyards to go. Lines are in the V-berth. Labeled.
When we take the headsails down for hurricane season (in July, I think) I'll be able to rework those halyards.
FYI. Here's the 10-year-old main halyard. Note the distinct color changes. The nice, clean green-fleck where it was inside the mast. And the mildew-packed line where it was exposed to weather.
I've washed it in soapy water, rinsed it in clean, and ran it along the lifelines to dry in the sun for a few days. It's still pretty useful line. The super-clean middle section, in particular, can be salvaged.