After sleepless nights, Jonty Pearce decides it is time to change Aurial's standing rigging

Sometimes a small thought enters into our minds where it gently smoulders, and then, intensified by the bellows of concern, ignites into a flame that steadily enlarges to consume more and more of our consciousness. Thus it was with forebodings about my rigging.

We bought Aurial ten years ago when I was busily enjoying a mid-life crisis. Tom and Steph, her previous owners, were also a doctor and a teacher – it all seemed meant to happen.

They had refitted her before taking a year out with their two boys; their trip through the French canals to the Mediterranean and back is one we’d love to emulate.

After another year’s sailing, their plans changed, and they put her up for sale. She sat on the hard at Jalsea Marine in Northwich for two years before we bought her.

The standing rigging had been changed as part of their initial refit. My mental calculations – that small thought that had entered my mind – computed that the work must have been done nearly 15 years ago.

This is somewhat longer than the ten years generally considered as the insurable life of stainless steel shrouds. The bellows of concern soon amplified my musings into a strong flame.

I tried to dampen it down by reassuring myself that three of those years had been spent being with Aurial being worked on or resting ashore, but that does not really work.

With the active mental conflagration scorching the interior of my skull, I convinced myself that the masts were going to fall down any second. Searching out the original invoice date confirmed that the standing rigging had been up since September 2003. We were obviously doomed – I ceased to sleep.

At the time, I happened to be spending a few days aboard Aurial completing sundry jobs.

The weather was cold and foul, and I soon found myself distracting myself inside the warm office of Neyland’s Ratsey Sails talking to Denzil Williams.

Continues below…

He came aboard the next morning to work out a mutually acceptable quote, and I sat back in amazement at my audacity. I had been putting the deadline of re-rigging off for several years, telling myself that it was something I would invest in after I retired.

And lo! I have now retired, and have actually succeeded in instigating one of my retirement plans. I was a happy bunny.

I celebrated by getting Mark Llewellyn down to give a quote for a new sprayhood with an integral cockpit tent. This spending money lark is easy!

Owning a boat is often described as having a hole in the water that you throw £50 notes into, though on my weekend visit the weather determined that the analogy of standing in a cold shower tearing up said fifties was more apt.

My next shelter from the cold sleet was the redoubtable office of Dale Sailing, where a date was made to lift out Aurial’s mast as she bobbed in the loading bay before returning naked to her berth while the new roller reefing was ordered and new shrouds made.

Well content, I returned to continue the list of jobs I had actually intended to do before my ‘distractions’.

A fortnight later I enjoyed sitting smugly while metallurgy expert Vyv Cox scared the living daylights out of delegates attending the Dealing with Disaster Cruising Association Bluewater Seminar; as tales of crevice corrosion and metal fatigue battered the apprehensions of experienced pelagic couples I counted myself fortunate not to have had a rigging failure before my masts were craned out.

The idea of Carol ‘flying’ at the masthead relying on time expired swage terminals makes me shudder, but we can now both dream on peacefully secure in the knowledge that all is in the process of renewal. Is it time to check your receipts too?