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Question: Can I test my own rigging?

When I bought my Bavaria 42, it was obvious that the previous owner kept it in tip-top condition and thought had clearly gone into the maintenance. There was no mention, however, of rigging checks or replacement.

The boat is now coming up to 20 years old. It’s been recommended, and I have read, that I should get a professional rigging inspection carried out for insurance purposes.

Having asked around, it seems that these rigging surveyors just give it an eyeball inspection.

Continues below…

As an ex-marine engineer, I was wondering if there was any benefit in carrying out a liquid dye crack detection test.

I used to use this method of testing all the time professionally, including on piston crowns and lifting wires.

Would this work for mast wire rigging?

Isn’t it more reliable than just eyeballing the rigging?

Terry Kearney

Surveyor Ben Sutcliffe-Davies responds:

There is certainly some merit in crack testing some parts.


Ben Sutcliffe- Davies has been in the marine industry for over 40 years as a long- time boat builder, has been surveying craft for over 20 years and is a Full Member of the YDSA.

However, the most common failures are from overworking of the wire at the points of connection to the swage, especially if it’s out of alignment.

A pre-purchase survey is limited to what a surveyor can see to head height, but you can spot obvious signs if things aren’t well aloft.

Personally, I would get the mast down, as other issues will become more obvious.

Most riggers don’t actually check where the wire is connected to the deck through chain plates or stem arrangements, so it is important to monitor these for moisture ingress and corrosion.

Ten years is a sensible benchmark for considering a programme of replacement for a yacht that is used regularly.

As your rig is 20 years old, I would just replace it and have peace of mind.