Chicago Yacht Rigging: Splicing Clinics

For Chicago sailors, winter feels especially long.  A great way to break it up and get some sailing prep in,  take one of CYR’s splicing clinics.

December 3-4 Columbia Yacht Club

Splicing 102:  Over 2 days, receive an introduction to modern cordage and learn to splice it with Kristian Martincic.  Students receive a comprehensive splicing kit with practice ropes.  Splices will be the 12 strand splice, tapered rope, simple loop, reeving eye, plus useful variants and tricks.

$300 including supplies and splicing toolkits

Saturday 10am-4pm 12pm-1pm lunch break
Sunday 9am-12pm, Bears Game

February 18 Chicago Yacht Club

Splicing 101: On Saturday morning, get an introduction to modern sailing cordage and learn to splice it! Includes a basic splicing kit and rope, and learn how to make the 12 strand splice in Dyneema. Light breakfast provided, and students are invited to stay for lunch afterwards.

$75 including supplies and toolkits

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PROtect Tapes

PROtect Tapes supplies chafe protection and other tape and film products for the worlds best race boats.  Their products include the wing film on the foiling AC boats, but for the rest of us there are a few good tapes to have on your boat. In addition to the in stock tapes which can be purchased online, we can also special order anything from the PROtect tapes catalog as a custom order.

The basic go to tape is their MASK product, which is often called “millionaires tape” due to relatively high cost of the tape. For preventing damage though, it is worth it.  Used to both prevent chafe and reduce friction, it gets used all over the boat. The applications are endless, but think about using on running backstays, spars, ropes, spreaders, toerails and more.

For boats with Carbo Foils or Tuff Luffs and assymetric spinnakers, spin sheets burning holes through the foil are a serious concern. Adding a layer of HEADFOIL tape on the foil or over your existing aluminum or kevlar chafe guard reduces friction and adds another sacrificial layer of protection.

To protect sails, rigging and crew from cotter pins, a self amalgating rigging tape is needed. The WRAP product is easy to apply, and sticks to itself in all weather.

The CHAFE product is a heavy duty  film, thicker than the MASK product and designed to be applied to smooth surface.  It prevents impact and chafe damage, so is great for spars, cabin tops, spreaders and any place you need more protection and don’t need to conform or stretch the tape.

Splicing Kits

002kitNow available, comprehensive splicing kits!  For an upcoming rigging clinic, we needed to supply tools to perform a number of different splices.  In the past,  12 strand clinics have needed only a few tools tossed in a bag with some rope. This class was a bit more involved so we needed needles, twine, torches and other gear not usually in someones boat toolbox.  While figuring the kits out, several of our “regulars” said they would like one as well, so it made sense to assemble complete kits and have them available for sale.

The most complete kit is our Deluxe Splicing Kit with Selma Fids This is a CYR tool roll, with a set of 5 Selma fids (4-13mm, a Swedish fid, the D Splice splicing puller, the BEST shears for cutting rope available, whipping twine, needles, splicing tape, a butane torch, a little soft tape measure and even a permanent marker.  Selling now for $19520161018_090156

The kit _I_ actually use in the field, is the Splicing Kit: Deluxe with Single Fid. It’s the same as the above kit, but with a single Selma fid (5.5mm) instead of the full set.  That is because I don’t use Selma fids for much besides pulling core into cover, and instead use the D Splicer puller for nearly all my splicing.  I do expect the full set of Selma fids to be more popular, but if you’re willing to learn to splice without fids-instead using measurements based on diameter-this is the way to go!0kitsinglefid

If you already have lots of the gear above in your kit, and all you want is an upgrade in the key tools,  try out the Basic Kit. This is just the Clauss shears, a Swedish fid, and the D Splicer puller. Comes in a bag instead of the tool roll, but again, this assumes you have things like twine and neeldes on hand.01basickit

Order online, or the old fashioned way, and as always, feel free to ask anything about these or other rigging products.


Lifelines: Replace and Update

Lifelines tend to be neglected systems on most boats; if they’re brought into the shop it’s usually because something has broken, or the white vinyl covering has surpassed the disgusting-threshold.   They should be inspected and replaced as part of a boats preventative maintenance just like other bits of rigging, and the good news is that they’re cheap insurance and also a good place to improve safety and function.

The lifelines in the picture above are from a small cruising boat, and were part of the owners service schedule when he bought the boat several years ago (as a sidenote, one of the best life-easifying tricks ever is to asses a new (or current) boat’s systems and develop a multi year plan of repair:  you know what to expect in terms of spending and can spread out the projects) They are 1/8″ wire inside a white vinyl coating, with pelican hooks at the aft end,  little steel clamps to form the gate (a gate is a section of lifeline that can be released at one end without dropping tension across all the entire run of wire) and lifeline adjusters forward.  The wire was original, and the adjusters had been tightened until they had no thread left on one side.

Since they were past due for replacement,  obviously new wire was in order.  Since it was getting replaced, this was a great time to investigate improvements that could be made.

The first thing to consider with lifelines is the wire itself.  Coated wire was popular for a very long time, as it was more comfortable to touch, and looked nice (For about a season in the sun) The picture above demonstrates the big issue with coated wire.  It is prone to cracking when flexed, and when water gets under the coating it rusts the wire.  Even in fresh water this happens quickly:  stainless steel needs to be exposed to air in order to resist corrosion.  You can also see that the gate clamp is an imperfect solution when you want a lifeline gate. In addition to the clamp sliding away under load,  it also makes the wire itself the means of articulation.

Replacing covered wire with bare 1×19 wire is one of the few issues you’ll get pressure from me on.  The good news is that it usually doesn’t need much convincing:  bare wire is cheaper, stronger and will last much longer.  The downside is that it’s less flexible, and you don’t get the zen experience of watching white turn to yellow turn to brown turn to dust over the years.

The customer came to the shop looking for a better lifeline gate as well, so we were able to discard the clamp fitting, as clamps on uncovered wire are even worse than they are on vinyl coated. 

The picture above shows the old hardware (bottom left) and new hardware (top.) The clamp has been replaced with interlocking gate eyes, which are nice because they allow for more articulation of the gate, and don’t stress the wire.  The lifelines originally had 3/16″ thread adjusters in place.  The boatowner is a technically minded guy and enjoys rigging, so we made the swap from adjusters to a Dyneema lashing.  The lashing gives more range of adjustment and is less prone to damage/snagging. Of course, the line should be inspected and replaced regularly.

Using a lashing to attach lifelines also has an important safety benefit, especially for race boats.  A turnbuckle or toggle attaches to a welded eye on the pulpit/pushpit.  When using a lashing, the line can be passed through that eye and around the stanchion tube itself.  This means that instead of relying on the strength of the weld, you can put all the load onto the stainless tube.  I have been on a boat where the welded eye on a lower lifline has come free while the crew was hiking, but luckily it was only a partial failure of one weld.  The line went slack suddenly, and everyone leaned back while we figured out the issue so there was no swimming!

The last place to make improvements was at the gate fastening itself.  This boat-and many of it’s vintage-has a snap hook that is released by sliding a catch and then pulling the arm of the hook out of the body.  They’re reasonably secure unless the arm is bent. Or the catch it loose. Or the detent on the hook body is worn away.  The newer style of pelican hook (right) works just like a snap shackle, where you pull the ring to release the pin. It’s even easier to re-fasten, as you just close the hook and it latches automatically.

It’s worth taking a look at your boats lifelines to see where they are in their safe lifespan, and whether there are improvements to be made.  Feel free to contact me at or just send them in for more info and a quote.


Spinnaker Sheet Y Bridle

Took these for a mail order customer who need a pigtail to add to their assym spin sheets, so figured it wouldn’t hurt to have quickie instructions for one method of setting up a Y Bridle.  This is applicable to assymetric boats only,  that have a metal clew ring or similar eye at the clew.


To start with, youll need a pair of sheets with eyes spliced into the ends (yellow), a short strop (silver) with eyes at both ends (for shackle to sail attachment) or a single eye (for tie on attachment) 

First,  attach the shackle to the strop via larks head/ring hitch/luggage tag/whatever you want to call it.  Start by passing one eye of the strop through the bail on the shackle.

Then pull the eye over the shackle

Once you’ve got the eye over the shackle, pull the line tight so that it hitches tight to the bail of the shackle and looks like the below pic

Now, put the other end of the strop through BOTH eyes on the sheets themselves

Pull the shackle through the empty loop and pull tight, should look just like this

There are several other ways to configure this setup;  you can splice the y permanently, which works the same but is marginally lighter/cleaner, or you can have 2 shackles attached to the pigtail strop, which means you can disconnect individual sheets but lose the benefit of a really smooth “y” where it gets dragged over the forestay in gybes.  Either way the basics are the same, and the goal of having the clew off the spinnaker away from the headstay is achieved.

Harken Furling Tips and Tricks

Harken furling has been my defacto choice for furling genoas and jibs, and generally they’re super easy to install.  There are a few tips and tricks I’ve accumulated over the years that make it a bit easier to be efficient during the build, and there’s recently been a run on fixing DIY furlers that highlighted a few steps in the process that people seem to neglect.  See below for some pics to help you through assembling your Harken furling unit.

Before you’ve cut foils or made a headstay,  first look around the rig and see if the ends of the headstay are appropriate for the furler.  In the above picture, there is no toggle at the bottom of the stay, and instead there is a highly alarming twisted single plate with an offset pin to raise the height of the furling drum.  Link plates in general are a bad idea for furling, as they tend to twist, but this is a single plate which has somehow managed not to tear apart. Toggles are far, far cheaper than rigs!Above you can see a link plate which has started to twist due to torsion from furling and sailing with reefed sails. Eventually one plate will break, followed by the other.

When looking at existing gear, it’s important to not only check for things like toggles, but make sure they’re working properly. The above mast had a jaw/jaw toggle installed overlapped (not inside) the masthead toggle, which had led to cracks in the toggle.  Replaced with a eye to jaw toggle, which seats properly between the plates on the masthead toggle.

When making the connections between foils, I like to use the box that came with the furler to hold the adhesive, tools and all the small parts (some of which are very small indeed!) This lets you work quickly, as you can just slide all the necessary bits along the headstay as you go.  The box catches any small parts you might drop, and can be used to elevate the foils when assembling stubborn connections.  The single biggest mistake I’ve seen in Harken furlers gone wrong is not using enough sealant in the joints.  In the photo above you can see that I’ve used the syringe to apply enough 5200 until it comes out the fastener port.  Harkens joints are designed to have 3 levels of connection; first the mechanical joint formed by the shape of the connector inside the foil, second the fastener holding the foil to the connector, and lastly the bond between all the parts formed by the sealant.  It’s far, far better to have too much sealant, and to hit the furler with an acetone rag, than to have too little and have the below picture in your sailing season!

The furler in the above image was a DIY unit 1, which had 2 foils come apart while sailing reefed.  Luckily the owner was able to get the sail down without much damage.  When I went to trouble shoot, I found that the connector barely had any adhesive on it, and the fasteners had none.  Apparently the install was done on a cold day, so the adhesive wasn’t making it very far into the joint.  I’ve also watched a DIY install use only a tiny amount of adhesive in each screw hole, as the owner “wanted to save the tube of loctite for something else”  I’m guessing that  the “something else” turned out to be fixing the furler later in the season!


Harken MkIV’s are stupid-easy to put together, but one slightly tricky area is in getting the connector wedges seated properly.  In the above photo you can see the wedge, which is slid into place along with the connector.  To make sure it stays in it’s proper place, hold it down with your thumb until the connector slides into place.  You can also see the giant glob of 5200 which is coming out of the foil. This is a good thing!  I like to finish off the install by wiping down the foils after the furler is stowed on the mast.  There is some variation in tolerances on Harken furling, so if you’re facing a stiff connector, I usually chill the connectors in a cooler, or heat the foils, to gain a little extra play in assembly.



Naturally, you’ve chosen an incredibly cold day to assemble the furler.  The adhesive that seals the connector in place is an incredibly important part of the joints between furler foils.  In cold weather, both 5200 and Loctite cure slowly, so to ensure the bond kicks off and that the adhesive flows properly around the joint, I always heat up the joint after assembly with a propane torch. It doesn’t take much heat, so just move the torch over the joint until the foil is barely hot to the touch. Too much torch and you can melt the plastic bushings or spacers inside the connector.  If you’re using Loctite as in the above picture,  I like to line up the connector in place, then hit it with the torch BEFORE installing the screw for the first connection. That way you can tug on the connector to see how much heat it takes to set the Loctite.  Also in the above image; always keep the Loctite bottle upside down when it’s cold, as this makes it easier to apply. Alternatively you can keep it warm in a pocket, but the obvious risks apply!

When putting the foils together, I like to leave the plastic wrapping in place,  pulling it away from each end. This protects the foils from damage to the anodizing caused by dragging the foils. When the furler is fully assembled and attached to the mast, now it’s time to remove the plastic packing.  All you need is a knife, held upside down in the furler track. Instead of moving the knife and possibly scratching the anodizing, just pull the plastic to the knife instead, so the plastic unzips around the blade.  If you”re tantalizing the furler mast up, I’ll actually leave the plastic on until the headstay is installed, then while aloft I’ll slide the plastic off onto a knife.  This leaves the plastic in place until the last moment, protecting the foils while you’re hauling the furler aloft, and lets you feel a bit like Errol Flynn, which is a nice way to end a project.


Epoxy plugs for mounting hardware in cored decks

Yacht decks are typically composed of layers, with the top and bottom layers being paint or gelcoat over a fiberglass skin, and the thicker inner layer being core. The core thickens the deck to increase stiffness, generally using a low density material to keep the resulting sandwich lightweight.  These core materials are typically not designed to be wet, so any water intrusion is bad news.  A wet core in a fiberglass structure gets softer and can delaminate from the fiberglass skins. The result is a soft feeling deck, which can make the boat slower as it flexes and lead to further structural issues like fiberglass cracking and failure.

The culprit behind wet decks is often improperly installed hardware.  If the deck feels soft, it’s usually near a piece of gear that was installed in a hurry.  If non through bolted fasteners like self tapping screws are used,  the hardware will loosen over time. Similarly, inappropriate backing plates and or washers under the deck mean the deck will crush over time, loosening the hardware as well. Once the hardware is loose, water finds it’s way in and softens to core.  Poor or no sealant is another issue, as hardware needs a sealant beeding to keep water out.  Something flexible like a polysulfide or rubber is best, as it keeps a tight seal even if the hardware isn’t installed perfectly tight.

So.  Assuming the hardware is installed correctly, and the proper sealant used, what else can one do to keep a deck intact?  The goal being to first keep water up on deck where it belongs, you can also ensure that if water does make it’s way under deck gear, it won’t reach the core.  I like to surround each fastener with epoxy where it goes through the deck, so that any water around the screw isn’t allowed to get to the core.

Here is a quick walk through on how the core was sealed on a 1970 Shields deck, while installing a 2:1 jib sheet system.

 The hardware in this case is a Harken cam cleat with an angled riser to get the sheet led to the trimmer at a comfortable angle.  You can see I’ve done a quick mask around the area,  as there will be several glues and sealants used, which we want to avoid having to clean out of gelcoat.  The holes are drilled, in this case at an angle to match the cleat riser.The next step is to drill a much larger hole partially through the deck.  This larger hole is going to determine the size of the epoxy plugs that surround the screws. In this case I used a 3/8″ bit to surroud #10 (or 3/16″) screws.  When drilling the oversize hole, go through the top skin of fiberglass and the core only; don’t drill through the bottom skin.  This lets us have a solid layer of skin on the bottom, to better support the backing plate.  

The epoxy plugs work best if they’re larger than the top hole in the deck. This means that the cured epoxy will make a small flange under the top layer of the deck, holding it in place. To make this work I use a small bit in a drill, held at an angle, to “till” the core out of the deck around the hole. When complete, the void under the deck will be around 3/4″ around. This ensures both plenty of epoxy surrounding the screw, and that the plug won’t pull out of otherwise move from the hole. I’ve also heard of people using a angled allen key to scrape the hole out, but I find the drill faster. Caveat: you must be extremely steady with the drill, to avoid going through the bottom skin of the deck, or carving up the top skin. After I’ve done the routing out of the hole, I like to wash the hole and surrounding area with acetone. Give it plenty of time to dry.

Here is the underside of the deck.  I’ve taped over the bottom of each hole with two layers of masking tape, after washing the area with acetone to ensure a good tape bond.  You really, REALLY, want the tape to hold here. If it doesn’t, you’ll be happily injecting epoxy through deck, right into the cockpit or cabin, probably on top of the owners bunk or a brand new sail or something. 

All that work, and the actual epoxy part of the job takes about 5 seconds!  I think West 610 is the best for this purpose, but for smaller jobs will often use the Loctite 5 minute self mixing epoxy. Both are far easier than mixing epoxy and loading a syringe.  It’s best to fill the bottom of each hole, move on to the next one and then come back and top it off, as there is typically some soaking of epoxy into the core, which shows up as the epoxy settling.  Once this is done, double check the seals on the bottom of the deck and walk away.  Really, go tune the rig or something, as this will take time to set.
Is it set? Really? Are you sure? Tune the rig again if not 100% convinced.  Once it’s set, I will drill the holes for the hardware again.  Once the holes are in place, test the fit again. Once happy with fit, I like to use a countersink bit on the holes, to make a small depression in the surface of the deck. This void will fill up with sealant, giving a better seal than simply a micron thick layer between the hardware and deck.  Depending on the part I’ll sometimes use the countersink bit on the bottom of the hardware as well, to make a raised dome of sealant to similarly keep water up and out of the hole.

Once the holes are drilled, and the tape removed from the bottom of the deck, add your

sealant. I really like butyl rubber best, but for some fittings-like this angled cleat riser-it’s not the best fit. In this case, it’s because the bottom of the riser has open voids to make it lighter, which means there isn’t a lot of surface area for butyl to spread. For this I used Sika 291, which is pretty good as an all around bedding compound.  When installed bedded hardware, tighten the screws only just enough to get the part touching the deck, and then let it cure.  Have you tuned the rig yet? Why not do it again?  Once the sealant is cured, you can tighten the machine screws down all the way. This gives you a thicker patch of sealant. If you go to full tightness right away, the sealant can be thin, or squeezed out entirely.  I never use sealant on the bottom of the deck;  if water does find it’s way in, I woudl rather have it dripping out of a screw hole (alerting someone to the leak) than trapped inside the deck

.And we’re done.  The cleats installed, and this boat can make it through another 40 years with the same deck!

Drilling Stainless

Often times when locating hardware, or planning a project you need to put a few choice holes in a fiberglass deck. Fine. Easy.  Sometimes it’s tapping into aluminum. Ok. Actually kind of fun!  Carbon has it’s own issues, but can make for an interesting project with a nice finish.  Stainless steel, however, has been something that I avoided drilling as much as possible for years and years.   It’s extraordinarily hard, work hardens in the blink of an eye, and generally is the dark god that demands the sacrifice of $30 drill bits.  In fact, the original title for this article was going to be some version of The Simpsons “So You’ve Decided to Ruin Your Life” pamphlet. 

But it doesn’t have to be so difficult, and it didn’t seem fair to give stainless such a bad rap.  Over time I’ve been given a few tricks from others, and come up with a few myself.  It’s still not enjoyable, and when quoting the project I usually inform the customer that there will probably be some new drill bits on the bill, but with patience and the right tools it can be just another step in a project.

I’ve always used cutting fluid, but recently a friend got me started on this wonderful stuff.

It’s called Tap Magic, and it’s designed just for this kind of nonsense; ie cutting or drilling into hard metals like stainless. The extra thick is-suprise-an extra thick version, which is great for drilling as it tends to stick to the surface and tool. It absolutely blows away cutting fluid in my opinion, and I anticipate the bottle being a real time saver for future projects. Caution:  your sense of smell will immediately confirm all the toxic warnings on the bottle, be very careful handling!

The absolutely essential part of the process is good drill bits. I really like cobalt bits with a titanium coating. Not cheap, but neither is time, and it’s way more expensive to extract that broken high speed steel bit than to just use the right one in the first place.  For pretty much all special tools and small parts, I go to

For horizontal surfaces (and a few angles or vertical ones) I like to keep a ribbon of butyl rubber around.  You can read about why this is a great material to use on your boat here: but below you’ll see how it has some uses on this project as well.

The first step here is to locate the hole with a center punch.  With aluminum I have no problem making a nice large dent to start the hole, as it makes it easier to keep the bit centered (this can be tough, especially when aloft)  With stainless however,  moving the material by impact seems to make it much tougher to drill, as it’s possible to work harden the material, even with a small impact.  So I like to keep the “ding” quite small, and take extra care with the drill. 

Above you can see the tiny dimple made with a punch.  Also, some black stuff?  That is the butyl rubber, and it’s there to make a small reservoir of the cutting fluid.  Having the butyl rubber around the hole means you can have a greater quantity of fluid, which keeps the tool cooler and makes sure you don’t run dry.  Neat.

Above you can see the reservoir, and the chips that have been removed.  What you can’t see is heat or smoke, which is a sure sign that your drilling is about to go a lot slower!  

Above you can see the shavings, which are nice and continuous, and not a series of chips.  In addition to the fluid, it takes a bit of technique to get this result.  Low speed on the drill, with decent pressure and a steady hand means you get the nice long shavings characteristic of a cool quick cut. I started with a pilot hole of 1/8″ before moving through a few sizes to 5/16″.  When the smallest hole was made, a bit of butyl rubber was used to plug the bottom in order to make the reservoir water tight again.

On the above project, the first hole towards the middle of the plate was done quite easily, with no breakage or mess.  The outboard most hole however, was still quite  tough as it was on/next to a weld, which completely changed the hardness of the material and made it quite hungry for drill bits!

If you ever do break a bit, the butyl rubber can be used again, as in a decently dry hole it does a great job of pulling out broken tools. 

Hopefully this helps the next time you’re faced with a piece of stainless that absolutely positively must be perforated!

Tartan Ten Boom: Outhaul Kit and Sleeve

Chicago has a strong one design fleet of Tartan 10’s, and over the years a few rigging issues and upgrades have become popular.  Concerning the T10 boom, theres a few key upgrades that make the boat easier to sail and more reliable.

The T10 uses a Kenyeon E Section/Dwyer DM450 boom, which is relatively slender compared to the massive mast.  The boats have been getting sailed harder and harder over the years, and coupled with the increase in vang sheeting upwind (plus the inevitable mainsheet eases with the vang on hard) has meant more than a few boats have bent or broken booms.  The class addressed this with a rule allowing a boom sleeve of <3′ to be added in the area of the vang:

 One internal reinforcement or sleeve, not be greater than 3.000′ in length, is permitted at the vang attachment area. The Rig-Rite Internal Vang Reinforcement Sleeve (Part #: K-11903E) is approved. Other sleeving methods are subject to Chief Measurer approval.

There’s quite a lot of variety in method and effectiveness of the sleeves out there.  The Rig Rite kit is the most common method, but having installed a few of these I was looking for a better alternative.  The kit sleeve isn’t a very good fit for the inside of the boom, as it’s a much tighter radius than the E Section tube, additionally it doesn’t completely fill the boom. 

The way I’ve installed these in the past has always been to try and bend the sleeve “open” in order to get a better fit, and then riveted the sleeve into place with lots of SS rivets in order to get it to fit more closely at the side walls of the tube.  To make a smooth transition from the sleeved area to the rest of the boom, it’s been necessary to grind the front and back couple inches of sleeve to taper. It’s definitely better that nothing, but I didn’t like the extra fasteners and the poor fit.  I’ve also seen quite a few other solutions, mostly having to do with flat stock along the bottom of the boom, like backing plates for vang attachments.

Edit: I’ve heard from a friend in the T10 fleet who was a bit putout that I didn’t think the Rigrite sleeve was any good.  To be clear, it _does_work, and both stiffens the boom to make the vang more effective and makes the boom stronger.  I’m not suggesting it doesn’t work, just that there are always better ways to tackle any project.

For the most recent upgrade,  I took 3′ of Dwyer DM450 tube and removed the track from the top.

 This makes for a sleeve that is a better fit for the boom and extends higher along the sidewalls so fasteners like vang bail bolts are included in the reinforced area.  To make a smooth transition from sleeved to unsleeved, there is a taper cut into the ends, as well as a few kerf cuts in the bottom.  This makes it easier to install and should prevent stress at the end of the sleeves. Making this can be a DIY project, but does involve a few difficult steps.  Cutting the track off requires either a table saw (and extreme care to avoid the kickback off a 3′ aluminum missile…) or a jig saw, as well as some grinding to fair and taper the ends. I made an extra sleeve, and can make more on spec. Contact for info.

This makes a sleeve that relies on fit rather than fasteners to keep it in place. The downside is that it’s a very close fit, and requires force to get the sleeve into place.  When installing I added a small tab of aluminum to the aft end of the sleeve, looped some dyneema line through the tab, and used that to pull the sleeve into place with a winch.

There’s quite a lot of load needed to pull the sleeve into place, but adding 5200 or similar adhesive to the inside of the boom makes it a bit smoother, even so it takes a few hundred pounds of tension. This is not something that can be hammered or pushed into place, and is best done with a comealong, winch or hydraulic pull cylinder. To start the sleeve into the boom, clamp the sidewalls of the sleeve together, a few inches from the end of the boom. Once the clamp hits the boom, move it a few inches towards the free end of the sleeve and retighten. 

As you’re increasing tension on the line pulling the sleeve in from the front of the boom, tap the front of the sleeve with a mallet to help move it along.

 Take turns adding tension and tapping with a mallet and extension until the sleeve is in place.  Go slow! Add turns on the winch, or crank the comealong a little bit at a time, then tap the other end of the sleeve to loosen it up. The amount of force increases as the sleeve enters more of the boom, so if it seems dubious, stop before the sleeve is all the way in and reconsider your approach.  I chose to pull the sleeve in until the vangs attachment point was at the centerline of the sleeve. By the way, having done it both ways, I can say it’s much, much cleaner to add the 5200/plexus/whatever adhesive to the _inside_ of the boom first, rather than the outside of the sleeve! Most of the goop will be squeezed out of the gap between sleeve and boom, so you can be pretty sparing here.

Once the boom is in place, there are a couple things to do. First thing is to pull the middle of the sleeve tight against the bottom of the tube before installing any of the transverse fasteners like boom bail bolts etc.  The best way to do this is to have some holes drilled in the bottom of the boom tube, and then once the sleeve is in place, drill and tap through those holes into the sleeve, then use machine screws with washers to pull the sleeve towards the bottom of the tube.  For this boom, there was plenty of existing holes to use for this, as there were 3x 5/16″ fasteners for the boomkicker, plus 2 new #10 holes for the Harken 291 for the outhaul, as well as the slot in the boom for the hold outhaul exit.  The trick here is to add torque slowly, alternating among the fasteners (it would be quite easy to strip a thread if you were to try and accomplish this with 1 fastener)  in the middle of the boom first.  Monitor the sleeve as the gap between it and the bottom of the boom closes, as it’s quite easy to add too much tension to a single fastener and strip the threads.  Once the middle of the sleeve is close to the bottom of the boom, install the rest of the hardware.  To my mind, it seems ok if the ends of the sleeve lift up a bit, as when the boom bends under vang load the sleeve will reconnect with the bottom of the boom. Since there will be a lot of adhesive between the front edge of the boom and the sleeve, I like to use an acetone-soaked foam paint roller on the end of a batten/stick/whatever to clean up the extra while still tacky.

While tackling a project like this-or any project involving taking a boom apart-it’s always wise to inspect all the internals, make any relevant upgrades or replace any suspect parts.

For this boat, the whole reason the boom was on first on CYR’s bench was because the wire outhaul pennant had parted, and the owner wanted some more purchase.  A perfect time to install the CYR T10 outhaul kit!

The kit adds 12:1 purchase and replaces existing tackle.  It’s designed to attach to whatever existing hard point the boom has at the front of the tube.  Theres quite a lot of variety here for attachments among existing booms; I’ve seen transverse bolts through the boom,  eyestraps, dyneema loops around the front end fitting and more weird stuff that shouldn’t be used.  The length of the cascades in the kit is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the variety of attachments, so long as it’s within ~8″ from the front of the boom.  The way I like to install outhauls is to first remove all the old tackles and reeflines.  It seems to be about 50/50 that there is some sort of crossed line or override with a piece of hardware in the boom, so you might as well redo it now and not have to wonder.

First, figure out the attachment, and install the D shackle with all the bits of tackle attached to it as provided in the kit. This boat was also adding U-bolts for spinnaker pole storage, so to keep things efficient I just modified a Harken eye strap to mount to the back of the U bolt threads.  This replaced the stock Dwyer eye strap, which was beginning to deform and eventually would have failed.  Here you can see the all the cascades attached to the shackle, which is attached to the eyestrap.  The red on the inside of the tube is a bit of loctite before cleanup.  Use either loctite or locknuts on internal fittings, as this is not something you want coming loose!  Lock washers are not appropriate here (and debatably anywhere on a boat) as the curved walls of the boom mean a lock washer will not lay flat against the substrate and therefore won’t “spring” properly against the hex nut.  

Once the front end of the outhaul is attached, make sure the purchase is tangle free and ready to run.  To bring the tackle to the aft end of the boom, I like to use a tape measure. A steel tape is stiff enough to be guided along the top of the tube, and to clear obstructions like vang and mainsheet bail bolts.  Additionally, once you have the end of the tape attach to the outhaul tackle it makes it easier to pull the tackle singlehanded as tape measure rewind keeps some tension on the aft end of the tackle, while the front end can be fed into the boom.  This makes it quite easy, as the tape measure acts as your helper keeping tension on the aft end of the tackle.

Once you have the tackle pulled through the boom, run the outhaul pennant through the aft end fitting.  In this case, the original sheave was scored from wire, seized and too small for the dyneema line.  Since the boat only uses 1 reef line, it was easiest to just use the starboard reefing sheave. I’m curious as to whether there are many T10’s using double reefs, care to give me your opinion?

The kit is available with an optional Harken 291 pivoting lead block for an additional $65.  This is a great part to have on your boom, as it allows cleating and easing of the outhaul from either rail so your crew can stay hiked while making adjustments. This is superior to alternatives like a horn cleat (requires you to move into center of boat) or clam cleat with a block aft (fine for tensioning, but must be eased from within a few inches of the boom)

Note in this picture there are 2 different types of fastener holding the 291 to the boom.  The wider flatter machine screw to the left is a truss head screw, which is used here to make the 291 easier to remove.  Theres a clevis pin that holds the block to the bracket, and the head of pin will jam on a regular pan head screw; the truss head is lower profile so the pin can be removed easily. The more standard pan head screw is on the right, just to show the difference in head type.  Truss head screws are great for clearance issues like this, although theres less material around the phillips drives, so they are more prone to stripped heads.

Installing the 291 is quite easy, but there are a few tricks that make installing tapped parts like this go smoothly.  First, when tapping, make sure you use a center punch to mark your hole before drilling, and double check the hole spacing.  Then, use the proper tap and drill size.  For the 291, it’s a #25 drill (big-box stores usually carry tap kits with a 5/32″ drill. This will work at making threads, but for aluminum it makes for weaker threads than the smaller, #25 drill)  Tapping cleanly is easy so long as you’re careful, and use a lubricant.  Thread compound or WD-40 is the go-to for this, but I’ve head good results using many different oils and greases-anything is better than dry!. If you’re going to be attaching a fastener straightaway, you can even use Loctite, as this helps cut threads and makes sure the threadlocking compound makes it into every thread.  When tapping make sure you hold the tap handle straight, and turn it in steps: IN a quarter turn, then back the tap out almost all the way, then repeat until all the way though. This clears the metal shavings, and prevents a broken tap since you’re not binding the tap.  Go slow, and back the tap off if there’s any resistance at all.  I’ve tapped hundreds of fasteners in my career, and every time there’s been a problem I’ve immediately looked back and realized I was rushing or not using proper gear:  removing a broken tap is exactly zero percent fun (and in my case can make a job unprofitable) go slow, be careful! Once you’re done, clean up the area, add a little more loctite to the machine screw, and install.

After pulling the outhaul tackle through, use the same method to pull the reefline line.  Make sure the outhaul tackle is pulled tight and off to one side, then pull the reefline down the other.  Run the lines through both end fittings, and put the endcaps back in the boom. Before loctiting and reinstalling the fasteners, make sure both reefline and outhaul run free, and that the outhaul can be eased far enough to attach the sail, and tightened all the way to the end fitting.  Once this is checked,  install your ends and you’re good to sail!  I like to take all the stretch out of the outhaul lines by attaching the outhaul pennant to the mainsheet bail and pulling it tight.

If you’re starting from scratch and making a new boom, please contact me.  CYR has made a new style boom for buoy racing only with no reefing gear, and it’s stiffer, stronger and lighter than the traditional boom. This boom is especially trick, as theres no aft end casting; it’s replaced by a ball bearing sheave.