Standing Rigging

Climbing the mast

Yesterday I spent the day working on Satori’s mast. I have been wondering where to mount a trysail, not realizing that the mast has two tracks facing aft (secondary is slightly offset, primary is where the mainsail goes). The secondary track does indeed exist so I’m ordering a trysail in the future for offshore severe weather preparation. Also it seems that Satori came with equipment to climb the mast using a long etrier. I’m familiar with ertiers in climbing and so it makes sense that this style of ladder is used for mast climbing. Essentially you have a rung for each foot and you can either grab the main center web or a rung for hand holds. I used a climbing harness and daisy chains with locking carabiners to anchor myself so I could hang from my harness to be hands-free. Another safety precaution that proved handy was to use a Petzl tibloc clipped to a second daisy chain that ran up and down an anchored halyard. This allows me to move up but if for any reason I fall the ascender will catch me. To go down I simply position the tibloc so it will run freely down the halyard. The only issue with the tibloc is that it is a little sticky for going down. The Petzl basic has a trigger that allows the ascender to move down much easier and would be better for those who want an easier solution.

Mast Mate etrier mast ladder uses mast slugs to raise into the secondary sail track.
Mast Mate etrier mast ladder uses mast slugs to raise into the secondary sail track.
Mast Mate packages and stows very compact. A very nice accessory for mast climbing.
Mast Mate packages and stows very compact. A very nice accessory for mast climbing.

I have been working with Kent Morrow of Northwest Rigging in Anacortes to assist me in self servicing the standing rigging in several stages. I removed the lower shrouds and dropped them by their shop to have replaced. To keep the exact same position of the lock nuts on the turnbuckle I simply marked the threads with a sharpie and then marked which shroud goes where with three indicators; port/starboard,front/rear and bottom. I’m a bit weary of replacing the fore and aft stays since I’ve never worked on sailboat rigging before. Hopefully it’s easier than I’m imagining and I can do the entire replacement on my own. The other item on the todo list was to clean the spreaders and remove the nasty looking fuzzy spreader anti-chafe things. There was a gob of tape wrapped around the clamps that hold the spreaders in place on the upper shrouds but I decided to remove it all and clean the spreaders. I will buy a pair of spreader boots to solve the chafe problem and install them when I replace the upper shrouds.

Baggywrinkles are to eliminate sail chafe at the spreader ends
Original Spreader
Clean Spreader


Satori from above

Aries Vane Gear

Aries steering vane Part III

A quick recap:

The vane gear that came with Satori has never been rebuilt. It’s completely original and everything is there except that it needs to be rebuilt. There is a rebuilt kit available from England and I was able to disassemble the vane gear to be cleaned and rebuilt so I can continue using it. Last week I spent an evening disassembling the final parts and cleaning and polishing to prepare for the rebuild. Yesterday the two rebuild kits came in the mail. One for now, one for 30 years from now. I doubt these kits will be available for much longer. $200 per rebuild kit is much, much cheaper than new vane gear. These run upwards of $3000 so I opted for a laborious rebuild over a new-used one.

Vane gear rebuild kit

I spent some time yesterday cleaning and preparing the servo rudder casting to install new bushings. I bought a chisel to assist in removing the bushings and a reaming drill bit to clean off the old epoxy from where the old bushings were glued in. These were very helpful at first and then some 60 grit sandpaper polished and prepared the area for new glue and bushings. I suggest starting with a jigsaw to cut out the old bushings. I didn’t try this at first and ended up cutting a little alloy at the casting. The new bushings did not come with a hole for spirol pins so I ended up drilling new ones and then epoxied the new bushings into place. I will let that dry overnight and then assemble the servo assembly.

Update: I was able to get much of the assembly completed yesterday. A nice coat of bike hub grease between the tooth vane carriage and the ratchet base plate makes the rotation of the tooth vane smooth. I also greased the bevel gears to keep the friction down. The only issue I had was a crossed thread problem with one of the fork end grub screws that holds one of the joint block pins in place. Later I realized that there is a couple of nylon washers that sit in between the fork and connecting rod but there is little friction in between so I opted to leave them out instead of risking having to tap the threads again, which involves buying a new tap. New taps need to be measured against the grub screw and I’m not going down that path. Moving on….. The last two components are the vane holder assembly and the ratchet assemblies. I’ll wrap it up tonight assuming all goes well and by this evening I should have a fully rebuilt vane gear. I’m still missing the mounting blocks but I have an invoice in my records that shows these were purchased from England and are probably stowed somewhere still on the boat. Assuming these are found this weekend and the vane gear can be remounted before I take Satori to Seattle. This is what you call sweat equity at it’s finest.

Final Update: Assembly is complete! I was able to assemble the final vane holder assembly and I only need to thread the lines that attach to the tiller and add a couple of bolts to the breakaway sleeve at the rudder. I also had to reuse one of the wedge spacers which you can see in the final photo below. It’s the original white one that is slightly narrower than what came in the rebuild kit. It was in fine condition so it should last another 30 years or so.

Chisel the old bushing away
Using a jigsaw and chisel I was able to remove the old bushings.
Rasp the old epoxy
A tapered rasphead bit cleans the old epoxy back down to alloy. Some additional sanding preps the new bushings.
Nylon rollers as needle bearings
New bushings and greased up nylon roller bearings offer long-tern smooth rotation of the vane.
Click pawl system to correct steering, new springs and a clean and lubricated housing.
Click pawl system to correct steering, new springs and a clean and lubricated housing.
A freshly rebuilt Aries Standard Vane Gear
A freshly rebuilt Aries Standard Vane Gear

Lines are threaded, new pins for the rudder are on order and only a bit of chain remaining to complete the working vane. I will post one more update in the future to demonstrate the use of this autopilot contraption. I must mention that the engineer of this vane gear was brilliant. He passed away a few years ago and I was fortunate to still be able to buy a rebuild kit for it. Each part was very well engineered and meant to last several lifetimes. I am really excited to not only have successfully rebuilt it but also to be able to use it reliably while cruising.


Inflatable dinghy

I brought the inflatable dinghy that came with Satori home a couple of weekends ago so I could check if it still holds air and make any repairs if needed. Fortunately the chambers held air pretty well. A slow leak on one chamber but nothing worth worrying about. I suppose I could search for the leak but if it just needs a few pumps every few days why bother? The cover that came with it was toast so I did some work on matching a new bag by checking the minimum packed dimensions and searching far and wide on the internet for something that would work as a replacement. NRS has a great replacement bag for their pontoon boats or SUPs.



The only thing I did for the raft was some serious scrubbing with a combo soap and protectant, somewhat similar to Armor All for cars. The solvent was nice for a few black stains from mildew where the bottom contacted the deck and water would gather. You can’t even see the stains in the photo. The funny thing is that the raft and 3hp Yamaha motor was bought at Ballard Inflatables about 10 minutes from my house and that’s where I went for cleaning supplies and also where I’ll bring the outboard to have serviced next week. I thought the previous owner made a great choice in choosing a portable and compact dinghy. Caribe is a pretty reliable and durable brand and I can expect another 10 years of life, possibly more.