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Jettisoning a demasted rig in an emergency situation


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What is the issue?
If a vessel is pitch-poled or rolled it is highly unlikely that the rig will remain standing. Once dismasted the remains of the rig are tethered to the vessel by the standing rigging. The only quick way to get the rig away from the boat is to cut the shrouds and stays with a bolt cutter.

Why address this?
The broken rig is a great danger to the vessel in violent conditions. Tethered to the boat by the standing rigging it becomes a giant pick axe within the seaway that could drive a cross tree through the hull. This could breach the water tight integrity, causing a total loss.

A quick decision has to be made at that moment of the two options available: lashing the rig down, in order to salvage as much as possible later, or jettison it for the safety of the vessel.

How to address this?
If the latter decision is required the fastest and most effective route to jettison the rig is to have an emergency bolt cutter to cut away the standing rigging - see figure one. Thus an ocean going boat should carry a bolt cutter that is appropriate to cutting the largest size standing rigging wire aboard as part of its standard safety equipment.

Bolt cutter's jaws are made from an unprotected forged metal and have a tendency to rust in the seagoing environment. We found the best way to keep it in top condition is to spray it liberally with a silicon based lubricant / water repellent and to place it inside a thick hiking sock as again presented in figure 1. Soak the sock by liberally spraying with a silicon based lubricant. If you do this from the outset the bolt cutter will remain perfect for decades as our example presents.


With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.



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