Cost of Conversion

One of the first questions I am asked by clients is: "How much will it cost to convert to synthetic standing rigging?"

The short answer is: Around the same price as 1x19 SS rigging if you have me do all the work, and much cheaper than 1x19 SS rigging if you do the work yourself.

The cost of materials is significantly cheaper than stainless steel, mostly due to the fact that stainless steel is made of metals that need to be mined and processed. Synthetic standing rigging is made out of UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Poly Ethylene), otherwise known as plastic. Plastics are cheap and as manufacturing processes and techniques improve, costs go down!

Since the costs of materials are so much cheaper, the total cost to re-rig your yacht is also cheaper. Turnbuckles cost around $100 each where the materials to make a deadeye cost around $24 each. The fittings at the end of stainless stays cost between $100 to $400 each, where the fittings at the end of synthetic stays cost around $1 to $12 each; significantly lowering the cost to re-rig.

The major difference is the cost of labor. Splices are more labor intensive to perform than a swage or compression fitting, and tensioning standing rigging with deadeyes is a lot more labor intensive than with conventional turnbuckles. The cost of labor is significantly higher than with steel rigging which offsets the cheaper material costs to give a similar end price.

If you are the type of person who will do it yourself, you can save a significant amount of money by doing the conversion to synthetic standing rigging yourself. If you need to pay someone to do it, the costs will be around the same in the end.

Using the Islander 36, which fits the mold of an average 36 foot cruising yacht with a double spreader rig, the material costs were:

  • $861.49 for the stays
  • $64.60 for the deadeyes
  • $379.62 for the lashings
  • $156.84 for the thimbles

At this point, the materials only cost $1,462.55

If your mast has regular tangs that can accept a clevis pin, you are set! If your mast has t-ball fittings or some other connector, the costs will go up as you need to include the costs of adapters into the cost of conversion.

  • $1,303.76 for 8 T-ball fittings and toggles to connect to the synthetic stays

Now the material costs have nearly doubled to $2,766.31. This is significantly less expensive than if you were to re-rig with stainless steel, as long as you do all the work yourself and don't need to pay anyone for labor.

Fabrication of a backstay and eight shrouds (Cap, Intermediate, Forward and Aft Lowers [Port & Starboard]) and all 9 deadeyes took me 30.14 hours on the Islander 36. This number doesn't fluctuate very much because the length of the stay doesn't add considerable time to the job. I work at the ends of the stays and the space in between doesn't affect my working time. On average, it takes me around 32 hours to fabricate the rigging for a double spreader sailboat. Single spreader sailboats are quicker because they have two stays fewer and only need 2 areas serviced instead of 6 with a double spreader rig. 

Being how I currently charge $105 per hour for labor, 32 hours of labor adds $3,360 to the cost of re-rigging.

In the case of the Islander 36,

  • The material cost was $2,766.31
  • The labor cost was $3,164.70

This brings the cost to re-rig the Islander 36 up to $5,931.01. This number is significantly cheaper than the cost to re-rig a 36 foot yacht with stainless steel, but the job is not finished yet. At this point, the new rigging is sitting in a box awaiting installation. If you install and setup the rigging yourself, this would be the final number in the cost to re-rig. If you don't want to do it yourself, you will need to pay someone to continue doing the work.

Average installation and setup takes around 30 hours (at $105 per hour), which would add another $3,105 to the bill, bumping the cost to re-rig up to $8,010 for an average re-rig.

This number is reached by assuming that the average cost for materials is around $1,500, 32 hours to fabricate the rigging, and 30 hours to install the rigging. As you can see, there is a significant difference between the $1,500 price point of doing it yourself and the $8,010 price point of paying to have it done professionally.

$8,010 is an average amount to pay to have the standing rigging replaced with 1x19 stainless steel on a 36 foot yacht. The prices are currently around the same level, but the savings in weight are quite great! Steel is very heavy and dyneema is very light, 1/4 inch 1x19 SS weighs 0.15 pounds per foot and 6mm dyneema weighs 0.017 pounds per foot. In this example, dyneema is 8.8 times lighter in weight than steel!

Looking back at our example with the Islander 36, the final cost of materials was $3,454.56. I did the fabrication and the owner did the installation, followed by me doing the setup of the standing rigging. Lastly, I climbed the mast to inspect everything and seized the spreaders in their correct position. The total labor time was 49.74 hours and the final cost to re-rig was $8,677.26. 

The owner showed me other estimates he had received which were right around this number as well for 1x19 SS standing rigging. Once again, the cost of materials is significantly cheaper, it's the cost of labor that brings the price of re-rigging right up to be comparable with that of steel rigging. 

If you need to pay the same amount to re-rig your yacht, why would you choose a material that is heavier and prone to corrosion over a material that is so much lighter and immune to corrosion?

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