Standing Rigging

Finding Crevice Corrosion

Our staysail setup involves three stays:

  • the inner forestay

  • two check stays

All of these stays attach 2/3rds up the mast, between the spreader and the cap shrouds. They kind of serve the purpose of a second spreader in terms of mast rigidity as it is a second attachment point, but without the added complexity of intermediate stays.

When we sail in heavy weather, we reef down to this point on the mast by flying only our staysail and double reefed mainsail. This keeps the forces lower on the mast and closer to the center of the boat, providing us with a balanced sail plan and comfort in uncomfortable times.


Having synthetic standing rigging means that our stays are immune to corrosion problems. Most of the end fittings that connect our stay to the mast are bronze, but these three toggles to the inner forestay area were all stainless steel.

Can you spot the crevice corrosion?

I spotted this flaw in the Azores right before we were leaving during my routine aloft inspection of the rig. We decided to go because in the Azores, everything is Metric and trying to get Imperial sizes there is a nightmare!

The corrosion was in the length of the metal, not across it. This meant that it was weakened but not completely broken.

We sailed on with the stress on mind that our toggles could fail and sailed about 1800 miles to reach mainland Portugal, where we soon hopped on a plane to fly back to the states to visit family.

The plan was to bring easy to buy bronze toggles back with us from the States rather than to mess with all the red tape to import “yacht parts” into Portugal.

The Best Inhibitor of Galvanic Corrosion

In the world of advanced chemical compounds, it seems that the best solution to a simple problem like galvanic corrosion would be a synthetic concoction. The truth is, all modern chemicals are compared to the best solution to the problem: lanolin.

Lanolin, sold as Lanocote, is removed from sheep’s wool. The lanolin is separated from the wool and bottled up into small jars. This agent is natural and safe to use without gloves, and will not react with your skin!

It works great at keeping water out and dissimilar metals separated which then prevents any galvanic issues.

I personally use this anytime I have bronze and stainless steel touching, and an extra thick layer anytime I am mixing stainless fasteners with aluminum fittings. If you don’t use lanolin, or one of the other more expensive materials, you will quickly see bubbles form in the aluminum adjacent to the stainless steel fastener.

Lanolin is easy to use and good to keep in the boat. Best of all, it lasts a long time. I have been dipping into my same pot for the past 5 years and it is still full enough that I don’t need to think about buying more of it anytime soon!

Masthead Vs. Fractional Rigs

The main distinction between these two popular rigs is how far up does the headstay go?  


To the top: Masthead

Part of the way up: Fractional

Fractional rigs offer a smaller headsail luff but a much more adjustable mast. Since the headstay doesn’t meet the backstay at the head of the mast, the section between the two stays acts as a lever which can effectively bend the mast to tune the sails. All this equates to much higher performance from the boat. 

Typically, fractional rigs are seen on racing boats while mast head rigs are seen on slower cruising boats.  

Two Headsail Setups

Have you ever wondered about different types of two headsail setups  on a sailboat?


There are actually three different types. Cutter, Slutter, and Solent.  

A cutter has the mast set aft of 40% line of the boat, meaning that 40% of the boat is bow and 60% is stern. Since the mast is farther aft, there is more space for headsails and that means that you can easily fit two different headsails on the bow and fly them at the same time.  

If the mast is forward of the 40% line, the boat is a Sloop, but a sloop only has one headsail. When you add a second headsail, the boat becomes either a Slutter if the inner headsail is set on the deck like a Cutter, but runs all the way up to the masthead. A Solent has the inner headsail set just aft of the headsail, making it a sloop with two different headsail options.  

Slutters and Solents don’t work well at flying both headsails at the same time like a cutter can, except when Sailing dead down wind with the headsails set wing on wing. 

Why you might be wondering why the inner sail leads to the top of the mast on both of these sloop combinations? Well, there are two reasons: 1. The space for the inner sail is so small that if it doesn’t lead to the masthead, it would be too small to have any effect. Leading it to the masthead gives it the extra sail area that makes that sail effective. 

The second reason: 2. by leading the sail to the masthead, the counter loads are supported by the backstay meaning they don’t need to rig additional running backstays. 

These are the different options available to sailboat that wants to have two headsails. Either already be a cutter or be a sloop with a Slutter or a Solent rig.