Imagine yourself on a slogging upwind tack. Rough seas have been shaking the rig for hours, jostling you into a wind-wearied reverie. A casual glance up the leeward shroud sets you instantly alert: the stay is giving way at the mast fitting and will surely fail under tension on the opposite tack.
On most boats your next step would be to fetch the massive coil of wire rope that’s been rusting in the bilge all season, lug it on deck, search for the appropriate Sta-Lok fittings from the massive collection you have no choice but to keep onboard, and continue the arduous process of preparing a replacement shroud.
On a boat equipped with Colligo Marine’s Emergency Shroud Kit your situation would be no less dire, but your method of repair could be a little less toilsome. The kit contains 53 feet of primo synthetic line spliced at one end with Colligo’s special Terminator thimble, an unspliced Terminator, some lashing line and chafe protection, and, most important for those of us who never won the seamanship award at sailing camp, a set of easy-to-follow instructions. The kit works with both traditional wire rope or modern synthetic rigging, and the emergency shroud can be adapted to replace any stay less than 50 feet long.
I asked John Franta, Colligo’s director of engineering, how one would go about using the kit on the water. First, he says, you’ll need to identify “soft spots” on the mast and chainplate where you can lash the ends of the replacement shroud. “On the mast, look for a pinhole where you can put a shackle to lash the shroud to,” says Franta.
Next, determine how long the replacement needs to be. “Don’t forget to factor in the splice, which is going to shrink the shroud a little bit,” says Franta. “Splicing the Terminator onto the line is relatively painless, since the 12-strand line is easy to work with. Following the instructions, first-timers can usually make the splice in about 15 or 20 minutes.”
With the thimble spliced in place, it’s time to go up the mast and lash one end of the shroud in place. Back on deck, lash the other end to the chainplate and you’re good to go. (Wasn’t that easy?)
So why carry the Emergency Shroud Kit when you could make the same repair with a length of low-stretch line and a pair of stainless steel thimbles? “That would work,” admits Franta. “But our way would work a little bit better.”
One thing that makes the kit unique is the Terminator thimble, which Colligo designed specifically for lashing. Four tiny holes in the fitting keep the individual strands of lashing separate. “That separation gives you some lateral resistance, which is more secure than what you’d get using a typical stainless steel thimble,” says Franta. “With a steel thimble there’s only one hole, so there’s no force holding the lashing apart.”
Another advantage of the kit is the use of 7-millimeter Dynex line, which has a breaking strength of 15,000 pounds and stretches even less than the wire rope it could be called upon to replace.
Above all, the best thing about the kit is its convenience. Contained in a small, waterproof bag, the kit is lightweight and stows easily, so you’re more likely to bring it along for the ride in the first place.