Welcome to the UKWA Home Page Forums Technical Replacing halyards – any advice?

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    Jon S


    I’m planning to replace my wire main and jib halyards with a prestretched rope main halyard and a new wire jib halyard. I’m also going to add a spinnaker halyard. To replace the existing halyards, I plan to attach some 3mm cord  to the halyards when I remove them to act as a guide for the new halyards, but would welcome any other tips. For the spinnaker halyard, I don’t have an existing halyard to act as a guide so would really welcome some advice on how to fit this.




    Starting with the spinnaker halyard. It depends on which mast you have. A very old gold buoyant mast has all the halyards running down the mast grove. Assuming you have a silver mast you may have to remove the sheave at the top to get a long length of whipping twine onto which you have fastened half a dozen small 4 or 5mm nuts threaded into the mast. lift the mast up and shake it about until the nuts with twine attached gradually slides down to the bottom. Sometimes you have to remove the mast foot to thread the halyard round the pulley. Instead of nuts you can use a short length of chain of the old fashioned sort knotted onto your twine. We used to use this method for threading new ropes in sash windows.
    An existing halyard is much easier. put old and new end to end and sew together with a few stitches of twine smooth off with a small amount of tape and pull gently through.

    Of course the easiest way of all is to bring your mast to the cruising conference (24 to 26 March) where it can be used to demonstrate rethreading a mast!

    Dave Barker

    I tend to use whipping twine to sew the end of an old halyard to the new one. The two ends are in effect butted together, sewn as John (1162) describes, with 4 or 5 stitches across the join and a single layer of gaffer tape over the lot to help prevent snags. If there isn’t room to pass this slightly fattened bulge through a sheave that you can’t avoid, then use John’s bathroom chain or “nuts” method, or just skip the tape and carefully guide the halyard ends each time there’s a risk of snagging.

    The spinnaker halyard can potentially be threaded by removing the sheave (part-way up front of mast) and hooking a bight of the main halyard out. You can then stitch some whipping twine onto the main halyard and pull it down to the foot of the mast. Unstitch it, tie on your new spinnaker halyard and pull it through using the twine. Bingo!

    Cruising Conference recommendation endorsed.

    Jon S

    Thanks both-very helpful. Will be at the cruising conference so will take you up on the suggestion and try to do it then.


    Do not use prestretched rope, it is still too stretchy. You don’t want your set-up to change once you have it trimmed well. The only thing that can replace SS wire is Dyneema.

    Jon S

    Thanks S – will go for dyneema.

    Jon S

    Many thanks to John Mellor for his help replacing my running rigging at the Cruising Conference (well, to be honest, John replaced it whilst I helped!).

    For the main halyard,  the new rope halyard was stitched to the rope tail of the old wire halyard with whipping twine, butting the ends together, wrapped with insulating tape then pulled through from the top of the mast. The wire ferrule on the old wire halyard went through the sheave at the top of the mast without a problem.

    For the new spinnaker halyard,  the sheave for the spinnaker halyard was removed from the mast,  a loop of the main halyard hooked out and  the spinnaker halyard stitched to the main halyard, ensuring there was enough scope on the main halyard to pull the spinnaker halyard to the mast foot. The mast heel was removed and the spinnaker halyard threaded through.

    For the replacement wire jib halyard, the ferrule on the old halyard would not fit through the pulley on the mast sheave, so the mast sheave was removed and the pin taken out to remove the pulley. This was done by using an appropriately sized drill bit or similar to knock out the central pin which came out fairly easily. The rope at the foot of the new wire halyard was then threaded though the sheave with the pulley still out, tied to the eye at the top of the old halyard, and the old halyard pulled down the mast until the new halyard came through the mast foot sheave. The pulley and central pin were put back in and the mast sheave reinstated.


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