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The Gooseneck (Page 2)

This page was last updated on July 10, 2004.

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To prepare for ordering the new gooseneck hardware, I spent some time measuring up the boom and existing hardware, making numerous sketches and photographing everything.  I also prepared full-size templates of my mast and boom, using a piece of electrical solder to conform to the spars, after which I could easily trace it out onto a piece of paper.   Feeling prepared for anything, I began some online research.

I soon latched on to the website at www.rigrite.com, and, despite the amateur, poorly-constructed navigation and layout of the site, managed to find my original boom section listed, with a variety of hardware options.  They didn't seem to have the ideal solution for my gooseneck needs, though, so I browsed the site endlessly on a Sunday, eventually finding a similar boom section that had myriad accessories--including the gooseneck bracket and reef hook/tack hook assembly that I wanted.

Excited with my finds, and thinking that my problems would soon be solved, I laboriously prepared a list of requested parts, as well as detailed drawings of my arrangement, and faxed it off to Rig-Rite for a quote, as directed by the site.

After a couple days with no response, I called the company to inquire.  Yes they had received my fax.  Great, said I.  When might I be able to expect a quotation?  "Oh,", said the unhelpful phone person, "they ought to be able to look at it in about two weeks or so".  Two weeks?  To get a quote on supposedly "stock" parts?  Attempts to get further information was like getting blood from a stone, and I finally hung up with a vague (to be mild) promise from the bimbo to see if maybe they could quote me on the complete order I had prepared.  Needless to say, as of this writing I am anything but surprised to report that I have heard absolutely nothing from these fools.

Moral of the story:  forget Rig-Rite.

This wasted about a week, and it was into the next week before I had a chance to call my rigger for advice.  When I mentioned my experience with Rig-Rite, he barely contained a disdainful chortle, and then, as tactfully as possible, told me what I already knew:  that they really don't have what they say they have; and besides, they overcharge for what they do have.  Anyway.

Moving on, he recommended I call Metalmast Marine, in Connecticut, but warned that at that particular time, they were heavily involved in finishing a mast project for a client who was dying, but wanted to see the completed rig before he passed--or some such.  As a result, he recommended I wait a week before calling, which advice I heeded.

Later, I phoned Metalmast, to be greeted by the helpful--and quite French--Claude on the phone (I had been forewarned).  I described what I was looking for, and he eventually gave me a list of measurements, etc., that he needed--which I promptly provided by fax the next day, after returning to the boat to double check a couple things.

This is where things began getting interesting.


rollerreefinggooseneck.jpg (52576 bytes)Claude couldn't visualize my current arrangement--he kept insisting that I had to have a vertical pin, and I soon came to realize that the setup I had was somewhat unusual.  Eventually, after several more faxed drawings, he came to understand what I had.  My boom features the old (abandoned) roller reefing arrangement at the mast end, which is connected to the mast through a toggle with horizontal pin that secures to a bronze car riding on the mast T-track.

Click here to see a series of measured sketches of my boom and gooseneck arrangement.


He quoted me a couple prices for a gooseneck bracket and custom toggle to fit my current boom end; the bracket was reasonable, but the custom toggle would run twice as much as that.  It was at about this time that Claude carefully, tactfully started probing for deeper answers to my situation, and what I was trying to accomplish.  Why, he asked, was I looking to spend all this money?

Thus began a discussion about my whole sail, vang, and boom situation.  We discussed the rigid boom vang, and he asked if not my boom resembled a banana (in the way that only a French person could)?  I had to agree that yes, the boom did resemble a banana sometimes, and that I was frequently harboring concerns myself about the overall strength of the boom in light of my serious boom vang.  When I also mentioned that I had a loose-footed mainsail, he became even more animated.  Note that I never felt I was being oversold in any way--he was just forcing me to address issues that I had thought about many a time before.  I give Claude high marks for tact, and for never pushing to sell me any more equipment than I was willing to consider.

Given that I had often wondered about my boom, particularly after switching to a loose-foot in 2003, I decided to move forward in the direction of a new boom, one that was engineered for the stresses that my main and vang would put on it.  Why skimp, after all?  I was sick of my boom and gooseneck problems, needed a better tack/reefing hook setup anyway, and was more than tilling to discuss something that would make the boat sail better, and more safely.

I had to return to the boat once more to take a series of new measurements.  Finally, after a week or more of back and forth, fax problems on my end, and computer problems on Claude's end, I had provided him with all the critical information he needed.  He gave me a quote for the following:

  • New boom of the appropriate length and properly engineered for the loads involved
  • Custom gooseneck bracket for the mast, to fit my mast profile
  • Integral bracket to accept my boom vang end, located as per my measurements
  • New tack hook and two reefing hooks on boom end
  • Mainsheet bail at aft end of boom
  • Internal outhaul rig
  • No reefing lines; I decided I wanted to maintain my current setup
  • Winch pad
  • Unpainted, non-anodized spar 

I ordered the spar, with delivery estimated at two weeks hence.

Could I have gotten away with something less?  Of course, probably.  But why mess around at this point?  The new boom will cost more than I had hoped, but buying it will not keep me from sailing, or mean that we have to starve for a month, or any such thing.  What the boat wants, the boat gets--that's pretty much how it is in our household.  I'm never one to skimp on important gear--and what is more important on a sailboat, after all, than sails and spars that work properly?


Given the timing of the order, and with a pending cruise departure later in July, I wondered whether I would have the new boom in time.  I didn't want to depart with my gooseneck in its current condition--it's definitely too weak, and my latest repair (previous page), while still holding, was definitely starting to pull out as before.  

bandclamp1.jpg (53670 bytes)Earlier, my friend Nathan had indicated he had a friend with a banding tool that he had used to repair a reefing track on a 58 footer at sea one time, and that he (Nathan) could probably borrow it if I felt it was necessary to reinforce my gooseneck more.  I decided that it was worth the effort to band the T-track in place on the mast, and to reinforce the connection against unwanted movement.  This way, I felt that I could leave on my cruise in good conscience, since it seemed increasingly unlikely that the timing for delivery (or possible pickup myself) of the new boom would work out to my advantage.  Conversely, taking the time to band the track on probably guaranteed that the new boom would be ready sooner than later anyway!  We met at the boat one afternoon to install the bands.


bandclamp2.jpg (55653 bytes)Once we figured out the basics of the tool, it was really quite simple to use.  Nathan ended up doing the work, while I watched and held the directions.  Basically, the concept is that you wrap stainless steel banding twice around the mast and pass it through a specific clamp.  Then, the manual banding tool is applied, which grips the band and tightens it with a screw-device.  Once tight, the tool includes a cutter to clip the band, and the stainless steel buckle is hammered around the band, securing the bitter end.

It worked very well.  We put the buckle on the wrong way on our first try, so had to unwind the band and start over.  However, that was the only mistake, and, for two completed bands, we only did the process three times total--pretty good for two morons who had never used this tool before.  The completed bands were tight, and appeared to be the sort of temporary repair that could, under different circumstances, become permanent.  I felt good about the repair, and if it ended up remaining on there until after our cruise, that would be fine.

bandsdone1.jpg (54614 bytes)     bandsdone2.jpg (46222 bytes)


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Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381
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