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Dropped mast, shroud broken
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Author:  IndyWave [ Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:56 am ]
Post subject:  Dropped mast, shroud broken

Yesterday, just before the start of a race, I was sailing along in light air when I heard a "twang" and was hit by a falling shroud. I looked up and saw the mast leaning, then fall in slow motion. I managed to get the sail off the mast and gather everything onto the boat with no other catastrophe. Fortunately, I had my "spinbrella" on board, so I sailed back to the beach using it.

The fall caused damage to the mast base casting and pin, so they will likely need to be replaced as well as the shroud.

My question/concern is that the shroud had no corrosion or visible wear. All 17 (I think) strands appear to have been cut cleanly, inside the swage at the crimp. Could it have been that way all along, maybe crimped too hard when assembled?

My boat is long out of warranty, but should I be concerned that all the standing rigging could have the same problem? I know it is recommended to replace the standing rigging every few years, but this doesn't appear to be an age-related issue.

Author:  JJ [ Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

I have heard of a shroud getting a twist and a kink and then breaking under load. I have seen a mast come off the step ball because the shrouds were old and set too loose. Your guess is probably right. Looked at the other one?

Author:  Trinomite [ Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Really sorry to hear about this mess. Man, I reread your post several times and the possible reason for this is truly in the 'Weird or What' Dept.
Light Airs, thank God. If you were in moderate to strong winds, the fly back of the broken shroud could have seriously hurt you. Considering that you probably had 1 or two strands left with a clean cut on the rest, it almost sounds like someone covering their production errors).
A bit of a time ago I posted that lifelines can be used as a security cable. Pressed fittings are not installed with cable cutters, as the tool used is a single purpose tool. Missing with that tool will not cut your shrouds unless a total idiot used the wrong tool in the wrong place. Shrouds and lifelines aren't that much different as multi stranded cables. What makes them hard to cut is that if a standard bolt cutter is used, the strands will collapse on themselves making it that much harder to cut the entire wire. However, if someone was to keep working away at it, eventually the strands will separate. With an older boat, a shroud will develop 'meat hooks' when individual strands snap and curl up as a result of age and over use related stress. (these are usually found on the length of the shroud and not close to the fittings)
This is obviously not the case as you mentioned about clean shears on the strands.
Could you publish some Macro or very close up shots of the parted shroud(s) and the pressed fittings. Please don't enlarge them( as I will do that on my own). Thanks. Please also note the year of the boat and any mods that you may have done to it and it's history since purchase. (and no I don't work for Hobie. I simply would like a resolution to your issue and make sure it doesn't happen to you again or anyone else with an older boat)
I also suggest that you keep an eye on your boat...on the slight chance that someone may be trying damage your boat for one reason or another.
I sincerely hoping that is not the case.

Author:  IndyWave [ Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

As you can see, it's a really clean break, which occured INSIDE the barrel of the swage. Nothing was sticking out before the break, or I would have noticed it when I stepped the mast a week ago. It was at the top of the starboard shroud. I always make sure all the lines are straight before I pin them, and I had sailed at least a half dozen times since then.



It looks like the ends of the last two or three strands to break are still shiny.

Author:  Mugrace72 [ Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

IndyWave wrote:
I know it is recommended to replace the standing rigging every few years, but this doesn't appear to be an age-related issue.

Could it be that there is a reason for that?

Having said that, most of us wait until we see a broken strand and then replace it all. What you have is certainly a rare one. They usually break at the bottom. However, We have seen them break in the middle, inside the plastic coating!

I think it is metal fatigue that creeps in from the slack-jerk that occurs in light wind and power boat waves. I think that is worse than constant strain from high winds.

Author:  IndyWave [ Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

It just occurred to me that the cleanly "broken" ends are pretty much dead-even with the "cut" ends of the return loop inside the swage. That, along with the appearance that the inner strands separated before the outer strands, makes me believe both sides must have been cut through (or nearly through) when the shroud was manufactured. If the cutter slipped a bit, then the swage was crimped immediately covering the problem, that could explain how it happened. Not that I'm knocking Hobie's manufacturing process, but mistakes do happen. The shroud may have been holding on by 3 or 4 strands all along.

I'll check all my other lines, but I'm betting this was a one-shot mistake which lead to an untimely failure.

Author:  mmiller [ Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

This is actually a typical place for a wire to fail. This is the point at which the wire does not flex. It is a hard point. As a wire is bent repeatedly near this point... the stress focuses here. bend a wire enough and it can fail. This was not cut. The press does not contact it and the swage is relativity soft.

Upper end right? You keep the mast up? Mooring? Mast unrestrained? Sail a ton? Loose wires?

As the mast rotates back and forth, the wire wraps round and then unwraps. This flexes the wire. If you also do any of the above without retraining the mast or keeping wire snug... the fatigue is accelerated.

Author:  IndyWave [ Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Thanks for the reply Matt! What you say does make sense... but I'm not so sure it applies. I checked the other shroud, and no sign of similar "wear". It was the upper end, and I do keep the mast up, and I do sail about 10-12 hours a week. But I don't moor it; the mast actually is restrained when the boat is tied down on the beach; and I keep the rig relatively snug, because I don't like it jerking around in chop.

I'll check the other shroud again, just to be sure, but it looked solid. Sounds like I should make it a habit to invert the shrouds annually, to even out the wear.

I ordered a replacement shroud from Sailboats Inc in Indy, along with a new mast base casting. Eileen said they should be in on Friday, so I should be back on the water this weekend.

Author:  BigWhoop [ Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

On the 17 and maybe some other boats we were always cautioned to remove the erection pin, so that in the event of a shroud, or anchor pin in the case of the 17, failure the mast wouldn't act as a lengthy lever to damage the front crossbar or mast base.

I've seen some discussion, maybe over at Catsailor, about guys with really loose rigs yanking on things like the downhaul hard enough to make the mast pop off the base. Apparently some guys tie a piece of cord from the mast around the crossmember so that won't happen.

Just telling you for the next time your mast falls off. Take care.

Author:  IndyWave [ Wed Aug 08, 2012 8:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Hello Whoop! I've seen the discussions on Catsailor about removing the pin while sailing to protect the mast base, but the Wave manual specifically says to leave it in for safety (ie: mast not hopping off). I could see both sides, but I really didn't think my mast was likely to fall for no reason.

In my case, as the mast fell to the side (slightly forward) with the pin in, the casting hit the steel post on the crossbar, breaking the sidewall of the cast aluminum socket. Also, the step pin bent and gouged the plastic ball as it popped off.

So, if I'd known the consequences, I would have pulled the pin as soon as I saw the mast leaning. I think in the future, I'll remove the pin, snug up the rig and tie the cord around the crossbar.

Author:  BigWhoop [ Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Glad you're having fun. Spinbrella as a boat recovery device! I must admit that my pin is still in place and I have a sloppy rig. I guess I should take my own advice and remove the pin and tie the mast on with a piece of cord. Particularly after your experience with no "meat hooks" or other warning signs.

Take care. Have a Hobie day!

Author:  srm [ Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Well, assuming these were your original shrouds, you got about 6-1/2 seasons out of them. I'd say that's a reasonable amount of time given the abuse that they can take. If you sail in high winds, run a loose rig, or just plain sail a lot, that's going to accelerate the aging process of the shroud as stated above. And many times a shroud will let go without any visible warning.

I agree with the previous poster, you should remove the step pin on captive ball mast base systems. We do this on the 17 as well. That way if you ever drop the mast, the base will pop off the ball rather than destroying the mast base, mast, or front crossbar. Unless you're racing, there's not need to run a really loose rig anyway, so having the mast accidentally jump off the step should be a non-issue.

One thing you might want to consider is getting a set of "heavy duty" aftermarket shrouds. These are 5/32" diameter as opposed to the stock 1/8" diameter wires and this equates to something like 50% more strength.


Author:  JJ [ Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

You know, that just looks like an unfortunate fluke. Shrouds at that particular point probably need checking periodically for the reason Matt mentions. Will be checking mine...

Author:  Hammond [ Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Quit checking your shrouds and buy new ones. If you are not replacing the wires on a boat with the mast up at least every other year, you are just rolling dice. Also replace anchor pins on boats with them and toggles. Things wear out and replacements are cheap. you will never be able to check the common breaking points on wires because they are hidden inside nicropress sleeves. I replace all wires regularly. It just makes sense.

Author:  hobiesrock [ Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dropped mast, shroud broken

Yeah that! If I broke a shroud...you better believe all standing rigging would be getting replaced! Dont just order one replacement...order new shrouds and forestay! Its cheap on a Wave! When the next one lets go you may not get so lucky as to have no one/nothing under the mast! :shock:

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