New England Yacht Rigging

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1 Masthead Dr

Warwick, RI 02886

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There's no sailor that should tempt the wrath of the ocean by putting to sea without Charlie blessing the rig, and Maggie (patron saint of sailors) providing the sage advice that can only come from someone with more degrees than a thermometer.

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About New England Yacht Rigging

New England Yacht Rigging located at 1 Water St, Po Box641 in East Greenwich, RI services vehicles for Boat Repair and Service, Boat Supplies. Call (401) 884-1112 to book an appointment or to hear more about the services of New England Yacht Rigging.

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Business Name: New England Yacht Rigging

Address: 1 Water St, Po Box641

Phone Number: (401) 884-1112

Email: not listed

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Yacht rigging: your essential pre-season rig check guide

  • Duncan Kent
  • February 7, 2023

Few things are more important during the spring fit-out than a thorough yacht rigging and spar inspection. Duncan Kent runs through the priorities

new england yacht rigging reviews

During the spring fit-out we often appear to lavish far more attention on the engine and electrical systems than we do on the rig, despite the latter presenting a much greater risk to both yacht and crew should it fail in any way. However, because a yacht’s standing rigging has so many possible weak points it can be tricky to predict when any part of it is about to break. Close inspection should be a mandatory element of the pre-season preparations and checks.

A detailed rig check will rarely take more than a couple of hours to complete and should really be carried out prior to any long passage or extended cruise.

There are a number of telltale signs that should be looked for before, or soon after you launch for the new season, and several maintenance tasks that can be carried out to prolong the life of the rigging.

When inspecting your rig, it makes good sense to make an inventory of all the parts and their dimensions, as well as taking photographs of them.

It’s always advisable to un-step the mast every few years to check it over thoroughly at ground level. It makes close inspection of areas like the spreader roots, mast terminals and halyard sheaves much easier. If you are in any doubt about the condition of any part of the rig, it’s worth getting your local rigger to come and have a look.

This level of inspection may also keep your insurance company happy to continue covering an ageing rig, so it is worth doing every few years.

new england yacht rigging reviews

The mast step is a cast fitting under heavy loads and needs a thorough check

I always start the pre-season rig checks by inspecting the spars, commencing with the mast step and foot. The high compression forces on the mast step can put severe strain on both the T-bar (the plate on the deck) and step (the cast fitting that takes the loads in the bottom of the mast tube), particularly if there is any imbalance in the rig tension.

This is also an area where the salt water can gather in a pool, making it very prone to corrosion. Look closely at any rivets around the base and at the mast section itself for signs of corrosion or cracks. Get them looked at by a professional if there are working signs, to evaluate what repairs may be necessary.

With keel-stepped masts it’s especially important to check for corrosion at the foot as often they sit in the damp bilge and, being out of sight, are often overlooked. The same with the deck seal which, if leaking, will cause water to dribble slowly down the mast, creating a puddle at the foot. Replace any seals that are looking worn or perished.

With regards to the boom, first and foremost is the gooseneck. This is a common weak spot on any rig and one that has to withstand massive forces in several different directions when under sail. If it fails it can cause considerable damage, especially if it tears itself out of the mast, which will then be severely weakened. Always remove the main pivot bolt as, though it might look OK from the outside, salt water can drip into and settle inside the guide holes, seriously corroding the bolt just where it can’t be seen.

new england yacht rigging reviews

The gooseneck may look OK but it’s best to remove the securing bolt to check it

As with all the other mast fixtures, check closely for hairline cracks around the gooseneck fitting, either on the mast or on the fitting itself. This is best done using a dye, which will help make cracks more visible to the naked eye.

Other notoriously weak points on the boom are the vang fittings. They undergo similar stress levels under way, so it’s wise to give them the same once-over as the gooseneck.

new england yacht rigging reviews

All mast attachments and their locations are worth recording

Make a rig check inventory

When inspecting your rig for the first time it’s a good idea to make an inventory of all the components and their dimensions. Use a pair of Vernier callipers to note wire and pin diameters and measure the wire lengths as accurately as possible between pin centres at each end with full tension still in the rig.

For later reference, photograph each wire end, terminal, and mast attachment. The same for the lower ends, turnbuckles, toggles, and chain plates, taking note of the positions of the turnbuckles.

If wire stretch means they’re turned up so tight as to not have any further adjustment, compensate for that in your wire length measurement if replacing. The turnbuckles should capture one third of the screw length when fully tensioned.

new england yacht rigging reviews

Check chain plates for corrosion


Back at deck-level the turnbuckles (bottle screws) and chain plates must be closely inspected for cracks, rust, wear or distortion. The former require careful scrutiny as they can often sustain damage from misalignment, particularly if a seized toggle has been preventing free movement. They can also crack under the constant tension, particularly if the rig has been pumping in rough seas.

If they have had plastic covers or been taped up there’s a good chance that trapped water might have caused corrosion, so remove and check underneath. Screw threads and locking nuts often need cleaning and regreasing. Slacken them off, giving them a few turns each way and removing clevis pins for inspection, before re-tensioning the stay and locking it off. Replace worn toggles, clevis pins, split pins or rings.

new england yacht rigging reviews

Don’t forget to uncover spreader ends to check wires and terminals

Chain plates

Finally, inspect the chain plates for cracking or distortion and tap the hull or deck around the plate lightly to and tap the hull/deck around the the plate lightly to ensure the laminate hasn’t absorbed water from leaky, dried-up sealant. Put a foot next to the chain plate and as you stand on it, check there is no flex in the deck. Go below decks, if you can, to check the bolts securing the chain plates to the hull, and now and again draw the bolts to check for cracks and corrosion. Do the same checks for forestay and backstay, especially if rust is visible. Ensuring any through-deck fittings are properly sealed will help prevent water ingress.

new england yacht rigging reviews

Choose a calm, dry day to inspect the masthead using the bosun’s chair

At the masthead

Once you’ve done all you can at deck level it’s time to go up the mast , so dig out the bosun’s chair and find a trusted mate to help. Most masts feature integral sheaves that rarely get checked during the season.

Remove the axle pins and sheaves to check for bearing wear and any flat spots that might indicate previous seizure. On reassembly replace any retaining pins or rings and ensure the sheaves spin freely.

new england yacht rigging reviews

Check for damage in the wire at the terminal end

The same goes with external halyard blocks, and you’ll also need to ensure any swivels are rotating freely. Remove any shackles, check for wear or distortion, then clean, lubricate and refasten them, replacing any that are worn or distorted.

Finally, securely seize them with new wire, ensuring there are no sharp wire ends to snag on lines or sails.

Next, check the mast fittings where backstay and forestay connect, ensuring clevis pins are straight and secure and the holes are not elongated.

Inspect the area around tang plates and toggle fittings for cracks, using a magnifying glass and dye.

new england yacht rigging reviews

Checking shroud tension with a gauge

Another common area of rig failure is where the shrouds are secured to the mast. Various connection methods are used, but all should be checked closely for wear, corrosion and/or cracking. Any sign of wear on T-ball type joints (often the indication of an under-tensioned or misaligned rig) means the terminal, socket, or both should be replaced.

Also, look to see if there is any rust or broken wires as the shroud enters the terminal. This will be easier if you slacken the tension off the wire, allowing you to wiggle the wire about.

As you work your way down the mast on the bosun’s chair, check the mainsail track is clean, straight, and well secured, giving it a good spray of track lubricant as you descend. At the spreaders inspect the roots and tips for corrosion or damage (particularly if they have plastic end caps) and ensure the spreaders aren’t bent or distorted.

Retuning the rig

When you’re happy everything is in a serviceable condition it’s a good opportunity to retune your rig, especially at the start of the season. If you do it yourself you should begin at the bottom, working your way up from the lowers, inters (if you have them), cap shrouds and finally the back- and forestays.

Adjusting the shrouds in pairs, first slacken them right off and then make a few turns on the turnbuckle one side, before going to the other and applying an equal number on the opposite shroud. Keep the balance equal on each side by counting the turns on each turnbuckle. This way you won’t risk deforming the mast or misaligning a fitting.

If you’re concerned about getting the tuning spot on, especially if racing is your thing, then it’s probably worth investing in a rig tension gauge such as a Loos gauge so you can tune your boat rigging effectively.

Yacht rigging Inspection checklist

  • Mast and boom for cracks and corrosion
  • Spreader roots and ends for damage
  • Integral masthead and boom sheaves for seizures and flat spots
  • Corroded or broken shroud wires
  • Cracked, seized or rusty turnbuckles
  • Toggles for wear and distortion
  • Alignment of shroud fittings
  • Furler and swivel bearings for wear and lubrication
  • All shackles for wear and distortion, replacing seizing wire

Rig maintenance tips

  • Ensure any taping of screws or pins cannot trap water, which will in time cause corrosion
  • If you are taping over sharp edges, self-amalgamating tape will last longer than electrical tape
  • Wash all moving parts with fresh water to remove salt residue
  • Use a silicone-based lubricant regularly to keep moving parts free-running
  • Avoid contact between dissimilar metals – use an anti-corrosion paste when using screws or rivets, and use plastic tape to create a barrier layer between fittings
  • Rake out and renew sealant around through-hull fittings to prevent water ingress. If you are taking your rig down, take the opportunity to remove deck fittings and re-bed on new sealant
  • Get your rig professionally inspected every three years, and let your insurance company know you’ve had the all-clear

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new england yacht rigging reviews

Choosing the Right Rope for Your Sailboat

Deciding what rope to buy for a specific application can be a bit complicated. Only because there are so many different manufacturers, products, and not to mention the vast array of terms associated with rope. Let’s try and simplify this process a bit. For the sake of keeping this short and sweet we’ll narrow it down to one manufacturer, New England Ropes . Then we can talk about what types of rope this manufacturer offers and which ones are ideal for certain applications….

~If money is tight, then let’s start with the priorities, typically it’s: halyards, then reef lines, then sheets, and then the rest of the line-up (in that order).~

New England Ropes VPC

When considering new halyards or reef lines, look for a strong, low stretch line. Halyards and reef lines don’t need to be especially free running with the exception of perhaps the spinnaker gear. Typically halyards want to be low stretch as they need to span long distances under high load. A good choice for most cruising boat halyards is a product called  New England Ropes VPC.   It has Vectran/ Polyester blended core which provides some of the low stretch we are looking for and is reasonably priced. It also has a nicely braided Polyester cover which provides great protection from sun damage, chafe, and gives you a good ‘grip’.

New England Ropes Sta Set

For the spinnaker gear as well as the sheets or anything that requires an especially free running line, we recommend  New England Ropes Sta-set .  Sta Set is all Polyester, core and cover, which again does exceptionally well with U.V. and chafe resistance, as-well-as it runs freely, and has a nice soft feel.  Although Sta-set has more stretch than VPC ( which is actually even preferred for spinnaker gear) it is hardly noticeable in certain applications, i.e. jib sheets.

New England Ropes V100

If you are looking for a bit’ more performance you may want to look at  New England Ropes Endura  (Spectra Core) or  V-100  (Vectran Core). These are very low stretch lines and offer the ability to strip the cover off as seen on many racing boats. If you do decide to taper your halyards (or strip the cover) for performance reasons, make sure that they are tapered at the right length. Speaking as a former ‘mast man’, there is nothing worse than ‘bumping’ a halyard and right when you get to the last 3 feet or so (when it is the most difficult), you are trying to grab on to some thin and slippery core fibers. This is an expensive process and should be done properly or not at all. Please note that, especially when choosing a Vectran cored line, striping the cover will give the line a much shorter lifespan. Although a jacket (or coating) is required when exposing Vectran to the sun, the life expectancy of the line we be dramatically reduced. Read more here regarding these fancy fibers and their pluses and minuses.

Tapered Halyard Strip cover halyard

In conclusion, keep in mind that there are other manufacturers out there which provide rope products similar to the ones we have just discussed. Whether you are a racer, cruiser, or little bit of both, you should take the time to make sure that you have the right rope for the application. If you are a do-it-yourself-er, there is no shame in asking some questions. If money is tight focus on your priorities and save up for what’s ‘needed’. If you are going to hire a professional, don’t be scared to ask them about their process. Regardless of where you stand, take the time to make sure it is done right the first time and you will be able to worry about other things like, do we have enough beer, when should we ‘tack’, or how high is that bridge ;-0)

…Some Thoughts on How to Take Care of Your Line:

To easily remove your internally run lines for service, make sure that the rigger installs reeving eyes , (a.k.a soft eyes, Flemish Eyes, pull eyes…) on the end of the rope so that the halyards (or any lines that may require special reeving for that matter, i.e. reef lines) can be removed when the boat is not in use.

~With halyards, make sure that the rigger installs reeving eyes, (a.k.a soft eyes, Flemish Eyes, or pull eyes…) on the end of the rope so that the halyards (or any lines that may require special reeving for that matter, i.e. reef lines) can be removed when the boat is not in use.

Pro Tip:  Using a reeving eye one can  remove and install the lines by tying on a messenger. If leaving lines out of the mast for a prolonged period of time, be sure to use a minimum messenger diameter of 3/16″. This will keep the line from trying to jump the sheave.

Removing the lines will allow you to take them home and throw them in the laundry (I’ve even heard of using the dishwasher, less tangle) for the winter. Once washed, dried and de-tangled, it is recommended to coat any exposed core fibers (as found on stripped cover halyards) with a rope jacket product like Yale MaxiJacket  or the like. This will help provide protection from harmful U.V. rays and chafe. If you have never dealt with MaxiJacket before, I would call a local rigger and ask for any tips on applying the coating,  it can make quite a mess!

Have a question? At The Rigging Company questions are always free of charge. Leave us a comment below.

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New England Yacht Rigging

New England Yacht Rigging

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[email protected] (401) 884 1112

1 Masthead Dr Warwick, RI 02886 USA

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A Fistful of Splicing Fids

The stainless set from selma combines elegant design with durability..

new england yacht rigging reviews

While pre-spliced lines are easy to come by these days through marine chandleries, riggers, or the major rope suppliers, the sailors art of splicing is far from obsolete. The near extinction of wire halyards means halyards on cruising boats will need to be respliced more frequently to prevent chafe. And for boats that roam widely, a skilled rigger isn’t always at hand when its time to swap the halyard end-for-end, or change the nip at the sheave. The skill is becoming even more essential today, as double-braid lines with high-tech fiber cores become more common on board.

With low-stretch fibers (Spectra, Vectran, etc.), splices should always be used in preference to knots to maintain line strength. A knot can reduce strength in line with high-tech fibers by as much as 75 percent, while a proper splice will reduce strength by less than 20 percent.

The three types of line commonly used and spliced on sailboats each require a specific splicing technique. Three-strand splices (anchor and dock lines) are quite easy to do with minimal instructions. While this splice can be done without any fid at all, a tool can be useful for opening up space between the strands. A standard hollow fid makes this job easier.

Hollow, single-braid line is the easiest to splice and requires only a piece of thin rod about 18 inches long. Hollow, single-braid construction gets used in polypropylene line, as in waterski tow ropes, or in the Spectra lines meant for use as spinnaker halyards/sheets and mainsail control lines (reefing lines, etc).

Double-braid line, with Dacron or nylon fibers, is the most common aboard sailboats. It gets used for almost all applications, including sheets and halyards.

There are two different splices used depending on whether the core of the line is made from the same material as the cover (typically nylon) or made from a high-modulus, low-stretch fiber like Spectra or Vectran (see The Fine Art of Splicing). Unfortunately, these double-braid splices are by far the most complicated and least intuitive. They also require special fids, and with the exception of the hollow fid for three-strand line, these make up the range of fids PS gathered for this test. With practice, double-braid splices are not difficult, and an experienced rigger likely can do one in about two minutes. The average sailor who might make one such splice in a season can expect to waste some line in a couple of practice splices before getting it right, but he can expect to make up for his time and expenses in a couple of seasons.

Buying and learning to use your own fids really pays off if you are completely re-rigging and have a dozen splices to do, or if you plan to sail to remote areas without riggers. A couple of afternoons spent with a fid and a piece of new 3/8-inch double-braid line (much easier to splice than stiff, old line) will allow you to produce a useful if not picture-perfect splice.

How We Tested For this test, we collected a variety of readily available fids from Selma, New England Ropes (Uni-Fid II), Samson ropes, and the late, great rigger Brian Toss (Toss Wand and Point Hudson). PS tester has used versions of each of these fids for about a decade. The primary way these fids differ is in how you attach a strand of line to them. When making a splice, this connection has to be forcefully pushed or pulled through very tight channels in the line, so the union needs to be strong, compact, and quick to make and undo, because youll have to connect and disconnect the fid several times in the course of making one splice.

For the recreational splicer, excellent instructions are perhaps the most important factor in learning how to make good splices. Each double-braid fid system makes the same splices, but the instructions differ a great deal, so much that you might not even know they were designed to make the same splice.

To test the fids, PS sat down with each set of instructions and tried to make several splices following them exactly.

If you can’t make heads or tails of the instructions included with your fids, you can always get additional instructions. There are numerous books with splicing instructions, however, many have not been updated with the latest techniques for low-stretch line. Our tester liked Brion Toss’ The Complete Riggers Apprentice and Barbara Merry’s The Splicing Handbook . And excellent splicing instructions can be found at the New England Ropes website: .

These fids will likely spend most of their time sitting in a drawer and get pulled out only once or twice a year, so they need to be in a compact, easy-to-stow package, and be made of durable, corrosion-resistant materials.

Selma Fids These fids are one of two types in our test that can easily be used for both double-braid and three-strand splices (the other is the Toss Wand). They are nicely made of 100 percent stainless steel. The set contains five fids that will splice line ranging from 1/8 inch to 9/16 inch, and our tester has used the large size to splice up to -inch line. They are neatly designed so that they nest inside each other, and the stowed package is only the size of the largest fid.

Of the three fid types designed to be pushed rather than pulled through the splices (the others are the Uni-fid and Samson), the Selma fids have the best-designed approach for attaching the line to the fid. The line is laid into a hollow in the center of the fid where it engages a hook. One layer of tape around the hook holds fid and line in tight contact. The whole package is very firmly attached and streamlined.

A Fistful of Splicing Fids

The fids come with pretty good instructions to do three-strand and the most common double-braid (Dacron/Dacron, or nylon/nylon) splices. These instructions are good enough to help someone who has done a couple of double-braid splices before, but are a bit too brief as initial instructions for a novice. No instructions are included for low-stretch, double-braid line with high-modulus (Spectra or Vectran) fiber cores and nylon covers, though the fids can be used for this type of line.

At $50, this is the second most expensive set of fids. The Toss Wand is the most expensive.

Bottom Line: If you could have only one fid set on board, this would be the one. It can be used for both three-strand and double-braid line. Its durably constructed and stows compactly, and its line attachment design is the best of the pusher style. PS would add a splicing book with more detailed instructions and additional splice types, especially the low-stretch, double-braid, core-to-core splice.

Uni-Fid II This two-fid set from New England Ropes can do double braid splices in -inch to 1-inch line. The fid body is made of anodized aluminum with a stainless hook set on the end. In the past, these hooks were made of mild steel, which rusted, and they bent and pulled out entirely from the aluminum body. However, New England Ropes has obviously tried to resolve these problems with the current product; the hooks are now stainless steel and of a larger gauge. Only time will tell if they are now strong enough.

The two fids come in a strong plastic tube the same length as the Selmas, but with 50 percent greater diameter.

To attach the line to the fid, you put a wrap of tape around the end of the line, slip the hook into the line inside of the tape and then put another wrap around the line and fid to create a smooth package. This usually works, but the tape and fid sometimes pull right off the line in really tight situations. Tapered line will have little nubs sticking out where it has been thinned, and these can create friction.

This package comes with by far the best standard instructions. In addition to very detailed double-braid instructions, it shows how to splice single braid, parallel core double-braid and low-stretch double-braid, and end-to-end splices. New England Ropes has done sailors a great service by making these instructions free online at the New England Ropes website, .

At $30, this is the least expensive of the double-braid splicing sets.Bottom Line: With excellent instructions, a low price, and acceptable functionality, this would be the set to get to learn to splice and use for one or two splices a year.

Samson Fids This is a five-fid set that can do double-braid splices in -inch to -inch line. The fid body is made of raw aluminum. It comes with a spike type tool to help push the fid through especially long splices.

The fids come in a vinyl pouch (prone to cracking as it ages) slightly shorter than the above two fid sets, but about twice as wide.

To attach the line to the fid, stick the end of the line into a hollow in the end of the fid and wrap it with tape. Our testers found this method to be much less secure than the fids with hooks.

This package comes with basic instructions for the simple double-braid splice and the low-stretch double-braid splice.

At $36, this is a mid-priced double-braid splicing set.

Bottom Line: In our opinion, this set is overpriced and will frustrate many splicers with its tenuous line attachment design.

Toss Wand Developed by Brian Toss, this is one fid that can splice double braid line from 3/8-inch to 3/4-inch (there is another Toss Wand for smaller line). The fid can also be used for three-strand splices, but the stainless tube is of light gauge, and you would not want to use it to lever open the strands on old, stiff line. The fid is nicely made and consists of a stainless tube with a plastic handle and a Spectra snare that is used to attach the line to the fid.

This fid has a unique design. Instead of attaching the line to the fid and pushing both through the splice, you pass the fid through the splice, lasso the line with the Spectra snare, and then pull it back out of the splice. There was a wire snare in a previous version of this fid, but that caused various problems. The Spectra snare is a big improvement. It creates a secure attachment, but it can be a little tricky to keep it smooth and streamlined. Our testers found the attachment to be a bit lumpy, with a tendency to distort tapered line. They suspected that over time, theyd learn just how much line to snare and when/if to use tape to make it smooth. The Spectra snare also will need to be replaced at some point (Toss sells replacements, $2 each, or three for $5).

The fid is 21 inches long, almost twice as long as the other fids, so it might not fit into a small toolbox.

The fid comes with very good instructions for a simple, double-braid splice. It includes many excellent tips to avoid or overcome the various tricky spots in a splice. It does not include instructions for other splices, but for $23, you can buy a book by Toss (Working Rope: Field Guides for Rigging, Book 5 – Basic Braided Splices) that covers various double-braid splices. It is an excellent book.

This is the most expensive fid at $55, and you will also need the Toss book or another splicing book for instructions on additional splices.

Bottom Line: If you were really going to get into splicing, this would be a good second fid (after the Selma fids). The pulling approach does simplify some parts of the splice, and its length makes it useful for doing hollow single-braid splices. It is a bit expensive for the occasional user and its length does make it a bit difficult to stow.

Point Hudson Fid This fid is designed for three-strand line only, and there are many similar versions that work the same way. Essentially a shaped and polished stainless tube with a plastic handle, its a compact, easily stowed tool.

A Fistful of Splicing Fids

This design is common among the hollow fids for three-strand line, which evolved from the cone-shaped solid fids used on square riggers. The sharp end of the fid is used to open a gap between the strands; the fid is pushed through the gap; one strand of the line is fed into the fids hollow tube; and the fid and strand are pulled back through the splice.

You don’t need to use a fid for three-strand splices. The spike on a rigging knife can open a gap in the line and then you can push the strand end through the gap with the spike. However, if you were going to be doing a lot of three-strand splices, especially with old, stiff line, using this fid would make them easier and quicker.

The fid does not come with instructions, but almost any book on line, knots, or splices will have instructions for this relatively simple splice.

At $7, this fid is relatively inexpensive. You would need two more sizes (three in all) to cover the range of common line sizes. However, if you are only using three-strand for anchor and dock lines, one size will probably be enough.

Bottom Line: If you are going to be doing a large number of three-strand splices, especially in old, stiff line, this fid will make the job easier. Otherwise you can probably make any necessary three-strand splices with a rigging knife.

Conclusions Each of these sets of fids present certain challenges that, after several splices, wont pose much too much of a problem. Nevertheless, it be came clear that some were better than others in terms of construction, value for your dollar and ease of use.

The Selma fid set is a clear choice for those wanting a single, do-anything fid set. Its fids are well designed; they work extremely well, are very durable, and stow compactly.

The Toss Wand is a good addition for the dedicated or specialty splicer. Its long tube design compliments the Selma approach.

The Uni-Fids II set from New England Ropes are the Best Buy for the beginner or very occasional splicer, with a low price and excellent instructions.

Contacts Brion toss, 360/385-1080, New England Ropes, 800/333-6679, Samson, 800/227-7673, Selma, 47 33/31 40 4084,


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    New England Yacht Rigging is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 - 4:00 and Saturday from 9:30 - 12:00. We are available outside those hours by appointment. Please contact us at 401-884-1112 to schedule. There is a drop box outside our building for after hours drop off and pickup.

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  22. Contact

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