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Cotter Pin Alternative

August 26, 2013

One of the best trade-offs when we parked Eurisko for a while and started exploring in our AS-29, was the lack of standing rigging. We raise and lower the masts by hand in a few minutes, nothing to pump in the wind, no whistle in high winds, no maintenance and no scraped hands, arms, and feet on cotter pins.


Seizing wire instead of cotter pins

We had replaced most of the cotter pins on Eurisko years ago with a cleaner, safer alternative. But it wasn't always so.

Standing at the bow, operating our manual windlass, my heel scraped the turnbuckle for the cutter stay. Again. For many years I returned to the cockpit after setting the anchor with a bloody foot where the cotter pin had gouged me. Though my rigger/captain/husband tried to bend the offending cotter pin in such a way to avoid my foot, it wasn't until we rerigged that a permanent solution came to him.

While working on customers' boats, Dave has seen cotter pins that have been turned and twisted by turnbuckles until they broke, leaving the rig in jeopardy. So when it came time to buy cotter pins for our replacement turnbuckles on our new wire rigging, he balked. Instead, he bought a spool of seizing wire.

Typically used to seize shackles (as on anchors), seizing wire works well as a substitute for cotter pins. Cut a small length of wire, insert it into the hole in the post, and wrap it around one side of the turnbuckle. The wire cannot twist or bend; there are no loose ends to snag sails, lines, and feet; and the rig looks "finished." The seizing wire would have to break in order for the turnbuckle to turn, and that is less likely to happen than a cotter pin twisting.

A combination of safety, aesthetics, and comfort led to the change in how we secure our rig. My foot and I appreciate the improvement.

TUESDAY we'll continue our trip up the east coast, concentrating on South Carolina anchorages.

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