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two letters to share:

Friday, January 24, 2014 2:54 AM
Subject: Life Saver

There I was happy as a cat up the mast on Lovely Lady secure in my Rigger’s Harness.  With a big smile on my face having successfully completed my tasks Jani began lowering me to the deck.  Suddenly when I was about 10 feet off the deck and almost horizontal the rope slipped off the winch and I began to descend rapidly.  As if in slow motion I thought to myself “I’m falling, let go of the ascender.”  As I opened my hand I came to a quick and gentle stop about 8 feet off the deck.  The first words out of my mouth were “Thank God Brion sold me this wonderful piece of equipment.”  A few minutes later when our hearts had returned to a normal beat and I was standing on the deck we both breathed a sigh of relief.

Please share this story with any & all...

Rose Loper

SV Lovely Lady

- -

September 15, 2013

Dear Brion,

Many thanks for your help in keeping our sailing vacation on course this summer. When the cable broke on our centerboard, all it took was one call to you put everything in motion to fix the problem. You arranged the haul out picked up replacement cable from the supplier, and fixed the whole thing. Before we knew it we were underway again and able to resume our sailing vacation. I couldn’t imagine a better customer experience. Thanks again to you and your staff.

Dennis and Margaret Byrne



               From Brion

    How to terminate the            working end of halyards.  

            –Splices vs Knots

            Knots are useful, in that they more easily allow the sailor to “freshen the nip” on a line, typically where it bears on a sheave. Unfortunately, knots also weaken a line significantly, and HM fibers even moreso, and the ones that are strongest and most secure are usually the most difficult to untie. The weakening effect means we get oversize halyards (weight, windage, money), and/or lowered safety factors.

            I’ve come to conclude that, basically, the

problem has solved itself. In the days of vegetable fibers, rope was so weak that wear happened, pretty much no matter what one did. But for high-load applications, splices were considered worth the bother, for the aforementioned issues of scantlings and safety. But splices have always been a skill-intensive knot, so unskilled people have always been tempted to tie knots, and this temptation became much stronger with the advent of braided synthetic rope. To some extent, knots were justifiable here: the ropes were at least twice as strong for the same diameter, so knot weakness wasn’t so important; and 50% of the rope strength is in the cover of a Dacron double-braid rope, so chafe had a significant impact on rope strength. In other words, freshening the nip could be a useful thing to do.

           But there are a couple of other factors. First, much of the chafe that halyards see is due to things like foul leads, sharp edges on hardware, and rope that is too big for the sheaves. Eliminate those problems, and chafe drops dramatically. The other factor is that chafe is exacerbated by the elasticity of the line. A typical double-braid halyard will stretch and contract several inches as loads go up and down, and that means that the rope will move back and forth over stress risers – the sheave, mast mortise, exits – repeatedly when one is under way. The same phenomenon is much easier to see with mooring line chafe, because nylon is so much more elastic, as well as being more vulnerable to chafe. In any event, if we can limit elasticity, we can limit chafe.

  And that’s where high-modulus (HM) double-braid halyards come in. With these lines, all of the strength is in the core; the cover is there strictly to defend the core from UV and – you guessed it – chafe. If the cover does chafe, the rope is not weakened at all. You can darn it, and then go in search of the cause of the chafe. And the cause is unlikely to be due to elasticity, because HM ropes stretch very, very little. For instance, a typical double braid Dacron rope will stretch about 3% of its length at working loads, while an HM equivalent, under the same loads, might stretch one quarter to one half as much The covers on these ropes also tend to be much tougher than on conventional ropes, as they are expected to bear higher compression loads, at the masthead, and in stoppers and on winches.

            So, less stretch equals less chafe. A tougher cover equals less chafe. And no load on the cover means chafe isn’t a structural issue. HM ropes are also significantly lighter, especially if you take advantage of the opportunity of coming down size (or two, or three). The one downside, if you can call it that, is that knots are a no-no, because they weaken the stuff so much. But I prefer to think of that as a forceful reminder that rigging skills are part of a sailor’s heritage, for a reason.

Fair leads, Brion Toss


Rigging has its rewards!


For some reason, many people think we only rig modern cruising vessels. A similar number of people are sure that we only rig traditional boats. And a few think we only do surveys and consultations. I guess this is because we rig all kinds of boats, but not everybody sees them all, so they form an opinion on what they do see.

One person who would never make that mistake is my dear friend Albert. He loves all kinds of boats, has owned quite a few, and we've had the delight in rigging all of them, partially or fully. They've ranged from a sweet little Albin Vega to a gaff-rigged Pinky schooner, with a classic double-ended cutter and a fairly tweaky, 42' French-built multi-spreader aluminum ocean cruiser as part of the mix, and - maybe finally - his current boat, a new 34' fractional rig, racer/cruiser.

I mention Albert because his boats just about describe the arc of our expertise, if you add large square-riggers. So no matter what kind of boat you have, give us a call when you are in need of some proper rigging. Any kind of rigging.

Fair leads, Brion Toss






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This Website is an outgrowth of both rigging and teaching.In the following pages you'll find field-proven tools and ideas - powerful and elegant enough for a professional, but easy for the dedicated amateur to understand and use.

And, if you find yourself in the Northwest we hope you will stop by our Rigging Loft and Chandlery. We are located on the water at the Point Hudson Marina - in the historic seaport of Port Townsend, Washington. We are within a stone's throw of shipwrights, a sail loft, a canvas shop, machinists, and a full service haul out facility.

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Under sail


Our Mission is to blend the ageless wisdom of traditional rigging with the materials and applications of modern day. We work with our clients to provide complete rigging services of the highest standard and specialize in preparing vessels and their owners for extended cruising and offshore voyages.

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     Rig Your Boat

      2015 Weekend Workshops  

      June 6 -7

      October 31-Nov 1

      Haloween in Port Townsend!

      Brion's Loft - Port Townsend

Two very full & interesting days of consultation, instruction, and discussion of your boat's rigging needs, as well as your needs, and the needs of your crew.

 ● This is all about Your boat.

  Bring your rig specifications, sail plan &  rig plan, calculator, and ideas.

   And photos too.

  You will work with drills, taps, rivets, tuning gauges, and other essential tools.

 ●Also a discussion of schmoos,glues and secrets of the vest.

  You will lean about design/load considerations, including component sizing, selection, layout, and installation.

  Also Stal-lok installation, braided rope splicing, working aloft, and more. 

  Suggested Reading: The Rigger's Apprentice

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From Alan Hyde: "We thoroughly enjoyed Brion’s

well-attended and excellent presentation.

All the best technical knowledge on any subject rests

on some underpinnings that once understood, widen &

brighten our future thinking about it.

Brion’s a master of his craft and communicates it well, too."