Topic: Mystery Rigging

Hello Again Everyone,

I just got done going through all the rigging that came with the boat and there was only one thing I couldn't figure out what it was (a 30' 1/8" steel cable with a small shackle on one end and a small block on the other with 4' of 1/4" rope on the other side of the block.  It looks like it might be used to tightens something down that is 30' away by looping the rope through the block and increasing the advantage? 

Does anyone know what this strange piece of rigging might be used for?

Best wishes,


ps -  The only other mystery item that came with the boat was the rubbery tape that looked like it might be used to seal radio connectors, only it was not sticky on either side? (also pictured in photo)  Just curious, does anyone know what this weird tape is used for?

Post's attachments

mystery rigging.JPG
mystery rigging.JPG 207.57 kb, file has never been downloaded. 

You don't have the permssions to download the attachments of this post.

Re: Mystery Rigging

Could it be a topping lift? It's about the right length.  Attach the wire end to the top of the mast and the rope end to the end of the boom. Release the rope to de-tension the sail. 

Older halliards had line spliced into wire, but it's 30 feet too short for a halliard.

The tape may be sealer for your windows and hatch???????  Is the rubbery tape a thin foam? ie peel back the white tape and stick the foam on.

Re: Mystery Rigging


For the tape: It's a rigging tape, i use the tape for the boots at the end of the spreaders. When you put the tape you strech it and it will stick by himself.


Contessa 26 #158
Sun Wave
Montreal QC

Re: Mystery Rigging

Thanks for the replies!

Bertinol........I think you figured it out.  The port halyard was an 1/8" steel cable of about 30' that was spliced to a 35' length of 3/8" braided line and the starboard halyard was all rope (65' of 3/8" line).  I'll bet that steel cable part of this "mystery rigging" was the cable part of the other halyard. 

And the tape is definitely rubbery and not like a foam type.

Marc........thanks for the solving that mystery.

I love this website.........its been such a big help solving problems while I'm putting my first boat through a complete re-fit.

Best wishes to all,


Re: Mystery Rigging

One more (related) thing.

I've got to replace all of the running rigging on this boat.
And as long as I'm going to do so, I wonder other Contessa owners would advise me to do about that "hybrid" port halyard that is steel cable and rope?
If the cable looks fine (no meat hooks, etc.), would you just replace the rope, or would you switch it to an all rope (3/8" Dacron) halyard?


Re: Mystery Rigging

I have debated switching mine for years just because the rope is getting tired and the wire halyard bangs the mast so annoyingly.  However, as a halyard it works well and has very little stretch.  Save your shekels for something more significant IMHO.

BTW, that little block on the toppinglift/halyard in your photo is rather clever.  Not all the boats have two winches on the mast.  This block could be used to make a very handy pursuader to tighten genoa halyards.  For many years I had the genoa halyard residing on my one mast winch.  It makes more sense to keep the winch free for the spinnaker halyard (spinnakers are no fun if they start pulling before they are all the way up).  That little block would be perfect on the genoa halyard and could stay rigged most of the season because the sail lives on the furler.  One for my notes...


7 (edited by bertinol 2013-10-12 05:30:11)

Re: Mystery Rigging

I'd switch to 3/8 inch line because it is so much nicer on the hands. But check the blocks at the top of the mast to make sure they can handle line, not just the original wire. Replacing the blocks will be an expense and could be a nuisance.

While you are at it, put some proper shackles at the end of the halliards. They make life a lot easier.

Re: Mystery Rigging

Hello Bertinol,

That is a great suggestion and that's exactly what I'm going to do (switch halyards over to that low stretch 3/8" polyester braided -- Samson XLS).  Thanks for the tip.

What about the topping lift?  The cheek block at the masthead is the original little fiber wheel with no bearings and cracked.  If you were going to replace the topping lift and the cheek block at the masthead, would you go with the original 1/4" or possibly 3/8 inch?  (I'm tempted to beef up the topping lift in case I actually had to use it for something that required some "beef."


Re: Mystery Rigging

Hi Brian,

I would personally use the same line. Also suggest getting eye splice on both ends so you can flip them later.

Re: Mystery Rigging

I wouldn't bother with the expense of the Samson line on a Contessa. Regular 3/8 inch braided nylon is perfectly good for cruising, and perhaps preferable because it has more stretch.

For the topping lift, it sounds like the current cheek block needs replacing with a block capable of handling  3/8 line. You don't want the block to crack even more and trap the line.

You could use your current topping lift as is. Just attach the wire end  to the top of the mast and the rope end to a block and cleat at the end of the boom. Then you can adjust the line as needed before hoisting or dropping the sail.

I have a niftier idea on my boat. The topping lift is 1/4 inch nylon that goes from the end of the boom to a block at the top of the mast, down to a block at the bottom of the mast and to a jam cleat adjacent to the main sail halliard  near the cockpit. I can hoist the main and loosen the topping lift very easily, and then reverse the procedure when lowering the sail. That sure beats reaching to the cleat at the end of the boom in a rough sea.