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Last update: 19 Sep 2023
2021-11-12 23:34:18 UTC
I have been holding back on saying too much about Fenua Rigging as I am not one to go and say negative things about someone or a company however, I feel obligated to speak up so other cruisers are aware of the issues that we had so they can be aware that they MUST be supervised closely!
Our background: We have had Hedonism for over 15 years. We have un-stepped the mast a total of 9 times since new and have rigged it ourselves the last 2. (always been present for the other occasions)
We needed to do a complete standing rigging change. I contacted the OEM supplier of our rigging and got a complete list of the rigging as it was originally installed on our boat. The order was placed in June in the USA for a complete set of rigging including all turnbuckles, toggles, mast head toggles, back stay with SSB and so on. We have a Genoa and a Solent headstay.
I have been dealing with a health issue here since February and have been recovering so I decided to enlist the services of Fenua Rigging to do the heavy work, especially changing both forestays with the furling rigs. They quoted a labor rate of $75 per hour (times the two of them so $150 per hour) and the hours expected were reasonable.
When the rigging arrived, they arrived at the appointed time and commenced the work here at Marina Taina. Both Laurie and I were present there to assist as laborers and to observe.
They worked very quickly; too quickly in fact so they were prone to making mistakes and taking shortcuts. I am summarizing at the bottom but in one instance, a pin on the Solent stay was not only NOT secured with a split (cotter) pin, it had worked itself out to where the end was flush with the toggle. This was partially hidden by the furling drum that had been dropped into place. It was only that night when I suggested to Laurie to take a closer look, that I disassembled the furler enough so that we could raise the drum assembly up the foils to inspect. It was only then that we realized the significance of the poor workmanship.
After that, we had a meeting with Fenua to discuss the issues. Things improved somewhat after that meeting; see bullets below.
When we got to installing our new Lower shrouds, they announced that the Terminal end fittings did not fit the mast back plates. After checking the Intermediates and Cap shrouds they advised that the Intermediates did fit but the Cap shrouds did not either.
The new shroud terminal fittings were manufactured by Hayn and the original ones by Gibb which is no longer in business. I was advised that I would need to order all new back plates from Hayn. Fenua supplied me with the part numbers that I would need and in fact, sent them to my rigging supplier. I arrange for air shipment and they arrived fairly quickly BUT when they did, I took them to check that the Hayn shroud terminal fittings would fit the new Hayn back plates; they didn’t. I got a hold of Fenua to come and take a look which they did promptly. They agreed that they did not fit and offered that perhaps they could arrange a machinist to machine about 2mm off the outside elbow of the fitting. Well, “NOT on my boat” I advised.
I knew something was not right so I climbed the mast later and removed a stay to compare against the new Hayne terminal shrouds. Upon inspection it was obvious that the radius of the elbow was not correct when compared to the old one, the Intermediates and to the ones depicted in the Hayne catalog. I took detailed photos and forwarded them to the company that supplied the rigging. Their initial answer was that “Hayn terminals should fit Hayn back plates”! No kidding…. I pressed the company to send my detailed photos to Hayn which they did. Within an hour I got an email back saying that after viewing my information Hayn agreed there had been a manufacturing defect my terminals. (and others perhaps?) Hayn themselves built us a new set of Lowers and Caps and shipped them Air Freight to LAX and then prepaid my Air shipping cost to Tahiti. I was very happy even though the mistake cost us significantly, new back plates were NOT needed (Hayn’s were identical to the original Gibb plates), delays, shipping, import fees and so on.
Why I am putting this information in a report on Fenua Rigging? Fenua should have seen the defect at the beginning (they are the riggers?) and should not have suggested that we needed new back plates or to “shave 2mm off” the fittings. (I also note that the QA at Hayn and the company that built the stays should have ALSO noticed the defect as well)
I have summarized the issues in point form below.
· Solent Stay pin not secured with split pin and in fact, worked ¾ of the way out, still at the dock!
· Dragging shrouds on deck and the boom leaving large marks on the Gel coat and in the case of the boom, permanent marks on the paint. The Gelcoat was brought back only with 3M Imperial compound a lot of labor.
· Walked on our Hard Dodger without asking if it was okay to do so. Laurie had to stop him and brief him where he could and could not walk.
· Paint chips on the mast where stays and shackles were allowed to bang against the mast
· Furling lines on the headstays were not loaded back on the drums
· After installing the backstay, they were about to leave and I asked them why they did not re-install the SSB cable that they removed. They were not familiar with how to do it but tried. In doing so he just walked out on the boom but still could not quite reach. I was standing right there as he stepped onto out Solar Panel rails. We both yelled to stop but it was too late. We now have a bent tube that we still need to repair. And, he still did not do it correctly so I ended up redoing it myself later in a chair down the backstay.
· The Genoa luff feeder was installed upside down
· It took two full days to get the boat back in shape
· After the new back plates arrived and determining the terminals still not fit, I decided to proceed to have them install the new back plates so as to save time later. This involved removing all of the stays one by one. PRIOR to going up the mast I asked as to “how” he was going to prevent the “old” backplate from falling down inside the mast. He had made up this little “tool” to go in the socket of the plate but never used it. We decided instead to tie a string through a rivet hole and back out the socket. The first back plate had 5 rivets to drill out to remove the back plate. He proceeded to drill out all 5 at the same time and then used a punch to punch out the remaining rivet parts. On the first use of the punch the whole backplate dropped down inside of the mast where it remains… I asked why he did not attach the safety string after drilling the first hole? Pretty simple, drill one hole, punch it out, install the string and then do the remaining 4 rivets. They did NOT want to that. I insisted, so they did. It was that point that I almost escorted them off the boat.
· Once finished with the back plates they tensioned and tuned the stays. When I went to feel the Cap shrouds, they were unbelievably tight. I laid down on the boom to eye the mast track and it looked pretty much like a hockey stick. I acknowledge that we still had the Lowers and Caps to install BUT I had instructed them to tune the rig to “go to sea” as at that point I did not know when the new replacement stays would be arriving. We ended up re-tuning the rig ourselves.
Other than that, they were better on the second visit. They took time and care to not drag stays on the deck, covered shroud fittings and shackles when raising and lowering them and so on. This was only after the “meeting” where I pointed out NOT to rush, I was paying them by the hour and close supervision.
In closing suffice it to say, I would not recommend Fenua Rigging, especially if you are not completely familiar with the rigging process. If you choose to do so, hopefully this report will give you and idea on what to watch out for. Other than the serious issues noted, I would summarize that they had no respect for our boat at all. It was almost as though they had always worked on older boats that perhaps, did not care.
BTW; We subsequently installed the new Lower and Cap shrouds ourselves when they arrived.
Bob + Laurie Mackie