Most boats are fitted with rigging equipment when they are manufactured, but sometimes the cables are changed if they begin to wear out.
The cables that are used for rigging usually have looped ends so that they can be bolted or hooked to other attachments on the ship. On sailboats, anyone climbing the mast should strap onto one of these cables on the way up in case a strong wind blows them over while they are climbing.
To create cables for rigging equipment, cable and wire rope manufacturers begin with long strips of high tensile metal and weave them together tightly into strands. Once these strands are created, these are also tightly spun together to form a helix type pattern. This type of cable structure enhances the reliability, durability, and strength of the cable.
Additionally, the number of strands and the cable material can be changed to achieve varying degrees of strength. Due to its high strength, steel is one of the most popular and most commonly used materials for rigging equipment.
Once the rigging cable has been created, it is usually stored on a spool for shipping or rolled up on a pulley for use on a marine vessel.
Cable on a ship that is used as part of the rigging is referred to as “cordage,” and there are several different types of cordage. Cordage in a fixed position is referred to as standing rigging, which is usually installed between the mast and the deck to add tension and to hold the mast firmly in place. Running rigging is the cordage that is used to control the movement of the sails. In order to move smoothly over pulleys, this type of rigging has to be flexible but also has to endure the strain from high winds, holding the sails in place.
Historically, heavy ropes were used for rigging on large marine vessels due to technological limitations. With the industrialization of the world and technological advancement, metal cable rigging quickly took the place of fiber ropes, since fiber ropes are far more susceptible to wearing and breaking. Exposure to the sun and friction has a much more devastating effect on fiber ropes than cable rigging, which means they have to be replaced more often or risk them causing a potentially dangerous situation.
Rigging equipment made using steel cable is stronger and more durable than traditional rope, making it well suited to both large and small vessels.