Redoing the adjustable backstay

My boat has an adjustable backstay (a stay is one of the big steel wires that keeps the mast from falling down) and ever since I have had it, I haven’t really touched it. It’s been locked in the same position by a ratty piece of rope with no blocks, so adjusting it was extremely hard. It is supposed to look like this (image from

This is the port side. Notice the extremely suspicious knot

The starboard side is just led to a cleat. Nice.

It works by forcing down this contraption, putting more tension on the backstay to flatten the foresail

Although having the possibility of the backstay loosening itself spectacularly added a certain ‘je ne suis qua’ (NB: I am NOT good at french) to sailing, it was time to fix it.

I found an old block and bought wire, another double block with a cam cleat (BLOCKS ARE SO EXPENSIVE, christ) and some crimping bits and bobs

First, I put a loop in the wire

This was then attached to the rear chainplate via my old halyard shackle that had been cut off

Then I threaded the wire through the gizmo (still not sure what that is called) and attached the double block to the other end

Then I attached the other fiddle block to the starboard chainplate and used 3/8 line to complete the run.

Done! It’s easily adjustable now so I can tighten it in high winds and loosen in low winds, with the added bonus it is a lot less likely to suddenly let go at the worst possible moment. Another thing off the list!

edit: yes there is a twist between the blocks – I’m going to fix it



  1. That was a bit confusing but, hey, I don’t have an adjustable backstay. But the pics are looking alot better. New cam?

    • I’ve added a new pic to helpfully clarify it a bit! I used my work phone camera and just sent the pictures over – a bit more work but less grimy 😉

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