What Does Rigging Mean on a Boat?

What is rigging? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it’s lines and chains used aboard a ship, especially in working with sail and supporting masts and spars. 

While that definition is accurate, we've progressed further than that when it comes to boat rigging. We’ll expand on that definition by including any interaction you're going to have with your boat, whether it’s on the control side, the gauges side, or basically any point at which you're working with, monitoring, or adjusting your boat. Here’s a basic guide on what it means to rig a boat.

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NOTE: The video above was published in 2019 when we launched our Yamaha Rigging Catalog, but that catalog is no longer available. Our current rigging catalog can be found here.

Boat Rigging Interaction Points

Three main points of interaction on a boat are:

Controls: Steering, shifting, and throttle response. 

Gauges: Instruments that tell you what’s going on with the boat: speed, trim, fuel level, etc.

Electronics: Accessories such as fish-finders, depth finders, GPS, radar, and any other instruments that tell you what’s going on around your boat.

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How to Choose Rigging Parts for Your Boat

So how do you best determine what type of rigging you need for your boat? That depends on how you’re going to use it. For example, do you need a satellite system? If you've just got a lake pontoon boat, probably not. All that information is likely more than you need for a simple lake boat versus an offshore boat. 

What is boat rigging

A basic system with standard controls — shift, throttle, steering — plus a tachometer to measure RPMs, and gauges to read oil pressure and engine temperatures is the bare minimum of what you need. However, if you're going to go offshore, you’ll need more information for your boat, as well as more controls for both downstairs and up on a flying bridge. 

What is rigging boat controls

Three basic things you need to determine to find rigging parts for your boat are:

  • What type of boat you have (pontoon, jet boat, center console, etc.)
  • What you use your boat for (offshore, fishing, racing, etc.)
  • What engine(s) the boat uses (single engine, twin DEC control engines, sterndrive, etc.)

Boat Rigging Example: Control Cables

Let’s say you've already determined which controls you want to use for an outboard engine application, and now you need to find out how long the control cable needs to be. 

What is boat rigging

The rule of thumb is to measure from the control unobstructed all the way back to the centerline of the outboard, and then add 4 feet. 

What is boat rigging cable measurements

At that point, you want to then round up to the next highest length of cable that's available. 

Boat rigging measuring cables

You may need to replace an existing cable because it's worn out, getting hard to use, or just not working even after you’ve lubed and maintained it. The simplest way to do that is just to line it up and measure it tip-to-tip, then use that measurement to order the part. Or you can simply look on the side of the sheath for the part number, then take that number, cross-reference it and order the new equivalent of it. 

Boat Rigging: Gauges

Once again, rigging a boat all comes down to what type of boat you have and what you use it for. So if your boat is mainly for use on a lake, you're not going to need as many marine instruments as you would for a boat you use offshore. 

Boat rigging guide gauges

You’ll want to have at minimum gauges for the basics: RPM, engine temp, oil pressure, as well as an hour meter that records engine use time so you can keep up with maintenance. And if you're heading offshore, you should invest in a good LCD display. That's going to give you all the information the engine provides, and it can make the difference between being stranded out in the ocean and making it back to port safely. 

These are just some of the basics of rigging. If you need any assistance finding rigging parts for your boat, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you out. 



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