What is a Stanching Stick?

Stays are wooden ropes, cables, or hooks on sailing boats that pass fore and aft along the centreline to the stern, deck, hull, or other main masts that serve to support the mast itself. A stay is often part of the main rigging and is used as a support for the heavier weight of a single mast. There are two basic types of stays, reef and main. Reef stays are long slung, flexible materials that have large counterweights on each end to counterbalance the continuous movement of the boat during its motion through the water. Main stays are fixed in place and are generally used for single masted sailboats. They have no counterweights on them, and their length is generally longer than the reef stays.


As the name suggests, the stem remains the same throughout a boat’s journey; while the stem mast which may be on either side of the stay serves to support the stern. Thestay is a very important part of any sailing vessel as it provides the foundation for other stays and lines. The stay is made up of three parts: the boom, the post, and the stern clew. The boom is the large block that supports the mainmast, while the post consists of a clew groove. The stern clew is a vertical piece of wood laid across the clew groove on the stern of the stay.

The mast, which is a triangular structure supported by the mainmast, the steering wheel, and the rudders, rest atop the stay. The boom and clew form the superstructure. The stogy, which is a straight piece of wood on which the clew is laid, is the heaviest part of a stay. There are many styles of stays. While an open stern is traditional, modern stays have been developed with a sloop design in the double mast configuration. The most basic stay setup is made up of two masted stays which are almost identical from manufacturer to manufacturer.