A couple of E33 R H questions

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
After Mike changed his E-33RH backstay adjuster from the orig. multipart line to the SailTec hydraulic adjuster, I replaced my original equip. Navtec with the same brand. https://www.sailtec.com
Maybe not a better solution, but one that works easier than the original multi-sheave idea. I recall pulling some serious force on that, and it took real 'grunt'... and I was a lot younger then. :)

Sidebar: from the 'net, it appears that the NavTec products are still for sale overseas. I sort of recall them being acquired by Lewmar, but that was quite a while ago.


Member II
The O.E.M Backstay adjusting system is (was) a true "Rube Goldberg"! Dual 6 to i tackles connected with a wire - a wire sheeve rides the connecting wire and terminates at the backstay. for an approx 12 to i system (which I found to be less than adequate). After part of the comples system failed, I elected to replace it with hydraulic . Replacing & improving all the tackle turned out to be significantly more expensive than re-rigging and installing a hydraulic system. As I recall, I also had the backstay replaced at that time. This was one of many, many improvement I made to the boat over the years I owned it. The new owner has continued the "tradition". After all, a "Boat" is defined as: "A hole in the water into which you pour all your money"! Enjoy you E33!


Member III
After part of the comples system failed, I elected to replace it with hydraulic . Replacing & improving all the tackle turned out to be significantly more expensive than re-rigging and installing a hydraulic system. As I recall, I also had the backstay replaced at that time.
It's definitely on my list of things to place, but not so high on the list :).. A quick perusal of hydraulic backstay adjusters online reveals that they are not cheap plus you have all the labor of adding new backstay wire - so I am going to guess this is a 2-3K upgrade. Also, I'm not sure how much I will be adjusting the backstay at this stage.

My main concern is integrity of the rig and mast, so for now I think I am going to have the rigger "back it up" with a 2nd line that will catch it in it's maximum position if there is a failure with any part of the system.

Keith Parcells

Sustaining Member
Thank you all for the discussion and pictures of the OEM backstay adjuster. I see the serious shortcomings, as described.

Kevin, it sounds like you are on the right track!

Bill Baum

Member II
Great- a post on the E33!!
This is Bill Baum. We have E33 #5, just second owner, and have owned it for 20 years. Fractional rig, Schaefer spar. The boat came with the running backstays, but the previous owner said he never used them, and we never have (tangs are still on the stern). We raced the boat in a spinnaker fleet pretty hard for 12 years, flew the chute up to 30 knots, and never had a problem. Have now cruised the boat from Lake Ontario to Grenada in the Southern Caribbean and back, and no concerns in seas up to 10 feet. The boat started with all rod rigging, but the backstay has been changed to wire. We just finished our most recent inspection of all rod heads and they look fine. The boat still has the original backstay mechanical purchase, all exterior to the hull, I think 30:1 with the three cascades. (the backstay is shortened about 6" when I pull in 15' of line). It would be nice to have independent control of headstay tension to flatten the headsail, but the complexity of the running backstays are too much for me...

In the photo under the cockpit - the large angle brackets are the original quadrant rudder stops. The quadrant has a sturdy round fitting that descends below the quadrant, and the round fitting hits these tops and prevents over-rotation of the rudder. The boat either had a wheel originally or was built with that assumption.

Some may know that we have had the mast step collapsing on out boat. I've got another thread on that project and the good news is that the repair is almost complete. I will update that other thread soon. The short story is that there is a massive hardwood timber within the rib the mast step sits on and if water gets to it and it rots the wood the fiberglass alone may not hold up. We have gone with an "all plastic" repair, guided by the Naval Architect who worked at Ericson when the boat was built. I will update that thread soon....

I think it's great to find more of the E33 owners. I will watch for any private messages - I have benefited from contacting others in the past.
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Member III
Thanks for the great info ! I had a rigger look at the boat and the running backstays and he said they were absolutely essential for the fractional rig ( or it’s possible you could bend the mast if not used ) , yet all E-33 owners have said they didn’t have them and have had no troubles even in rough and/or racing conditions . So I’m a little confused . The mast ( which is original) is not a noodle . It has a pretty big section . The normal backstay is taking a load . When single handing , it would be nice to optionally use them ( and treat them more as a rig tuning tool rather than an essential control ) because it adds additional complications when tacking or gybing alone ..

For the mechanical backstay, how is it supposed to work ? . There are two lines that are in the cockpit that go into little slots in the transom . Do I tighten one and loosen the other to make it go in one direction and reverse for the other director, like a traveler?


Member III
A rigger came to my boat yesterday and one project we looked at was the backstay adjuster since I wasn't completely sure how it worked. As discussed prior in this thread, the E-33 has a "below deck" purchase system near the the transom that drives the cable outside the boat (originally wire but it was converted to dyneema synthetic rope on my boat) that adjusts tension on the backstay. We were able to get below deck and crawl around back there. I was originally had some reservations about doing this since I am tall and don't particularly like small confined spaces with only a small lazarette door as an entrance/exit, but after the rigger went in there (and proved that it is survivable), I went down with my camera and was able to take a better picture. there are actually two sets of blocks. One set is a bit obscured. Note the "slanted" roof of the space is actually the transom. the dyneema line exits around a small pulley which I think is visible in the other photos posted.

It is kind of difficult to take a picture while down there (I used the timer mode on my iphone which helps). The line/blocks are all in good shape. I think just the dyneema could be replaced.... I think net-net - although it's kind of weird, I like this system and I'll keep it for a while rather than spend $$$ on a new external backstay.



Member III
Looks like a great system to me. Like everything else back there it will require frequent inspection, awkward as that may be.
It turned out to be not as awkward as it looked.. My 6'2 frame fits through the lazarette hatch but I was worried about how to morph from a pretzel sitting to laying down on the bottom, but it worked out somehow. good news is that the rigger (who has lots of experience and owned lots of boats including an express 37) thought the inside of the hull was really clean with no sign of moisture or mildew.