Mast down - hints & tips | Sailing Blog - Technical Hints and Tips - Sailing Television

Mast down - hints & tips

This was the first time to take down the mast on Distant Shores II. Taking the mast down is biggish job but we have done it 3 times before on Distant Shores 1 - similar size and fittings, and also on Two-Step (6 times). We spent two days removing sails, building the horses and pulling out halyards etc.

Here are a few hints to happier “de-masting”

Plan and prep - carrying the mast on deck. I did a scale drawing to plan out the mast horses in advance since we would have to pass under a clearance of 3 meters. I used the drawing to plan how much lumber to buy. The drawing shows I will have to fold the dodger (sprayhood) down to clear the mast. The yellow box from the waterline is for a clearance of 3.1 meters. Different canals have different clearances. We need to clear 2.9 for the Nivernais so I don’t think we will take that route!

Unrigging the mast - make notes and take pix so you can rerig it all. It makes sense now but will I remember which line went in which block when we come to put it back up?

Wiring - remember to disconnect wires that come out of the mast - in our case VHF antenna, radar, lights and wind instrument. Label and photograph connectors to help with reassembly. I put the “1” and “2” labels on the identical grey wires with Sharpie” permanent marker.

VHF - with the mast down we loose our VHF radio - we carry a small “rubber ducky” VHF antenna which can be connected where the mast feed is disconnected. Now our VHF and even our AIS works so we can use our radio to talk to locks etc. Note our AIS is the Raymarine unit that multiplexes the signal from the masthead. So the one little rubber duck will do both and we see ships coming on our AIS.

Main support aft - I have made this one as a tripod so it also supports the mast for-and-aft. This is very important as we don’t want the mast to start sliding when we cross a wake.

Forward support - ours holds about 45% of the weight with a cross to stop it tipping and most weight supported on the centre post.

Block to support front of mast at bow. This will be lashed better to also help support against the mast moving for and aft.

Over-engineer - we don’t want this falling down - I have used a heavy 2by6 lumber (50mm X 150mm) for main supports and 50X100 or smaller ones (2 by 4 inches)

Its is bolted together with heavy 10mm carriage bolts and oversize washers to attach the timbers. There is another bolt hidden that connects the 2 cross members.

Carpet or rubber to protect the mast and deck. It also spreads the load to timbers and also where the stands rest on deck.

This is from a doormat that was rubber and carpet together. Most people use carpet scraps but we didn’t have any.

Boom lying on deck - we used a cushion to spread the load and protect the fibreglass.

We planned to have the mast hang over the stern by 2.5 meters. This way I see it easily while manoeuvring from the helm. The bow hangs over by less than a meter so it is easy to judge. It was tougher with Two-Step which had a keel-stepped mast - so the overhang was more than our deck-stepped mast.

Another advantage of a small bow overhang is we can come in bows-to and not block the dock.

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