Lowering the mast

Norv

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24 Jun 2021
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Hi all,

I am looking for some advice on my Colvic Watson 28.6 almost ready for her maiden sea trials after a year of refitting.

I have a radar dome to fit on the mast, The mast is on a stand about a meter off the deck and held in place by a single bolt. It has a Y yoke at the rear of the boat to hold the mast when down and one for the forward deck mount.
My question is can I lower it on the anchor winch, is it a two-man job is it easy to do?

If I lower it should I swivel on the bolt at the bottom of the mast?

Cheers for any advice
mast.jpg
 

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PlankWalker

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No its not easy to do!.
Its probably a 2 or3 man job. I wouldn't use a winch, to complicated and too narrow angle to the mast. Take a line from the fore stay to a strong point on the bow to widen the angle to the mast. or even a pile on the pontoon if its convenient.
There are 2 major problems in this operation.
1. When lowering and the cap shrouds go slack the mast will want to go sideways! You can put a man on each shroud to keep it central.
2. With the fore stay line on the bow, when the mast is 3/4 of the way down, the angle between the stay and the mast gets so acute that the mast will fall out of the sky onto the shoulder of the guy underneath controlling a slack fore stay line (ask me haw I know). A long crutch can be made to catch the mast before the critical angle is reached and lower it under control .

There are a lot of things that can go wrong in this operation and unless your really handy, I wouldn't attempt it.
Far less effort to use a bosuns chair and go up the mast for a radar dome.
 
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William_H

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As said it is fraught with problems. Definitely doable but have lots of friends and get lots of advice for first time until you are set up and sure.
As said essential, is a gin pole (or 2) set from near or abeam the mast base to the bottom of the forestay. Thus as mast approaches horizontal the forestay makes a big triangle to top of gin pole then to the tackle or winch cable.
If you don't as said the forestay makes as straight line along the mast with no geometry to take weight. There are lots of articles and pictures on this forum and web.
I think it ok to use anchor winch but most people use a 4 purchase tackle back to a halyard winch. Load is light at first but becomes very heavy as mast approaches horizontal.
ol'will
 

Just_sayin'

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Arrived. But thinking of a bit more east.
A long crutch can be made to catch the mast before the critical angle is reached and lower it under control .
I‘ve seen people use a wooden ladder very successfully.

It jams either side of the mast under the spreaders and can be walked back by two people ... the handholds (rungs) are numerous.

It can then be easily rested in the cockpit at a convenient angle.
 

Refueler

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If you have plenty of 'hands' then you can lower a mast by 'elevating' the forward attachment point ... ie taking jib / spinnaker halyard to a tall strong post forward ... but it needs extreme care to avoid the mast taking over as it pivots lower and lower. The anchor winch is not suitable as its on the deck and the line will be at too shallow an angle to the mast.

Diagram showing angles :



The Mast system you have with the substantial tabernacle is best and helps to reduce mast swing side to side when lowering ... instead of the small blade system I have. When lowering a mast - the people on board need to position themselves to reduce the need to move about - when they move - the boat will rock, mast will swing side to side. You can try keeping side shrouds to control it - but its not that easy.
Some people use a single gin pole clipped to front of mast to create a triangle .. but having tried that - I will never again ... even with 'guys' that pole was difficult to keep 90 degrees to the mast.

I eventually put together an A Frame and I am now capable of lowering and raising mast single-handed.

Two poles that are just slightly shorter than the distance from cap shroud deck fastening to stemhead. The forward ends have a through bolt, aft ends have wood blocks to protect deck, and long bolts to p;ass through cap shroud U deck fastenings. If you don;t have U fastenings ... then fore - aft lashings will do.
Basically and halyard or line from upper section of mast is made fast to the apex of the two poles ... you can then use main sheets / blocks to control the A frame .... as the front apex of A frame rises - the mast lowers. I am lucky that I have home quiet mooring - so my boat stays quiet and I can do single-handed. But if on a normal mooring ... a second person can look after mast to stop side to side swing by simply walking back along centreline of cabin top while mast lowers.

Here's a video of my frame in use ... which also shows clearly what happens when second guy ignores advice to NOT move to side !


I can honestly say that for many years ... decades I have worked masts .... and the A frame is IMHO the best and safest way if you don't have a crane / derrick ...

Here's another example from Youtube ...

 

Caer Urfa

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From past dealings with Colvic Watsons I can tell you it is not a good idea
Can it be done yes, but you take one hell of a risk even with four people.

Three years ago I surveyed a CW 25'-6" who suffered substantial damage when the owner tried to lower the mast with three others as once the mast starts to tilt to port or starboard you will not hold it.

Results were repair damage to the owners CW coach roof £875, new mast £1400 (second hand), but biggest damage was to the yacht next door where the mast fell on it , craneage to remove and re-step mast £300, part new rigging £700, gel coat repairs to coach roof £1800

Do it right and get a crane probably about £200 :)
 

Refueler

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From past dealings with Colvic Watsons I can tell you it is not a good idea
Can it be done yes, but you take one hell of a risk even with four people.

Three years ago I surveyed a CW 25'-6" who suffered substantial damage when the owner tried to lower the mast with three others as once the mast starts to tilt to port or starboard you will not hold it.

Results were repair damage to the owners CW coach roof £875, new mast £1400 (second hand), but biggest damage was to the yacht next door where the mast fell on it , craneage to remove and re-step mast £300, part new rigging £700, gel coat repairs to coach roof £1800

Do it right and get a crane probably about £200 :)
A frames have been successfully lowering / raising masts ever since masts have been around.

But you are correct about the swing of a mast - it is difficult to hold .... but with the substantial tabernacle he has - that helps reduce the risk.

My Snapdragon 23 with taller mast - but similar tabernacle ... myself and my 10yr old son - we used to lower / raise out on the swinging mooring ......

My present SR25 with heavy mast .... have raised / lowered it so often before and after A frame use ... its old hat now. And that with the deck blade foot system.

Getting ready ... raised connection point at bow .... pole :



Another view of getting ready :



Mast on its way up .... people careful not to 'rock the boat' :



Nearly there ... cap shrouds starting to assist keeping mast from falling to side :



Setting side Babystays and Capshrouds to hold mast ..... backstays slightly slacked to allow easier to pull forestay fwd to connect to stemhead.

..... The secret is to not have people moving side to side causing boat to roll ....

That same location - my home mooring - I actually can raise /lower mast single-handed with A frame.
 
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