Lowering the mast

Norv

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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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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.
 

Grith

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It continues to amaze me how the whole lowering the mast thing becomes such a stress for so many yacht owners. It’s all a matter of some fairly simple engineering.
Many sailers in Western Australia have to lower their mast whilst underway in a busy shipping and high traffic motorboat area due to two bridges over the river at Fremantle to get to Rottnest a popular offshore island holiday destination. (Fremantle hosted the first America’s cup defence outside of America for over 100 years if I remember correctly)
The usual method is twin spinnaker poles with some form of multi purchase or winch system with the side stays or baby stays lower section solid to the level of the mast foot and braced in some way.
My own 28 foot Imexus built in Poland has this system actually cleverly built into the yacht which remains connected at all times allowing very quick mast lowering for bridges or powerlines. So quick in fact that generally up and down doesn’t even change our cruising under motor speed when striking an overhead obstacle.
640DE5AF-3210-4506-A64F-7D7393F86F7B.jpeg
The system consists of a built in A Arm made of stanchion matching stainless tube with an intergrated block system and a matching foredeck mounted block system which then has the line run back to a cockpit sheet winch. Along with this the baby stays are mounted at mast base level and maintain lateral tension keeping the mast straight.
All that is required is to take up the tension on the system on the sheet winch and then remove the safety locking pin on the bow and lower away. Going up just entails fairly light work on the sheet winch to raise the mast again then for safety’s sake replacing the locking pin taking the strain off the raising line.
In fact the whole system is so stable we recently didn’t bother to put it back up until morning having dropped it just around sunset. 1D169BD6-53B1-45CB-892E-64F069E8D24A.jpeg
 
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Refueler

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I checked over a Westerly Pageant years ago ... guy had died and widow was selling ....

In immaculate condition ... and guy had modified cap shroud attachments to be in line with mast pivot. He was a professional metalworker employed on Military Helicopter maintenance.
He was a regular for French canals and set the system for single handed operation. Even the forestay with furler had quick release system .... brilliant.

Later I heard another well known Yacht Surveyor had inspected same boat and in his list 'to-do' list for widow - was to remove the extended chain plates and revert to original. He also put to replace the perfectly good Volvo engine with new engine HE would supply ... as well as he would 'dispose' of the old. List also had for full Osmosis treatment - despite the boat had been done before and was 'dry' .... I use a Skipper which is far more penetrative and accurate than the Tramex he used.
Luckily for the Widow - boat was trailered to pal of mine who ran a repair facility. He did his own checks - ignoring surveyors instructions not to (wonder why ...) ... found same as me and informed the Widow that he was reluctant to carry out such unnecessary work.
Sadly she fell for surveyors BS and has the chainplates taken off ... she also insisted engine out ...
Before surveyor could 'grab' them - my mate boxed up plates for her and placed deep in locker on board for any future buyer to find (with little note what they were) ... engine was valued and an official offer given to her which she accepted. At same time she was given proper pricing for the engine surveyor wanted to supply ...
Boat was given a good clean and sanding underhull and a single guard coat at cost price ...

Names withheld - but if that guys still alive - he knows who he is ..... needless to say he was shown the door quite smartly.
 

neil_s

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It is feasible to do - and by one person, but you need to fully think through each step of the way and prepare all the necessary kit. As Refueller says above, you need an 'A' frame. Your picture is not clear, but if you have a proper tabernacle, the mast does not tend to wander sideways, gaining some support from the 'A' frame. I suspect, though, that you have a pillar on the deck with the mast in a shoe on top with a single bolt. In that case you will need to arrange some temporary shrouds to keep the mast on the centre-line. I have a traveller that slides in the mast track to take the shrouds. This is held up the mast by the main haliard. I use a tackle to lower the mast, with the fall brought back to the cockpit so that it can be surged around a winch. As you lower, you take up on the main haliard to keep the temporary shrouds taught. This on a 28 foot boat. If you arrange to do the whole job from the cockpit, you can be just where you need to be to catch the mast as it settles into the crutch. Putting it back up is much less heart-stopping! - but remember you will have the added weight of your new radar.
 

William_H

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It is feasible to do - and by one person, but you need to fully think through each step of the way and prepare all the necessary kit. As Refueller says above, you need an 'A' frame. Your picture is not clear, but if you have a proper tabernacle, the mast does not tend to wander sideways, gaining some support from the 'A' frame. I suspect, though, that you have a pillar on the deck with the mast in a shoe on top with a single bolt. In that case you will need to arrange some temporary shrouds to keep the mast on the centre-line. I have a traveller that slides in the mast track to take the shrouds. This is held up the mast by the main haliard. I use a tackle to lower the mast, with the fall brought back to the cockpit so that it can be surged around a winch. As you lower, you take up on the main haliard to keep the temporary shrouds taught. This on a 28 foot boat. If you arrange to do the whole job from the cockpit, you can be just where you need to be to catch the mast as it settles into the crutch. Putting it back up is much less heart-stopping! - but remember you will have the added weight of your new radar.
I don't think you could ever rely on the tabernacle or mast base to control, sideways swing. If you are on the water the swing brings weight to one side of boat giving more force to the swing. Yes your idea of temporary shrouds can control swing. On my fractional rig I have used clamp on the shroud about 1 metre from bottom and a line from that point forward then back to winch to tension the stays as the mast goes down. However being a light mast I mostly just use a person on cabin top to control mast sway and do it all PDQ. There are other methods wityh main shrouds or temprorary shrouds pivoting on points exactly abeam and correct height to the mast pivot. ol'will
 

davidpbo

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It looks to me as though it is a raised pivot point rather than a tabernacle.

I used to raise the mast (10m length) on a Jenneau Tonic 23.5 ft trailerable yacht using an aluminium scaff pole as a gin pole and ratchet straps. One pair as temporary baby stays to steady the mast and one pair to steady the forward end of the gin pole. The fixing point of other end of the straps was the edge of the deck and at the same height as the pivot point of the mast so it all pivoted together. I would be happy to provide more detail if required.

In the case of the O.P with a raised pivot point, a more substantial system fo the strap pivot points would need to be made.

For a one off job a crane would probably be easier if there is one on site.

I
 
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