Can a broken mast be repaired?

Thresher

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If a mast breaks, should cutting the shrouds and letting the whole rig go over the side be the first action to take?
Or is it worth trying to salvage something?
I know there are a lot of variables here but my main question is, can a broken mast be repaired?
 

Black Sheep

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The first action is to ensure the safety of the vessel.
That *might* mean cutting a mast free that is threatening to hole the hull.
The second action is to ensure the vessel can safely make harbour.
That *might* mean salvaging any usable sections of mast & rigging that could help with a jury rig.
The third action is to prevent damage to other vessels and the environment.
That *might* mean securing the mast and rigging on board.

If a mast has actually broken, I would not expect it to be economically repairable. But in a dismasting situation, I would not expect to be counting pennies of future repairs. It's a "survival" situation where safety of vessel and crew are higher priorities than scrimping on repair bills.
 

Jonny A

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Yes it can. I used to race on a boat, regular winner, mast had broken just above the spreaders and been repaired.
 

doug748

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If a mast breaks, should cutting the shrouds and letting the whole rig go over the side be the first action to take?
Or is it worth trying to salvage something?
I know there are a lot of variables here but my main question is, can a broken mast be repaired?

Inshore, with a crew, it might well be worth trying to get it ashore with no further damage. An older mast (they are generally less than new) with a break in an awkward position and the odds lengthen. Many masts were fabricated from sections, new so that is no problem but add a bit of corrosion and cosmetic damage and the new mast option starts to look attractive.

If it was a matter of paying for the thing yourself..... on a smaller boat with a clean break, then a DIY repair is certainly on the cards or a used replacement.

.
 

DownWest

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If a mast breaks, should cutting the shrouds and letting the whole rig go over the side be the first action to take?
Or is it worth trying to salvage something?
I know there are a lot of variables here but my main question is, can a broken mast be repaired?
As Tranona said: Very much depends on the break.
Black Sheep is making all sorts of assumptions and conditions.

Friend, several years ago, lost his ketch rig in gale conditions, but not far from the port. He lashed it all alongside after anchoring and got taken off by a naval vessel. When the gale abated he bought her back in (no engine, so a tow)
He bought the masts in and we spliced new sections in, but they were wood.
 
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Thresher

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As Tranona said: Very much depends on the break.
Black Sheep is making all sorts of assumptions and conditions.

Friend, several years ago, lost his ketch rig in gale conditions, but not far from the port. He lashed it all alongside after anchoring and got taken off by a naval vessel. When the gale abated he bought her back in (no engine, so a tow)
He bought the masts in and we spliced new sections in, but they were wood.
Thank you, I guess I am looking for real life experiences.
I often wonder what would I do if for example I were sailing my 27 footer a few miles offshore, iin moderate conditions, singlehanded with full sail up and the mast broke (let's say near the foot) and assuming that there is no danger of the mast punching a hole in the boat. Would it be possible for me to retrieve the rig on my own or would I just exhaust myself trying before realising that I should have just cut it free in the first place.
I'm guessing that a replacement mast and rig would cost as much as my boat is worth and my insurance is 3rd party only, so these are factors to consider.
 

dunedin

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Thank you, I guess I am looking for real life experiences.
I often wonder what would I do if for example I were sailing my 27 footer a few miles offshore, iin moderate conditions, singlehanded with full sail up and the mast broke (let's say near the foot) and assuming that there is no danger of the mast punching a hole in the boat. Would it be possible for me to retrieve the rig on my own or would I just exhaust myself trying before realising that I should have just cut it free in the first place.
I'm guessing that a replacement mast and rig would cost as much as my boat is worth and my insurance is 3rd party only, so these are factors to consider.
I would focus instead on regularly checking the rig so it is unlikely to ever happen.
Trying to retrieve a rig at sea singlehanded seems very unlikely to succeed - and very likely to risk injury or going overboard.
 

Tranona

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Thank you, I guess I am looking for real life experiences.
I often wonder what would I do if for example I were sailing my 27 footer a few miles offshore, iin moderate conditions, singlehanded with full sail up and the mast broke (let's say near the foot) and assuming that there is no danger of the mast punching a hole in the boat. Would it be possible for me to retrieve the rig on my own or would I just exhaust myself trying before realising that I should have just cut it free in the first place.
I'm guessing that a replacement mast and rig would cost as much as my boat is worth and my insurance is 3rd party only, so these are factors to consider.
First thing is that it is very unlikely to happen if the rig is in good condition. Second doubt you could retrieve it on your own or even 2 people so best to cut it away and concentrate on getting to safety. Third, breaks are likely to result in the mast being in more than one piece so repair is unlikely - although if you saved it you may also be able to save the sails. Yes, a new rig exceeds the value of an older 27' That is just one of the risks you are assuming if you don't insure - and why insurers request some evidence that the rig is in good condition.

Plenty of other things to worry about that are far more likely to happen than losing your mast.
 

DownWest

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I would focus instead on regularly checking the rig so it is unlikely to ever happen.
Trying to retrieve a rig at sea singlehanded seems very unlikely to succeed - and very likely to risk injury or going overboard.
Case I quoted was single handed. Main was 50ft long and keel stepped, broke between the deck and the crosstrees, gaff rig.
 

Laser310

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I've seen boats where breaks were sleeved with a section from a larger mast.

I think they also put a smaller section inside as well

the whole thing is riveted.

obviously, bend characteristics are changed.., and you would end up with stress concentrations.., but on older telephone pole - style masts, it probably doesn't matter very much.

On the other hand, if it's a rig that is meant to be more bendy, it's not going to work as well.
 

Mike Bryon

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Thank you, I guess I am looking for real life experiences.
I often wonder what would I do if for example I were sailing my 27 footer a few miles offshore, iin moderate conditions, singlehanded with full sail up and the mast broke (let's say near the foot) and assuming that there is no danger of the mast punching a hole in the boat. Would it be possible for me to retrieve the rig on my own or would I just exhaust myself trying before realising that I should have just cut it free in the first place.
I'm guessing that a replacement mast and rig would cost as much as my boat is worth and my insurance is 3rd party only, so these are factors to consider.
When I was in the Grenadines a passing offshore singlehanded cat lost its rig. The guy managed to get enough of the rig, lines sails on board to make very slow progress under engine into the bay but injured his hand pretty badly in the process. A local boat helped tow him to the village quay but then wanted salvage rights and took his rib and engine in payment! It took about 10 people from the village to haul and secure the rig onboard (after a lot of discussion he paid them 30EC each for the help) and motored off to Trinidad to arrange repairs. It was a proper drama.
 

B27

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I know a few people who've broken masts racing, catching the backstay on something is a popular method.
A lot of stuff can be saved. Boom, furler running rigging etc, even if the mast can't be spliced.

It's not really acceptable to dump a rig in the sea unless there's a real safety imperative.
Even then, in shallower water you could attach a line and a fender and retrieve it later perhaps?

Wood and carbon masts are more mend-able than ali!
 

westernman

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If a mast breaks, should cutting the shrouds and letting the whole rig go over the side be the first action to take?
Or is it worth trying to salvage something?
I know there are a lot of variables here but my main question is, can a broken mast be repaired?
Yes.
But not with the tools and parts you are likely to have on board mid-atlantic.
 

Minerva

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Thank you, I guess I am looking for real life experiences.
I often wonder what would I do if for example I were sailing my 27 footer a few miles offshore, iin moderate conditions, singlehanded with full sail up and the mast broke (let's say near the foot) and assuming that there is no danger of the mast punching a hole in the boat. Would it be possible for me to retrieve the rig on my own or would I just exhaust myself trying before realising that I should have just cut it free in the first place.
I'm guessing that a replacement mast and rig would cost as much as my boat is worth and my insurance is 3rd party only, so these are factors to consider.
Next time your mast is down for winter, try standing near the foot of the mast, perhaps even gooseneck level and picking the whole mast up. In that situation it will not have any sails in the water adding weight and resistance to being picked up so will be (comparatively speaking) much lighter than if it was a mast overboard situation.

That should give you an indication on how successful your attempts are likely to be.

After trying that; check your rig and replace if needed. Then buy a good set of bolt croppers and hope you’ll never need them.
 

Thresher

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Minerva:

Next time your mast is down for winter, try standing near the foot of the mast, perhaps even gooseneck level and picking the whole mast up. In that situation it will not have any sails in the water adding weight and resistance to being picked up so will be (comparatively speaking) much lighter than if it was a mast overboard situation.
That should give you an indication on how successful your attempts are likely to be.


I have done this. It is heavy.

After trying that; check your rig and replace if needed.

Professionally replaced. 9 months old.

Then buy a good set of bolt croppers and hope you’ll never need them.

I have bolt croppers, I hope I never need them.

I sense anger in this reply and some others. I don't know why.
 

Daydream believer

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Even if one does manage to get a mast alongside, the boat will be rolling violently, if there is any sea running. Getting every single line aboard & securing it, with a part hoisted set of sails in the way, will be difficult. I have broken a couple of dinghy masts & the mast on our silhouette & even on those the amount of stray lines seem endless.
You only need one round the prop & you are in real trouble
 
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