How easy is it to lower and raise a mast.....

Alskade

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I need to do a little work on the mast....replacing a tricolour, adding a windex, adding a pulley for the topping lift and straightening my aerial. How easy, in reality, is it to drop a mast and raise again without a plethora of problems?

Thanks in advance :encouragement:
 

Boathook

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Depends on the mast / boat size and whether it was designed to lower rather than lift out. To lower it really needs to be in a tabernacle and the shrouds in line with the mast pivot plus you require a pole to go out to the forestay. Sometimes (or in my case always) it is easier to use the yards crane.
 

Halo

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Dead easy - go to the boatyard - remove the boom and sails - take out the split pins from the turnbuckles - disconnect all the wiring going up the mast and tape it up- pay the yard to lower it.
 

earlybird

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You say earlier that your boat is 28ft. Even with things in your favour, some kit and several helpers who know what they're doing, I'd say that was near the limit for normal DIY, if that's what you're thinking of.
Results from a mistake are likely to be costly and could well cause injury.
 

Sandy

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Dead easy - go to the boatyard - remove the boom and sails - take out the split pins from the turnbuckles - disconnect all the wiring going up the mast and tape it up- pay the yard to lower it.
What Halo said.

You say earlier that your boat is 28ft. Even with things in your favour, some kit and several helpers who know what they're doing, I'd say that was near the limit for normal DIY, if that's what you're thinking of.
Results from a mistake are likely to be costly and could well cause injury.
Perhaps Alskade should call his/her insurance company to check if you are covered for this type of work would be in order. All of the yards that I have kept boats in want me well away from the crane when they lift the mast.
 

Aurai

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Has a simple A Frame made up of gas pipe by the look of it, still needs several assistants, but not difficult, as long as the mast is deck stepped that is!
 

William_H

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Around here (west Oz Swan River) most sail boats have to lower their mast to transit under traffic bridges to get to the ocean. This is done regularly by boats with mast up to 20 metres and more while under way. For myself recently I lowered the mast on my 21fter to fix wind pointer in abouit 30 minutes from go to wo while on swing mooring.
However one must prepare and modify the boat to make it easy and safe. It is still a bit of a chore/adventure /worry.
Firstly as said you must have a mast base that facilitates lowering almost always back wards. You must have a gin pole or most people here use 2 spinnacker poles. The single pole from the base of the mast to the forestay. Thus when the mast goes to near horizontal the gin pole forces the forestay up to give a decent pull angle on the forestay. Spin poles are attached near the gunwhale aprox abeam the mast joining at the forestay to swing upwards as it goes down.
You need a tackle 4 purchase with around 18 metres of rope.
You can use a halyard for lowering but be aware you will have a lot of weight and strain on the halyard. Forestay is stronger. You disconnect the forestay and fit the tackle in between the bow fitting and the forestay tackle as short as possible. Disconnect any baby stays going forward.
You will need a crutch of some sort to land the mast into mounted at the stern. Many use an A frame of crossed pieces of wood roped and stayed into place. Make this as high as you can reach the mast. ie 2 metres at least from the deck.
In my case with a high crutch I can leave boom and main sail attached but best disconnect goose neck if in doubt.
Now in the case of OP he may be able to work on the top of the mast from a high jetty even with a step ladder by mooring the boat to the jetty but angling the stern and mast head when down over the jetty.
If you can not reach the top for service you may have to bring the mast right down. This requires several people to help. Disconnect the base of the mast and all wiring and halyards. Be careful the mast does not tip top down base up when you disconnect. It may be close to tipping point. slide the mast forward one person under the crutch lifting/sliding the other person carrying the base forward until it can sit on pulpit then further forward until top of mast is over the stern.
Lift the top of the mast out of the crutch and down cushioning the mast on the cabin top on cushions/padding of some sort. I use a single post with a notch type support at the top for high crutch. It has a loop support down low for low support. The single pole is hard to support vertical but makes lifting the mast down very easy.
It is very heavy to hoist the mast by the tackle when near horizontal but much easier if mast is only lowered down to a high crutch.
Now the real problem is that once the mast is let swing backwards the cap shrouds go loose and there is no support to stop the mast swinging sideways. The huge leverage can damage the mast pivot very easily. A proper 2 post tabernacle provides better support but still may not be strong enough. If on the water the mast going to one side will heel the boat making mast more inclined to swing . Many people with mast head rig and inline cap shrouds have a steel plate or tube which extends the chain plate up to a point in line with the pivot axle. This means the cap shrouds stay tight and keep mast central all the way down the traverse. You may want to rely on 2 people on cabin top holding the mast central. Or you may use halyards down to the gunwhale abeam the mast which can be tightened as it goes down.
Typical fractional rig with shrouds aft of abeam the mast are worst. You might try a cable clamp on each cap shroud with a tackle running forward to the gunwhale so you can pull shroud forward increasing tension as it goes down.
I would suggest a serious sail boat owner come to grips with self lowering of mast simply because the top area of the mast needs maintenance and going up in a harness id for the birds. (IMHO). I reckon I have lowered and raised my mast about 50 times now so you cna get familiar with it. Just be careful the first time. There are lots of articles on mast lowering on this forum. 2 pictures. one of the purpose fitted rings in the side decks for spin pole attachment and one of the crutch for mast catching. ol'will
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claymore

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Dead easy - go to the boatyard - remove the boom and sails - take out the split pins from the turnbuckles - disconnect all the wiring going up the mast and tape it up- pay the yard to lower it.

Absolutely - the risk of damage to yourself and the boat is just too high to contemplate.
 

lw395

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28ft boat, the mast is likely too big to handle manually.
But it's possible if you can get access to a crane, or perhaps a Hiab on a truck on a high quayside at LW. You need to lift the mast from above its balance point to make it simple.
Possiby you can dry out against a high wall, leaning shorewards and reach the mast with a step ladder?
Or hire a cherry picker?
Personaly, I've been up the mast of a 28ft boat a few times, to do those kinds of jobs.
There are many threads on here about how to do so safely, you need to sort out your own way and be sure you can trust everything you are relying on.
I am assuming the boat is afloat?
 

Neeves

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Our yard in HK used to take our mast out, keel stepped, 33' (X-99) for us with large fork lift (the sort used to lift medium sized MoBos into racks). We had a strop on the upper spreader, attached to fork lift by someone up the mast (usually me) we then disconnected everything, mast held up with forklift, forklift lifted mast out of deck and lowered until within reach of spare hands. Moved with forklift to prepared location. We did this with yacht on the hard, we dry sailed, or up against concrete pier (both near where we were to work on the mast). Movement of the mast from yacht to mast rack was with the mast near vertical. It needs a good (fork) lift operator, spare hands (crew) and someone who does not mind mast work. The fork lift needs to be available for the time needed to disconnect (and re-connect). Everyone needs to know what is expected of them - its where team work is important.

Finding a yard that would allow you to this, today, might be the biggest problem.

You can sever, disconnect, the electrics in advance, labelling everything clearly. Halyards can also be retrieved in advance (unless, or excepting any needed to climb the mast).

Its actually not difficult - but the first time, as an owner, is a bit nerve racking.

Good Luck

Jonathan
 

Mister E

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If you're club has an A frame it is probably best to ask other club members who has used it.
You will definitely need help from people who have done this before.
If they say yes then remember it is your boat the could get damaged.
 

GHA

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I need to do a little work on the mast....replacing a tricolour, adding a windex, adding a pulley for the topping lift and straightening my aerial. How easy, in reality, is it to drop a mast and raise again without a plethora of problems?

Thanks in advance :encouragement:
If you need to ask then maybe a good time to seek some help..
Getting a good strong hinge could be the biggest practical hurdle.

http://www.ybw.com/forums/showthrea...hand-how-hard-can-it-be&p=6625854#post6625854
 

graham

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Manhandling a mast from a 28 foot yacht is not possible unless the foot of the mast is hinged or in a tabernacle a d you have an A frame to lower it.

If you have two friends who would raft up with you in the middle you can use a halyard from both to lift and lower.

Easier to go up a mast ladder or in a bosun's chair for jobs like that
 

Neeves

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There speaks a man who has never had a bulb go on a masthead light, a halyard jam on something, a sail that has never got stick or a halyard that has never got entangled in stuff when somebody has not kept it taught.

Or pays for someone to replace a bulb etc.

Why is mast work considered unusual, difficult or dangerous?

Jonathan
 

doug748

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I agree with earlybird, 28ft is about the limit I would consider, using improvised methods. I used to do the mast of a 26ft boat regularly, with two people, but you have to be organised. A crane is much easier, even an old wind up job on the quayside.

There are some useful videos on YouTube.
 
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I need to do a little work on the mast....replacing a tricolour, adding a windex, adding a pulley for the topping lift and straightening my aerial. How easy, in reality, is it to drop a mast and raise again without a plethora of problems?

Thanks in advance :encouragement:

most of those can be done with the mast up surely, adding a windex could be more difficult if no existing cables but the tricolour, pulley & aerial should be quick fixes up there, they would on my boat anyway and id be getting the bosons chair out.
 
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