Mast lowering the wrong way.


Well-known member
28 Jul 2003
West Australia
Went down to the club yesterday to help with race management. Saw a friend/acquaintance with the mast on his boat down. Went over to say hello and have a sticky beak. I was horrified. The boat is in the water in what we call a "pen" ie stern to the jetty and bow beetween two posts in the water.
The mast was reaching over the jetty about 80cms above the jetty. Not good when quite a few people needed to go out the jetty. He is near trhe shore.
The mast was resting on a piece of rag on the front of the sliding hatch cover about 70cms from the mast base/hinge. There was no post in any way to improve the angle of the forestay/tackle and no crutch. The leverage on the base was 'orrible.
I must have expressed some horror as I got him to raise the mast with me lifting from the jetty to about 45 degrees. The boat is 22ft mast head rig so not a heavy mast but not light either. There was alot of activity on the river so a lot of wash from boats and the mast was swinging from side to side. The cap shrouds did tend to check the swaying a fair bit.
I asked him about spin poles. The most common way here to improve the pull angle for the tackle. He dived inside and came out with 2 spin poles. He then attached them to 2 rings on the slopy transom. He didn't seem to know how they worked so I got him to tie a piece of rope between the tops with slack so this became the crutch when the mast was lowered onto it. At least then the mast was more stable.
The mast base was one with a spacing of lugs about 10cms apart with a pin through. The leverage on these lugs is huge with any sideways swing.
I had to go to my duties but was very unhappy at leaving him in this situation.
Now I love the fact that with boats you can make your own mistakes and do crazy things. I hate to criticise others certainly I have done many stupid things myself over the years. However with mast lowering you must think about it and plan ahead. Certainly you need helpers.
You must set up poles to improve the pull angle of the tackle /forestay. I don't know how he got it down without. Even using a sheet winch and 3 purchase tackle.
You must set up a crutch near the transom for the mast to land in so that it sits stabilised and you can transition from up to down fairly smartly. (the side swing danger time).
You must have helpers at least until you are very experienced with mast lowering.
I realised later that he had been asking about vhf problems and he intended to work on the VHF antenna. Even with the mast down low near the jetty the top was out of reach on the far side. So he would need to disconnect the mast and slide it forward base to the pullpit to reach the antenna.
No I could not wait to see the outcome. But felt quite unnerved at the possible disaster waiting to happen.
Yes I ma afan of self mast lowering but do be prepared. olewill


Well-known member
8 Aug 2013
SW Scotland
However with mast lowering you must think about it and plan ahead. Certainly you need helpers.
You must set up poles to improve the pull angle of the tackle /forestay.

When I had a 21' boat I regularly raised and lowered the 26' mast myself; no poles, no tackle. It just required, as you say, a little planning,

Even Chance

15 Jun 2010
My E Boat mast can raise/lower easily single handed with no poles etc.
I can walk it up all by myself from the cockpit with a pin in the base and the shrouds and backstay in place but slack, then nip forward with the forestay and make it off. Its better if you get someone out front to pull on a halyard to help, and keep it up when raised before getting the forestay attached, but not essential.

Lowering is best done with help on the halyard from someone, either round the roller on the bow, or someone out in front of the boat on the marina or pier. Im sure it could be done single handed, but havent risked the drop as yet....