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Old 11-09-2007
mallo mallo is offline
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Steppin Mast

We have two wooden masts on our 48ft 1939 steel ketch, they are removed annually for varnishing and for keeping dry over the winter months, so are stepped & un-stepped annually. I usually do it with just my father and it takes about an hour including the setting up & packing up of the crane (this is the longest part of the job).
The mast is deck stepped.
To step the masts we tend to lift the mast under the top set of spreaders (we have two so we are lifting in the first third of the mast from the top) off the trestles, lifting the foot on to a wooden block to skid on the road whilst the crane is lifting the mast from horizontal to vertical once its vertical they then lift it over the boat and lower till the foot is in the tabernacle and resting on the deck.
The next process is to make up the rigging, we have a lower inner forestay so we connect this first and then the runners, the mast will stay up at this and if we are in a hurry we will drop the crane hook down and disconnect it and let him go if he and we have time we will leave the crane connected and make up some of the other rigging, there isn’t any particular order we make things off we tend to start forward and work aft. Don’t tighten things up too much as you want to set up the mast later (check the rake, alignment etc) we then do the same with the mizzen.

Removing is fairly similar but in reverse.

I have stepped a friends keel stepped mast and that was fairly similar except as discussed before you need to line it up more accurately to get it through the hole in the deck with damaging the deck or the mast.

On thing we find works well is to make sure the strops are longer than the height of the mast (if you have the jib height) as this stops the hook and block bashing the mast (I value my varnish and mast!) although we tend to try and do the job with the boat aground (less movement trying to locate it).

We also have a very good crane driver who has been doing the job for in excess of 20 years and he wouldn’t crack an egg doing the job.

We don’t set up the mast using the loos gauge we just set it up till we think its OK and go on that, we aren’t a racing boat and the wooden masts don’t want to be too tight in the rigging, the main way to check the mast is straight is to run the main halyard down the centre line (our track) and fix to a point on the gooseneck in the centre and you can then look up the halyard and check the mast (track) is true to the halyard.
We also use it to the chain plates either side to check for alignment.


I hope this helps

Last edited by mallo; 11-09-2007 at 10:31 AM.
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