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Re: how to drop a mast on a soling?
A tall 15 foot A-frame ladder with a very wide base should be placed on the stern's centre-line about seven feet behind the stern. Two people are required: one to go up the ladder and one to steady the base. Place the ladder behind the stern so that a person can comfortably stand on the ladder and receive the top section of the mast as it is lowered.
Next make sure that your boat is properly supported so that two people can safely walk on the deck, one all the way to the bow to release the forward stay while the other person steadies the mast.
Prior to this step, a long rope must be attached to the main sheet halyard. The bottom of the main sheet halyard should be tied off or put in a clutch so that it cannot be pulled out of the mast. The long rope should be fed out over the bow of the boat to a person who can stand on the ground along the boat's centre-line at least 40 feet in front of the boat. This is the person who will play the key role in lowering the mast. Then the person on the fore-deck near the bow can release the forestay shackle.
Leave the top and spreader shrouds connected to the deck. Make sure they are in the mid-position to help keep the mast centred once the mast lowering process begins.
After the forestay shackle has been released, the person returns to the forward cockpit and steps down into the cockpit, with the person still hold the back of the mast in place. The person who has just stepped down into the cockpit will be responsible for keep the back base of the mast held firmly in place so that it will continue to butt up against the back part of mast-base extrusion. This acts as the pivot point for lowering the mast.
With tension applied to the rope connected to the main sail halyard, the person who had been keeping the mast steady steps out of the cockpit and moves to stand in the centre of the aft deck just behind the cockpit. This person should be stradling the tiller, which should be firmly centred by some means to avoid a potential tripping hazard. The back deck person will be the first person to receive the mast as it is being lowered toward the back of the boat. The person on the ladder must act as a spotter for the person on the aft deck to insure that this person does not trip or fall off the rear of the boat. The person at the base of the mast must continually communicate that the base of the mast is secure and not in danger of sliding out of place suddenly. The person on the rear deck must also properly communicate with the person on the ground who is responsible for lowering the top of the mast.
The rule is proceed slowly. By the time the mast reaches the outstretched arms of the person on the back deck the weight of the mast becomes very heavy on that person as they will then walk back. It is critical for the person holding the rope at the front of the boat do his best to take as much of this weight as possible but as the mast goes back the further it goes back the less control that person has to take any of the weight.
By the time the person on the rear deck is at the stern the person on the ladder should be able to reach up and take some of the load. For this person it is critical that the person feel secure on the ladder. As the person takes some of the weight the person on the rear deck shifts to the side to let the mast drop down along the centre-line. By the time the mast reaches his waist the mast should be well supported by that person and the person on the ladder. As the mast is lowered to just above the deck the person in the cockpit will lift up the base of the mast and move it forward toward the front of the boat. Fenders should be ready at hand to support the weight of the mast and keep it off the deck. A fender pre-placed near the traveller track should be ready to accept the weight of the mast. After the mast is on the deck, the shrouds and rear stay can be disconnected.
If you are trailering the boat with the mast on the deck you will find that the mast will overhang the bow and stern by a few feet.