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Old 12-21-2005
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carbon fiber mast & lightening

A broker told a friend that if a carbon fiber mast is hit by lightening, you might never know about it and then one day, crash, the mast might break in half. He said that lightening will destroy the mast, melt it sort of. But, since this cannot be seen, you''ll never know until you are putting it under pressure and it self destructs. I''ve looked all over the web for supporting material on this issue but cannot find anything. We are considering a Freedom 35 and are wondering if this is true. Thanks for the advice. Faith
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Old 12-21-2005
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carbon fiber mast & lightening

Faith,

In my long search for my current boat (a Pearson 33---so am I to assume you''ve moved on from looking at one of those?) I spent quite a bit of time lurking on Sailnet email lists for several manufacturers I was interested in. You can learn a lot doing that, just reading the problems owners are having, issues with factory support, etc. Freedom was one of the lists I was on. I saved a couple of emails from that list I will send you separately. One is about a mast that came down in very benign conditions.

While not saying yes or no to your question, it is possible for carbon fiber masts to have damage (lightening strike or otherwise) that you can''t see, or damage that looks to be cosmetic but isn''t. For example, if the boat you are looking at has what appears to be cosmetic cracks in the mast -- have the mast x-rayed if you''re really interested in the boat. One big con in the carbon fiber mast column is that if you have to replace a mast, it''s very big bucks.

Otherwise, I sat next to a guy at a wedding once who owned a Freedom 35 and loved the boat. It was his second Freedom in fact. This was before I knew anything about possible problems with the mast so didn''t get that far with him.
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Old 12-23-2005
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carbon fiber mast & lightening

A club member is on his third carbon fibre mast boat also having had two Freedoms. It really is nice to not have the shrouds, but it does change the dynamics of the boat too.

Yes, you normally can''t "see" anything when a carbon fibre mast will fail, but then you can''t really see all that much in a conventional stayed mast either. All things are not perfect but I''m not sure how unequal they are. A stayed mast has more points of possible failure and you''ll need to replace standing rigging on a regular basis. My 51 ft mast will take about $4K to re rig just the SS cable.

In the end it is just a percentage but you''ll only own just one.
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Old 12-24-2005
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carbon fiber mast & lightening

You may not notice damage to the mast if you''re hit by lightning, but chances are that the tangle of melted or missing instruments at the masthead will provide clues to any exciting events that may have taken place, even if you''re not aboard. Then you can have the mast checked.

If you worry about lightning-damaged masts suddenly giving way later, think about getting a hit with a wooden mast . The electric charge, not conducted by the wood overly well, superheats the moisture in the wood cells and interior into steam after about .004 seconds, and blows the mast to bits. No surprises later!
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Old 01-05-2006
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carbon fiber mast & lightening

Thats a good point! I saw a tree explode once when it got hit by lightning.It didn''t crack it literally exploded in several areas.
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