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Old 04-03-2002
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Sleeving Spars

The mast on my 1988 J/35 has a crack that runs horizontally around the mast. The crack is located about one foot above where the mast passes through the cabintop. The mast is keel stepped. In discussing the repair/replacement of the mast several people have mentioned a "sleeve" be placed around the mast. I am apprehensive about this type of repair. Does it work? Is it safe? Will it change the life of the mast? How will it change the value of the boat?

Sue & Larry respond:
We have many fond memories of racing on a beautiful J/35 with lots of good friends in years past. The concept of sleeving a mast is not new. For years, masts have been built out of two sections and sleeved together to form one long spar. When this is done, the sleeve is placed on the inside, and the mast is either pop-riveted, or the sleeve and mast are drilled and tapped. Check out boats in the 35-foot and up range next time you're in a marina and you may see some of these two-part masts we refer to. The joints in sleeved spars are usually placed in the middle of the mast, but whether or not an internal or external sleeve is necessary is a question we feel you should address directly to an experienced sparmaker.

It might be wise to present your problem to three separate sparmakers and gauge each one's answers and price projections accordingly before you make a final decision about whether to repair this mast. If you like, you can begin by contacting SailNet's spar division:, or by calling 1-800-234-3220, ext. 1219. You might want to discuss and explore at the same time what caused this crack in the first place.

As for resale value, in most instances a good repair job yields a stronger product than the original. Even so, however, the psyche of the buyer can and usually is affected by something out of the ordinary like sleeve in the spar. Best of luck!

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