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greencaptn 07-09-2007 02:40 PM

Mast Corrosion?
I have a 1973 Albin Vega that I am slowly outfitting for a post hurricane season sail to the Virgin Islands. I just bought the boat a couple months ago and when climbing the mast today to look at the light at the top, noticed the mast itself has some pitting/corrosion in the Aluminum. The surveyor never mentioned anything and I didn't ask him b/c I hadn't noticed it myself. I am currently in fresh water on Lake Champlain where the boat has been for most of its life. Should I do anything to the mast before I head into the salt water and should I be concerned about the strength of the mast (even though the visible corrosion is minimal: you could fill every hole with two or three pieces of chewing gum.) Thanks in advance for the advice. --Richard

sailingdog 07-09-2007 03:12 PM

I am willing to bet that the pitting and corrosion was caused by galvanic corrosion between a mast fitting, now long removed, and the mast. For corrosion to set in on a fresh water mast is fairly unusual otherwise.

I would fill the holes with thickened epoxy or have a rigging shop make up a reinforcing sleeve, if it really worries you.

labatt 07-09-2007 03:48 PM

Surveyors tend to only survey the spars where they can see them, so unless the mast is down or you paid for a full rigging survey, they generally won't comment on corrosion at the top of the mast. At least this is what I've been told. Our aluminum mast had a bunch of corrosion on it. The paint was flaking pretty heavily in certain spots where dissimilar metals had caused galvanic corrosion to occur. We had a rigger do an inspection, and based upon his recommendation we put a reinforced aluminum gooseneck on the boom where the majority of the pitting was occuring. According to the rigger, unless we were to reseal the entire mast, working on individual areas to get rid of corrosion won't make much of a difference. If corrosion has already occured, it will get worse when you get into salt water. We're on Lake Champlain ourselves, having brought our boat from saltwater, and the corrosion on our mast has slowed dramatically.

JomsViking 07-09-2007 04:11 PM

The original mast of the Vega was relatively thick-walled, so I wouldn't be too concerned, however I'd have to disagree with the idea that only a full reseal of the mast makes sense - corrosion often starts where either dissimilar metals has been in touch OR where something has chipped the mast - It makes very good sense to touch up on those spots, especially in saltwater. As SailingDog stated, since the boat has been lying in freshwater, it is probably galvanic corrosion from a fitting, I would also do as he proposes - in addition to that I'd visually inspect the entire mast for scratches and touch up on those with what we call "poor man’s eloxation" - You can buy different brands of eloxation-paint for aluminum on spray cans for a few bucks, and even if it only improves the appearance of your mast it’s worth it. If you have the time and energy to do a complete “reseal”, you can do that yourself with two-part epoxy paint, but you’ll have to remove all of the fittings + the original eloxation before painting, so it will take a loooong time.
Congrat's on the Vega, it's a tough little boat that can take you anywhere.

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