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post #21 of 25 Old 12-02-2010
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Carbon fiber is only somewhat conductive and that is why it tends to delaminate or just explode when struck by lightning, if not properly grounded, causing more damage than a standard aluminum mast. Aluminum is far more conductive and therefore it can defuse the electricity easier. This is why carbon fiber masts must have an insert to help conduct the electricity. The idea that carbon fiber somehow attracts lighting is completely false.

As to the qualities of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber does not ding like your car door as previously stated. It is stronger than aluminum and if manufactured properly it can actually be tuned to bend at different points and to different degrees. It can actually bend farther and return to its original position than aluminum if that is what it was designed to do. It is far more expensive mostly because the raw materials are more expensive and it requires much more knowledge to work with correctly, not to mention a huge pressurized oven. The question is it worth it, really depends on personal preference. I have a carbon fiber road bike and I wouldn't ride anything else but that is just me.
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post #22 of 25 Old 12-02-2010 Thread Starter
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Thanks guys!

After having considered all posts and considering my boat mast will not be stepped down frequently I would say that a Carbon mast is a better mast, with a big weak point that was referred by Dan and others: If not conveniently prepared against, a Carbon mast can suffer severe destruction by a casual lightening.

Mac and Vols say that their masts are prepared to the eventuality, but after reading the information Selden has available about their masts, I have not seen anything that indicates their masts are prepared to minimize a lightning strike.

As the boat in question has a Selden carbon mast I sent them this message and I hope they reply, to me or to this forum:

"I hesitate in buying a boat with a Carbon mast. I have heard too many stories of masts hit and destroyed by lighting. It is said that if a mast should have an insert to help conduct the electricity or have lightening arresters installed. I have not seen anything about it on your product description. Are Selden Carbon masts prone to be destroyed by a casual lightning?
If you want you can answer on line, since this is being discussed on a public forum:"

Carbon mast life expectancy


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post #23 of 25 Old 12-03-2010
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Originally Posted by tommays View Post
So why did you carbon guys not go with the carbon standing rigging for the full inprovement

For the "full improvement" I went with no standing rigging with my carbon fiber masts. Does your aluminum mast have aluminum standing rigging for the "full improvement".
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post #24 of 25 Old 01-15-2011
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Additional Ref of Free standing Carbon Fiber Masts

For viewers who may come across this thread as a matter of interest regarding carbon fiber masts, Eric Sponberg, Naval Architect, has detailed information on carbon fiber masts. Sponberg Yacht Design Inc. Mr. Sponberg makes a strong case regarding the safety and efficiency of the free standing carbon fiber masts.

I sail a cat ketch rig that has free standing carbon fiber masts designed by Mr. Sponberg. At the time I bought the boat, I had no idea who designed the masts.

I find the cat ketch does less healing, and gives an overall smoother rider. I had sailed a Catalina prior to the ketch, and at the time I had the Catalina, the aluminum mast was perfect.

Regarding the cat ketch, I particularly enjoy having only tend to two sheets, not having to rig all the stays and shrouds, and the clean looking simplicity. Unstepping the masts is very simple, each mast is held by two ss bolt rods that slide through the mast and the column base -- that the mast slides over. Of course electrical wires must be disconnected as well when unstepping the masts.

Reading and researching about the attributes and behavior of the mast in terms of material, construction, and integration with a particular boat, helps one to determine if a carbon fiber mast is right for oneself.
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post #25 of 25 Old 01-16-2012
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Happy New Year 2012:

One year later since my last post. The carbon fiber masts on my boat are still working. The CF mast are 34 years of age.

Looking forward to new sailing season.
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