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post #1 of 31 Old 07-12-2011 Thread Starter
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Storm damage to mast - need advice

Fellow sailors, before asking for help, about me and my boat:
The boat is a 1981 Cal 2-25, sailed in Lake Michigan its entire life. Originally out of St Joseph , MI, now in Chicago. I am a newer sailor, in my second season and I am having a blast with my boat. I love sailing and I actually enjoy fixing things. Anyhow, enough about me, on with my dilemma.

Warning: This is a long post. Mostly me venting and story telling. The meat and potatoes are down in the last paragraph. Feel free to skip down to the end.

On the Friday morning of the 4th of July weekend I receive one of the most dreaded of phone calls for a boat owner. “Mr. Smith, this is the harbor master’s office calling, you need to get down here right away.” Now a call like that is bad, really bad, but its even worse when you are 200 miles from home with a car packed full of kids singing “99 bottles of beer on the wall” (really loud) on your way to your cabin for a long holiday weekend. I couldn’t go back. It would have taken me a few hours even if I could. The young lady on the other end of the line explained to me that my jib had come unfurled during a storm the night before and that it was flailing wildly as another storm was approaching that morning and winds were picking up again. So I called up one of my employees. A guy with the hand eye coordination and mechanical inclination of a sloth on Dramamine. No one else was available. He arrives at the boat 20 minutes later and calls me from his cell phone. I’m expecting to calmly explain how to furl the jib. When I answer I hear the wind howling and a very frightened man yelling into the receiver. “JIB…WHICH ONE IS THAT?…WHICH ROPE?….WHATS A CLEAT LOOK LIKE?…YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?” Its like the wind and rain made him forget everything. I have sailed with this man before and I know he knows what a jib is and a cleat. At this point (kids are STILL singing 99 bottles) I realize its just easier to have him drop the jib and stow it in the cabin. I will spare you the details of that, you can imagine, but he gets it down and safely stored below.

I am bummed out but hey, I’m on my way to the cabin. Going to have a great weekend with the family, and I do. What I didn’t know (and I don’t know how he didn’t notice this) was there was a lot more damage to the boat. I returned to find the jib had three 6 inch tears along the leech. The jib halyard was allowed to run up to the mast head. The shackle that connects the main sheet pulleys to the traveler broke. The gooseneck-to-mast pin had broken. THE BOOM WAS LAYING ON THE CABIN TOP! When it came down it ripped one of the sail track cars right out of the sail. Worst of all, as it was laying there, still supported in the rear by the topping lift, it swayed back and forth grinding a horizontal groove into the mast. All weekend long. And that is why I am here. I need some advice on the damage to the mast. The sails are down and on their way to the sail maker for repairs or replacement pending his assessment of their condition. I am replacing the shackle on the mainsheet traveler and a stainless steel bolt and nylon locking nut will re attach the boom to the bracket on the mast. I have already ordered up some climbing gear to go up the mast and will be retrieving the halyard myself. Costs about $200 to have someone come out and go up the mast. The gear cost me $250 and I figure I will need it again sooner or later and now is as good a time as any to grow a pair and go up the stick.

Meat and Potatoes:

Below are pictures of the damage that the swaying boom caused to the mast. I really want opinions as to whether this amount of damage warrants stepping the mast and taking it to a shop that can weld or patch the damage. The sailing season here is extremely short and that would probably mean very little, if any, more sailing this year for me. I took photos from a bunch of angles so you could get a feel for the depth and size of the groove. My options as I see them, listed in order of worst for me to best:
1)replace mast with a new one (yeah, right - not happening.)
2)locate a used mast in good condition and replace with that (good luck)
3)step mast and take to a metal worker for welding and/or patching
4)bend a piece of plate steel or thick aluminum to match the profile of the mast and rivet on myself
5)do nothing and keep sailing it until the stick falls off
Right now, I am leaning towards doing nothing. I mean, there is an access port cut right into the mast, a rectangular hole about 3 inches by 5 inches. If that did not affect the structural integrity of the mast how can a little groove, not even all the way through, cause it to fail, right? Am I crazy? Am I risking catastrophic failure of the mast? Any insight is much appreciated.

Jack
Attached Thumbnails
Copy of IMAG0124 (Medium).jpg   Copy of IMAG0126 (Medium).jpg   IMAG0127 (Medium).jpg   IMAG0133 (Medium).jpg   IMAG0135 (Medium).jpg  


Last edited by Dawghouseagain; 07-12-2011 at 11:30 PM. Reason: typo
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post #2 of 31 Old 07-12-2011
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Wow! That's one impressive groove you have there!!

If it were me, I'd be convincing a mate with a Tig welder to come down to the boat and lay up some aluminium in the groove which could be smoothed up with an angle grinder and painted - before oxidation sets in an makes life difficult.

I can't see why it couldn't be done in situ - but I really don't think you want to be drilling and plating anything right there.

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Last edited by Classic30; 07-12-2011 at 11:48 PM.
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post #3 of 31 Old 07-12-2011 Thread Starter
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Hartley,
I thought about having someone come out but the boat is on a mooring can about 200 yards from shore. I would imagine a tig welder takes alot of juice and not sure someone would be willing to haul a large generator out there. At least not at a reasonable cost. Definitely worth looking into though. I will call around tomorrow. Thanks for the suggestion!
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post #4 of 31 Old 07-12-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawghouseagain View Post
5)do nothing and keep sailing it until the stick falls off
Right now, I am leaning towards doing nothing. I mean, there is an access port cut right into the mast, a rectangular hole about 3 inches by 5 inches. If that did not affect the structural integrity of the mast how can a little groove, not even all the way through, cause it to fail, right? Am I crazy? Am I risking catastrophic failure of the mast? Any insight is much appreciated.

Jack
Jack, Nice post.
Go with number five. You're not crazy. It's not that bad. Take a file and some sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots and keep sailing.
I've seen a lot worse.
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post #5 of 31 Old 07-13-2011 Thread Starter
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Thanks knothead. The more and more I think about it and look at the mast and groove the more I realize just how unlikely a bend or break at that point is. The only way I see any issue there is if there was a large amount of force applied at the top of the mast toward the stern of the boat. As long as the forestay is up it will prevent enough flexing (I would hope) towards the stern. The fact that you have seen worse is both comforting and troubling. Comforting because I feel safer about my boat. Troubling because the thought of sailing with much worse than that scares the bejeezes out of me.
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post #6 of 31 Old 07-13-2011
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I can't give you engineering advice, but it doesn't look bad enough to stop sailing for the season. I would probably fix it when I hauled her for the winter.


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post #7 of 31 Old 07-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knothead View Post
Jack, Nice post.
Go with number five. You're not crazy. It's not that bad. Take a file and some sandpaper to smooth out the rough spots and keep sailing.
I've seen a lot worse.
Exactly correct. That damage is in an area of the section that is of no consequence. Sand the rough edges smooth, if you like fill the groove with some JBWeld Plastic Aluminum, sand that smooth and hit it with a little white spray paint and you're good to go.

FWIW..

"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."

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post #8 of 31 Old 07-13-2011
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sorry to hear of your problems. when i roll up my jenny i roll 2 turns of the sheets around it, then i take a 1" nylon strap and put several turns and tie it as high as i can reach, i have a boom gallows and tie the boom to that. i have never had anything come loose in a high wind.

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post #9 of 31 Old 07-13-2011 Thread Starter
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I will definitely change my ways when it comes to tieing everything down before I leave the boat next time. I was never careless about things before but from now on I will prepare for winds above and beyond what we ususally see here. That storm that came through here that Thursday night was a beast. I read that there were three capsizes and a harbor about 45 miles north of me reported a wind gust approaching 90 mph. We have had some really nasty storms this year. More than I can remember in terms of frquency and severity. We just had another 2 days ago that cut power to 850,000 homes. The biggest storm in terms of damage in Chicago history.
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post #10 of 31 Old 07-13-2011
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I agree with the filling in of the groove with a TIG welder. I also think you might TIG weld aluminium plates over the damaged area. Personally I'd do both.

"That damage is in an area of the section that is of no consequence." There is no area of the mast that's of no consequence. The damage is towards the bottom where the loads are highest, and needs to be properly repaired.

Options 1 to 4 are all much better than 5.
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