Join Date: Nov 2009
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Re: painted or anodized mast
I've had painted and anodized masts over the years. My first boat had an anodized mast and after 10 years it looked OK, but had its share of scratches and had a kind of cloudy look--not as sleek as when new. This mast was stored inside out of season.
My next boat--a gaff-rigged catboat--had a painted mast that I completelyrepainted at least once in the 16 years I had her. The area in contact with the gaff had be be repainted every year. Anodizing wouldn't have held up in the long term and there would have been no easy way to keep up with the gaff wear. That mast was painted with a one-part topsides paint.
My current boat is 23 years old and has an Awlgripped mast. It has been refurbished professionally once and is still looking good. The refurbishment included taking everything apart and reassembling the rig with care to insulate stainless hardware from the aluminum. It is showing minor bubbling in places but the scratches are minimal and you'd have to look carefully to see any compromises in the finish. BTW, my mast is in the weather year round.
Bottom line for me is that the Awlgrip finish is tops for cosmetics and is long-lasting enough that the cost to keep it up is reasonable. That said, if it were a workboat, I'd go for anodized and then cover it with a one-part paint when it got to looking ratty.